Modeling Parts in SOLIDWORKS from Scratch

By Robert Gemmell on


This is a series best paired with our training courses. There are some topics were we like to expand or people often ask questions and there might not be time for our instructors to cover it, we encourage you to have a read through this series along with your course to get the most out of the experience!

Follow the link to learn more about the previous topic: Numerical Output

Q: How do you start modeling parts in SOLIDWORKS from scratch?

Imagine you are given a napkin sketch or novel physical part and are asked to create it in CAD. Where do we begin, what do we sketch first and what plane should be used?

Before we start modeling, we should find out if there are similar parts that have drawings we can reference or are there industry/company standards to follow for this type of part?

If we have no references, then we are starting from scratch and we have a series of six questions that will give us a great starting place.

This first five questions are going to help us determine the ideal Front View:

  1. Is the view 2-dimensional?
  2. Is the part in a natural stable position? (Imagine placing the part on the ground/desk or mounting it as intended).
  3. Is the longest dimension captured in this view?
  4. Does this view contain the least hidden features or most simple hidden features?
  5. Does the view describe the overall shape and contour of the part?

The view that receives the most yeses will make a great Front View.

Once we have the Front View identified we inherently know our Side View and Top View as well.

 We will now ask one questions to determine our starting profile sketch.

  1. Using the Front View, Right View and Top view; what simple geometric shape makes up a large portion of the part.

Now that we have our answers, we can quickly identify how to start modeling parts in SOLIDWORKS. We will create a sketch of the chosen geometric shape on the plane that matches the View it was found in.

*There are multiple ways to choose a Front View and starting profile sketch, this is simply a guide to help you make an informed decision if you are having trouble getting started.