How to measure oblique shapes?

Hello, I’ve been wondering how I can quickly take measurements from the rises. The thing is, there is not one straight edge, and besides, 4 from the 6 edges are not parallel to one axis. I have to know the minimum sizes that I need to cut with the panel saw.

Can you highlight some example edges (or other features) that you want to measure? The Tape Measure tool can measure the distance between any two points.


I am confused. The rise of a stair tread is normally taken to be the height difference between one tread and another. As it is standard practice for all rises to be the same, what is it you actually need to measure?

Most places it is a code requirement! Variable rise is a trip danger.

Here in the UK, I think you can have a steep part and a shallower part, although I have never seen it done. It could be quite unnerving though.

Like the uneven steps in many castles, allegedly to cause invaders to trip!

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Really? Because back home, they had completely even treads? Anyway, once invaders are in the tower, it’s generally game over!

there’s a fun fact about that, in castles, helical stairs were usually turning clockwise, to make it harder for invaders to swing their sword (and easier for defenders) as most people are right handed


If you created groups or components with the right axes, it’s bounding box should be enough. These can easily be generated by an cutlist extension.

For taking direct measurements, the camera position can help to draw the dimension in the correct position

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I i’s hard to do that. I would need to draw a perpendicular line with that tool, and that doesn’t work (not that I know). I need to take the rectangular in which the form fits, but that seems a bit complicated. I have always difficulties with taking measures from sides that are not perpendicular or parallel to an axis. Sometimes it works, most of the time it does’nt.

Yes, that applies to the with (the height in the drawing) of the rise. The length however (in the first 8 steps here) is nowhere the same.

@MikeWayzovski Wat is a bounding box? Can you recommend a cultist extension?

@paul.millet that’s smart!

@brtl can you at least take a screen-capture and annotate the captured image with a paint program (or similar) to indicate what feature in the model that you wish to measure? For example, scribble an oval around it, or highlight it with an overlay paintbrush stripe.

The Protractor tool can easily draw guides that are perpendicular to an existing edge, in case you need to do something like that.


Ah, then this is a vocabulary issue. The term “rise” means height. The term for the actual section of the staircase is “riser”. Your question makes sense now!

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@simoncbevans as you might guess, english is not my mother language.

Well, actually, your English is so good that it fooled me!

In case it is useful for future purposes, here are some common terms:

Going - like the rise, this is a dimension
Tread - the part of the step you tread upon
String/stringer - the parts of the stairs, usually at the outside edges, that support the treads and risers
Closed string - treads and risers are housed into it
Open/cut string - cut to the shape of the treads and risers; treads usually oversail it and risers mitre joined to it
Newel/newel post - the posts that support the stringers and handrails
Baluster - the uprights that infill between stringer and handrail (the whole assembly being a balustrade)

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I think that the way I measured it this way is probably correct, the guidelines are parallel tot the blue axis.

If I understand correctly, you want to measure the vertical (along Blue axis) distance from the top edge of the selected stair riser down to the upper surface of the adjacent stair tread. This measurement is slightly complicated because the stair risers lean forward (instead of being purely vertical), giving each stair nose or front edge an acute angle less than 90 degrees rather than a typical 90 degree angle.

One way to take that measurement with the Tape Measure tool is shown in the following image. 1) Activate the Tape Measure tool and then click on the upper-right corner endpoint of the selected riser. 2) Press the Up-Arrow button on the keyboard. This will constrain or limit the measurement to only recognize movement or travel along the Blue (vertical) axis. 3) Move the cursor until it is somewhere on the upper face of the stair tread that is just below the selected riser. The vertical distance measurement should now be visible.

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