SketchUp Tips and Tricks

Welcome to SketchUp Australia’s tips and tricks.
Tip No. 1 is all about Command Shortcut Keys.

A shortcut key is a SketchUp command that has been assigned its own keyboard key.

Getting used to shortcut keys does take a little bit of practice, but after a while you’ll find that  you’re saving heaps of modelling time.

SketchUp comes preinstalled with some basic shortcuts, but we also have the option to assign our own shortcut keys to better suit our modelling needs.

To demonstrate, in the video, I’ve modelled a relatively simple shape without using any shortcut keys, and then again with shortcut keys. Hopefully, the improvement in speed should be obvious.

In the video you’ll find a list of shortcut keys that we use.

Here is a link to a SketchUp preferences file that you can import into your SketchUp, but be warned, this will replace all of your existing shortcut keys.  (to download this “.dat” file, please try right clicking on the link and saving the file to your computer)
You’ll find instructions on how to import the SketchUp preference file here.

And these are the instructions on how to add your own shortcut keys: Click this link

We hope you find this SketchUp Tips and Tricks video helpful.







Keep checking back for more helpful hints.

Tekla Tips and Tricks

Tip No. 1 – Reports Side Pane

The reports side pane allows much more functionality than conventional Tekla Reports, allowing multiple reports to be created at once. You can create groups and re-organise the tree view of the list, group various reports up and save the groupings so you can use again and on other projects.

You can add titles, post or prefix, append the date to the file name, also with buttons to overwrite the file, display or show in external viewer, it also has the option for the default folder. You can search in the reports box for a report you need and you can right click hide unwanted reports from the list or delete, and even right click and open that report up in the Editor right away.

The tool is available from Tekla warehouse for versions 2016 onwards.

Tekla Warehouse – Reports Side Pane

Video – Tekla Structures  – Extensions

Go next level with SketchUp Pro 2018

While the new year began on January 1 for most of the world, it’s been 2018 in the SketchUp universe for a few months already. We welcomed the launch of Version 2018 in November and, in the spirit of all things ‘new’, we introduced our new website To celebrate, we’re offering 10% off licenses and renewals throughout March. Use the promo code pro2018 at the checkout or contact us to get your discount.

Curious about what SketchUp can do for you? Or maybe you’re using an outdated version? Now’s the time to find out what you’re missing out on with a 30-day free trial. Contact us to find out how SketchUp can help you and how to add it to your tools.

We’re always keen to see what SketchUppers in Australia and New Zealand are working on. Tag #sketchupaus or contact us to be featured in future newsletters. Want more? Get the latest SketchUp news on Facebook and Instagram.

SketchUp: Now you’re cooking

Turning ideas, or, indeed, dreams, into reality is something SketchUp excels at.

For an Australian company, turning their clients’ dream outdoor kitchens into a reality is their business – and SketchUp plays a big part in it.

Outdoor Alfresco Kitchens, a WA business that’s recently launched in Victoria, designs, manufactures and installs outdoor kitchens that take the humble backyard barbecue area to a whole new level, making its own products under the Infresco name.

What sets it apart from other businesses is that it specialises in areas that are partially indoor or enclosed, manufacturing and installing barbecues, ovens and the like that are government-approved for use in those kind of areas.


Ricardo Solomons, who is now the firm’s agent in Victoria and who literally worked his way up from his apprenticeship, said SketchUp was proving an invaluable tool for Outdoor Alfresco Kitchens.

“Clients come to us with photos of the area they want to transform, or simple sketches on paper or even just ideas in their heads,” he said.

“They can email their ideas, or send them via Facebook, talk to us on the phone or come into one of the stores.

“We use SketchUp to design the kitchen to their needs, to their specific wish list.

“We use it to form the basis of our quotes as well.

“Our customers love it – they can clearly see what the finished kitchen will look like and how it will function.

“And we can share the plans with them easily via email or social media so there’s less time spent to-ing and fro-ing.”

With projects ranging from $5000 to around $60,000, ensuring customers are happy and that the kitchen will ‘work’ before fabrication begins is vital.

“SketchUp is a big part of the sign-off process,” Ricardo said.

“Once the client is happy with every aspect of the project, we pass on the finalised SketchUp plans to the production team who literally create the kitchen’s components from the files.

“It means there’s just no margins for errors. We get them right the first time.”

Ricardo said with 2 to 3 kitchens being created by the WA branch alone each week, SketchUp was used every day by the team.

“Our suppliers love it too. We can order things like glass doors knowing we have the sizing perfect,” he said.

“Our stone masons appreciate that our cut lists are always spot on too.

“SketchUp has made everyone’s life simpler. We start off every project right and it stays that way all the way through to the finished kitchen.”

Ricardo said SketchUp’s potential continued to impress him and that he felt he and the team were continuing to learn more and discover more uses for it within their business.

“It’s an amazing tool,” he said.

“Everyone has their own mind’s eye and with SketchUp we can translate that vision, we can communicate ideas effectively.

“We’ve found SketchUp makes the plans ‘real’ for a lot of our clients.” Find out more about Outdoor Alfresco Kitchens Victorian operation here or at its showroom at 135 Bamfield Rd, Heidelberg Heights.

BuildingPoint’s Andrea Quesnel said Outdoor Alfresco Kitchen’s use of SketchUp was a great example of its adaptability, functionality and ability to turn concept into realities.

“Ricardo and his team’s use of SketchUp clearly demonstrates that it is a tool that can work in a diverse range of businesses and applications,” she said.

“While its obvious use in construction is clear, many other disciplines and businesses that need to create plans from ideas can really unlock potentials with it.”

Find out more about how SketchUp can work for your business by visiting or contact a BuildingPoint representative on 07 3851 8380.

Visit Outdoor Alfresco Kitchens website – here and check out their Facebook page here.

Watkins Steel’s winning trifecta

Projects with restraints on access, time, and other factors that dictate what, how and when a team can do its work are nothing unusual.

However, for the team from Watkins Steel, a contract to supply and install structural steel and gantry framing in a warehouse for a major beverage supplier in Queensland came with perhaps more than its fair share of limitations.

How they got around them to deliver the project on time and to budget is a testament to the technology the company uses – and the people who use it.

It’s not overstating things to say Watkins is an early and keen adopter of technology in its field. This outlook has been integral to Watkins ongoing relationship with BuildingPoint Australia, who has supplied much of the technology, plus training and support, used by Watkins in this project, among others.

The project, completed between August and November 2017, came with many challenges.

The team were working in a complex existing environment. The warehouse’s existing services, racks and staircases all had to be considered and drawn to in the planning stage.

As well the project included hanging new structural steel from the existing structural steel, which brings its own challenges.

The project included new gantry and stairs that had to link to the existing gantry and stairs. This meant it was critical the new structures were perfect in all dimensions so they would join to the existing structures.

The team also faced a limited and strict timeframe – there would be no time for errors and to rework to fix them plus at the time of installation they would be working around other trades on the site.

And, unsurprisingly, a considerable amount of site measurement was required to create the modelling.

Watkins Steel’s solutions to these challenges and limitations began with a Faro 3D laser scanner to measure the site, capturing the full internal environment of the warehouse.

The scans were then used to digitally create a 3D point cloud model with the exact measurements of the site using Trimble RealWorks.

And the onsite scanning took just half a day.

Watch this short Video of the HoloLens in action on site.

Using the 3D modelling with Microsoft HoloLens (augmented reality) with Trimble SketchUp Viewer, the Watkins Steel team presented the model to the principle contractor and their client, which gave them a greater understanding of the new design works … proving the old adage ‘seeing is believing’.

This allowed not only the client and contractor but the Watkins teams to readily visualise the end product even before fabrication had started.

“Using the Microsoft HoloLens with SketchUp Viewer allowed us to not only to visualise the project before we even started but gave us a competitive edge when it came down to meeting the client,” Watkins Steel project manager Ben Yu said.

“The HoloLens gives us the ability to have a virtual meeting with the client remotely – improving collaboration immensely. They don’t even have to be on site to see what it looks like.

“The principle contractor and their client were able to see their vision ‘come to life’ from the early stages of the project right through to installation.

“There are so many possibilities for mixed reality in our industry – design & modelling, quality assurance, even fabrication, which we have experimented with using the HoloLens.”

Using this technology meant a virtual

walkthrough could be completed for quality assurance purposes. This was especially important to check the drains and slab were positioned correctly.

Additionally, riggers used the 3D modelling to review the design before erection, helping them visiualise what needed to go where.

Next, the in-house drafting team used Tekla Structures 3D Modeling Software to detail the structural steelwork needed for the project.

Once these drawings were done, the completed Tekla models were imported into the 3D point cloud to check for any clashes and verify that the steelwork was in the right position.

The construction drawings and model were then taken to the in-house production team to handle the processing and fabrication of the steelworks.

Watkins Steel tech-forward approach extends to the actual fabrication with the use of Voortman Advanced Automated Robotics, specifically the Voortman V808 Coping Machine, V630 Drilling Machine, and VB1050 Band Saw.

The Microsoft HoloLens with SketchUp Viewer was also used at this stage to quality check the fabricators assemblies in the workshop.

During the installation stage, Trimble Robotic Total Station (RTS) was used to ensure pinpoint alignment of the pieces, even down to directing, via laser, where holes needed to be drilled. The RTS utilised data created during the virtual creation stages of the project.

Around 30 tonnes of steel was required for the project.

Despite the restrictions and parameters, Watkins Steel not only delivered the structures on time but no reworking was required. Thanks to the detailed modelling and the use of that modelling right through the project’s life, the structures literally fit like a glove.

As you’d imagine, the client was more than happy with the result.


Trimble at Junction 2017 – 48 hours of hacking the way the world works

With only 5.4 millions inhabitants, Finland is the home for 10% of startups in the world! For Tekla, a company working with leading technology solutions, this is a huge opportunity for the company to learn and co-operate with these innovative start-ups.

That was also why Tekla spent the November 24-26 weekend at Junction – Europe’s largest hackathon and just a mile from the Tekla office.
The event gathered 1500 developers and designers from Europe and around the world.

In 48 hours, they worked in teams to create applications, and solved real life problems with the latest technology you can think of.
More than 60 different companies and public partners participated and provided many challenges falling under different themes, known as tracks.

Trimble at Intelligent Building track – 48 hours – 4 amazing projects

Trimble joined the hackathon as a partner in the Intelligent Building track. You can find out more about our challenge from here.

After 48 hours of intensive work, 4 teams submitted their projects to Trimble. We were amazed with what these talented folks came up with in such short period of time. Many projects used our latest technology solutions and newest gadgets including HoloLens, Augmented or Virtual Reality (AR/VR) gear that we brought to the hackathon in order to create magical applications.

And the winner is…

Team Incognito won first place in the Trimble Challenge. The team developed an application that allows displaying and interacting with buildings using voice recognition and Microsoft HoloLens AR headset.

“We want to bring something new and allows the user to experience the 3D building models and interact with them. Bringing virtual objects into the real world (Augmented reality) is the new technology in the market,” a team spokesperson said.

The application allows the users to truly experience the 3D design of a building. For example, the users can see the furniture in a real room and check whether it fits in the room or not.

Congratulations to Team Incognito and other teams who submitted their projects. We are looking forward to developing these ideas into meaningful business applications.

Tekla and Zeman bring efficiency to Australian Steel Fabricator

Today, managing director Ron Barrington states that the company is driven by a commitment to deliver exactly what the client has ordered.

“Our clients can hand us a job and not worry about it, because they know we’ll look after it,” Barrington promises. In the competitive steel fabrication market this promise
might just be what it takes to make the difference.

Cullen Steel has been a Tekla user for more than a decade. The company originally chose Tekla products because it appreciated the high level of automation. Benefits that lead to increased productivity continue to be the most important advantage for Cullen Steel.

Australia imports a fair amount of steel from abroad, a lot of it comes from low labour cost countries. To compete in the tough market Cullen Steel relies on quality information, automation and delivering exactly what the client has ordered. “We are driven, first and last, by productivity gains. The thing we achieve is smarter, faster, high quality, error-free, and on time fabrication,” states Barrington.

“Up until about 12 months ago we had a total throughput of around 4-5,000 tons per year. We are currently hitting a lot closer to 8-10,000 tons per year. This has generally been as a result of a fair bit of investment in automation.”

Their latest addition was a Zeman SBA (Steel Beam Assembler) which has brought Cullen Steel another step closer to far greater efficiency.

Read the complete story now.    

Building mimics ships’ curves with concrete planks

The office building at the Navy Yard’s Corporate Center in Philadelphia, is intrepid in address and in nature. Located at 1200 Intrepid Avenue, the master-planned development within the Navy Yard is constructed entirely of flat concrete planks.

This is easy for the three sides of the structure that are conventional flat walls. Not so much for the east façade, which is designed to resemble the curve of the ships docked in the nearby Navy Yard. This side has a variety of radii, ranging from 97.5 meters (320 feet) at the ground floor, to just over 2.7 kilometres (8 900 feet) at the parapet of the roof. Each concrete plank is set at an angle so the composition gradually becomes a curving wall with mesmerising optical effects.

The flowing and curved shape of the Intrepid building required significant cantilevering and structural load analysis, with the curving façade tilting outwards as much as 23.56 degrees. Not to mention the safety backup connections that were required to prevent a progressive collapse, if one connection should fail.

A daunting task for any precast concrete company. But possibly less so for High Concrete Group, an avid adopter of 3D modelling, who have been using constructible models to LOD 400 (Level of Development).

“We couldn’t have done the Intrepid project in 2D,” said Dave Bosh, Design Team Leader, High Concrete Group. “Tekla Structures made a significant impact on our success by allowing us to collaborate, save time, reduce costs and work efficiently with all of the project stakeholders.”

High Concrete Group were easily able to collaborate with other parties, provide more accurate bill of materials, and cut erection time by almost 40 per cent. See how in the case study on the Tekla website.

Technology Shift Redefines the ‘Impossible’

Designing, fabricating and installing the necessary plumbing systems for the Liberty Center, a mixed-use development in Ohio, USA, at first sight seemed an ordinary project. However, two of the mixed-use buildings include a ground level and first floor elevated post-tensioned slab with post-tensioned cables. This meant there could be no core drilling or slab cutting once the deck was poured.

Jim Mercer, commercial project manager for Ken Neyer Plumbing, one of the top speciality contractors in the region, and the company tasked with this project, explains the challenge.

“We knew we couldn’t layout the sleeves and hangers using the conventional methods of pulling tapes because locating walls at that angle would have been impossible. If we couldn’t find a way to do it ourselves, we would have to hire a surveyor or civil engineer to mark out the walls and penetrations. We also had a very aggressive pour schedule. Building H had five pours – one per week – for the post-tensioned slab while Building C had four pours per week for its post-tensioned slab. So getting a surveyor to do it would have been very difficult with scheduling.”

Fortunately, Jim had recently heard about prefabrication tools linked to robotic total station technology and after some evaluation selected the Trimble Field Link for MEP layout solutions.

See how the layout solution was able to increase value and efficiency for Ken Neyer Plumbing, in this Trimble MEP case study.

Custom Stair Treads for the stair tools in Tekla

Did you know that you can model custom stair tread that can be used inside the stair tools in Tekla Structures?

This allows you to create a simple, fixed, custom step that you can use inside the stair tools which will calculate their locations, spacings and quantities without having to enter parametrics.

Dave Hiddemen, Applications Specialists for Steel Segment at Trimble steps us how to do this in the video below.