Meet Dylan and Molly from the Woodbrew Crew. This dynamic (maker) duo specializes in woodworking, metalworking, other DIY projects. To keep up with their large social media following, they regularly create how-to videos and showcase their shop skills. We sit down with Dylan and Molly to see how they got started and how SketchUp has helped support their business.
How did you get into the trendy woodworking and maker scene?
My love of building things started at a very young age because of how handy my dad is; he can pretty much build anything. I was always around tools and would pitch in and help my dad make things around the house. On the other hand, my partner Molly did not have this upbringing. Growing up she was never around tools and didn’t get an introduction to building things like I did.
Molly and I met our sophomore year of high school and have been dating ever since. We were your typical high school kids looking at four-year universities, but ended up going to a local community college first to get a better idea of what we wanted to do. To make some extra money during college, we decided to start a small furniture restoration business where we would find old furniture, fix it up, and sell it using Facebook marketplace. That led into us making furniture from scratch, renting a warehouse, and starting a custom woodworking business. One year later, we started Woodbrew online and walked away from college... and haven’t looked back.
Some of the amazing custom woodworking pieces we have built throughout our career including a media center, outdoor planter, and an outdoor chair.
Wow, that’s an amazing success story. You and Molly have been working together for a while now. How do you collaborate?
We have a great working relationship. Molly has a great eye and takes on the designer role. She has the ultimate say in what the project will look like - including the use of colors, materials, and style. I take her ideas and put them into SketchUp. From there, I make tweaks to the dimensions ensuring everything will fit and be proportionally correct. However, we are both a part of every step of the process and rely on each other for feedback. We also do the final build together.
How do you use SketchUp within your workflow?
SketchUp is the first step in the design process. It allows us to visualize an idea with certainty that the proportions are correct. For example, in our Outdoor Series, we built the entire DIY outdoor table in SketchUp. We started with a mood board built by Molly. She helped inform my design with style and material suggestions. From there, I started drawing the table, dimensioning it to make sure it would fit in the designated space, organized the model with components and naming structures, and then I finalized it with finishing touches such as textures, rounding corners, and different depths. Check out the full process in my video tutorial.
What makes you keep coming back to SketchUp for your projects?
Unlike using pen and paper, SketchUp is 100% to scale, meaning my project’s proportions will always be what I expect. There is nothing worse than spending a lot of money on materials only to find out the chair you made looks odd or doesn’t fit the space well. SketchUp also gives us insight into how much of a material we will need and how we can maximize efficiency when cutting everything out. Lastly, SketchUp allows us to problem solve without cutting anything. We can make several versions of a project and see where we may run into problems before starting to build.
Some storefront designs were brought to life with the help of SketchUp. The first photo is the Fairhope PC, a front counter for the Fairhope PC repair shop. The second photo is the storefront of Refuge Coffee.
Do you use other products within SketchUp?
Yes! We use both LayOut and 3D Warehouse. LayOut helps us prepare and finalize our cut list. This is essential to start off a project on the right foot. As for 3D Warehouse - we’ve been using this for years! It is great to be able to stage a room or add a prop into a model to make it more realistic in the rendering. We use this all the time to show a client how a piece would look in their space.
Using foliage from 3D Warehouse to make this storefront visual pop.
Utilizing Cut List 4.1, LayOut, and SketchUp to build out our cut list.
Find out how they build out their cut lists, here.
You and Molly have built quite a lot of furniture and accessories. What are some of your favorite projects?
Our favorite projects are the ones that are really simple and useful. We love designing furniture that anyone can make with basic tools. Our top favorite project was the Lululemon storefront design because we were given a blank slate and could be as creative as we wanted. We were able to experiment with the design and use whatever materials we wanted.
One of Woodbrew Crews' favorite projects: a storefront for Lululemon.
Another fun project was our DIY standing bike rack. Our apartment had started to look like a bike garage so it was great to build something that we really needed. Now I have a dedicated spot for my bike and my triathlon gear. Check out my full list of instructions to build your own, or get my project plan.
What are some tips you can give readers if they are just getting into woodworking?
The main thing is to just pick a project and go for it. Don’t talk yourself out of it, and don’t overthink it. Too many people get caught up with picking the perfect tools and materials. Pick an easy project with cheap materials and start learning! That’s how we did it! I also have a few tips to help with your SketchUp workflows.
Top tips from Dylan.
What is your favorite SketchUp command?
Option Key (on Mac) for duplicating items.
This sounds essential for those woodworking projects! I am sure that saved you time when you created your outdoor table.
Yes! The duplicating command saves us so much time on every project we make. We usually create one side of the project and duplicate to the other side to make the process twice as fast.