There’s nearly 8 ways to create the same 3D model in SolidWorks… along with the 4 other ways. That’s a lot of flexibility, but many of the features just don’t get the use they deserve until someone shows them how to bring forth the hammer of power that is all the crazy, little SolidWorks feature combos you’ve never thought of.

You could stack up a bunch of extrusion, planes and cuts to create, oh, something like your grandpa’s favorite boxy, yet creepy, dead robot guy. However, there are other features out there and probably a few you have in your own 3D CAD tool belt.

What is the most obscure combination of features you use? Here are some simple ones I use that have 3 out of 4 engineers (at my office) thinking a bit differently.

Thin Extrude Up to Surface
Extrude. What we all start with, but have you tried combining multiple options within the extrude command? Try this. Create a surface. Sketch another profile. Now extrude a thin feature up to the surface with a little dab of draft. It’s a little tricky and may need some adjustment, but comes in handy for plastic parts, creating forms and doing a quick contour mock-ups.

Download Example File

Multiple revolve offset
Revolve. Probably one of the first features we tried out when starting in SolidWorks. The revolve feature is one of the most fun for sure. There’s a combo I like that goes like this. Sketch a profile and revolve it 32 degrees. start a sketch on the flat face, sketch-offset and revolve that another 32 degrees. Try it with different revolved profiles, add fillets and shells. It’s odd, but yeah, good for plastic parts, machined parts, designs for lighting, architecture and furniture.

Download Example File

Midsurface Extend and Trim
Now surfacing is one of the most under utilized tools. You can expand your modeling possibilities by understanding a few simple commands. Here’s one set. Simple but effective for a lot of surfacing from plastic parts to vacuum formed parts, furniture, etc. I also use this method to create surface models for stress analysis. Surface-midplane, extend, trim.

Download example model

50+ points for a combo attack
I think it’s downright interesting to see how people use a set of features to create a model. It’s one really unique thing about history-based, feature-driven modeling. It also shows the intentional, and often random, train of thought that goes into the design. These are just three very simple feature combos that I hope help you explore some more ideas and maybe some more efficient way to create your models.

I’m betting you have others, maybe even cooler and more complicated ones. BRING’em ON. Email an example to josh (at) solidsmack (dot) com, and I’ll post it for everyone to glean from your wisdom. What are your favorite feature combos to use?

Jeff Mowry from Industrial Design Haus submitted this one called SpiralSpiralSpiral. Check it out!

pixel robot from Stick-a-Thing


Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.