9th of 10 Things I Wish I Had Known About SketchUp

Paste in Place is My Best Friend

My primary goal when modeling a project in SketchUp is to get away from the computer as soon as I possibly can. One of the main reasons SketchUp is the ultimate design/planning tool for woodworkers is that it is incredibly fast. But it takes a while to get fast. You need to know the basic principles of how stuff works, and you need to practice.

How to copy the geometry of the drawer side to the drawer frontOne of the keys to efficiency is to not draw anything unless you absolutely have to. If the geometry exists somewhere, copying it is better. The problem is if you use components, the complex geometry you need, as in this dovetailed drawer side is locked up in the component. How can we get it out of that component and into the drawer front component which is still a rectangular block?

components in position ready to copy geometry

The first step is to put the drawer side into position on the end of the drawer front. This will be a half blind dovetail, so I used the points that will be on the inside corner of the finished drawer to begin and end the move.

open component for editing, select side and copy to clipboard

When the parts are in position, I double-click on the drawer side component to open it for editing. Then I select what I want to copy, in this case the inside faces above and below the groove for the drawer bottom and copy them to the clipboard using the Edit menu.

open the second component and paste in place

A single click in empty space closes the drawer side, I right click and pick “Hide” from the menu, and a double-click on the drawer front component opens it for editing. When it is open (surrounded by dashed lines and the rest of the model dimmed) I go back to the Edit menu and select “Paste in Place”.

“Paste in Place” puts the copied geometry back where it was. That’s the reason for lining up the two parts to begin with. You can see how the boundary of the drawer front component has been expanded to include the faces copied from the side. A few swipes with the Eraser tool gets rid of the extra stuff I don’t want. In real life you wouldn’t throw away a complex part to get a few pieces of it, but in SketchUp it’s a great technique.

The faces come in with the back sides showing, so I select them, right click and pick “Reverse Faces” from the menu. After they are reversed I use Push/Pull to sink in the dovetail sockets. Neatness counts. The only line I have to draw is one to define the end of the groove before extruding the groove to the other end of the drawer front.

That leaves a single, although complicated face on one end of the drawer front. Instead of repeating the process that established the first face, I just copy it from one end to the other, reverse that face and sink the sockets with Push/Pull.

Becoming efficient in SketchUp isn’t about drawing things as fast as you can, it’s about using tricks like this. In the “Pro” Version of SketchUp, the solid modeling tools make this process even simpler, but if you’re using the free version, this is my favorite method for getting geometry out of one component and into another.

–Bob Lang

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This is number 9 in a series of posts. Click Here to read the entire series.


9th of 10 Things I Wish I Had Known About SketchUp — 3 Comments

  1. In this case I would have used the Intersect Faces With Model context menu item. You could have added the necessary edges without copying the extraneous geometry.

    Many ways to accomplish the same result in Sketchup…