Thanks for the reply. I got some other advice on other forums to use the channel box scale parameters. I just want to explore the pros and cons of the channel box and measure tool for sizing geometry and see if there are better ways or not.
For example, if you make a cube, its scale is 1/1/1 by default. If you use the scale tool to resize the cube, the scale numbers change accordingly, and therefore show you a one to one comparison of the cube's new size. However, if you select a face of the cube and pull it out, resizing the cube that way, the scale numbers do not reflect the new "size" of the cube, since technically, it hasn't been scaled.
Likewise, if you make two cubes and merge them together, it's the same problem. The scale info in the channel box only shows proportional scale for an object or group, but it does not show "size" or actual measurement of an object or group.
What I'm looking for is the easiest way tell the exact measurements of an object or group of objects. It seems like there would be an info box or overlay that would show such info, but apparently not? I understand the measure tools under the create menu sort of get me what I want, but it's really quite clumsy to have to manually force-calculate a measurement. And it's not entirely accurate. Only as accurate as you are in positioning your measure points.
Let me state it this way. If one were to make, say, a piece of furniture in Maya. Let's say a dresser. It's built up of a bunch of primitives and tweaked from there. To fit in the scene, it's determined that it needs to be exactly 3.5 feet tall. It seems to me, the easiest way to fit it to those dimensions would be if there were a numeric input with constrained dimensions (like Photoshop when you resize an image, but in three dimensions here). So you'd enter 3.5 in the Y axis and with constraints on it would resize proportionally. Is there anything like this in Maya? If not, what would be the easiest way to do that? Would you just eyeball it to the grid at three and a half squares? Would you use the measure tool to set up a distance length ahead of time at 3.5 feet and then scale the "dresser" to that length?
Or, using the dresser model idea, what if you wanted to build the dresser in Maya very accurately each step of the way. Presumably you would measure each part of the real life dresser and then model to those sizes. But what if you measure the foot of the dresser at six inches and then model the foot to that size, but then realize it was actually five inches. Depdning on how you've modeled that foot, the channel box may not accurately reflect the actual size of the object any more, right? So how does one get that foot to be exactly five inches?
Sorry for the lon-winded rant, I'm just trying to grasp what seems like it would be a fundamental aspect of 3D design…sizing to a specific real world dimension. I'm having trouble working with Maya to achieve that.