Designing and documenting a wood table in SketchUp Make CAD is fast and easy. That is, fast and easy after you get down the learning curve.
Sketchup Make CAD is a free 3D drawing tool (there is also a Pro version) created by Google. While not as powerful as some CAD programs, it is pretty good and fairly fast to learn. Learning CAD programs can be challenging because most have many, many, many features. They can be confusing. Sketchup is a bit lighter in what it can do, and commensurately easier to learn.
Once you have mastered the basics, designing a wood table for MPCNC or anything else can be achieved in less than an hour. The design shown above is comprised of a 2 by 4 frame, with a table surface made of half inch plywood.
The power of Sketchup Make CAD is enhanced with plug-ins or extensions. Currently, I am using two extensions which helped with the above design. The first is called BoardMaker from Woodwurx. This plug-in automates the creation of wood boards as Sketchup components – in my case, two by fours for the frame and the plywood top. The second is called Sketchup STL which allows you to import 3D printing models into SketchUp Make CAD, or export drawings as STL files. (Both of these extensions are free. They add features not normally available in the free version, of SketchUp.)
You can see the plastic corner blocks in the inset picture (top left) as well as some EMT conduit. The corner blocks are placed over the screw holes in the MPCNC table top.
It was also pretty easy to add dimensions to the model and create construction drawings for the work table. Down the road, I can also use SketchUp Make CAD to create designs for cutting on the CNC machine.
Finding Dimensions to use with Sketchup Make CAD
When designing this work table, I first needed to know what size of work surface I wanted for the Mostly Printed CNC machine. After some thought, I settled on 18” by 24”. This struck me as small enough for a first learning experience, but also large enough to do some real work.
You can find an online MPCNC size calculator to help you out. Basically, you need to add 11” to the each of the dimensions of the work surface, to provide extra space for the MPCNC steel and plastic frame. Once I ran the numbers, and allows some extra space on each side for the timing belts and wiring, my 18” by 24” work surface translated into a 32” by 38” table top, which is shown above.