Shelf design – using SketchList 3D drawers in new ways

Shelf design

Shelf design trick speeds creation of images for client proposals.

A few weeks back I met a person who was doing a fair amount of custom woodworking in the wall unit, entertainment center, storage arenas  — shelf design figures prominently in these market segments.  He had several questions about how sketch list 3D might help her with that so we arranged to take his current proposal and work cooperatively to design it using sketch list 3D.

Almost every day I go online for one hour and train new Sketchlist users by helping them get started with the software. During that time we are able to cover the three or four concepts you need to know to use SketchList 3D.  Every SketchList 3D design process entails three steps – insert, resize, locate. There are three tools that are used for the resize and locate functions.  Of course there are several “next level” tools and concepts to be learned. Such things as how to create crown molding and miter it into a corner for example. But after the first hour most people are ready to go off on their own having achieved knowledge of 75% of what they need to know to effectively use SketchList 3D. But I am wandering!

Shelf Design Only? No.

The specific shelving question or situation had to do with the way this person design shelves for is work.  it’s not that unusual.  He uses four thin boards enjoins them together edge to edge to achieve the appearance of the current looking beam or piece of lumber that serves as the shelf.   He was able to create the 4 piece shelf pretty easily. One night he emailed asking how would I move the “shelf” as one unit as opposed to moving all four boards one at a time.  This is a great question.

It is really a variation on questions I receive from time to time. These are 1. How do I create a panel for the end of a cabinet run?  2. How can you tabletop – for example butcher block – made up of many individual boards be called glued together” and handled as a single piece?   3. How can I create a frame of several different pieces of wood and apply that same frame in many locations in my job?  It really is a good question?  So the question applies to more than shelf design.

Use a container

There are two ways to create this “grouping” boards and treating them as one unit.  they both have to do with using “sub containers”   . The sub container is that which can be placed due assembly – those are doors, drawers, hardware.   For the video I’ve attached to this post I use drawers – for no real reason.  You could have used doors just as well. In fact now that I write this I realize perhaps I should have used hardware since hardware is the only sub container that can be placed inside a door or drawer. So it probably has more versatility.  That is hardware can be inserted into drawers, doors, assemblies – so it can be used in more places.

If you are SketchList 3D user you probably already know how to use the door, drawer, hardware  for your design.  Drag the correct icon from the toolbar at the top of the screen into the assembly.  resize it as necessary.  And locate it at the appropriate place in that assembly.   more you use sketch list 3D the more you realize there are only three steps. One drag. Two resize. Three locate.

icon showing doors
Hardware, door, and drawer icons.

The icon bar at the top of the screen at the top of the screen as an icon or hardware, doors, drawers.

Once you create the “sub container” in the assembly you can populated with boards as you desire.

The advantage of putting the boards that make up the shelf (in this example) is that anything you want to do with all four of the boards you can do in one action.

That is:

  • locate
  • resize
  • clone
  • clone and space
  • delete
  • save as standard

Because a person would call then with question uses this type of shelf design in many of his proposals and projects, once he created the standard “drawer” and saved it as such, he can now use it in any design he chooses is is going to save him time in the future.

The video in this post shows exactly how you create this “drawer”.

Looking back at it I think I might not have mitered the corners because sometimes in sketch list 3D when you want to shrink a container whose boards  contain joinery or contours sometimes determines the ‘shrinking’ has an adverse affect on the attributes and will not work.   Also in general when you create a standard with the idea of resizing it – it’s much better to stretch than shrink.  So think ahead.

Slight aside – what about shelf pin holes?  See this.

Want some creative shelf ideas.  See this.

Outside the box – or drawer in this case – or maybe off the shelf design!

One of the things I like about woodworking is that there are more than one way to – what your favorite expression? – skin the cat.   I think that’s why the online blog posts receive so much attention. It’s great to scan those and see how other people provide fixes or workarounds to problems that you may have experienced in your shop.  I guess since SketchList 3D replicates the way you work in your shop on the computer screen there should be more than one way to skin the cat in regards to design.   In fact there are times when someone will send in the project they created in SketchList 3D and I’m either baffled or amazed by the approach they took. Certainly not because it’s right or wrong but rather it’s just different than I would’ve thought doing.

So the bottom line is when you using SketchList 3D be creative and try doing things the way you think they would be done. Reach out and any time sending us an email with your question, idea, or problem. That’s the way we can all learn.