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Structural steel model created in SDS2 by customer Lincoln Engineering Group

10 Underestimated Detailing Tools in SDS2 to Make Your Job Easier

There are many tools in SDS2 that can save you time in modeling, detailing, and more—so many, in fact, that it’s easy for some of them to fly under the radar and be forgotten by users.

When you’re so busy just trying to finish the job in front of you, there’s not always time to find and explore new features. It’s easier to stick to the tools you know.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of some of the most underestimated and often overlooked tools in SDS2, recommended by customers and experienced individuals across SDS2. From modeling shortcuts to detailing hacks, these features can save you serious time and make your job as a detailer a whole lot easier.

TIP: To find most of the tools listed below inside SDS2, just start typing the names into the search bar on the top right corner of the SDS2 window. Click on the search result to open the tool. 


Member Line Extend

Available for download in the SDS2 Toolbox, the member line extend tool lets you efficiently realign and connect multiple member ends and produce system-generated connections. It is especially useful when you have received a model from an outsourced contractor, such as a reference model from an engineer, that isn’t up to your standards and contains many members that don’t perfectly line up. The tool offers multiple extension options, including:

  • Member to member
  • Member to member and adjust height
  • All nearby beams to column
  • All selected members to nearby members


Member Pins

Member pins are a powerful tool to keep member ends locked to particular views, planes, other member ends or member lines, and more. This will allow you to make adjustments to your model while maintaining accurate connections and alignments. Member pins are disabled by default but can be manipulated and customized to achieve a wide variety of results. For example, let’s say you need to change the slope of a roof. With a smart use of member pins, you could simply change the elevation of a single column, and all affected beams would automatically follow suit, turning a tedious design change into a relatively easy task.


Construction Line Add Material

Locating, measuring, and moving materials in SDS2 gets a whole lot easier with the construction line add material tool. This allows you to automatically add and delete construction lines along the edges and corners of a selected material, providing useful—and more importantly, accurate—reference points for a range of commands. The tool can be found in the contextual ribbon when a material is selected. 




EVU Cleanup

Cleaning up drawings for uniformity and accuracy is a tedious and time-consuming process for any detailer, but knowing about the EVU Cleanup tool in SDS2 will significantly speed up the process. Rather than going through each drawing and making the same changes to specific text fields (headers, labels, callouts, etc.) on each drawing, this tool allows you to modify multiple items at once. You can batch your drawings by piece mark, drawing number, member number, and more.


Increment Sheet Revisions

Increment sheet revisions is an element that appears on sheet revision charts, and if you don’t know about them, you’re in for a whole lot of tedious work. In a nutshell, SDS2 remembers the revision history for all erection, detail, and gather sheets. When sheets are changed or revised, the revision chart is automatically updated with an incremented value—either alphabetic or numeric—along with a date and other short notes you may wish to include. This will help you and your teams stay organized throughout the project, no matter how many change orders come in.


Detail Views

Added in SDS2 2020, detail views allow you to essentially create a magnified view of a member or submaterial drawing or view, which can be placed on any other drawing or sheet. Simply draw a bounding box around an element that you want to pull out and create a new view. Though the data is still linked to your original drawing, you can manipulate it independently, making it easy to magnify complex details, display or highlight different dimensions, add notes or text, change the line type, and more.


Material Drafting

When you talk about steel detailing these days, most people think first of the 3D model. However, there may be instances where you want to add materials to a drawing that you don’t need to model first. When that happens, you’ll need the material drafting tool, which allows you to add a top view, bottom view, section view or elevation view of a material to any drawing. This makes it super easy and quick to add in section cuts of as-built conditions, for example, or provide quick details for field fixes to keep projects moving.




PDF Links

In SDS2 2021, we added the ability to automatically hyperlink things like piece marks on drawings, making it drastically easier to navigate plan sets. From an erection sheet, you can click on a piece mark, and it will automatically take you to the corresponding detail sheet. On the detail sheet, clicking on a submaterial mark will take you to its location on the gather sheet. In addition to the automated links, any user-generated labels or material callout labels can be manually hyperlinked. The links work whether you choose to save them all to one document or separate documents, as long as they are exported to the same location. 



Status Select

Like the Status Display tool, which allows you to filter what is shown in your model and how, Status Select gives you refined control over item selection in your model with a wide range of conditions, such as member and material type, fabrication status, section size, steel grade, plate thickness, surface finish, custom properties—you name it.

This ability could come in handy in any number of scenarios. Maybe you want to double check that your description for all handrail members is set correctly—you can filter your selection by member type and member description, then quickly identify and update any errors. Maybe the fabricator has asked for a list of all clip angles in the model, or you want to select all beams with non-standard bolt diameters to make appropriate notes on your drawings. The possibilities are truly endless here, and the bigger the project, the more powerful the tool becomes. 

Status Selection located in the 'Tools' ribbon in SDS2


Embedded U3D (RFI Tool)

Within SDS2’s RFI tool is a feature that allows you to select a portion of your 3D model and embed a U3D within a PDF document that can be viewed and shared with anyone. Not only is it a neat party trick that will wow stakeholders at your next progress meeting, it’s also an incredibly valuable communication tool, making it easy to bring the power of 3D visualization to everyone invested in your project, regardless of their software capabilities. You can find a similar capability in SDS2’s new connection cubes feature, which is built specifically for reviewing connection nodes or joints.



Unlocking the full power of SDS2 isn’t just about learning one tool or another, but using all the tools at your disposal in combination. These are just a few of the many features and tools to help you on your way.

To make sure you’re up to date on all the latest features and tools in SDS2, check out our New Features Video Library and the SDS2 Toolbox, which is full of useful components, tools, specialized imports and exports, and more.