Join George Maestri for an in-depth discussion in this video Draw a proper helix, part of SketchUp: Tips & Tricks.
- Hi, I'm George Maestri, and today we're going to take a look at how to create a proper helix in SketchUp. Now this is great for things such as threads and screws, for springs as well as circular staircases. So let's take a look at how to do this. Now before we get started, I will need to have one extension installed. And that's an extension that will weld multiple curves together. Now there are a couple of those in the warehouse, I'm using one called Weld with a capital W.
And if you want, you can use that one, or if you have another tool you can use, go ahead and use that. So the first thing we need to do is we need to actually draw a polygonal object. So I'm going to select polygon and I'm going to create 24 sides, and then I'm just going to go ahead and just pull this out along the blue axis so that it's perpendicular to the blue axis.
And then I'm going to pull that up into an object. Now I'm going to select this top base and go ahead and use the eraser tool to delete it. And I should get something like this, which is all these little spikes kind of coming up out of the ground. And what we're going to do is we're going to angle these a specific amount and then we're going to copy them to actually create 24 helixes and we're going to take one of those and turn it into the helix that we want.
Now before we do this, I want to draw a guideline that is vertical. So I'm going to take my tape measure tool, I'm going to left click and drag along the blue axis so I have this vertical line. And that's going to be my reference for my next task. And that is to select all of these little spikes here and then I'm going to shift deselect my guide, and now I'm going to rotate this.
So I'm going to rotate along blue, and watch what happens. When I rotate these, they go at an angle, which is really neat. And that's the key to making this spiral. So I want to go until the top part of one of these actually touches that guideline. And you'll see it kind of snaps. Now the angle of this should be somewhere around 15 degrees. And when I do that, you'll see I have all of these little guides. So now that I have these, I can get rid of this bottom part.
So I'm going to go ahead and select this face and right click, go select, bounding edges and hit delete. So now all I have are these. And I can also delete the guideline. So now that I have these, all I have to do is copy them. And so I'm going to select them all, we're going to go into our move tool and I'm going to hold down the control key to do a duplicate, duplicate that up, and I want to snap it to the endpoint that is directly above it, okay.
And now once I have that, I can multiply this by a number. So I'm going to actually multiply this by 24. And that should give me a full circle. And look what we have, we have this kind of nice mesh shape, which is kind of cool. But all of these together are individual spirals, you can see how each one of these spirals around. And so all I need to do is select one of these and I should have the helix that I want. So I'm going to go ahead and select this, right click on it, and do select all connected, and that should select one complete spiral.
And then if I use my move tool, I can move that off the the side, and then I can use my scale tool to squish it down along the blue axis. Right there. And once I squish it down, you can see I've got a nice little helix. So the rest of this is kind of just superfluous. I don't really need it. I'm going to go ahead and delete it, and then I'm going to move this back over to the origin.
Now notice what happened here. I did 24 of those, but notice what we have here. We have a spiral that goes 360 plus one additional segment. And that's because I had 24 in my copy plus the original for 25, so I have one too many. So I'm just going to go ahead and delete that one. I'm going to go ahead and create a copy of this. So I'm going to select this, go into my move tool, hold down the control key, and move this up.
Now if I want, I can do multiples of this just by hitting the times sign and a number. So I'm going to do times three, hit enter. So now I've got three of these, and I've got a helix. Now if I want, I can select this, I can scale it if I want to make this more compact almost like a spring or I can extend it. But notice how this is a complete helix, so it has a constant ramp on all sides. If you were to do a helix by copying arcs, typically you'll get a flat spot in the middle.
So this is a great way to do that. So now that I have this helix, I can turn it into geometry. But before I do that, I do need to connect it all together. Now these are all still individual segments, so this is where that weld tool comes in. So I'm going to select all of these, go into extensions, and weld them. And once I do, I should be able to select it and it's all one entity. So now that I have that, I can go ahead and say create a circle here, go ahead and snap to red by hitting the right arrow, pull that out, select my curve, tools, follow me, and select this face, boom.
So now I have geometry that is a helix. So this looks a lot like a spring, but as you can see, we can use this for creating all sorts of helical structures.
Skill Level Intermediate
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