How to use Components/Groups to organize

I’m using Sketchup to do things like model out a new workbench, book case, and the like.
However there are some things that are causing me frustration.
What I’d like to do (let’s pretend I am making a work bench):
Be able to do something like model out a 2"x4"x12" board. Make it a component, say called, creatively enough, “2x4 board - 12in”.
Then, pull an instance of that component in, Push-Pull it it to 70", Move it to where I want it, name it “Bench Frame - Back”.
Pull in another instance, Push-Pull to 70", move it into position, name it “Frame Front”.
Pull in another instance, Push-Pull to 30", rotate it 90deg, move it into position between “Frame Front” and “Frame Back”, name it “Frame Left Side”.
Pull in another instance, Push-Pull to 30", rotate it 90deg, move it into position between “Frame Front” and “Frame Back”, name it “Frame Right Side”.
Group all these 4 “board” instances into a group called “Bottom Support”.

I keep running into things like:

  • One piece decides to glue itself to another piece.
  • If I edit “Frame Front”, sometimes "Frame Back mirrors the changes.
  • If I, say, pull another instance out of “Frame Right Side”, rotate it vertically, and rename it “Frame Leg Left Front”… I end up with some name like “Frame Leg Left Front <Frame Right Side>”

I very rarely want to edit one thing, and have it replicate across a bunch of pieces. I’d rather be able to adjust them as need to model out what I want to do, then later be able to go in and select, say, all the legs and add them to a “Leg” group. And maybe also have “Bottom Frame” and “Top Frame” groups, which are themselves part of the “Workbench Frame” group. (I tend to really like hierarchy).

Is this possible? Or am I trying to fit a square peg thru a round hole?


It would help if you’d share your .skp file with these components so we can see your exact set up. You should be able to do what you want as long as you remember to use Make Unique and rename components suitably and they should not glue themselves together.

Personally though, I think the workflow you describe is harder and more work than it needs to be. Also prone to more errors. I think you’ll find you are spending an awful lot of time moving and rotating the components to model your projects, I also thing your model management will be a lot more involved than needed.

To help achieve your goals, some time spent at the SketchUp Campus and at the SketchUp - YouTube channel will be very worthwhile. Both sites are from the SketchUp team. On the YouTube channel, pay attention to the Square One Series and Level UP series. They cover the basics for each tool.

I’m attaching a skp file.
Workbench - Draft 7 - Miter Shelf.skp (774.7 KB)

If there is a better way, I am all for it, but everything randomly gluing to other things is making it difficult to do anything useful. The only way I have been able to find to prevent that completely is every…single.time I add something, to create it away from the main bench, group or component it, then move it over.
For instance if I do something like double up a 2x4, right next to each other, it seems to roll a random dice to determine if it becomes 2 2x4s next to each other or one big 4x4 with a dividing line down the middle. It doesn’t seem predictable.
I like grouping each “board” and naming it so I can do things like tag it easily for cutlist/assembly etc.


Those, and some other YouTube vids have gotten me as far along as I am. But any time they talk about components it’s always “Hey you can change the length of all these rafters at once!” which doesn’t really help me when I lots of different sizes of cuts, and not a ton of repeating geometry.


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Use groups or preferably components which as long as the instances need to be the same will follow changes made in one component instance.
As soon as one or some need to be different, select it / them and right click > select ‘Make Unique’. Now changes will only be reflected in the ‘made unique’ components or in the original component(s) that was (were) not selected. You now have two different component definitions to work with.

I’m not seeing any instances of 2x4s being glued together as you describe. I see a lot of nesting of components that seems excessive. I also note that every component is a unique instances. For example, the five components I show selected here ought to be instances of the same component since they are identical. The same for the left and right end pieces.

You have more components in the bottom frame that are the same dimensions and ought to als be instances of those components in the top frame. That woud make your modeling process much more efficient, it would make potential changes easier and faster to manage, and in a cutlist you’d only need one line item for those parts which makes it more likely you’d cut them all at the same time with the same machine setup so they’d all be more likely to be the right length.

I’ve modeled a lot of furniture including workbenches over the years. I don’t bother with premaking components as simple as 2x4s. I model the parts in place where they will live in the model or I copy existing ones to the other positions and then model the parts to go between. In this bench, designed and built by Garrett Hack, I modeled the left foot first and made it a component. Then I modeled the front left leg, made it a component, copied it to the back left postion. With the two left legs positioned I modeled one of the intermediate rails in place between the legs copied it, added the top bearer and then with all those components made, copied them to the right to make the other end.

Withthe ends of the bench definied I drew the long stretchers and the benchtop to fit. This saves having to do a lot of data entry and as I wrote, a change to this bench’s dimensions would be quick and simple.

Edit to add: For my workflow every part is a component and I use copies of components for like parts.


I sort of rewoked the frame of your model making better use of components. Mine is in the front, yours in the back.

A cutlist from yours has 69 line items.

From mine, 19 line items.
Screenshot - 10_7_2023 , 4_29_22 PM

I probably shorten up component definition names if I were really doing this. I don’t think you need to add ‘2x4’ to them for example. A nit picking thing but it’s the sort of thing that leads to clean modeling is your inner back leg has some exposed blue back faces. You shouldn’t have any exposed back face at all in your model.