Tip 1003:  Use the Wheel of Five to modify an object quickly.

Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.
— Dave Barry

If you’ve done much CAD work in AutoCAD, you’ve most likely touched on what I call the Wheel of Five, but you may not have been aware of it, and you might not have fully appreciated its power and convenience. I’ve come to use this tool often, and I really like its simplicity. I use it when there’s an existing object (and it must be a single object) that I want to modify in one of the five ways offered on the wheel. A typical example is a leader that points to the left, and I want to mirror it so that it points to the right.  See the diagram below:

Diagram of the wheel, starting with STRETCH at the top

 The five spokes of the wheel are Stretch, Move, Rotate, Scale, and Mirror. The numbers 0 through 4 in the wheel represent the number of hits of the spacebar that are required to activate the corresponding command.

Here’s an example. Say you have a rectangle in your drawing and you select it. Four grips (the small blue squares at the corners) will appear. There are also four elongated grips, at the midpoint of each side of the rectangle. Click on a corner square grip, for this example. Your command line says “STRETCH,” letting you know that you are in Stretch mode, and if you move your pointer around on the screen (without clicking), the corner of the rectangle will indeed stretch, like a rubber band.

Now hit the space bar, and the command line changes to “MOVE.” Moving the pointer (without clicking) will make a preview image of the rectangle move around on the screen. Another hit of the space bar brings up the command “ROTATE,” and moving the pointer around makes the rectangle rotate. It will rotate freely if the ORTHO option is off, or in 90 degree increments if it is on. Another hit of the space bar puts you in “SCALE” mode, and moving your pointer scales the rectangle smaller or larger. One more hit of the space bar and you are in “MIRROR” mode, where you can mirror the rectangle in different directions, depending on where you move your pointer. Hit spacebar again and you are back in “STRETCH” mode, and further hits of the spacebar will go around the wheel again, without end until you do one of the following:

  1. Click a point with the mouse in the work area, which activates the command shown in the command line and modifies the selected object, or
  2. Type a letter or number to choose one of the options that appear in the command line. For example, if you are in SCALE mode, and you type 2 [ENTER], you scale the object to two times its original size.

I think of it as a wheel because, if you happen to miss the command you’re wanting, you can hit spacebar a few more times and it will come around.
You can substitute the Enter key for the spacebar key if you prefer. I like the spacebar key because it is the largest, easiest to hit key on the keyboard, and it is within easy reach of my left hand, allowing me to keep my right hand on the mouse, saving time.

Try rolling with the Wheel of Five next time you want to modify a single object in CAD. It has major time-saving advantages, especially considering that you are able to select the object to be modified and initiate the command to modify the object with only two clicks, and the base point is already set.  By the way, the object can be a drawn object, text object, block, or xref.

Please let me know your thoughts by commenting below.

Keep on CADDing!  🙂


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