I keep getting frustrated with this program


I’ve sat through tutorials and done a few small projects but if I get into anything more complex I discover I’ve done something, and I don’t know exactly what and then the entire model doesn’t work anymore. I get shells out of walls that I though I created as solids that I also cannot join. In fact I have NEVER gotten the solid stuff to work and I just can’t get to where this is.

It’s not my first rodeo with the CAD style drafting and in most other programs I’ve been able to troubleshoot my way through things. But with this and all the borrowed lingo that doesn’t do what it implies or function in a way that makes sense I start to wonder if I am going to react like one of these uber mad gamers on youtube because it seems like the only way to solve the problem is to completely start over AND I don’t even know what to change about what I did before to make it work.
I attached the file, and the structure is there. I took several detailed measurements and used those reference points to construct this thing from the ground up.
Oh and why can’t get a tool to do what it says it will do based on my parameters or snap to what seem to me like obvious places, like faces for example.

HPR.skp (328.9 KB)


In your layers, it looks like you’ve set the current layer to ‘Existing Structure’. You need to make sure that Layer 0 is ALWAYS set to your default layer. Basically, always draw/model in this order:

  1. Draw loose geometry (lines, faces, etc) on Layer 0
  2. Make group if geometry is one off items…like the building floor for example if it’s a one-story building;
  3. Make component for all repeating geometry…like posts, rails, table legs, street lamps, windows, etc;
  4. Create and name specific layers: ie Wall-Existng, Wall-Proposed, Floor, Furnishings, etc;
  5. Assign the groups / components to the appropriate layer using ‘Entity Info’ panel;
  6. Repeat as needed.

Good luck. You’ll get there.


There are a variety of issues with your model that are likely causing your frustration. Mainly they indicate that you need to try to shut off your CAD instincts and study SketchUp as its own beast.

The most serious issue is that there are multiple examples in the model suggesting you are not carefully using SketchUp’s system of inference snaps and locks. There are edges that are offset by a tiny amount from adjacent ones, as if you didn’t wait for an inference snap tooltip before drawing or aligning them. There is at least one interior wall surface that is slightly askew from the axis and not parallel to the outer surface, as if you didn’t lock the direction when you drew it. I’d suggest that you practice drawing while paying very careful attention to inference engine tooltips, snaps, and locks until they become second nature. The tiny errors that result from not doing so often lead to mysterious glitches that are hard to find and to correct. Also, while you practice this I’d set the model units to as small as available so that tiny discrepancies are revealed when you tape-measure something or add a dimension.

As @eric-s noted, you are using SketchUp’s layers as if they are 2D CAD layers, which they are not. SketchUp’s (unfortunately named) “Layers” are tags that can cause multiple objects to be displayed or not with a single setting, but they do not in any other sense gather, isolate, or structure the objects. You can associate edges with two different SketchUp layers and they will still “stick to” and intersect each other and the faces they bound.

So, drawing some edges with the “Existing Structure” layer active and others with “Outline” active does not isolate them. You use groups and components to isolate collections of edges and faces that constitute a single “object” from others. Once you create a component or group, you can assign a layer to it to affect its visibility, but it isn’t necessary to assign the same layer to its contents and doing so can actually cause confusing issues with visibility. All edges and faces should always be drawn with Layer0 active and left that way. And there are only special circumstances in which you should make anything other than Layer0 “Active”, none of which apply to models such as the example you attached.

Regarding solids, in SketchUp a “solid” is a group or component that contains a minimal collection of faces that completely enclose a single volume of model space. By minimal, I mean that there are no extras such as “flaps” or internal partitions and also no non-face edges. Your outside walls component has some examples of both extra partitions and stray edges. Many of these look like they resulted from the small offset edges I mentioned above. By completely enclose, I mean that there are no holes connecting the interior to the exterior (called “surface boundaries” in some discussions). In you sample model, the walls do not have tops so they fail this last point. There is also a problem with a portion of the bottom of the walls due to one of the slightly offset edges not meeting cleanly at a corner.


And has been wrapped up as a component or group. Loose geometry will not be recognised as a solid in SU.


I’ve tried to utilize all of those “tricks” which still seem counter intuitive even in relation to paper drafting and of course the frustration.
This doesn’t really address the fact that I create a structure that I understand is a solid but as you can see it’s become a shell and I have never been successful utilizing the sold tools because I always get the message saying I cannot use them.
It also makes me question if whether most of these seeming “bugs” are really an effort to push the purchase of the Pro software.


No, it simply means you haven’t taken the time to understand how to use the software.


Just had a quick look at your model and firstly you need to read up on how layers work.
Have a look here.


Ok thanks. Maybe there is something I am missing regarding the snaps and locks you are referencing because when I am drawing I absolutely rely on those which is a direct carryover from my other CAD self training, using and relying on snaps. I will say that finding and securing those locks and snaps are not at all intuitive nor does it seem reliable. Too many times I have attempted a lock or apply a constraint and the program just doesn’t.
I will look at the model units settings and I use the tape measure pretty much all the time since I can’t set datum or other reference points in this drawing.
Is there any way to recover and repair what I’ve done so far? When I try to look closer my screen ends up “whiting out” and I don’t have any reference for where I am and what I’m looking to fix. And where is the extend line/surface tool to make fixing these more effective?

I have to admit, the layer thing really ticks me off more and more; seeing as I can make them only visible or invisible. There is no grayed option and therefore impossible to create a reference layer for things.
And there is no apparent recovery method when I make mistakes other than completely starting over.And after spending an hour or two on a project to discover that the model is f-ed up I often want to launch my computer across the room and just go back to paper and pencil because I am so far from a place to be able to afford AudoCAD or Vectorworks.


wow, that really is not at all helpful. Clearly, if I am asking for help telling me all that I have NOT done does not really add to my experience.


Sorry you feel that way, I was simply pointing out the you have several times said that you are self taught in this and other software.
My comment was to point out that there is a huge amount of educational information available, basic starter videos, help files, you tube tuts and an assortment of other good and bad tutorials.
In this day and age with the amount of info available at the tap of a keyboard it should be possible that self taught also means well read.

By the way, Clipping might be a good search term for a solution to whiting out.


Without watching over your shoulder, I can’t tell what you might be missing, sorry! But there are quite a few places in that model where things are just a tiny bit out of whack. Sometimes you have to pause a moment to let SketchUp’s inference engine analyze what is going on. Often you should enter exact values into the measurements box instead of attempting to hit them by moving the mouse, even with inference snaps. Once an object is just a bit crooked, for example, you can’t move it up against another without causing this kind of errors.

Likewise, I can’t tell why locking an inference doesn’t work for you. Pressing an arrow key should lock cursor movement to an axis in the model. Holding down shift should lock inferences to their current state, such as on a surface or edge.

Unfortunately, the way to repair a damaged model varies enormously depending on the specific error. Sometimes moving something a small distance will work. Sometimes erasing an edge and redrawing it will work. But since things interact with each other, it is also possible that each attempted fix just makes more issues! As a result, often it is actually faster to start over and work carefully to avoid making the same mistakes.

I don’t mean this as an insult, only as context: the example model you showed is really not very complicated. An experienced SketchUp user could probably create it from scratch in perhaps 5 minutes.


As an afterthought, maybe it would be beneficial if you could find an experienced SketchUp user to with you to watch how you are working and offer constructive suggestions specific to the actions that are frustrating you.


What you’ve described are not bugs in the software. It’s workflow. Keep at it. It takes time. And like @slbaumgartner, sounds like enrolling in a class or looking for an online tutor may be your best place to start. Good luck.