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Build the Mantelpiece in 3D First

A free 3D drawing tool helps visualize difficult projects before you make your first cut

Length: 0:53
Produced By: Steve Lombardi

Contributing editor Gary M. Katz says that he first starts complicated projects with a drawing. When a flat-screen television complicated the building of an intricate mantel (Fine Homebuilding 186, pp. 86-91), he tried a new type of drawing tool.

Using SketchUp, a free software program from Google that simplifies 3D design, Katz said he was able to better visualize the dimensions and proportions of the mantelpiece. To illustrate this idea, we created a 3D animation from Katz's original SketchUp file that shows the mantel from multiple angles.

If you want to give it a try, download the same SketchUp file, plus view step-by-step photos of the project, at Katz's Web site:

To download SketchUp, visit

From Fine Homebuilding186
April 1, 2007