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

Yeah, it’s potentially confusing. It got that way because beneath the covers each copy of a SketchUp Group is implemented as a special kind of ComponentInstance.

1 Like

@Matt, thanks for weighing in on this topic. I saw in your bio that you have been a carpenter, so you know the satisfaction that comes from designing a custom piece of furniture or cabinetry, and then going in the workshop and making sawdust until that piece comes into being!

This is a great reminder that Scenes remember Hidden Geometry states, and might be a real building block for the SU -> LO best practice I’m seeking. But … and it’s a “big but” … the behavior you point out that currently, Scenes only remember Hidden Geometry states of top level entities is a real limitation.

I’ll give some thought to model organization that might be able to take advantage of this current behavior without sacrificing to much in terms of a well-organized data structure.

I’ve run into this situation and have been forced to go back through and update all my scenes after adding a new layer to the model. @Lindsey mentioned what I think is a brilliant hedge for this situation. He creates some additional layers (Future1, Future2, etc.) and leaves them off and empty while creating his scenes. If he discovers that an additional layer is needed, he uses one of the “future” layers that is already included but turned off in all of his previously created scenes. I’m definitely going to add this practice to my own workflow!

IMHO, this would be a great improvement in support of a SU -> LO best practice. Has an official feature request been put in for this?

@Lindsey, as I mentioned in my reply to @Matt, I think this tip is brilliant and will definitely save me time and effort in the future. I always attempt to have my 3D model as complete as possible before I move on to preparing it for LayOut, but often I find tweaks that I want to do that require the addition of one or more new layers.

As an aside, and potentially fodder for a separate topic, I am going to work on developing some starter models for my own use, that have as much of the stuff I find myself recreating with every new design as possible. This “stuff” would include premade Layers (every cabinet has some combination of carcass, face frame, doors, drawers, hardware, etc.), including some reserved “Future” layers, premade Styles, preloaded standard components, and maybe even premade standard Scenes.

Thanks again for your tip on “Future” layers!

@slbaumgartner Hi Steve, thanks for the “beneath the covers” background on Groups and Components. I once rashly thought, “Who needs Groups? I’ll just make everything from details to sub-assemblies to assemblies Components!” But I’m older now (at least a week or so) and I see the need for Groups, especially when I have to duplicate geometry in sub-assemblies or assemblies and spread out the details in preparation to go from SU -> LO.

You are very welcome.

There’s some controversy over when to use groups vs components. It seems to depend on both the individual’s work style and specific modeling needs.

I and some prominent SketchUper’s use components exclusively for basic modeling, reserving groups for situations in which a collection of otherwise diverse stuff needs to be moved, rotated, or similarly manipulated together. I usually explode the group after the manipulation. I do woodworking, and nearly all my models have multiple identical parts that need to stay identical during edits while fine-tuning the design. Components are the only choice for that situation. In my models, each distinct board is a component, with instances as needed where the part is repeated (including flipped or scaled) or moved aside for exploded views.

Some others find components to be too heavyweight for their purposes. The dialog to create a component is sometimes cited as taking too much time (I don’t agree, but it’s subjective). Components have a few extra data elements compared to groups (notably the thumbnail shown in the component window and the path to the file where the component was saved). These can increase model size and in one case I’ve heard it greatly slowed down an automated geometry creating extension.


I agree, I have created the same workflow. In addition, I have a separate template that includes pre-defined sections.

Lastly, I find it very heloful to keep my favorite “re-useable” components in a separate model (also very handy for importing from 3DW), for copy and paste.

1 Like

Matt looking forward to your update to “SketchUp to LayOut”. Presenting our designs in a clear and concise manner is maybe more important than the design.
If you want ideas for presentation (not SketchUp best practices) public or private I would love to add to the discussion.
Lindsey’s Future layers tip is fantastic


Yes, however, once you start brainstorming the logic behind what would be required to implement this, it gets a little tricky. Similar to how new layers will appear visible in all scenes, you’d have the same issue with geometry, only it gets much more complicated.

There was a lengthy discussion, but if I remember correctly, it came down to something like this: Instead of just Hide/Unhide, you’d need something like “Hide/Unhide in current scene” , so that instead of a scene having to remember the visibility state of every single entity in your model, it only has to remember the visibility state of entities you specifically want to control. Otherwise, it gets really hard to manage as you add new geometry to the model.

Regarding new layers after scenes are created, I’ve used this plugin and it solves that whole problem.

I was thinking of starting a new thread to just discuss what people woul dlike to see in the update, so this isn’t a bad idea

1 Like

This does sound like a complex coding task. I’ve had second thoughts about this approach, too. Currently, I can see which Layers are visible in each Scene, so this aspect of my model structure is somewhat “self-documenting.” Using Scenes to remember Hidden Geometry would be much less obvious as to what would be visible in each Scene, with no “self-documenting” feature, at least not currently.

@Lindsey’s suggestion of including a block of FutureX layers, left invisible, is a brilliant hedge that I have already used to my advantage. I will check out the extension you mentioned, too!

Since our discussion, I’ve taken three shop cabinetry models from SU to LO for shop drawings, using my take on what I remember of @DaveR’s SU->LO method. Below is a brief outline of how I prepared my SU models. I have attached my Bench Saw Stand SU model, LO model, and the exported PDF of the LO model.

The shop drawings are for my own personal use. They aren’t fully dimensioned and detailed, but include the information I needed to build the cabinetry. This Bench Saw Stand is currently about 90% complete. I’ll post a few pictures of the finished stand in a few days.

Comments and suggestions for improving on this SU -> LO methodology are most welcome!

@RobM’s SketchUp Model Preparation for Sending to LayOut

Data Structure

  • All individual details are components
  • Sub- and top-level assemblies and hardware sets are groups
  • Generally, each group is on its own layer

Model Copies

  • Entire model copied twice, to [12’,12’,12’] and [24’,24’,24’] respectively
  • This spatial separation prevents extraneous details from showing up in the background of parallel projection top / side / front views
  • The magnitudes of spatial separation are arbitrary and model dependent

Model Copy Preparation

  • [12’,12’,12’] Copy for Detail Views:
  • Hardware sets and other groups that will not be detailed in LO are deleted from this copy
  • Details in remaining groups are rotated / moved / arranged into front views, with 6" - 12" of spatial separation, similar to above, to prevent other details from showing up in top / side / front views
  • [24’,24’,24’] Copy for Cutting Diagrams:
  • Everything except the Carcass Assy group is deleted from this copy
  • One or more 48" x 96" Plywood Sheet components are added to this copy of the Carcass Assy group as needed
  • The plywood carcass details are arranged on the face of the Plywood Sheet components for efficient cutting diagrams
  • I generally allow 1" of space between components unless a tighter arrangement is needed

Scene Preparation

  • Using the [0’,0’,0’] (original), [12’,12’,12’] and [24’,24’,24’] copies as needed, Scenes are created for front views, ISO views, and section Views with the appropriate Layers visible
  • Side, top, and other detail views will be created from the Scene front views inside of LO to minimize the number of scenes created in SU

At this point, the SU model is ready to send to LO for shop drawing creation. If modification of any details becomes necessary, as it often does once I get a project into the workshop, the use of components will carry the modifications throughout the SU model and with a Model Reference update, into the LO model as well.

I’ve included the SU, LO and PDF models of my Bench Saw Stand to help illustrate the steps I’ve outlined here. Once again, any comments and suggestions for improvement are most welcome!

Bench Saw Stand Rev00.skp (3.2 MB)
Bench Saw Stand Rev00.layout (2.5 MB)
Bench Saw Stand Rev00.pdf (710.4 KB)

That’s not bad.

Three things stick out for me.

First page, consider rendering the viewport as Hybrid to get cleaner looking lines.

Raster from your PDF:

Hybrid render:

Page 2:

Using the same scene for different views (requiring modifying the scene) is not a good practice because you’ve damaged the dynamic link from the original scene to the viewport. For one-off stuff it works. If you have any need to make changes in the SketchUp model later, this can create problems for you later. You can avoid those problems by making separate scenes for each of those views.

It seems like a lot of wasted space on some of the pages. Plain old rectangular panels probably don’t need to be shown laid out flat. You could save some space with some of them by breaking them like this:

Some of the views would be improved if you made 2-view or 3-views of the parts.The bottom shelf, for example has a horizontal line running 3/4 in. down from the top edge. I don’t see anything to indicate what that line is. I expect it’s the edge of a rabbet but without some other detail and callout, it’s not clear. The lines on the side panels also need some sort of clarification.

An exploded view would go a long way to clarifying some of the details.

The trick with creating plans for others is to remember that they don’t have the luxury of having designed the piece and knowing what all the details are like you do.

Thanks for pointing this out. That probably explains why some of my LO dimensions became disconnected from the SU model (turned red) when I modified a component and updated the model reference in LO. Most of the red dimensions would not reconnect to the SU model, so I had to delete and recreate them in LO. (IMHO, a standard feature in LO that damages dynamic links back to the SU model is a bit of a LO shortcoming, bordering on a bug.)

I agree with your other comments, as well. If the intention of these shop drawings was to hand them off to someone else to build, or if I was ever going to build a copy this stand in the future, all the missing details and information would certainly need to be added.

Personally I’d be fine if they’d make it much more difficult to break the link. As I said, for one-off stuff it can be useful but for documents where the model might need to be revised layer, it is beeter to avoid modifying the scene in LO.

In the past there have been a few requests to make it possible to modify the scene in LaYout and then update the SketchUp file. That could be could but it could also make bigger problems than it fixes, especially if the SketchUp model is used in more than one document as mine nearly always are.

With that said, it isn’t at all difficult to avoid modifying scenes in LayOut.

Very likely your modifications were things that removed endpoints or intersections that the dimensions were linked to. If you do that, the dimensions in LO don’t have anything to connect to because the entity they were connected to no longer exist.