Go to some of the SketchUp forums to hunt down or ask specific questions. You can upload images, SKP files, etc to get specific troubleshooting: Google SketchUp Free, Google SU Pro, and Sketchucation. Your chortling ‘CAD experts’ don’t know what the program can do. One of the things many former CAD-types note is, with SU they can spend more time with the creative process of creating/drawing than manipulating a stiff program.
This is a round-up of some nice SketchUp plugins and techniques that will help with pattern-making. Most downloaded scripts will be placed in the program’s Plugins folder. A few developers will direct you to place their work in the Tools folder. Place the script file(s) as directed and restart the program.
Once you opened the program, most of the scripts can be found under the Plugins menu. However the developers can locate their scripts under any of the menus. (If you don't see the Plugins menu, go to Window > Preferences > Extensions > Ruby Script Examples and check the box.)
Most scripts contain instructions. Open the script in a plain text editor like Notepad to read/edit. Do not use a program like Word. It will introduce extra formatting code that will disable the script. (And if you forget which menu contains the script, the code for the menu is usually towards the bottom of the text.)
Your favorite plugins can also become keyboard shortcuts, Window > Preferences > Shortcuts.
An aforementioned plugin mentioned in this BPL forum is Soap Skin & Bubble, (and it runs in SU6 free). The plugin files lives in the program’s Tool folder. The loaded plugin creates a toolbar in the program. Assuming the plugin was installed correctly in the Tools folder, it may need to be ”turned on”. In the program, check Window > Preferences > Extensions > Soap Skin & Bubble. And you may need to check View > Toolbars > Soap Bubble. This it the Pro thread with the most creative applications of SSB. It’s fun and useful for guesstimating tensile structures. It’s not so useful for making flat patterns however. But if the tensile surface is rotated parallel to the xy plane, a script called flatten.rb will at least flatten it. My older version of flatten destroys the face(s). If that happens just redraw an edge.
Another mesh script is bez-patch, (a repackaged, easier to install zip is towards the bottom of the thread.)
The script jf_unfoldtool.rb will unfold dimensional models. That blog contains both the script and a SKP tutorial.
Many equations can be graphed with graphit.rb. But the most recent version of k_tools.rb has more robust graphing features. Search that Ruby API discussion group using the word 'klaudius' for more threads with info about the features in this plugin. Being a freebie, you need to dig a little to figure it out. Once the file is deposited in the Plugins folder and the program reloaded, the script is accessible via the Plugins menu.
An excellent SU script repository for SU addicts is the Ruby Library Depot. A copy of bezier.rb and bezierspline.rb lives in the Geometry-Drawing section. Bezierspline is the superior script. It’s a steroid-enhanced version of bezier.rb. Once installed both live in the Drawing menu and bezierspline comes with a toolbar too. Be sure to download the PDF instructions. More instructions live in the downloaded ZIP file too.
I have been collecting copies of all instructive stuff, like the bezierspline instructions, into a folder and drag the folder to the quicklink area of the Windows taskbar. There’s no quick way to store saved text instructions within the program’s Help menu unless they are SKP files.
Skippies could be stored in C:\Program Files\Google\Google SketchUp 6\Resources\en-US\selfpacedtutorials and retrieved via Help>Self Paced Tutorials.
Grids also can be useful to help layout full-sized patterns of your SU model patterns. Look for parametic_grid.rb, also at the Ruby Library Depot. Go to Tools>Grid, click out an initial, default grid in any orientation you want. Select the grid, r-click for the context menu and Edit Grid for custom grid size. Another grid script is cgrid.rb. It requires at least SU5 Pro, but many such scripts now also load in SU6 free. I own Pro, so I don’t yet know if it works in free. (This last site has sketchup.rb. Don’t download it. The program already comes with the script. The SU6 version of sketchup.rb lives in the Tools folder).
Some layout methods: for complex curvy stuff derived from orthographic views see seat back.skp, (it’s one way to make a complex path for SSB) and faucet bit.skp, for complex extruding and for more extruding methods.
Sorry about the length, but I like the program. It's useful.