Extrude to spiral

I added “Curve Maker” to make 2016. I can make a helix but I can’t get follow me to extrude along it. I’m trying to draw bolts. Any help?

The helix that Curve Maker creates is in a group. Did you explode the group or open it to add the profile? You’ll also find it useful to work on your bolt at a larger scale and then scale down after it’s completed.

Can I ask what you want to use the bolt model for? To 3D print it? To use as detail in some assembled model? Something else?

The 3D warehouse and other sources have many examples of grossly over-detailed models of screws, nuts and bolts. Other than as an exercise in drawing in SU, they are mostly of no use to incorporate as details of larger assemblies.

For that purpose, simplified or even 2D face-me thread images may serve the purpose, without overloading your model with zillions of tiny faces and edges - which if they are visible at all, may occupy only a few pixels in the model as viewed.


Thank you for your response Dave. As per your suggestion I exploded the group and then selected the entire curve and still couldn’t get follow me to extrude. Can you tell me how to “add the profile”?

The profile would be the shape of the thread–maybe a triangle–that will be extruded along the helical path. You did draw that shape, correct?

Keep in mind that this won’t work at the size of the typical bolt. You’ll need to work at a much larger scale.

John makes a good point. While it is possible to draw things like screws and bolts, you should let the way you’re using it determine how much detail you put into it. I did these screws for a fellow who needed to make a 3D print of a section for something. I made a nut, too and they work together.

But more often than not, I only need to communicate that the object is a screw in a plan or something and so I don’t need anywhere close to this kind of resolution and I keep my screws simpler. I usually want a little more detail than I’d get in a 2D component so I make screws with threads but I’m not so concerned about the accuracy or precision. These are a few examples.

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You hit the nail on the head John. I am trying to expand my abilities and after watching a great video on adding details I found the Make doesn’t have helix creation included. Curve maker seemed like what I needed. Maybe it doesn’t work with Make? After consideration I realize I don’t have any practical use for this function at this time. General construction and some woodworking don’t require that level of detail. I appreciate the recommendation to utilize 3D warehouse. That will certainly meet my needs. Hopefully at some point I will be able to afford the full Sketch Up software.
Thanks for your response. This community is pretty classy.

Neither does SketchUp Pro.

Curve Maker works just fine in SketchUp Make.

It is a good learning exercise and the things you learn about using SketchUp to draw screws will be useful for other things so you just go ahead and learn to draw them.

I did draw the profile, a triangle and then a circle. The helix was on the x axis and my profiles were at 90 degrees as per the videos I watched. The examples you posted are very nice. I am currently drawing up plans for kitchen cabinets (custom) for the house we are building. I think John is right. I don’t need to go into that level of detail at this time. I might have more luck later with the full version of SketchUp. Thanks again for your help. For the time being I will work on basic modeling and try to not get distracted.

Yes. For something like kitchen cabinets, you probably don’t need to show screws or bolts at all. If you are building the cabinets, you already know where they need to be and if you are just laying them out so someone else can build them, they don’t need that detail either.

As far as just drawing things like screws in SketchUp, there is no difference between SketchUp Make and Pro. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the pro version will let you draw things that Make isn’t capable of. That’s just not the case.

I didn’t mean to discourage you from practising different drawing techniques, and while I agree you may not need bolts, some woodworking can use helical shapes (like barley twist table legs).

You could also try the SU Parametric Shapes plugin from the Sketchucation Plugin Store - it helps you create various solid shapes, whose size you can alter later, as well as helical ones.

It does box, cylinder, prism, cone, torus, dome (hemisphere), sphere, helix, helical ramp, and helical ramp with sides.

John made another good point. Barley twist table legs might be something you’d want to draw and they use the same idea.

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I just knew DaveR would have a brilliant finished and textured example! Lovely, Dave

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Thank you, sir.

You are both inspiring and I will keep exploring even as I produce. Thanks and my next stop will be the Sketchucation Plugin Store.

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One other plug for something I drew myself - if you DO want to portray woodscrews in a cross-section or translucent assembly drawing, or just to portray the screwheads, try my Woodscrew collections from the 3dWarehouse.

Enter “woodscrews johnmcc” as your search term to find them.

They have low poly 2D face-me threads, and flat or solid heads in a variety of sizes and finishes.

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by Dave Richards

Clever solution. Nice!