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7 Surprising Kick-Ass Things You Can Do with Google Sketchup

Design Your own Papercraft Schematics

You know about papercraft , right? It’s the art of making models out of paper and glue, generally from plans downloaded from the internet (and also one of our 50 things every geek should know ). With Sketchup, and a program called “Pepakura Designer,” you can create your own papercraft plans.

Here’s how it works:

First, you create a model in Sketchup. Simpler is better, particularly if you’re new to papercraft. Models with lots of rounded surfaces will produce difficult-to-follow plans, and won’t look as good when complete.

Next, you export your model as a Google Earth 4 kmz file. Unfortunately: Sketchup 7 is not able to export in the Google Earth 4 kmz format. Fortunately, it’s still easy to find older versions of Sketchup with a Google search, so you’ll need to install one of those to make your Papercraft model, and export it as a Google Earth 4 kmz.

Finally, open the kmz file with Pepakura Designer , which is shareware. The full version costs 40 bucks, but with the trial version you can still create papercraft plans and print them, you just can’t save your projects for later.

Now you’re ready to cut, fold and glue your papercraft model.

Design custom furniture

Alongside architects and designers, woodworkers have been one of the groups of professionals to embrace Sketchup in a big way. And why not? It’s quick, allows you to work in real-world measurements, and there are plugins to add all sorts of woodworking-specific functionality. For instance, here’s a free plugin that takes a Sketchup model, and creates a cutlist and layout. That means it shows you exactly how much of each type of wood you need to buy, and shows you how to cut it so that you get all the pieces you need, while wasting as little wood as possible.

If you’re interested in woodworking, or would like to try your hand at making furniture in Sketchup, check out Design Click Build , a site with tons of helpful guides about woodworking in Sketchup.

Image Credit: Tim Killen