Difficult Dimension Placement

comments (4) June 21st, 2009 in blogs

Killenwood Tim Killen, contributor
thumbs up 2 users recommend

Occasionally I'm faced with components which are hard to dimension; for example, when the component has a fully shaped edge and I can't easily find the endpoints to place a dimension. The Dimension Tool won't snap on the curved surface and I'm not sure where to connect the dimension to indicate full length, width, or thickness of the component.

Here is an example where the top of a case piece has a rounded shaped edge. Also I've shown below a close-up view of that edge shape. Where is the outer edge point to snap the Dimension Tool?

There are probably many ways to help with this dilemma of placing the dimension, but here is one way that I've found useful:

Step 1: Make the full size of the blank without the edge treatment. Or save the initial blank before you run the Follow me Tool which creates the edge shape.

Step 2: Delete the top and bottom faces, leaving only the square frame. Also use the Materials dialog box to color the frame and make it transparent. In the Materials dialog box, there is a small + icon to make a material. This will provide a slide bar setting for the amount of desired transparency. Once the new material is made, you can "paint" the material on the four faces of the frame.

Step 3: With the Move/Copy Tool, place the transparent frame exactly into position over the shaped component. Now you have a convenient frame for showing the blank dimensions in the drawing package to take to the shop.


posted in: blogs

Comments (4)

DaveRichards DaveRichards writes: Another option is to temporarily make hidden geomtry visible (View menu) and apply the dimension to either the longest hidden edge or between edges as appropriate. The dimension will still be visible when the geometry is hidden again and it will update with changes to the component.
Posted: 12:39 pm on July 5th

timrowledge timrowledge writes: A trick I've used a few times is to place a guide line or two in the relevant places and the dimension will stick to the intersections created. Once you have the dimensions marked you can delete the guides.

Obviously this has a deficiency in that altering the dimensions of your piece will not affect these 'orphan' dimensions but you can't have everything.
Posted: 7:56 pm on July 4th

Killenwood Killenwood writes: To robscaffe: Yes that would work fine. However, I must admit finding it worrying upon seeing a dimension hanging out in mid air not connecting to anything.

Posted: 12:17 am on June 24th

27BStroke6 27BStroke6 writes: Would this as well?
1. Draw a line through the component on the blue axis and close to the edge but through the full thickness of the component.
2. Draw a dimension using the intersect of the line and each face.
3. Delete the line leaving the dimension in place.

Posted: 6:56 am on June 23rd

You must be logged in to post comments. Log in.

Save up to 51% on Fine Woodworking


Become a Better Woodworker

About Design. Click. Build.

Learn the art and science of designing furniture in SketchUp with Fine Woodworking's official blog. Moderated by a devoted community of woodworkers, we feature step-by-step SketchUp tutorials on designing components, downloads of pre-built 3D models of furniture parts, and news and information about the evolving world of digital furniture design.

Buy the Video
Don't miss Dave Richard's brand-new DVD/video download, The Basics.

Buy the Book
Get Tim Killen's popular eBook, the Google SketchUp Guide for Woodworkers.

Basic SketchUp Tutorials 
Learn the basics of building furniture in SketchUp with these classic posts from the Design. Click. Build. blog.

Creating a Project Plan in SketchUp
How I Draw in SketchUp
Axes in SketchUp
The SketchUp Move Tool
The SketchUp Rotate Tool
The SketchUp Scale Tool

Materials, Colors, and Textures
Applying Wood Grain Skins in SketchUp

Easy Dovetail Joints in SketchUp

Digital Project Plans

Download and modify SketchUp files for select projects from Fine Woodworking. View all.

Top Sellers:
Matt's Monster Workbench
New England Pine Cupboard
Garden Bench

Meet the Authors



I am a Biomedical Equipment Technician. I maintain anesthesia and respiratory equipment for the largest medical facility in southeast Minnesota. I...
view profile

Tim Killen

I am retired from Bechtel Corporation after 36 years in Engineering and IT management. I grew up among woodworking machinery in...
view profile


view profile