Trying to make sheetmetal plates, need help


Hey everyone. My name is Brian and I am super new at SketchUp. I am building a Lotus Europa and making it a lot more powerful than it was from the factory. In doing that, I need to reinforce the frame to keep it from twisting and cracking. I have a sheet metal supplier who will send me the pieces, but they need a file for their laser cutter for all the relief holes I need for certain things. I have it all drawn out and have all my dimensions on paper, just need to transfer them to a file and on to 8 gauge steel. Any help or tutorial will be VERY welcomed. As of now, it will be only flat plate. I may do some bends to make it more of a “U” shape, but simple plate may just be easier.

Thanks so much in advance for your help!!



It’s not altogether clear what you’re trying to do and what you need help with. It would be more straightforward for all concerned if you simply ask a specific question, like “how do I make this shape?” or “how can I trim this piece to fit this piece?”

Simply describing very generally what you’re doing and then asking for any help that’s offered is just too hit or miss to be efficient.




If you have a precision drawing, you can photograph it, import the photo into SketchUp and trace it. If it’s just a sketch, you will want to draw the shapes accurately in SketchUp using basic tools. You haven’t given any indication of how complex your shapes are, so it’s hard to suggest what tools or workflow will be the most appropriate other than the general observation that for flat-plate objects it is best to draw the shape as a flat face and then pushpull it to thickness.



I have one piece that’s a “Y” shape, and 2 that are relatively rectangular with a 90* bend on one side and about a 30* on the other side. I can take pictures of my drawings if that would help.





As before, I’m a little uncertain what you want to do. Are you saying you simply want to draw the flat tee and wye shapes in SU? That’s a pretty elementary task. Where are you getting stuck? Have you put yourself through some basic training exercises (in the form of videos or the written word)?

What specific help are you looking for?

You need to try to formulate your next post in such a way that suggests what kind of response you need, because right now I don’t quite know what help to offer you.




The tutorials I have seen are for more of the architectural designs such as homes or buildings. I need to know how to draw it out to exact dimensions. As I said, I don’t really know where to start such as what template would be best to use. I understand you’re looking for an exact answer to exactly what I’m looking for, and I don’t have an exact answer other than, “I need help with all of it.”

  • What template is best to use?
  • How do I make the lines an exact length?
  • Can I take a model and do an exact mirror copy of it, and if so how?

I guess a better question is, what tutorial should I watch or read that explains how to do all this?

Thanks again for your help and sorry if I’m frustrating you.




You’re going to have to defer your project for a little while so you can teach yourself the basics of the program. You are obviously not ready to jump into a project. “The basics” would include an introduction to the capabilities and operation of each of the tools and to the major elements of the program interface. Until you reach that point, it’s almost useless to try to tell you how to do something, because there’s just too much you never heard of.

Don’t worry if the basic tutorials are more geared toward architectural subjects; it’s still all stuff you can use. There’s not really much difference between a ranch house and a breadbox except size. There are only a handful of tools, and once you know how to use them, you can model pretty much anything you can think of.

You can get an idea of the various specific forms of instructional resources there are here: Whether you prefer videos or self-paced tutorials or the written word is up to you; all are available.

At the very least, you should try to learn about each of the tools and dialogs. At that point, it may all start to get pretty obvious how to proceed. At the very least, you’ll be able to ask far more focused questions and have some idea of what to do with the answers.

As to the questions you have asked:

What template is best to use? It’s mostly a matter of preference as to what units, fonts, colors, styles and other settings you like to use. The bundled templates are mainly to give you a starting point. You can individually set each one of these preferences even if you use the “wrong” template. Sooner or later every user creates a personal custom template with the settings he uses most often.

How do I make the lines an exact length? You enter exact dimensions into the Measurement box of the Measurement toolbar as you work. You should spend some time reading the material in the Knowledge Base about the Measurement toolbar. You can also reference geometry you are drawing to other objects or the axis system using a technique called “inferencing.” Learn as much about inferencing as you can.

Can I take a model and do an exact mirror copy of it, and if so how? Sure. There are two ways to mirror an object: you can use the Flip along [axis] command or you can scale an object to -1. There are also mirroring plugins.




Gully my friend,
You’re the greatest. Thanks for your patience and advice. I’m actually watching and reading some of the tutorials as I type.

Thanks again sir,




Hi folks.

After you get good with SketchUp and are able to draw the parts that you need, you need to familiarise yourself with metal bending.

Metal bending can be quite challenging. Among other things, see “bending allowance” in this article:

Just ideas.