How to Cut Holes only within Selected Feature

09-26-2012 05:39 PM
New Contributor
Hi, I've been tackling this issue for days & would really appreciate any tips.

In ArcMap 10, is there a way to "cut holes" in a specific polygon (using smaller existing polygons) without affecting the rest of the features in the same layer?

Here's the simplest example I can think of:  Let's say I have a lake (polygon A) with several islands (polygons B, C, D).  I also have polygon E that is identical to polygon A.  I am trying to figure out how to get polygon E to represent just the water (i.e. minus the islands).  All the features are located within the same dataset.

Attempt #1: Clip Tool -- I tried to highlight just polygons E, B, C, D and use the Clip Tool.  But to get it to work, it seems necessary to Merge B, C, & D together first, then Clip, then Delete.  This isn't ideal in my case because I'd like to keep the island features intact & not completely erase them from the dataset.  Clipping also seems to cut through ALL the features, including polygon A, which I'm not trying to cut.

Attempt #2: Move, Clip, Move Back -- My temporary solution has been to export polygons E, B, C, & D to a new dataset.  Then do all the clipping there, ending up with just the clipped polygon E.  Then I copy that back to the original dataset & delete the old polygon E. While this method keeps polygon A & the island polygons intact in the original dataset, I'm afraid this many steps in the process will lead to errors.  I was hoping for a more efficient, more easily repeatable method for future projects.

Is there not a way to clip polygon E using the outlines of B, C, & D without messing with anything else?  If not, is there still an easier way than what I described?  I appreciate any help!

On a side note, is there a quick way to copy a feature from one dataset & paste it into another, or is it necessary to "Start Editing" in 1st dataset - Copy - "Stop Editing" then "Start Editing" in 2nd dataset - Paste - "Stop Editing"?

Sorry for such a long-winded question!  Thanks for your time.
Tags (2)
0 Kudos
4 Replies
Occasional Contributor III
I think the Erase tool located in the Analysis Tools > Overlay toolbox is what you are looking for.  However this requires a Advance (ArcInfo) license.

For your second questions, try the append tool in the Data Management Tools > General toolbox.  I will copy features from one FC to another FC without creating a new feature class.
0 Kudos
Occasional Contributor

why don't you try cut polygon

ArcGIS Desktop

0 Kudos
MVP Legendary Contributor

I hope after 4 years that was the solution

0 Kudos
Occasional Contributor

Dan I didn't notice the date. I read the query and replied

0 Kudos