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Smart Axes Tool

The Smart Axes Tool helps you orient the local axes of components.
The Smart Axes Tool was introduced in version 5.0.0.
It is accessible from the paint axes icon or the OpenCutList → Orient Parts menu.
The interpretation of the dimensions of a part depends on the orientation of the local axes of the underlying component. OpenCutList uses the size of the blue bounding box to read the dimensions of a part. Therefore the bounding box must be tight around the part.
The dimensions of a part do not depend on the position of the local axes (the axes can be translated), but on the orientation of the tree legs formed by the red, green and blue axis.
The default local axes are right-handed coordinates, which means that if you place your index on the red axis and your middle finger on the green axis, then the blue axis shows in the up direction in the same way your thumb does.
If a right-handed coordinate system is placed at a vertex of the bounding box, the blue axis will show the direction of the thickness of a part. It does not matter whether the blue axis shows outside of the part, but the face which is the most positive on that blue axis will be considered the front face of the part.
Some of these assumptions are deliberate choices. We could have made other choices, but these seemed the most convenient to understand.
If you flip the local axes in such a way that the most positive face is the opposite face, then you have told OpenCutList that the other side is now the front face. Remember, changing the local axes does not affect the definition of the part, only its reading by OpenCutList.


Smart Axes Tool permits several actions (Flip, Swap length ↔ width, Swap front ↔ backside, Adapt axes). And each action can have several modifiers. All of those actions are visible at the top of the screen.


The Flip action is more convenient than the SketchUp tool, because it automatically detects parts under the mouse pointer and lets you decide along which dimension (as seen by OpenCutList) a part must be flipped. This can be L for length, W for width or T for thickness. Also you do not have to select the part to flip it.
Flipping only affects the selected instance.

Swap Length ↔ Width

This tool orients the local axes in such a way that length and width, as seen by OpenCutList are swapped. The tool orients the local axes so that the red axes
Swapping length and width affects all instances. It operates on the component definition.
Swap Length - Width

Swap Front ↔ Backside

This tool orients the local axes in such a way that the thickness (on the blue axis) is swapped. By convention, the front face is the face with the most positive coordinate on the blue axis.
Swapping Front - Backside affects all instances.
Swap Front - Backside

Adapt Axes

For an even finer control, this tool lets you pick the front of a part. It will then adapt the axes to match length and width. The thickness is automatically the last dimension. When moving the mouse over a part, a white arrow shows the current front and the direction of the length.
Pointed edge define the new red axis direction. Hover a face and an edge displays the future setting, click to confirm.
Adapt axes affects all instances.
Adapt Axes Tool


  • use TAB (left to right) or SHIFT + TAB (right to left) to navigate through actions
  • use CTRL + TAB (Windows) or OPTION + TAB (Mac) to navigate through action's modifier