Create a Linear Array in SketchUp

I’m currently working on a variation on L & J. G. Stickley’s No. 220 prairie settle. The settle’s three sides consist of frame and panels. Because I’m building a shorter version, I need to shorten the rails and resize the panels. Before SketchUp, I would have subtracted the combined width of the stiles from the rails, divided that number by the number of panels and added twice the overlap of stile and rail to calculate final panel width. Using the SketchUp Copy command, I can avoid the math and distribute the necessary number of stiles along a rail automatically (this even distribution of objects along a line is also known as a linear array).

I begin by selecting the component I want to distribute by clicking on it with the Select tool.

I select the stile I want to copy and distribute.

I select the stile I want to copy and distribute.

I activate the Move tool (I use the keyboard shortcut M) and hit the Alt key (Windows) or Option key (Mac) to activate Copy. A plus sign appears at the upper right of the Move pointer to indicate Copy is active. I click on the lower corner of the component and move it to its final location.

I drag on the component and position the copy at the end of rail.

I drag on the component and position the copy at the end of rail.

I then type the number of times I want the component to be copied followed by / and hit the Enter/Return key (Windows/Mac). In this example, I want two instances of the stile to be distributed along the rail, so I type 2/ and hit Enter. Note how /2 appears in the measurement field of the window.

After positioning the component, I type a / and the number of times I want to copy the component.

After positioning the component, I type a / and the number of times I want to copy the component.

My stiles are now properly distributed along the rail. To finish up the side, I can fill the frame with panels.

I've evenly distributed stiles along the rail. No math required.

I’ve evenly distributed stiles along the rail. No math required.

— Michael Crow

Michael is the author of “Building Classic Arts & Crafts Furniture: Shop Drawings for 33 Traditional Charles Limbert Projects” (Popular Woodworking), which is available now at ShopWoodworking in both print and eBook formats. He’s now working on his next book, due out in the spring from Popular Woodworking: “Mid-Century Modern Furniture.”

6 thoughts on “Create a Linear Array in SketchUp

  1. CessnapilotBarry

    Thanks for this post! Bob Lang covered this nicely in his video course, but I ALWAYS seem to forget how to quickly execute it.

    This post was a nice reminder for me to go and practice it a few times…

  2. robert

    Please don’t inflict Sketchup on this fine blog and magazine. Pick up a pencil, compass, ruler and paper and draw. There is more to be learned doing it long-hand – both about yourself and the project.

    1. Megan Fitzpatrick

      Hey – we look at it like a tool…and as any other tool, it may not be the one you choose. In all things, use not only what works, but what works best for you.

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