How to draw and move parts of a drawing independently from the main drawing



I’m a woodworker learning SketchUp Make to properly plan my furniture designs and produce cut lists (list of the furniture parts with dimensions). How can I draw several parts of a piece of furniture, separate from the main drawing of the furniture piece, join these separate parts to each other, and then place these joined pieces in their proper location onto the main furniture drawing? For example, I have a table designed on SketchUp, and now I want to add the drawer slides to the drawing. The drawer slides consist of a lower and an upper set of slides–two parts to each of the lower, and two parts to the each of the upper slides. I need to be able to rotate the individual separate parts horizontally ( maybe vertically as well), and independently from the drawing of the furniture piece. I know i can draw the individual pieces and join them to the main furniture piece. I just thought SketchUp Make would allow drawing of these parts separate from the main drawing, and them to place them accordingly in the main drawing. Suggestions or guidance will be greatly appreciated.


Make each separate part of the table a group and you will be able to move each freely without altering any geometry.

Research how to use Components and Groups in SketchUp.


While you can draw the parts separately and assemble them to create the completed model, it isn’t very efficient to work that way. It requires that you know and enter more dimensions than you really need and it’s more prone to induced errors.

Most of the models I create in SketchUp are detailed furniture pieces for plans which include cutlists such as what you are wanting to do. I draw the parts that basically define the footprint of the piece and draw the other parts to fit. The key is to make a component of each part you’d make in the shop. For multiples of identical parts and mirrored counterparts, one component is created and then copied. If mirrored, say for left and right case sides, I’d draw one, copy it and place it where it needs to be and then flip it (using Flip Along) to make it mirrored.

For example, this is a model I drew based on a jeweler’s bench from about 1900. I drew the front left leg, made it a component and then copied it to the front right location and flipped it along the red axis. (the front of the model runs parallel to the red axis.) Then i selected both front legs and copied them to the rear positions and flipped them in the green direction. Although the legs are symmetrical about their centerlines, the flipping (mirroring) becomes important later.

With the legs properly located, it’s just a matter of drawing the stretchers and aprons to fit between them. I have no need to know how long those parts are to draw them. I’ll let SketchUp give me that info later. There’s kickers, runners and spacers to house the drawer and the slide out tray at the bottom. Those are drawn to fit inside. Again, no need to know how long they are when drawing them. And again when drawing the drawer, I only have to draw it to fit. I don’t need to know how long the parts are. I drew the drawer front and the drawer back and then drew a side to fit between them with the requisite overlaps for dovetails. After adding the grooves in the drawer sides and front, I drew the drawer bottom to fit. The only dimension I needed to know to draw in the drawer bottom was the thickness. (well, in this case there’s a wide bevel on the front and sides so I added that but the length and width of the drawer bottom were determined by the parts I already drew.

I generally leave adding joinery until after the parts are all drawn. It’s especially useful to save that until late in the process if you anticipate changes to the model. It’s generally easier to resize parts if you don’t have to deal with modifying the joinery, too. It can be done if needed, though.

No matter how complex the piece, I always use essentially the same process as in that simple table I showed. Here are some other examples of pieces I’ve drawn which are fully detailed. This Shaker-style workbench and this low boy were both featured in Fine Woodworking Magazine. I drew them for construction plans which I created in LayOut. The entire model, exploded views, and all views of the individual parts are shown in the same SketchUp file.

So far for my workflow drawing in SketchUp, I’ve never found an advantage to using groups and I only use components. The first thing you need to do as you’re learning SketchUp is develop your workflow so you are making components, or groups if you’re using them, before you add geometry that belongs to another part.


@jemtz, one little thing I would like to add to @DaveR’s excelent explanation.
To be able to switch between seeing the entire model and only seeing only the part (group or component) that you create/edit, you can assign ‘View/Component Edit/Hide Rest Of Model’ to a shortcut key to toggle visibility of the rest of the model on/off. That may help in inspecting the part while creating/editing it.
And another thing, don’t forget that there is X-Ray style to see through already existing geometry.


Makes perfect sense. Thanks. I returned to my drawing a few minutes ago, and started drawing the parts only to be stopped in my tracks. I’m now having difficulty is drawing a simple rectangle. I try to draw a rectangle 11.75" long, and 0.75" wide, but the resultant rectangle drawn by SketchUp Make is 28" long. Or if I draw a 12" X 12" square starting at the origin point, the resultant square is many more times than the size of the table I have in my drawing. I have recallibrated the template to inches, but that hasn’t helped. I closed SketchUp Make and restarted it, and that didn’t help. I shut down the computer, and went back in to the file, and it didn’t help. I opened a new file, and that too is giving my errors in the VCB. What’s wrong?


Can you upload the model so we can take a look? That’s the fastest way to help.

If you snap a tape on your existing table in the drawing is the result what you expected to see?

What errors are you seeing in a fresh file?


Maybe I can help you get through this with a live session. I just sent you a private message.


Figured it out. I had unintentionally rescaled the model with the Scale tool!

Live an learn. Thank you for your offer!


I appreciate your help. Thanks!


You must be Dave Richards. I have your video course on my HD. Great information. Thanks for making SketchUp more understandable, but in the end it takes practice, practice, and practice.


Yes. You’re right. I’m happy it helps. You’re right. It does take practice.


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