Creating Reference Planes in SOLIDWORKS: Offset, Angle, Mid, & Cylindrical Surface

Article by Nick Stanley on Jan 31, 2022

In this tutorial, we explain how to create four different reference planes in SOLIDWORKS:

  • Offset Planes
  • Angle Planes
  • Mid Planes
  • Cylindrical Surface Planes

Offset Planes

The most common type of reference plane is an offset plane. To create an offset plane, select the Reference Geometry drop down on the CommandManager and choose the Plane option. 

Reference Geometry Dropdown in SOLIDWORKS

Once the option to create a plane is open, select a face or another plane and set a distance for the offset. (Figure 1 & 2) There is also the option to create multiple planes when making an offset plane (Figure 3). When creating multiple planes this way, all of the planes created will have the same offset from each other.


(Figure 1)

How to Create Offset Plane in SOLIDWORKS

(Figure 2)

Creating Reference Planes in SOLIDWORKS Offset Planes

(Figure 3)

Angle Planes 

To create an angle plane, you’ll need a face and an axis line to angle about. 

The axis line can be a model edge or a sketch line. (Figure 4) By default, the angle of the new plane will be perpendicular to the selected face/plane but you can change the angle at which the plane is offset from the selected face. 

Angle Planes in SOLIDWORKS

(Figure 4)

Multiple angle planes can be created at the same time; each being offset from the next by the selected angle. (Figure 5)

SOLIDWORKS Reference Planes Angle Plane

(Figure 5)

Mid Planes

When two faces are selected, a mid plane is created by default. The selected faces are not required to be parallel (Figure 6). If they are parallel, the resulting plane will be parallel and halfway between them. If not, the plane will be positioned between the two faces. A common use of this type of plane would be to create a mirror plane in the center of the part.  

Mid Planes in SOLIDWORKS

(Figure 6)

Cylindrical Surface Planes

Planes on cylindrical surfaces can get confusing because they often need more selections in order to finalize the plane. For example, if a cylinder and a plane are selected, the plane will rotate about the cylindrical face as the angle is adjusted. (Figure 7) Or, if multiple cylindrical faces are selected, a plane will be added that is tangent to both. 

Creating Cylindrical Surface Planes in SOLIDWORKS

(Figure 7)

SOLIDWORKS Cylindrical Surface Planes Example

(Figure 8)

Creating Cylindrical Planes in SOLIDWORKS Tutorial

(Figure 9)

In either case, selecting the Flip option will let you set which side of the respective cylinder is used as the reference. (Figure 8 & 9)




Our SOLIDWORKS CAD Cheat Sheet, featuring over 90 tips and tricks, will help speed up your process.



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About Nick Stanley

Nick Stanley is a SOLIDWORKS Technical Support Specialist at GoEngineer.

View all posts by Nick Stanley