Woodworking design software for simple projects

  • Advertise with us

« back to Designing Woodworking Projects forum

Forum topic by Vrtigo1 posted 05-17-2010 05:19 PM 10600 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Vrtigo1's profile


434 posts in 2985 days

05-17-2010 05:19 PM

Hi All,

I’m looking for some software to help me create plans and material lists for simple projects. For instance, I need to build a storage shed, and it would be really helpful if I could create a sketch of how I want to frame it, specify the type and size of the lumber to use, show where the sheet goods go, etc. It’d also be really cool if it had the ability to calculate angles, so if I specify the width and height of a gable roof, it’ll show me the angles I need to cut.

I saw a review for CutList, but $100 is a bit more than I was hoping to spend. I know you get what you pay for, and if that’s the best solution out there I’m not opposed to paying for it, but I thought I’d check to see if anyone was using something else with success.


12 replies so far

View TheDane's profile


5423 posts in 3657 days

#1 posted 05-17-2010 05:22 PM

I’m using Google SketchUp … there is a learning curve, but it is pretty powerful, and free.

Should also mention that Google has a number of videos on their website that I found very helpful. And for about $50, you can get a series of ShopClass tutorials from Popular Woodworking’s Bob Lang.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2980 days

#2 posted 05-17-2010 05:32 PM

I second Google Sketchup! A lot of my students use it and have reported that once you get past the curve, it’s second nature.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View rickf16's profile


390 posts in 3575 days

#3 posted 05-17-2010 05:39 PM


-- Rick

View GFYS's profile


711 posts in 3465 days

#4 posted 05-17-2010 07:01 PM

SU works great but it won’t teach you how to build anything.

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3642 days

#5 posted 05-17-2010 08:34 PM

I’ll concur that Daves tutorials are Grade-A top notch!

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Vrtigo1's profile


434 posts in 2985 days

#6 posted 05-17-2010 09:44 PM

Thanks all, it appears I need to spend some quality time with Sketchup to get familiar with it.

View a1Jim's profile


117086 posts in 3571 days

#7 posted 05-24-2010 07:51 AM

Many use Sketchup

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View sh2005's profile


97 posts in 3230 days

#8 posted 05-28-2010 05:49 PM

Google Sketchup has become very popular because this is one of the first free 3D CAD tool. I have tried using it few times but I haven’t been able to become proficient with it because it’s different than most other 3D CAD tools that I have worked with. I have access to SolidWorks which is one of the more widely used 3D CAD in engineering companies, but it’s not affordable for personal hobby use. There’s another tool called Alibre is more affordable for us woodworkers. In fact, the personal standard version is listed for $99. There’s also a feature-limited free version available. I recently downloaded it and from what I have seen so far, it looks like a powerful 3D CAD. The commands and 3D drawing tools are similar to SolidWorks. It’s not a very big learning curve. The tool also comes with tutorials as well.
For your requirements of being able to measure angle based on the width and height, these tools can definitely do that, plus a whole lot more.

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3642 days

#9 posted 05-28-2010 06:09 PM

I personally worked with SolidWorks and find Sketchup much easier ,and more proficient, especially with it’s open source plugin capabilities, and it being free also means there are a massive amount of plugins available to make things automated and easier.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View sh2005's profile


97 posts in 3230 days

#10 posted 05-28-2010 07:48 PM

I haven’t tried any of the plugins. I have to be give those a try.

View TheWoodsmith's profile


108 posts in 2914 days

#11 posted 06-03-2010 05:24 AM

I gotta co-sign for sketchup! its almost as an invaluable a tool as anything in the shop! the learning curve is really not that bad and you can be up and running in no time!

-- I know its around here somewhere...

View tooldad's profile


660 posts in 3709 days

#12 posted 06-03-2010 05:31 AM

I was introduced to Pro Engineer through an inservice at my school. In fact I was told to attend by administration. Supposedly it is the professional version of 3D design programs and that Gatorade product designers use it to design their bottles.

The processes are similar, but simpler in sketchup and it is a more user friendly interface and background.

After using both, I now teach sketchup. Take it slow, design a cabinet that is simple, piece by piece, and use a lot of components. That is the basic advice I give my students. Plus it is free and students can design at home. About 25% of my students really get into it. Going to shoot for 50% this year.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics