I used to have and used and old CAD program that worked wonders, unfortunately, I no longer have it, plus, not compatible with today's PC's.
Now, Bj, I'm a bit confused here, my poor tired eyes aren't exactly following along. Are you saying Sketch-up good or bad?
All plans should be designed to "change". If you pay close attention to even the pro's, their plans are designed to have a few changes made.
OPENING DISCLAIMER: I'm far from an expert on this stuff. Still, I have an opinion. This is my opinion and worth every dollar I charge for it!
DISCLAIMER 2: This will be rambling, so feel free to skip over it unless you are interested.
Hamlin, I must break my opinion into parts: (1) should *any* kind of CAD program be used and (2) do I think Sketchup is a good tool for woodworkers when I think I'd like one.
For #1, there are many things for which you don't need any kind of plans if what you're building is fairly straightforward. There are other things where you might sorta-sketch part of it out, with a few critical dimensions to reduce the need for correcting mistakes. There are still others that reach some level of complexity (and that differes from person to person with their visualization skills) where at least for part of it, they need something more. I've reached that on one project in my queue.
For #2, I'm going to add a second router to my router table and build a base for it. Where the first one has a PC7518 motor in a lift, the second one will be my old Ryobi plunge router with a LV 9" round plate supporting 1.5" guides. I've got a pin router arm and a bitjack (PDF attached) to attach to the router for table-mounted plunge routing. The bitjack will require a chain connection to a foot pedal mounted low on the cabinet. The table is large (30x52)because it has an Incra RT SS which can be used by both routers.
For the cabinet (baltic birch ply), I'm going to install drawers on 3 sides (staggered) and have seperate DC connections for each router, with a vented enclosure for each router. I want all of the wiring to run internal, with separate kill switches and a connection for a shop-vac for use with the wonderfenct and cleanup. Add to that, I want to add copper pipe internally to route shop air to the work locations from one central location. To maximize utilized space, the internals will be a 3-D labyrinth yet concern must be given to ensuring the top is supported correctly, as its very heavy.
I'm not building this as "my last router table". It will be completion of the first yet still I'll have > $500 in materials in it (remember this is Alaska and freight kills us: 5'x5'x3/4" sheet of baltic birch sells for $61/sheet and that's just one component).
Maybe others can fully visualize all of the cuts, passageways, etc., but it exceeds my visualization skills. So far:
* I've tried sketching parts of it on paper but it'd be a monster, and I work with drawings all of the time.
* Up until 10 years ago I used AutoCAD quite a bit for simple drawings (having my designers do the complex ones) but I started going through a tutorial of 3-D and my brain melted.
* I've gone through the videos and that led me to download and install the program. I've played with it and it seems pretty intuitive. For example, to cut a dado across a board you: (1) draw the board, (2) make it a component", (3) turn it so you can see the side, (4) draw a square representing the shape of the dado and (5) "push" the square across the board, leaving a dado'd board. Marc's video shows this is far easier and more intuitive than my description would seem.
When you finish with your design, you can drag the components apart into an "exploded" view and tell it which dimensions you want to see. It does the math, without errors. In essence I'll be building an electronic prototype of the cabinet, except mistakes can be undone with the stroke of a key.
Others speak well of it (for example, Marc used it on for part of an Arts and Crafts table comission where he was deciding on stile widths and spacing, see his 4-pt video) and my initial observations confirm their claims. So all I can say is I'm optimistic it'll be good for projects that exceed one's visualization skills. I'll offer a true review after I get it entered in sketchup and build the cabinet. Right now, I'm just *guessing* but wanted to provide the info I've found so far for people who have asked about it.
I suspect I'll be fixing enough mistakes as it is without the things I just couldn't visualize.