Sketchup tutor for curved stairs

Hello forum!

Does anyone have any recommendations for a sketchup tutor/coach that could work with me on some of of the more complicated modeling aspects of my work? I design and build high-end residential stairs, and would love to spend some time learning from a SU guru. I have learned ton from this forum already, but I have so many questions and I’m sure that I’m not even aware of the proper questions to ask (still relatively new to sketchup). I am getting pretty good at the straight stairs and I have experimented with a lot of extensions, but so much of our work is asymmetrical and free-form that the extensions just don’t see to cut it (at least not how I am utilizing them). I have included a few photos for reference. Thanks!

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Just to clarify…I am not looking to model the stairs in detail with photo realistic renderings - although that will hopefully be in the future. Primarily what I am currently looking for is help with the curved handrails and curbs.

One of the extensions you will find extremely helpful for the spiral stairs that are round in plan is one that will draw helixes (helices), if you want to draw your own details of round spiral stairs.

Try SketchUcation plugin store as well as the Sketchup Extension Warehouse. There are several, including one I wrote called SU Draw Parametric Shapes on SketchUcation (the Extension Warehouse version doesn’t do helices).

You could use that in conjunction with Eneroth Upright Extruder for the stringers and handrails.

Or for an extension that will do a lot more, there is a Stair Maker extension too, but I haven’t used it. This (GKWare Stair Maker) is on the Extension Warehouse. Search for Stair Maker - I got another result as well - one I didn’t know about.

Your stairs look great!
I think that getting the geometry right and fine-tuning it in things like these is more a design problem than something that can be solved with plugins or that plugins can be trusted with, even if they can help. Handrails is a case in point. The native FollowMe command will keep the cross section constant while producing an unwanted rotation while the various upright extruders might keep the cross section vertical which results in distortion in the profile cross section.

@DaveR is our resident expert on woodworking modelling, if not on stairs.

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Thanks John, I will look into those extensions you mentioned.

Anssi, I completely agree that plugins are great for stairs as long as they are symmetrical and basic, but so much of stair work is cheating the geometry to achieve the best flow that building code will allow. To do that often requires each stair tread to be unique (i.e., splayed treads to eliminate any pitch change in the rail), which proves problematic for many plugins. I’ve seen some Sketchup ninjas use a cocktail of plugins to achieve an affect similar to what I am after, but I don’t know the tools well enough to know how to make those adjustments.

Hi there !

Maybe you could be interested by :
CURIC tools (rotate, align and space)
Profil builder
and Shape Bender.


Perhaps quicker than asking for advice for what I am doing wrong, if I could get some direction for how some of you may go about some tasks that would be great. Currently I am trying to draw a radius curb on the inside of stair which has two pitch changes (see basic elevation and plan view for the curb to be bend). I need the curb to follow the tread noses fairly closely since I will be mirroring the handrail with the curb. If there was no pitch change then I could use Curvishear and Eneroth Upright Extruder to make a beautiful curb, but Curvishear does not allow for the pitch changes. I tried extruding the elevation drawing of the curb and then using shape bender, but it is giving me weird geometry as well. Any suggestions would be helpful.

Here are some screenshots of the stair layout, including an example of what happens WITHOUT the proper pitch changes in the curb.

3D model (SU2017): stair-01.skp (219.0 KB)

Thanks, Mihai! That is very close to what I am shooting for, only I am wanting more gradual pitch changes. What was your process for drawing that? I am hoping that the process that works for this curb will be the same process that I can use drawing wreath handrail fittings (more complicated).

I very much appreciate your response and drawing!

You’re welcome!

If you need more control over the path, turn it into a spline, add more vertices and control each one as needed. I used Fredo6 Bezier Spline and Vertex Tools.

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Thanks your for that, Mihai! Very fun watching guys who are good at what they do :slight_smile:

Unfortunately the part that I am stuck at is the radiused transitions at the pitch changes (see the second drawing i attached at 11:01am today). It is the gradual tranisitions rather than hard miters that has me stumped using the extensions that I have tried. Thoughts??

My apologies…somehow I missed your second comment. Are you talking about Bezier Catmull spline? I have played with Bezier classic curve but only with 2D drawings. 3D sounds challenging, lol. I will check out Vertex tools as well!!

When I had to make curved stairs and rails I came up with “CLF Shape Bender” ( - it is not completely perfect for really difficult profiles, or shapes, but I managed to make really good result with quite complex stairs.

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