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tape measure tips for sketchup

In this tutorial you will learn the all the secrets to using SketchUp's Tape Measure tool. What it can and cannot do. How to speed up measuring objects in SketchUp and how to easily create guides for accurate modelling.

So if you want to learn more about creating infinite guides and how to properly create points in SketchUp this is the complete guide for you.

Getting started with the Tape Measure tool in SketchUp

You can find SketchUp's Tape Measure tool in the Tools menu or via the Getting Started, Construction or Large Toolset toolbar. But I prefer using the shortcut key T. Once activated the cursor in the workspace changes to a Tape Measure icon that has 2 modes of measuring.

Tape Measure tool cursor in SketchUp

By default when you launch the Tape Measure tool it is in Guide Create mode. You can visibly see this mode by the cursor's appearance. If you press the CTRL key you toggle between Guide Create and Measure mode.

How to use Measure mode in SketchUp

This is a great method to report measurements from a point to multiple points. To change to a new measuring point hit ESC and pick a new point to measure from. Also don't forget that you can use SketchUp's Inference engine to force your measuring direction with your Arrow keys.

Quickly measure multiple points in SketchUp

Measure mode also acts as a means to scale your model. If you measure a distance by picking 2 points and then type the desired length you will be prompted if you want to resize the model. You can continue entering different dimensions to resize the model as shown below.

Quickly scale an object in SketchUp

This method is a global resize. Which means the whole model is resized which may not be the result you were after. But we can also resize an object locally.

To perform a local resizing you need to edit a group or component. Then use the Tape Measure tool in Measure mode to resize the object you are editing. You will be prompted that you are resizing the active local context. Again you can enter different dimensions to get the desired result.

Quickly scale an object locally in SketchUp

As you can see the measure mode ability of SketchUp's Tape Measure tool can be applied in different ways depending on the context. But there's more to come....

How to use Guide Create mode in SketchUp

In Guide Create mode the Tape Measure tool allows you plot guide lines and points in SketchUp to accurate draw in the workspace. This mode has different methods of drawing guides and it entirely depends on where and what you click on!

How to create infinite Guide Lines in SketchUp

If you hover on an edge in SketchUp and click you will create an infinite guide line. To set the distance of this line you can enter a value and the guide will be created at that distance. You can change the distance if you type a different value.

Creating infinite guides in SketchUp

You can quickly create infinite guides on the chosen edge by double clicking the edge. This immediately places the infinite guide at the same location as the edge. If you double click on a face you will create an infinite guide line based on the direction the face is orientated at.

Quickly creating infinite guides in SketchUp

It is worth taking a moment or two to get familiar with the infinite guide creation mode. As mentioned earlier, the way the Tape Measure tools behaves depends entirely on the context of what you click on.

How to array infinite Guide Lines in SketchUp

What you cannot do when creating infinite guides is use array commands. Let's say you wanted to set a guide at 500mm and repeat that guide 9 more times. Dragging out a guide and typing 500mm then typing *9 will not create an array of guides 500mm apart. But if you first place a guide at 500mm then you use the Move tool to copy a guide and then array that copy you get the desired result.

Quickly array infinite guides in SketchUp

How to create Guide Points in SketchUp

To create guide lines that terminate with a construction point we need to first pick an endpoint then pick the desired direction and length of the measurement. The important thing to note here is that the endpoint inferencing is forcing the tool into guide point mode.

Creating guide points in SketchUp

Knowing that endpoints force this mode you can first inference an endpoint in your model then create guide point from pretty much anywhere. So long as your inference relates to the inference point location

Creating guide points from inferences in SketchUp

SketchUp's inference engine, especially in the latest versions, is intelligent in terms of knowing likely points you will want to infer from. So mixing the Tape Measure tool with the inference engine you are able to create all manner of guide lines and points in seconds.

How to delete guide lines in SketchUp

At some point in your measuring madness you will need to remove these lines and points. Of course you can use the Select tool or the Erase Tool to target and remove areas.

But buried under the Edit menu is Delete Guides which will nuke every guide in your model. Actually that's not quite true. It will delete all lines and points within the current context of the model.

Deleting guides and points in SketchUp

This means if you are within a group or component and choose Delete Guides it will remove all guides within that context but not outside. If within that context you have further nested groups or components these will also suffer from Delete Guides' reckless approach to deletion.

It is worth noting that heavily nesting guides lines and guide points in a model is an obvious sign of madness. But if you do find your self in a position where you have guides all over the place just use the Edit > Delete Guides option to get yourself a fresh start.

How to manage and delete guide lines in SketchUp using Extensions

The ideal approach to managing guide lines and guide points in SketchUp is to use an extension. Luckily there is TIG's Construction Line Delete via Context extension that extends SketchUp by adding further options when you Right Click on an existing Guide Line.

To install this extension go ahead an open the ExtensionStore in SketchUp. Use the Search feature and type guide and choose TIG's Construction Line Delete via Context and hit the install button.

Installing Construction Line Delete via Context in SketchUp

Now in SketchUp you have access to more deletion and layer management options for Guide Lines and Points via the context menu. These options include placing Guide Lines and Guide Points on dedicated layers, deleting Guide Line and Guide Points from the active selection or applying it to both Guide Lines and Guide Points.

Using Construction Line Delete via Context in SketchUp

So there you have it. You now have complete control over your Guide Lines and Points in SketchUp. From understanding the measuring modes in the Tape Measure tool to extending SketchUp with an extension to better manage deletion and layer visibility of guides. No more 'measure twice cut once' when you can wield the Tape Measure tool like a bo$$.