Trying to decide if sketchup is right for me



The link above shows features of the free vs shop edition. It says shop includes ‘advanced solid modeling.’ I see the Boolean type tools for solids in the free version interface but have not been able to find out if there is any way to make solid shapes in the free edition. I would assume I can’t but since the shop edition contains ‘advanced solid modeling tools’ this implies the free edition would have ‘not so advanced solid modeling tools.’

With solid modeling in this program will I be able to see volumes in cubic feet, when modeling units are set to inches? Does this program display volumes of complex solid objects that may be combinations of spheres and rectangles? I searched for info on this and saw people struggling with having to delete components in order to see the volume of a solid. I don’t understand. Is this a difficult process?

I’m trying to determine if I should learn this or stick to what I’m doing now, which is pencil, paper and a lot of volume calculations with online volume calculators. Thank you.




Not being familiar with the SU “shop” version, my advice will be limited. With the Pro version, you can certainly create solids and that is what 3D drafting is all about. The only thing to be careful about is that SU is a surface modeller, which means that a solid is in fact something hollow. But once you have a solid, you can certainly get info like volume very easily.

One other point: it is easy to create something that appears to be a solid in SU that fails the necessary tests. A missing face, stray line, and other often unnoticed failings, will mean you have not actually made a bona fide solid. Fortunately, there is a very handy extension called Solid Inspector that checks that a selected solid complies and tells you where it fails if it does. (You might ask why this isn’t built into the SU software, but that’s a whole other conversation).

So if someone with more detailed knowledge can tell you if Shop does the same as Pro, you will have your question fully answered I hope.



Great. Thanks for the info. I don’t care if it is a surface modeler, that’s fine. As long as it displays volume in cubic feet that is my only concern.



In all versions of SketchUp, solids can be created and their volume is displayed in the measurement units that are set.

SketchUp Free example:

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Only the union solid modeling tool works in the free web version (although others such as subtract are indicated too). The shop version has all working solid model tools.

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“Free” and “shop” are variants of the web version of SketchUp. Unfortunately, people often confuse free with the desktop version Make 2017 because it is also available at no cost.

There are some crucial differences to note.

Both free and Make and licensed only for non-commercial use, while shop allows commercial.

Second, while you can create solid objects in all versions, shop (and the desktop pro version) include tools to perform Boolean operations on solids such as subtract, difference, trim, etc. These tools are what the comparison was talking about. They are disabled in free and not present in Make.

Using “intersect faces with…” you can achieve the same results as from the solid tools, just with more manual effort and time.

Finally, Make can run extensions, which are not yet supported in any of the web versions.



Very helpful thank you all for your responses. Mihai.s, thanks for the animation. It makes it very clear.

If I use the program to calculate the volume of a product I then manufacture and sell, is that considered commercial use? I will stick to pencil and paper if that is the case.



Yes. It would be commercial use.



Bummer. I’ll look into purchasing the upgrade. Maybe something I will have to do when I get an income, if I ever do. Thank you.