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As I was building a SketchUp model for a question I was posting, I realized I'm really horrible at SketchUp for making woodworking models. Should SketchUp related questions be considered on-topic?

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I love me some SketchUp. I'm going to start with a big-old qualified yes.

If someone were searching for solutions about solving their wood design or construction problems in SketchUp, I sure would like them to find this site. The folks using these products have communities of their own, and you should actively embrace and encourage them become part of the ecosystem of this site. We get a lot of requests from project teams about how they can use Stack Exchange to support their communities. I see no reason why this site couldn't provide fantastic technical support when folks have a problem well within the scope of this site.

One caveat — SketchUp isn't strictly a "woodworking" application, so there may be a point where a question is simply toooo far outside the scope of this site. "I'm having problems installing SketchUp on platform {X}" (for example) might just be the type of question that is better handled elsewhere.

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  • I suppose we could start by entertaining these questions but I could see it getting out of hand. No reason we could not give it a try and then reevaluate at a later time. Woodworking is obviously the main scope but planning is always important. – Matt Mar 21 '15 at 2:35
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Sketchup is a tool just like a tablesaw or a jointer. It makes sense to allow questions about it so long as they are relevant to woodworking And not just the program itself.

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    So should we allow questions on Photoshop? Paint? They are tools too and someone can make a design in them too. – Maxime Morin Mar 23 '15 at 14:28
  • Yes, if it pertains to the solving a woodworking problem and not just general use of the application, but i don't see people asking questions about paint being very likely anyway. – Daniel B. Mar 23 '15 at 16:54
  • As an addendum, there is a graphic design beta which would probably be better suited. Perhaps the policy should be to move questions there? – Daniel B. Mar 23 '15 at 17:25
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It might be worth suggesting to someone that they download the free-for-personal-use SketchUp Make to help them design their project and/or provide a drawing for us to look at in an attempt to understand their problem, but overall, I would say no. No, simply because we'd start getting questions far outside the woodworking scope.

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  • I was asking a question related to this. I want to have a post to refer people to for tutorial suggestions but I don't think M.WW is the place for troubleshooting or tutorials and only because I think it would get out of hand quickly. – Matt Mar 21 '15 at 2:33
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I can give an answer from the physical fitness SE perspective. There, we allow nutrition questions IF THEY PERTAIN to a fitness program. Merely asking a dietary question is not on topic.

I would imagine that tools used in making schematics could be treated in much the same way, in that if you can relate how you are using the tool to enhance your woodworking and/or facilitate your project and the difficulty with the tool that you are having. That would eliminate such questions as "How do I rotate my piece 90 degrees?"

That being said, policing it gets a bit messy, especially since the scope was changed from allowing to disallowing nutrition only questions a couple years ago, so having a solid policy in place from day one would be a good thing.

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SketchUp questions that could be covered in a woodworking class or seminar should definitely be allowed (though some of these questions may also be more generally on-topic at http://graphicdesign.stackexchange.com). For example, the SketchUp seminars at Weekend with WOOD 2014 included the following:

  • Drawing various types of joinery and details
  • Making and using Components for various parts of a model (for example, making a table leg, converting it to a component, rotating/mirroring it, then adding tapers and joinery to one copy of the component and having the same changes duplicated automatically on all other copies)
  • Making various views (scenes?) including exploded views
  • Creating and using textures
  • Making photorealistic renders
  • Inserting a scale model into a photo of a room with proper perspective
  • Perspectives and animations
  • Plug-ins that are useful for designing woodworking projects

Questions about installing SketchUp itself should not be allowed, but questions about installing plug-ins might be borderline acceptable. I think if this site ends up becoming a definitive resource for SketchUp, some even more basic "intro to sketchup for woodworkers" types of questions might be allowable but I wouldn't encourage them up front.

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I think not. I'm actually a CAD professional so I'd love to be able to share my knowledge about AutoCAD etc. however I don't think that this is the right place to do it. The tools in AutoCAD, SketchUp etc. are not specific to woodworking. To me it seems about as strange to ask about SketchUp here as it would be to ask about orthographic projection with pen and paper.

It also strikes me that if my question about wooden windows here: https://woodworking.stackexchange.com/questions/826/sash-window-design-security-parting-bead-vulnerable-to-attack was closed for not being about woodworking, then CAD is less about woodworking than that.

Has anybody floated the idea of a CAD stack site before?

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  • To me, the differentiating factor is that drawing (computer-aided or not) is a critical part of the woodworking process for many woodworkers, while modifying a common window design for improved home security is not. – rob Apr 8 '15 at 21:27
  • That's a fair point, but in any case I don't think it makes sense to ask about sketchup here as it's not at all specific to woodworking. – WhatEvil Apr 9 '15 at 0:03
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    Many things which are on-topic here are not specific to woodworking--for example, a drill press is a metal machining tool which is also useful for woodworking but I would consider a drill press question on-topic. Safety goggles, earplugs, sandpaper/sanding, shellac, clamps, hole saws, mineral oil, noise, etc., are similarly "not at all specific to woodworking" but many questions about them should be considered on-topic. The reason this question (and similar ones) exist is to determine which criteria, if any, make a given category of questions sufficiently woodworking-related. – rob Apr 9 '15 at 0:38
  • Sometimes the most difficult part of asking a question is distilling exactly which elements of the question make it suitable for a specific Stack Exchange site, and why. I do think it would be nice to have a CAD Stack Exchange site because many AutoCAD and SketchUp questions don't neatly fall under GIS or Graphic Design. Have you thought about proposing one yourself? – rob Apr 9 '15 at 0:42

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