Gearing Up with Sketchup



Just installed and uninstalled and reinstalled because I couldn’t figure out how to get back to the tutorials, then was frustrated because the tutorial instructions to display the large tool palette did not match my options under the view button… So now that that is resolved… how do I segment a flat plane of a circle so as to have holes evenly spaced and all the way through a half inch thick plastic disc whereby the holes are placed.25 inches from the outer edge and oriented such that the .75 inch length is centered evenly all the way around?
Is Sketchup even capable of such an exacting degree of modeling? And how do I properly draw a gear? The tutorials don’t even come close to explaining this one!



Some dimensions I wasn’t sure exactly, but you get the idea.


One issue to be aware of is that SketchUp’s in-built tolerance is 1/1000"
Any points used in creating geometry which are closer that that are regarded as coincident.
The too tiny edge is not made and any reliant faces are also not made.
This is usually not an issue as SketchUp was initially intended for designing buildings and their parts - not Swiss-watches.
Whilst your current ‘gear’ is unlikely to cause any problems if you were to co considerably smaller you might have issues…
This usually occurs when creating for 3d printing with very small/detailed objects.
Intersections or FollowMe could potentially result in tiny facets that get missed out

It can be overcome.
Tiny geometry cannot be created, but it can exist !

There are a number of workarounds.
Create the basis of the tiny geometry.
Make it into a component.
Copy it to one side and Scale that copy x1000
Edit that copy.
Do the operation[s] that would otherwise fail due to the tininess.
The larger geometry now forms without issues.
Exit the edit.
Delete the copy.
The original sized component will show the same changes - its now ultra-tiny geometry can exist - you just couldn’t create it in the first place !


Thank you for responding… I now know Sketchup is capable of being used to design gears (none of which was even touched on in the tutorials. I’ve since discovered also that a gear plug-in will have to be installed. I’ve never installed a plug-in in anything except when Kaspersky wanted to install one in Firefox… but I didn’t install it. Kaspersky software did. I have never used a CAD program before and as such… watching the tutorials they do have available has proved to be somewhat useless from my perspective and level of knowledge and understanding. Therefore, in order to design a gear (or any part for that matter) for turning over to a part manufacturer for prototyping - In the tutorials they simply state what tool they are using one right after the other and I still have no concept of what the tool really does from the design perspective… Oh sure… PUSH/PULL which works on any flat surface within the design was quite easy to understand, but when I draw a circle and pull it up to gain the desired thickness , I see a bunch of flat edges comprising the outer circumference of the disc, which is why I asked Is it even capable of being used to draw a gear. Another respondent focused their reply on just how miniscule the design dimensions and minute the tolerance can be with Sketchup, but in doing so their response was useless information…

I see what you’re doing in your provided attachment but still have no clue how you’re doing it because your menu interfaces do not match mine.

Sketchup’s first tutorial should be how to set up the user interface so it matches what they present in the rest of their tutorials!

I’m still lost because they didn’t think to do something so basic as to start quite literally at square one on the premise that those downloading their software are downloading a CAD program and trying to learn it for the very first time.

SQUARE ONE first tutorial should have started with "Now that you’ve finished downloading and installing the software - Click on your desktop icon and let’s begin by setting up your user interface so the full gamut of options and tools will be available to you so you can easily follow along with our tutorials. Or the first user interface should already automatically be the same as the one in the first tutorial.

The title of the tools you click on in trying to show me is impossible for me to figure out.

  1. I can’t use positional references because our interface is not set up the same and…

  2. I can’t read the tool title because by the time you mouse over the tool and click on it the words are gone if they were ever there in the first place and…

  3. I see what you did to the drawing with the tool but my not knowing what any tool really does in any CAD program, I cannot back reference which tool you chose to do it.

So quite literally and quite Basically… Where am I supposed to start?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Tutorial 1 drove me nuts because he kept clicking on a broad arrangement of tools on the left edge of his screen and all I had was a tiny list of tools at the top of mine.

Tutorial 2 stated how to open the Large tool set on the left edge (which should have been the first thing in tutorial 1) but he said click on View… then from the dropdown menu, click on TOOL PALLET… then click on LARGE TOOL PALLET… but TOOL PALLET was not an option in my dropdown menu when I clicked on VIEW.

OK… I need to draw a 9" diameter disc with holes in it which are placed equidistant around the outer edge of the disc, such that the holes are aligned radially with the midpoint and centered equidistant on the lines of radius through a disc .5" thick and positioned with the outer hole eges a uniform distance from the outer edge of the disc. How do I do that?

You see… in your attachment you are clicking on menus that as of yet aren’t even an option in my software because our program user interfaces are not set up the same.

Thank you for any help you may provide

For starters… step by step… how? because you’re clicking on tools I don’t even have access to yet which leads me to believe our interfaces are not set up the same or you have already installed plug-ins that I as of yet am unaware of.
But you also get a pop up menu for solid components when I’m trying to draw holes and that in and of itself is confusing., but I noticed that somehow you erased them afterward and left holes but I also do not understand the purpose of your having extruded (my probably incorrect term for it) upwards and downwards before erasing them to leave the holes. Your demonstration although inspiring was still based on a principle that I know something about CAD basics, and I do not. Oh and one other thing of key note. I cannot use the keyboard and mouse at the same time due to left side paralysis after a stroke which is also why I’m resorting to CAD because I can no longer hold rulers and protractors in position while drawing by hand which I was exceptionally good at doing in detail.


Actually I don’t get the idea other than it is possible. I have no clue what tools you used to do what you have shown.
I have no clue how to orient the hole. I have no clue where to even enter the .75, .5 and .125 inches to specify the dimensions of the holes. I have no clue how you told it to repeat the hole pattern 31 times because as I stated… I don’t know what tools you used to do that. Bottom line. I have never used a CAD program before, and you’re clicking on stuff I don’t even have access to (yet). I downloaded Sketchup because it was promoted as being very easy to learn but that statement left out two irrefutably key words and those being “their format”.

I have Sketchup 2017 installed and my user interface matches nothing I’ve been shown anywhere and that is my first dilemma.

How do I set up the user interface so my screen matches what very generous people are trying to show me?
I don’t know how to make my tool pallet match the pallets in the tutorials which also means I don’t know how to match your interface settings.
Detailed help would be greatly appreciated.


OK… I got to the part where it says Entity Info >> Solid Component (1 in model).
How did you change it to multiple Solid Components? How did you do a radial copy about the fixed axis? These are not shown simply by watching. Thank you.


Radial copy is achieved by pressing the option key while performing a rotational move (rotate tool) You can type in the angle of the move after the action is completed.

Skectchup is a complex program with a very wide variety of options, and many ways of doing the same thing. If you looked at 10 serious users work environments you would see ten very different setups. Sketchup can be frustrating for many early users , myself included, it’s not realistic to expect to perform complex operations off the bat, but stick with it and perhaps start with something simple as you learn.

Sketchup for dummy’s (No insult intended, I own it too) is a useful book to own for beginners, as is the “sketchup cookbook”

This forum is a bunch of more or less friendly user volunteers that are happy to answer specific questions when we can.
Good luck!


I figured a disc was simple and spacing equidistant holes in it I figured should also be simple esp considering they touted we’d be drawing in minutes. Compared

to gears, discs are extremely simple, but will SU place the 31 holes evenly spaced since it’s tolerance is down to 1/1000"? What is the finest tolerance on degrees of arc between mid line of holes (in my case)? Or must I type in 11.61290322580645 every time for 30 copies of the first one? The example shown the replier showed Entity Details stating 31 solid objects… How did they get there so fast from one original? Can I tell it position 31 of “these” entities equidistant at the same distance from center point and be done in one fell swoop?

Ordering for Dummies 2014 since can find no newer version updates… Thank you.
I just hope the fabricator will accept the output format from SketchUp or all this is for naught.


Hey Confused,

Let’s try a smaller step and think about this in a different way.
Select the polygon tool, type 31 then enter.
Now you can draw a 31 sided object. The midpoints of each segment should be near your 11.6129°
Then we can go from there if you have success.



A disc with holes is not particularly hard, but it incorporates some core concepts of sketch up that without understanding you will find strange and difficult. Starting with a 31 face disc is a great suggestion (to be clear you know sketchup is linear? There are no curves if you hoped to output a perfect Circle for manufacture it’s a problem). After any action in sketchup before you do anything else you can modify previous action in useful ways by typing in values. In this case make a circle. Then type 31s you now have 31 equal sides. Make your hole then copy rotate it once, type in the exact degrees you want to move, hit return next type x30 it happens 30 more times (plus the first one you had). Sorry I that’s not clear, I’m typing on my phone. Good luck.


One of the main issues you have is the need to use the keyboard, often in conjunction with the mouse. One good way around it is to use an onscreen keyboard, the various modifier keys will hold for use with the mouse.
In the case of a Radial Array you need to use ctrl with the Rotate tool to create a copy.
So here is a quick “Radial Array” made using only one hand.
I have used your angular dimension of 11.6129 to create the first copy in the correct position, then typed 30x to finish the full array. Then push/pull to give thickness.


Why didn’t I think of that… Already copied the "hole: entity via the radial copy tool but did that 30 times leaving the original in its place… pulled up the disc to half inch thickness with push/pull but then could not erase the holes entities to leave just the prototype model.
Polygon was an excellent suggestion… thank you… but then how do I erase the component hole entities? because as soon as I pull up the disc surface it wont separate itself from the hole entities when I try to erase… I zoom in and put the cursor on the top face of the hole entity and right mouse click pop up erase and the disk pull up disappears… And I mean really zoom in to where the entire cursor arrow is fully within the hole entity top face. My protractor for the rotate tool would also not lock to the vertical axis when I left clicked for it to do so, which was also driving me nuts and when I finished making all the copies it said there were only 22 of them in the model and not the actual number shown.
Kept seeing the video presenter hitting “explode” a lot… why? what does explode do? Has to be important or he wouldn’t keep doing it… these things are not covered inn any of the tutorials yet it seems it should be as it appears to be a required mid point between major steps in the process.


Awesome! you skipped all the confusing solids component creation which was also confusing me. Thank you very much. I’ll adjust my hole dimensions accordingly.


I don’t know how you started with a quadrangle hole in the 2 dimensional disc… every time I draw the rectangle it will not separate from the plane of the disc. I can encase it and make a component out of it and mass copy it but my pull up pulls everything up. Still cofused but so far your style beats erasing later. Thank you.


He draws the square on the red axis.
It merges with the main Circle’s ‘disk’ face.
Then erase the square’s face.
Now select the four edges forming the square hole [use Select +Ctrl to add to the selection].
Now do the Rotate +Ctrl to do the radial array copy [centered on the Circle].
Snap to the first point around the Circle [a ‘node’]
Now immediately type in N* and [enter].
Where N is the Number of copies to make .
The holes copy around the disk…
You know the rest…


Actually no… I have no clue how to erase the squares face. I can control select the sides comprising my rectangle. I can get it to dither highlight the face of my rectangle but the erase tool won’t erase it and if I hit RMB pop up menu and use that erase, it erases the dithered representation of the face and a bunch of the perimeter lines. Thankfully undo works perfectly.


To get an evenly spaced array of N around a circle I usually do a rotate-copy by 360 degrees and then type /N. No math required!


slbaumgartnerSketchUp Sage

To get an evenly spaced array of N around a circle I usually do a rotate-copy by 360 degrees and then type /N. No math required!

And how is this aspect entered because you are correct…it will yield SU most minute tolerance.


type 360/31x or what because the narrow dimension displaces a few of the 360 degrees… What about the original as not being one of the copies?


In this animation you will see:

  • circle with rectangle pre-drawn
  • erase the face of the rectangle to create a hole
  • select the four sides of the rectangle
  • activate the rotate tool
  • select circle center as center of rotation and any point on the rectangle as what to rotate
  • begin rotating (I forgot and clicked to get rotate copy after starting)
  • type 360 + enter
  • type /30 + enter
  • pushpull to thickness to get holes through a disc