There has to be an easier way to build a lattice component

My preferred way of learning is hands-on. If I have a specific goal in mind, then I tend to learn better by trying to actually build that.

For a long time, I’ve been messing around trying to create a mobile “planter wall” for my wife to hide the trash cans in the driveway. I’ve gone through a lot of tutorials so I feel like I have a decent grasp of basics and I’ve learned a ton by playing around, but I have to believe there are easier ways of creating what basically comes down to a box on wheels and a frame to hold lattice.

Creating a box of 1/2" plywood is fairly straight-forward, although I still struggle with how to make changes to individual pieces once I’ve “joined” them together to make a box. For example, originally I thought I’d use 4x4s as the legs. The back legs go all the way to the top of the box while the front legs only go to the bottom panel of the box. Once I did that, I thought that it would be nice to “notch” the back 4x4s so they are cut in half diagonally from the bottom of the box “floor” up to the edge of the box.

SNAG-2020 08 16-0002

As you can see from screen shot, even though I drew the line on the top face of the 4x4 I still can’t just select the part of the face that’s enclosed by the new line. It still selects the whole face.

I run into the same problem if I want to make a triangular opening in front corners of bottom so that the notched piece of front leg will fit through it. But I run into the same issue with that as above. Any tips/tricks on how to do that correctly?

The other 2 issues I’m having are:

  • Easier way to build a lattice component. What I did was create a separate file where I created a vertical piece of wood, then copied it x times, rotate everything 45 degrees, draw lines to make a box of the final size of the lattice and lastly push the faces outside of the box to the width of the pieces so all that’s left are the pieces inside the lines. Then I copy that whole component into the main model file.

  • How to push/pull components in a diagonal direction. I decided I wanted the wall to be higher, but the only way I can push/pull the ends of each diagonal piece is in one of the axis directions. The only thing I can think of is to go through the whole process, described in the above bullet, again.

I’ve attached the 2 files in case that helps. Thanks in advance for any assistance. I realize that everyone is doing this on a volunteer basis so I really, really appreciate the help.

TrashCanWall03.skp (3.8 MB) TrashCanWall Lattice.skp (50.4 KB)

I suspect you drew the diagonal on the component’s top instead of (in editing context) on the top face. Thus not cutting the top face into two separate triangles.

From the gray shading on the line it looks as though you drew the diagonal outside the 4x4 component. You need to open the group (it should be a component) for editing before you draw the line.

When I open the model, I can confirm that. I can highlight the line and the group including the leg is closed. Delete that line.


You should learn to make components, not groups, at least for all elements of your model that are repeated, like the pairs of legs. I almost never use groups - components have many advantages, and only one or two small disadvantages.

And give them meaningful names when you create them. It isn’t helpful to look in the Outliner window and see just repeated and undifferentiated Group followed by Group, and nested Group after Group.

Furthermore it will save you work. Edit one back leg, if they are both components, one a flipped version of the other, and they will both receive the edit.

When I changed the right side back leg to a Component, my SU window crashed, for no obvious reason.

On reopening, I see this in the model and matching selection in Outliner.

Open the leg for editing (double click several times to descend the nested groups to the leg), draw the diagonal. I turned on X-ray view first, to be able to see and pick the back corner for the start of the diagonal.


then push the near triangular face down to the bottom.

Delete the opposite leg group, the move and flip this one to the opposite end to replace it.

Draw the line inside the desired group (on raw geometry)

Not what you were asking about, but be aware that the casters contain over 99% of the edges in the model (334484 of 335232)! I imagine you imported them from the 3D Warehouse, where over-detailed models are a common issue.

You have an enormous number of edges and faces for such a simple model. Most of them, I see, are in the invisible balls in the bearings of the castors.

They are totally unnecessary (as well as invisible) in this model, and only add complexity, with the potential to slow everything down.

Delete them. That’s easiest from Outliner. Looks as though you brought them in from an over-detailed model in the 3D Warehouse.

That drops the edge count by 3/4, from about a third of a million to ‘only’ 85,000-odd. Most of those are in the over-smooth castors, even without the balls.

@mihai.s has shown you how to extend the lattice.

Before doing that yourself, move it all down to meet the bottom rail. There’s a big gap at the moment.

It is a good habit to get into, to start the model at the origin, and (by convention, not necessity) to orient the model so that its long length goes along the red axis from left to right.

And I see that at some point you moved the axes - a R-click on one of the axes shows that Reset is not greyed out.

I wonder if you did that deliberately, and if so why? Or did it happen by accident and you hadn’t noticed?

Try to make a component of each piece as you make it. The sides and bottom of the lattice frame are all loose geometry, as is every piece of the lattice itself.

If you haven’t already, review the SU Fundamentals videos at learn.sketchup.com, paying special attention to the basic tools, including Move (which works to Move or Copy if you toggle the modifier key (Option on Mac, Ctrl on Windows), and to components, groups and the use of layers (tags in SU 2020 onwards).

You can make it a bit easier by first drawing one piece at an angle of 45° the full height you want.

Make it into a group or component (it doesn’t matter which, as you are going to explode it and its copies later).

Move/Copy it along the horizontal axis once, then (without doing anything else) type 27x to get enough copied pieces (you might need a few more).

To trim the copies, draw a face across each end the right distance apart (approx 46 1/2"), then select all, Explode, then R-click/Intersect faces with selection.


Trim off the ends by dragging a selection window from R-L, then click the Delete key, or R-click/Erase.

Repeat at the other end, then delete the cutting faces.

Select it all and make a component (shortcut letter g), before moving it into its frame.

Your left and right end pieces aren’t the same height. If they were mirrored (flipped) copies of the same component, that wouldn’t happen.

Hope all that helps.

I struggle with that a lot. I think that I’m working on a specific face, but I haven’t clicked the right number of times to select the object I thought I had.

Is there a better way to determine what exactly is selected at the moment? Also, are there best-practices to keep in mind as one designs things like this? That may be too general a question. If it is, just let me know.

Thanks for responding.

Well, in your screenshot you have that rectangular face selected. That is the time to draw a new diagonal and see the selected rectangle split into a selected triangle and a triangle that is not selected.
Once outside again you can delete the “wrong” drawn diagonal edge.

Thanks for the detailed reply John. I’m going to try your suggestions. Below I’ll try to address your points.

John, I’m not seeing gray shading on line. It looks blue to me. Am I missing something?

Yes, I know. I’ve read and gone through a couple of tutorials on groups and components, but I keep finding different POVs on whether to use groups or components. Sounds like you’re on the components side. I don’t expect you to list all the pros and cons, but do you happen to have a link to something that explains it in detail?

You also mention Outliner several times. I am using the free version for windows (Sketchup Make version 17.2.2555 64-bit). I’ve gone through all the menu options and I don’t see where I can open anything called Outliner. Is that a feature that’s only available in later versions?

mihai.s - Thanks for the reply. I was able to do what you showed in your 2nd animation. I’ve never seen this kind of behavior before. It’s cool, but I’m not sure why/how it worked. Is there a name for this feature/process?

Yes I did. It was even worse when I first downloaded the caster. Fortunately, I got help quickly after I posted this.

I did not do that deliberately and don’t remember when/how it happened.

There is a setting in [menu]Window->Preferences->Components that helps identifying in what context you are editing.
If you set up a shortcut for Hide rest of model, you can easily switch what’s on the screen or not or have it less visible with the slider.