Want to convert SU model to something I can use on CNC


This is my first attempt at using a Sketchup model to CNC parts. The attached file is very, very basic. What I’m trying to do is generate a model that I can then convert to the appropriate file type for the CNC and cut out 4-6 of the Brackets from the Plywood object.

Two things I’m struggling with:

  1. How to draw the brackets on the plywood object in such a way that the CNC will know to cut it correctly. In other words, so the CNC only cuts the the outline of the brackets. My first thought was “is it possible to push/pull just the outline?” but that doesn’t seem like it would be the way. Even if it is, I can’t figure out how I could possibly do that.

  2. How to generate a file in the format a CNC will understand

If someone has any links they can point me to I don’t mind doing some reading and learning on my own. My searching either comes up with an overwhelming amount of hits or nothing useful at all.

Thanks in advance for any help.

PS-The CNC belongs to the Maker Space I am a member of. I’m going there
tonight and I’ll get the make/model of it in case that helps.

LeoClimbingGymBrackets.skp (417.1 KB)

Depends on what format you need for the machine to read - but likely you could just draw it all in 2d and export to DXF.

Or, if you have them modeled in 3d as components built out of separate component parts - lay all the pieces flat on an outline of the plywood you are using, then you can flatten everything - or you can the component, select a face, delete everything, paste in place the face, exit that component and repeat (you will be making a bunch of small 2d pieces) then make sure everything is flat and export to the format you need. (I did this for some things I made using a laser cutter at a maker space).

1 Like

If you do the export to DXF bmike mentioned, do that as an export 3D model, DXF, and in the options turn off Faces. Also, redraw your model using arcs instead of line segments. Arcs and circles get exported to 3D DXF as true curves, not line segments. CNC machines will like that better.


The CNC machine at your Maker Space will almost certainly be driven by g-code. So you need to convert your SketchUp model to g-code. But what that conversion looks like will depended entirely on the CNC machine. Is it a CNC router? … a 5-Axis CNC machine? … a 3-Axis CNC machine? … a plasma cutting machine? … a laser cutting machine? … a 3D printer? … etc.

For example … If you need to generate g-code for a FDM 3D printer then one workflow would be:

  1. Export the 3D model from SketchUp as a .STL file.
  2. Import the .STL file into a “slicer program.” There are any number of slicers to choose from … some free … others only by subscription.
  3. Set/select appropriate “slicing parameters” … and then “slice” the model.
  4. Export the g-code.

The workflow for generating g-code for some other type of CNC machine will be similar … but different.

Presumably your next step is to get the specs on the CNC machine at your maker space … and then back up from there to see what software tools are available for that make/model/type of machine … and then see what sort of files the tool accepts .

As @bmike and @colin mentioned … it is very likely that it will want to see a 3D DXF model … which can be exported directly from SketchUp.

1 Like

Thanks everyone for your replies. This will be very helpful

I made my kitchen cabinets with CNC. I used a plugg in called Fabber and it worked great. A quick search for it on these forums you will find it. The developer was also an awesome guy who really helped me through the process.