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Like Riding a bike

Posted by joeabbott on November 2, 2009

A while back I was playing with Google SketchUp and found it to be a marvelous tool. It was reasonably intuitive, powerful, and you could have results very quickly. And then my days became busy with other things and I didn’t touch SketchUp for a long time. Well, a week or so ago my wife asked if I’d be ready to make a Christmas present and I realized it was time to brush up my skills again. Happily, it was a short exercise!

I banged out the model for that project quickly (I still have a bit more to do … I want to try playing with the animation as my project has a hinge) and another one presented itself to me: a shoe niche.

A couple years back I put a counter into our laundry room. It was a modest job, everything squared and at right angles. We loved the new work space but while installing it one of the panels dropped and gouged the floor, within the first week of having it a big ding was hammered into the top, and the edge-banding has started to chip and peel off. Time for a replacement.

While we’re replacing it (with a single laminate slab from Home Depot) a few other projects in that room came up. In addition to the counter, we’ll add a sink, replace the flooring, and add another light. And, as the bonus, add a shoe niche. The shoe niche sent me back to SketchUp.

While I usually use SketchUp to get the details right … explicit dimension, work out joinery options, or make sure I understand how to put something together … this time I used it to work through some design decisions.

Here’s what we have now … pretty standard and simple:

And while simple, it sticks out into the room and is somewhat limited on space. We wanted better … and we couldn ‘t find this particular style of wire rack at any of the three big box hardware stores near us.

What we plan on doing is popping a hole through the wall … cutting into two studs and framing out an open box. We’d then create an “insert” melamine shelving unit and pop it in! Enter SketchUp.

Here’s a quick mockup of the wall substructure after we frame out our box:

Wall structure

And with that, I was able to whip out three options:

We’re going to go with the first option, Option 1 … it has a 42″ width, 72″ height, and 15.25″ into the wall. This should allow plenty of space for shoes, flip flops, boots, etc. The bottom shelf will be used for detergent and a laundry hamper. With adjustable shelves, it should be a snap to configure things to work out for us.

The other two options had their benefits but suffered in some ways. The middle option, Option 2, was just like Option 1 but is narrower by a half foot. The sole reason for this design is to avoid shelf flex over the 42″ width. While we might get some of this, our shoes are pretty light and I don’t anticipate getting a lot of flex. If we do, I can add a metal stiffening angle to the back edge of the shelves and let that pick up some of the load.

The last option, Option 3, was another compromise to avoid the large span but incorporated back-to-back verticals in the center. This allowed for two twenty-inch sections that would have shelves that could be adjusted independently. We didn’t like that I wouldn’t have a good way to hide the splice down the center. There are ways, just not good ones to my mind.

Now that we’ve completed the overall design, it’s time for the details! And, as it’s been a great tool so far, I plan on continuing to use SketchUp.

I’m thinking about barrel nuts for attaching the side panels to the upper and lower carcase members and attaching the center shelf in a similar manner … it would be fixed.I’m toying with reinforcing the corners with metal angle, either aluminum or thin steel. I’ll just tack on a melamine panel back with a pneumatic staple gun and that should provide a nice sheer panel support member.

I’m worried about it being cantilevered off the back studs. I don’t know how I’ll attach it to the boxed frame. I could simply zip a number of screws through the sides, top and bottom into the frame but not sure if that’s the solution I’m after. Just lacks some elegance.I’m also worried about the bottom panel. I’m pretty sure we’ll be putting a number of heavier items on that shelf so I want to come up with a lower support system. I’ll probably tie into the two severed studs but not quite sure yet what to do.

That’s it! It’s been fun “getting back on the bike” but mostly happy that the tool is easy enough to use that even after months away: I’m able to use power keys, build up the model, and just get ‘er done! I will say that I’m having some troubles, too. When I create a component in one layer, I want to “clone” it and assign the clone to a new layer. It doesn’t seem to be that easy. If you know something that might help me, please send tips\links!



3 Responses to “Like Riding a bike”

  1. […] Comments (RSS) « Like Riding a bike […]

  2. […] Comments (RSS) « Like Riding a bike […]

  3. […] my previous entry on getting back to using SketchUp you should be familiar with the brown wall structure. This is the wall between my house and the […]

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