Searching for Best Practice: Producing Detailed Drawings in LayOut from Furniture Assemblies in SketchUp

I have been both search for and trying to develop a best practice for producing detailed, dimensioned component, sub-assembly, and assembly drawings in LayOut from furniture assembly models I have developed in SketchUp … without satisfactory results, at least so far.

I have a pretty good understanding of how to use Layers and Scenes in SketchUp to help create the needed views in LayOut, but everything I have done in SketchUp to prepare a model like the example below for LayOut has been more time-consuming and inefficient than either producing the 3D model or, when I finally get there, producing the dimensioned 2D drawings.

As an example, here is a recent, fairly simple cabinet (SketchUp Pro 2019 model also attached) and it’s corresponding Outliner view. (Who knew you can name Groups!?) I have taken care to organize the model using Components and Groups, with all basic geometry on Layer0.

My main question is how best to organize my 3D model so that I can easily illustrate and dimension all the needed components, sub-assemblies, and assemblies in LayOut. I do have two “constraints” that I want to be able to work within:

  • I want to work with the one and only one instance of my 3D data that I have produced for my design. In other words, I do not want to make and displace copies of my 3D data to facilitate illustrating individual components in LayOut.

  • I don’t want to have to create and populate layers for each individual component of my 3D data, and then produce corresponding scenes for each layer. Doing this is far and above the effort needed to create the layers I need to control visibility in my original 3D model.

The vast majority of resources I have found for LayOut best practices are targeted at architectural applications, which don’t include the need to detail and dimension every individual component, as is needed in mechanical (e.g. furniture) design.

There has to be a better way … and I’m really hoping others in this SketchUp Community can lead me to it! :crossed_fingers:t4:

Workbench Cabinet Assy Rev00.skp (1.1 MB)

I mainly use SketchUp and LayOut for creating detailed furniture construction plans. I have the impression from what you say you don’t want to do to create your documents, you probably won’t like my workflow, though.

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Hi Dave, thanks for your quick response. I have great respect for the detailed furniture construction plans you create, from the examples you’ve shared in this forum, and from what you publish for Fine Woodworking.

I am somewhat familiar with your workflow to accomplish these plans, as we have corresponded about them a bit in the past. Is there a post, blog entry, video, or other resource, either free or for purchase, where you have documented the details of your SketchUp -> LayOut workflow? I bet lots of woodworkers who use SketchUp would be interested in a detailed article or video, as well.

I hesitate to ask you to reiterate your workflow here once again, but unless another Community member points me in a different direction that addresses my “constraints”, I will likely adopt your workflow, and a written guide to learn from would be most helpful.

Thank you, Rob.

Not yet.

Maybe I’ll write something up for you in the next day or so.

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That would be great, and much appreciated, Dave. I hope you might be able to take advantage of your efforts and perhaps reach / teach a larger audience, too!

RobM- your layers are good, but you need to add scenes. Scenes are just a camera view and a selection layers. This took about 3 minutes to make. You select the scale in LayOut, not in SketchUp
You have the hard part done.
. cabinet PDF.pdf (250.2 KB)

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You might also take a look at @matt book “SketchUp to LayOut” where in addition to solid techniques, he breaks down a table design in SU/LO. Good Luck.

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…just in case:

In addition to the Outliner Panel—Groups can also be named directly within the Entity Info Panel via the… Instance: text box.

That’s often quite convenient to the workflow being able to name them at the same time you’re assigning them to a layer… And for that matter you an also Create, Name, and set Layer Visibility directly within the entity info panel now as well. So if you’re not already doing so, that might shave a little bit of time off of your existing workflow.

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Brian, thanks for your notes! The scenes you set up will be perfect for setting up a great three-view of my top level assembly. :+1:t4:

@Lindsey, thanks for pointing out @Matt’s SketchUp to LayOut Book. After reviewing the Table of Contents, I bought the PDF version from https://www.sketchuptolayout.com/. With Matt’s background as a carpenter and woodworker, he does illustrate his process for furniture drawings with a simple table project, as you mentioned. Although most of the content is heavily architecture-related, I think it will be a good reference for the details of working with LayOut.

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Sounds like you’re all set.

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:scream: No, not at all, @DaveR!

Matt’s book will be a good reference for LayOut functionality, but even his table project, which is very straightforward, doesn’t begin to address my need for a best practice for taking a complex furniture or cabinetry design with internal sub-assemblies made up of details I need to expose for illustration and dimensioning on shop drawings.

So far, you are the only person that I’ve been able to find that has addressed this best practice specifically. If you are still willing, I’m still eager to see your process written down.

I’ll still be working on it.

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@JimD, thanks for the tip. I discovered the Instance text box in the Entity Info Window for a selected group recently. It’s a little confusing that SketchUp uses Instance for naming a group this way, and uses Instance for differentiating copies of components that have been instantiated into the model space, which I believe is the traditional CAD usage of the term.

Thanks, too, for pointing this feature out. I have been unsuccessful at creating new layers in the Entity Info Window thus far, but I would love to be able to do it. Perhaps I’m missing something. Could it be a UI inconsistency between the Windows and Mac versions of SketchUp? I’m running in Windows, and the Layer section of my Entity Info Window is strictly a dropdown menu, not a combo text box.

I might be the one missing something… because this could be a Mac only feature. And I’m not always good at remembering the differences because I haven’t been with SketchUp on Windows for a while now. So I’m sorry about any misinformation I’m passing on.

But I don’t apologize for suggesting that the Windows community should have this option too. It’s a nice way to go, for sure.

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@RobM you are welcome.
To confirm in Windows, cannot yet add new Layers through Entity Info panel.

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Thanks for recommending my book! :blush: I’m going to be working on an update soon to incorporate the new features since I wrote it.

Rob, considering these two requirements that you’ve established, there is one other area you could explore that might accomplish what you are after to a small degree. Scenes do have the ability to remember Hidden Geometry state of Groups/components/Entities that are in the main modeling context. So, you could isolate a drawer assembly, for instance.


But, you wouldn’t be able to isolate any groups/components that are nested inside of that group using this method.

I noticed that your current layer structure is essentially a redundant recreation of the top-level groups in the Outliner. Technically, you could get away with just hiding those groups directly and saving that in a scene, leaving those layers unnecessary. It gets a little tricky when you use this feature though because any new top-level geometry added to the model will be visible in the scenes by default, so you then have to go through each scene and update them.

I suppose if you wanted to explode all of your sub-assemblies, you’d be able to hide everything except for the one object you want visible in the scene. But you’d be sacrificing your organizational tree, and the model would definitely be harder to navigate. But this would allow you to only have one copy of everything, and you wouldn’t have to create any redundant layers. You’d still have to create a scene for each object you want to isolate, though.

I don’t really recommend this approach, but if you’re trying to accomplish the two objectives you outlined earlier, this is the only way I can think of doing it.

I had a discussion at one point about allowing for scenes to remember the hidden state of all geometry, instead of just top-level geometry. I think it would be a great feature to have. It would prevent you from having to explode all your sub-assemblies to use the Hidden Geometry feature in scenes.

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My workflow in dealing with this issue (there is a plugin as an alternative) is to have three layers in my templates for future use (labeled in template [Future 1], [Future 2] & etc., which are set as “Invisible”. Then when you need a new Layer, rename a [Future] layer and you are all set to make Visible, without affecting your earlier Scenes.

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Reading the other entries cause me to think I misunderstood your original question.

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@Lindsey Thanks for confirming! I’ll quit clicking on that dropdown menu now! :wink: