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Subtract Solids...How?

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Hello Everyone,

Substract Solids.

I just can't get this function to work.

Tutorial Project: Plate with holes:

1. Activate Instant Push/Pull Tool

2. Click and drag circle through plate, while holding down Alt Button.

3. While still holding ALT button, click to complete the extrusion.

This is suppose to create a hole within the plate. I drag the circle below the plate and I drag the circle above the plate and I still seem to create a solid circular extrusion. No hole!

Does anyone have some advice?

Thank you,


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Thanks Phil,

I've seen this video, but I just can't seem to get the subtract solids to work.

I've been working on this function for four hours.

I believe that I am following the procedure correctly, but I am having zero success with this simple function.

Vectorworks to me is not even remotely user-friendly or common sense, as compared to Revit. I follow the tutorial, watch the videos and I can't remove material from the plate.

Ready to give-up...none of my projects are going to have holes in them!


Edited by Blissab

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Hello Johnathan,

I purchased your Vectorworks Essentials tutorial book and I have been "holding down the ALT key just before you click" for the past four hours with zero success, in an effort to create a hole in a plate.

I wonder if you could offer any advice. I believe I have followed your tutorial correctly...step-by-step, but this basic function just doesn't work for me.

Thank you,


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Regarding Subtract Solids...holding down the ALT key just doesn't seem to work.

However after trial and error and stumbling around in the dark, this does work for Subtracting Solids once a circle is located within a plate:

1: Activate Tool Sets > Push/Pull Tool.

2. Extruded circle through object (plate).

3. Select both objects.

4. Model > Subtract Solids.

5. Select Object dialog box appears.

6. Click OK.

Resulting in a hole in a plate.

Unfortunately I've spent too much time with other sources with no success.

4:30 in the morning,


Edited by Blissab

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its tricky

but it took me a while and i still sometimes don't do it right so the other method

is an option

i don't know why vectorworks just don't re allow this command with the alt key pressed down as you start the operation this would take away the confusion

if people are making you tube videos and jonathan is having to put this into

his manuals surely the obvious think is to change it

i could never get this to work until i watched the you tube video so your not the only person who has struggled

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I certainly agree Phil,

It would be hard to imagine the building design process on Vectorworks, given the difficultly of modeling a simple shape like a plate with a couple of holes.


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i sometimes draw the circle on the face and give it a negative value say your shape is 600mm / 2 ft in old money

give it a negative extrusion of -700 and then do a subtract solid surface

that will work for you to......

keep going with VW it is a good piece of software but just has some funny ways

and with so many helpful people on this forum there always a solution

feel free to send me a note if you require some help....i've been using this for some 20 years but still have to ask when it gets a bit tricky......

the other keyboard command that i find useful is alt/command/M this will give you the chance to move a shape in the Z direction even on a plan view

if you ever just want to draw your circle on top of your shape and then send it

in a negative Z direction

really good shortcut

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try this i think this is what Jonathan is saying

when you put your cursor on the shape to drag press and hold down the mouse

on the shape for a second keep the mouse pressed then hit the alt key and drag

this works everytime

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I think that Push Pull Tool itself needs a lot of rework.

In crowded geometry,

as long as there is no option or standard to first select an element to work on,

without effecting neighbored elements, you can't edit your element without

rotating the view all the time to make sure that that one face is not hidden by

any other element.

There are even situations where you even don't find access to the face you like

at all. Even if you did you best with hiding other classes and view rotation.

You have to temporarily move the object away first.

(Same for Selection where you can't select in all situations without an explicit

"add only" and "subtract only" from selection)

Also the need to give positive or negative values to assign a direction for

Push Pull is very tedious. Especially if you know how well you can assign the

direction of the Move by Points tool by your cursor direction.

Plus the redundant need to double click Enter, terrible.

There is so much inconsistency in all basic tools.

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jonathan maybe you could do one of your short videos....i alway watch them to pick up some tips

The essential manual has a video built into it.

It has been a long time since I had trouble with this technique. There are some steps that you need to ensure you are using.

1. Make sure that you are using Automatic Working Planes.

2. Choose the required planar object creation tool (circle, rectangle, etc)

3. Ensure that the Automatic Working Plane activates (usually it goes blue).

4. Create the planar object. Don't do anything else.

5. Move back to the planar object, it should turn red.

6. Click once.

7. Move to the desired depth.

8. Hold down the Alt key.

9. Click once again.

There should be a solid subtraction.

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I don't use the push/pull tool enough, so I gave this a try, and I too could not get it to work at first. As Jonathan points out; the key is to "1. Make sure that you are using Automatic Working Planes." I had that turned off. Pressing the \ key toggles the Automatic Working Plane on and off. Once it is on, objects then add and subtract as expected if you follow the option key click sequence correctly.

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Bruce, I helped AB on line with this today. The instructions are correct, but the trick is that you to hold down the Alt then then click. Some people try to coordinate the Alt key and the click, but that's not necessary. Hold down the Alt key first, then click. I got AB to use this technique and it works every time.

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For me it works.


draw rectangle


click to start to pull


hold ALT key


click to set pull distance


release ALT key

Does not mean that I think it is good as it works.

Did nor try to input distance numerical and how that will work with the

ALT key timing and the needed double Enter ...

But that is tedious in in all other VW tool ALT options anyway.

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I had no trouble getting it to work when Automatic Working plane was turned on. It will not work when Automatic Working plane was turned off.

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Jonathan indeed was kind enough to take time to guide me through the Solids Subtraction "ALT Key method.

I must admit, that is easy, if one gets the timing and sequence dialed-in...then it works every-time. However, that is the key.

Also, I wonder if the Automatic Working Plane was not activated somehow, during my many failed attempts.

In any event, I'd like to again thank Jonathan for his personal tutorial.

As an aside Jonathan, in light of our discussion, I did purchase the Architect Tutorial Manual.

Thank you,


Edited by Blissab

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I don't think I saw this in the discussion here but another note to even begin to make this tool work is you need to set in your "Document Preferences" something other than "Screen Plane Only" other wise the tool is not available and "Automatic Working Plane" doesn't work.

I hadn't used this tool either before now but it works like a charm.

Keep checking out the new posts on this forum. You'll often learn something new. I make a habit during the work week first thing in the morning at my desk to check the forum and see whats up.

Great help everybody!

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