The full library of wood grain materials (fills) for Sketchup.

Wood Textures for Sketchup

The full library of wood textures for Sketchup.

The full library of wood grain materials (fills) for Sketchup.

 

Wood textures for Sketchup are pretty limited by default (they’re called materials in Sketchup Land), and if you spend a lot of time in the program you’ll soon be bored and annoyed with them. The limited variety makes it difficult to add visual appeal to your drawings that accurately represents your work. Sketchup is great at conveying shape and dimensions, but not so much a wood grain finish.

Fortunately someone took the time to make a pretty decent library of wood textures (ahem… materials) for Sketchup.  You can download them at the Sketchup 3D Warehouse.  I did not create them.  A user named Edward F., converted them to the most recent Sketchup format and uploaded them to the Sketchup Warehouse.  Alan Bennet at sawdustroad.com created the originals. Thanks to both for making Sketchup even better for woodworkers!

It’s important to follow the instructions to load them into Sketchup. If you have trouble, feel free to ask for help!

Wood Textures for Sketchup 2014 or Above

The instructions on the page above are for older versions of Sketchup. If you’re using a newer version (2014 or higher), follow these instructions to add wood textures for Sketchup:

  1. Download the file from the Sketchup Warehouse.
  2. Go to File > Open and select the SKP file you just downloaded. If you get a message about the file being created in an older version of Sketchup, just press OK.
  3. If it’s not already open, show the Materials window by selecting Window > Materials.
  4. There is a drop down menu that lets you select Materials collections. Click the dropdown menu and select In Model.
  5. Click the Details button (the arrow next to the drop down menu you just clicked), and select Save Collection As…
  6. You’ll be asked to browse to a folder.  Select your My Documents Folder, then click Make New Folder and name it “Wood Species”, or whatever you want your new Materials Collection to be called.

More Wood Textures for Sketchup

As I find them, I’ll post additional wood textures for Sketchup here.

A set of bench hooks made from two 12" scraps of 2 x 4.

Bench Hooks Inspired by Roy Underhill

The deeper I fall down the woodworking rabbit hole, the more I’m drawn to shop-made solutions. I discovered a video of Roy Underhill of the Woodwright’s Shop making something called a bench hook, and it was a real forehead-slapping moment for me. Woodworkers spend a ton of time and money on work-holding clamps and jigs. This video serves as a reminder that tons of forgotten knowledge exists  about how craftsmen did things before the dawn of the modern clamp. Fortunately folks like Roy feel a responsibility to pass down old but far from obsolete knowledge to schmucks like me who would otherwise solve their problems with an army of Bessy clamps.

A set of bench hooks made from two 12" scraps of 2 x 4.

A set of bench hooks made from two 12″ scraps of 2 x 4.

What The Heck is a Bench Hook?

A Bench Hook is a workbench accessory that uses the momentum of your own woodworking movement to limit your work’s ability to shift across the workbench. A traditional bench hook consists of three pieces of wood:

  1. One piece stretches partway across your workbench and your work rests on top of it.
  2. A second piece is fastened to the bottom of the first which will lock against the front of your workbench.
  3. A third piece is fastened to the top of the first, which will prevent your work from pushing across your bench as you saw, plane, or chisel.

Shown below is a video shot by Roy Underhill for Lie Nielson Toolworks on how to make a bench hook out of a single, foot-long piece of wood. I really like this design, and Roy conveniently offers dimensions such that you can make a bench hook out of scrap 2 x 4 if that’s your wish.  You can see in the picture above that that’s exactly what I did.  Using about 2 feet of scrap 2 x 4, I created a set of bench hooks that should work great, you know… once I finish building my work bench!

Upgrading a Dewalt DW735 Planer to a Shelix Cutterhead

I’m just going to put it out there: out of the box my Dewalt DW735 was a huge disappointment, and it continued to disappoint me through two years, hundreds of board feet of stock, and multiple blade replacements. I finally convinced myself to invest in a Shelix Cutterhead. This post documents the experience.

Why I Purchased the Shelix Upgrade to my DW735

From the day I bought my DW735 about 2 years ago, I was disappointed in it.  The blades that come pre-installed wear out quickly. Fortunately I knew this at the time of purchase, so I immediately picked up a pack of carbide-tipped replacement blades. The carbide blades are expensive and, while they don’t lose their edge as fast as the factory blades, their performance wasn’t much better. My DW735 fed slowly, burnt the face of my work, often stalled out and tripped breakers, and all this while taking off an absolute minimum of material.

This is what was left of one of my planer blades when I took the cover off the machine.

This is what was left of one of my planer blades when I took the cover off the machine.

Then there was the blade shrapnel incident. While hogging through a not-particularly nasty knot, about a third of one of my planer’s knives went flying. I had a replacements on-hand, but just knowing that this was a possibility put me incredibly on edge every time I fired up the machine.

About a week and a half ago I decided to start building my Roubo workbench.  The top of a Roubo workbench is made by laminating a bunch of hardwood into one beefy rectangle.  It was a joke to think my planer could handle the job as-is, so it seemed like the right time to upgrade.

Installing the Shelix Cutterhead in the DW735

I purchased the Shelix Cutterhead from Amazon and it took about four days to arrive (one day ahead of schedule). I didn’t bother recording the installation because there is already great content available.  Byrd (the manufacturer of the Shelix) provides PDF-format Shelix Installation in a DeWalt DW735 Instructions on their website. Fellow YouTuber Chris Wong recorded his entire installation in a three-part video series, the first of which is included below.

I must be some sort of planer modding savant, because the installation took me about 45 minutes,  about half the time I’ve heard from others.  The one piece of advice I have to offer is this: order snap-ring pliers when you order your Shelix. There are three snap rings that need removed and re-seated during the process, and you’ll spend more time trying to remove them without the proper tool than you will for the rest of the installation.

How the Shelix Cutterhead Performs in Practice

My DW735 with it's new Shelix cutterhead.

My DW735 with it’s new Shelix cutterhead.

After installing the Shelix I sent a piece of white pine through the planer just to verify that I hadn’t accidentally built The Mangler. No one died and the test piece came out smooth, quietly, and far faster than it would have with any of Dewalt’s blades.

I decided to do something that would have been laughable before: I started planing the top of my Roubo workbench.  I glued two pieces together, let the glue cure, then planed them.  Next I glued 4 pieces together, let it cure, then planed. Finally I glued 8 pieces together: that’s 4″ thick x 12″ wide by 96″ long. I think I actually heard the Shelix laugh at me for ever thinking this would be a problem. My work came out smooth, flat, and with no burn marks.  Using the Dewalt 13″ blades, the unit would have tripped the breaker in seconds.

Summary

Upgrading my DW735 planer to the Shelix Cutterhead made the machine a pleasure to use and allows it to produce the sort of results that I had hoped for when I bought the planer. It’s simple to install and the process is well-documented.  If you’re not satisfied with the performance of your Dewalt DW735, I highly recommend investing in a Shelix before dumping the planer for a different model.