Do you want to build a snowman? (Onshape Tutorial)

I am in love with this software called Onshape. I don’t think I’ve ever used software that I love as much as Onshape. I’m overjoyed that it happens to be for CAD and I get to use it on a daily basis.

How I love Onshape, let me count the ways:

  • Everything is cloud based (the same way gmail is cloud based). There’s no downloading initially or downloading any updates, no losing files when switching computers, everything is saved automatically etc. etc.
  • It’s 100% free for public use (it’s $150/mo if you want private files, which is about 1/10th the price of Solidworks).
  • Collaboration is seamless. Multiple people can work on the same project at the same time. You don’t need an account to view files.

To share this love, I’m going to give a tutorial on how to use it. Today I’m going to talk about using the Revolve tool. I would say it’s the most flexible and powerful tool there is in any CAD system. It can make all sorts of crazy shapes with minimal effort.

At the end you should have something like this:


Let’s get cracken’:

  1. Start by creating a new document. Select the Front plane, then hit the Sketch button.
  2. Draw a line from the origin straight up. Draw 3 arcs. Dimension them as such:
    You might need to drag the lines around. If you’re a pro like me, you can add constraints to make the arcs centers incident to the vertical line.
  3. Now hit the green check mark to confirm. Hit the Revolve button on the top left. Select the greyed area encompassed by your line and 3 arcs for a face. Then click the next box which asks for the revolve axis, THEN click the vertical line. Click the green check mark to confirm.
  4. Now he needs a hat. Repeat after me. Select the Front face, sketch, 6 lines, then dimension them like so. Notice that I have a line connected to the origin, but doesn’t attach to any points? I only need to encompass a face. The lines don’t necessarily need to be connected.
  5.  You know the drill. Revolve, select the face, select the revolve axis. But before you hit that green check mark, there’s an option to choose between “New, Add, Remove, Intersect”. Choose New instead of Add.
  6.  Ol’ King Coal needs some buttons. Select the Front plane, Sketch, draw 3 circles. Dimension them like me:Capture.JPG
  7. Extrude 20.5mm. But before you hit that green check mark, there’s an option to choose between “New, Add, Remove, Intersect”. Choose New instead of Add.
  8. Right click on your snowman, then at the bottom of the pop-up menu, click “Edit appearance for Part 1…” Select a white color. Select your 3 buttons and hat, edit appearance, select a black color.

If you did everything right, your snowman should look like this:

Muah! A real work of art.

If you want to view my snoman in 3D check it out here.


As always if you have any questions feel free to contact me at richelson.david[at]gmail[dot]com.

What do you think? Right? Wrong? Pure poppycock?