SketchUp 8 Pro: A Look at Some of the Solid Tools
As Tim mentioned in his last post, one of the new additions to SketchUp 8 Pro is the Solid Tools set. This is a powerful group of tools for performing Boolean operations. In this post I’m going to demonstrate three of these tools. An important thing to keep in mind with these tools is if a component gets modified, it is converted to a group. Only the component instance actually involved in the operation is modified. All other instances of the component remain unaffected. This may affect your workflow. It would affect mine in many cases.
Another very important detail to remember is that these tools will not work with sloppy components/groups. There must be no holes in surfaces nor any loose or extending line segments. With a component or group selected, look at how it is described in the Entity Info box. If it doesn’t indicate you’ve select a Solid Component or Group, the Solid tools will not work with it. There is a Solid Inspector plugin that can be used to help track down problems if you have them.
The first tool we’ll look at is Trim . In this example I am using it to cut the tapered mortise in the stretcher for the wedge on Gary Rogowski’s Trestle Table in Issue 214.
I’ve copied the stretcher and wedges out for this demonstration but I would normally do this with the components in place.
Select the Trim tool.
Click on the wedge.
Then click on the stretcher.
That makes quick work of the tapered hole. The order on which you click on the components/groups is important. I think about it like this: Trim the wedge from the stretcher. Unlike some of the Solid tools, trim doesn’t destroy either component so the wedge remains as a component. The stretcher gets converted to a group so, if you work as I do with only components, you have to convert it back into a component. Also note that in my example here, the stretcher still in the table does not get edited with the copy I worked on. The solution is to make the edited stretcher into a component and then use it to replace the other instances in the model.
The Trim tool could be used to cut mortises if you have tenons on the joining components. As I’ve been working with Solid tools, though, I’ve come to the conclusion that in most cases, it is faster for me to cut the mortises the way I’ve been doing it because when I cut one in one component, all other instances get edited, too.
Here’s another example using Trim. In this case I am cutting hinge mortises for butler hinges. I created a proxy component that is shaped as the reverse of the required mortise. I flipped a copy of the proxy over so you can see the other side.
I used got the Trim tool and clicked on a hinge proxy and then on the leaf. For this sort of thing you have to restart the Trim tool to do the next mortise. The table leaves started out as instances of the same component but get converted to groups although the hinge proxies remain as components. After cutting the mortises for all the hinges, it is a simple matter of selecting the proxies, then right clicking on the hinge component in the Components browser and choosing Replace Selected.
In this X-ray view you can see the cylinder with the rounded end which I created using Follow Me. I drew a square and extruded it to length The square is the section dimension of the leg. Each of these must be a component or group
After starting the Intersection tool, click on both in turn and you’re left with what you see above. I did the same for the square section near the foot of the leg as well.
After making the turned sections of the leg, I added in the square parts with the pommels, exploded those groups and made a single component of the entire leg.
Draw a box representing the case and place it so it intersects the leg. Start the Subtract tool and subtract the box from the leg. Click on the box and then the leg. With geometry as complex as this turned leg, it might take a few moments for your computer to process this so just be patient.
When it completes the operation, the box will be removed as well as the portion of the leg the box cut through. It is much faster than using the traditional Intersect and then deleting the waste. Remember to make the leg into a component before copying it to the other three positions.
I think these tools are a great addition to SketchUp. For those of you who use the free version of SketchUp, you can try solid tools by installing the trial version of SketchUp 8 Pro. You might decide that between these tools and LayOut, it is time to step up. If you choose not to upgrade to Pro, the program will revert to the Free version after 8 hours of use. In any case, at least give it a try.