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Woodworking specific CAD programs?

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Forum topic by Andrew714 posted 07-19-2017 08:38 PM 456 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Andrew714

17 posts in 1112 days


07-19-2017 08:38 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cad design

I am wondering if anyone has heard of any CAD programs that are designed specifically for woodworking? I know there are a few programs out there for designing raised panel doors, or other specific applications, but I am looking for something that could be used to draw up any woodworking project in it’s entirety.

I used SketchUp briefly, but didn’t really like it, at least in comparison to SolidWorks. I really like Adobe Illustrator for anything 2D, as it’s drawing functions are very intuitive. It does however lack an easy way of displaying dimensions like 2D/3D CAD programs do. I have a copy of SolidWorks that I have been using for a while for anything 3D, and it is certainly one of the most capable and versatile CAD programs out there, but for someone who will only use it for woodworking, it seems to me that there could be a way of simplifying some of the tasks you do.

For example, the tools available in woodworking usually dictate how you make something, so it would only make sense to make the drawings in the same way as you would make the part in the shop. What I am getting at, is if you’re going to make a cabinet door, you have a limited variety of edge profiles to choose from, and it doesn’t do you any good to reinvent the wheel and draw an edge profile that doesn’t already exist as a router bit. I have also had a couple moments while designing something, where I had to stop and think about how I would accomplish that particular shape or task in the shop. I could even see a program going as far as being a woodworking simulator that you can output your finished product as a CAD file.

From all the searching I have done about CAD for woodworking though, I’m pretty sure that a program like this doesn’t exist, which I find a little surprising because of the vast number of woodworkers that use CAD. Maybe there’s a decent program I just haven’t heard of yet though.


6 replies so far

View Jon Hobbs's profile

Jon Hobbs

79 posts in 541 days


#1 posted 07-19-2017 09:21 PM

I’ve been using Sketchlist for years. I’ve tried to learn SketchUp many times. Just can’t get the hang of it. I can knock-up a piece of furniture or cabinet in no time using Sketchlist.

The software was created specifically for woodworkers. You create your drawing by inserting boards into your project. So it’s pretty intuitive.

Where it’s a little weak is in curved parts. So if you do a lot of bent laminations or steam bending type work, it may not be the best. I also struggle a little bit when I need to adjust the dimensions of the overall project. “What if the trestle table were 80” long instead of 76”. I wind up having to resize all of the boards individually, which is fairly quick and easy to do.

You can add edge profiles and holes and curved or angled cuts fairly easily. I don’t get too anal about the edge profiles being exact. The software handles the basics (chamfers, round-overs, cove, basic ogee). Like you said, the end result is highly dependent upon the bits I have in my arsenal. I’ve never encountered any issues with the profiles in the software not matching the profiles I actually cut.

Overall, I love it. They have a 30 day trial, so it’s worth a look.

-- Jon -- Just a Minnesota kid hanging out in Kansas

View DanceParty's profile

DanceParty

59 posts in 2358 days


#2 posted 07-19-2017 09:24 PM

Depends on what type of work you are doing. Most programs are specific for certain types of woodworking.

For general woodworking, I use Autocad and for years and have never had a problem drawing anything I wanted. It’s extremely powerful if you know what you are doing. Matter of fact, Autocad is pretty much the standard in professional mid to large shops. Only problem is that it is pretty expensive, around $4,195, which puts it out of reach for most people.

If your looking for a 3D CAD program I know that Autodesk Inventor has a plugin called “Woodwork for Inventor” that specifically deals with furniture/cabinet design. Again, it’s pretty expensive (base program + plugin). I know that you can export your 2D design into inventor pretty easy. Also, if your doing CNC you can also export to CAM software.

What type of stuff are you looking to draw?

View DS's profile

DS

2823 posts in 2257 days


#3 posted 07-19-2017 09:45 PM

Cabinetvision is highly specialized for woodworking.

It is expensive, has a steep learning curve, but is scalable and nearly invaluable as a sales, drawing and manufacturing tool for any serious cabinet shop.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View Andrew714's profile

Andrew714

17 posts in 1112 days


#4 posted 07-24-2017 07:21 PM

Thanks for all the input, I’ll have to check out Sketchlist at the least. Cabinetvision sounds like it could be promising as well, at least for cabinet design.

View DS's profile

DS

2823 posts in 2257 days


#5 posted 07-24-2017 07:26 PM

Other specialized woodworking programs include Microvellum and KCD among others

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View Tom Bloom's profile

Tom Bloom

18 posts in 3763 days


#6 posted 07-24-2017 08:52 PM

Rhinoceros 5? is a good CAD program. It works well for drawing, CNC router work, lazer work and 3d printer. Great support and customer service.

-- The cost of a thing is the amount, of what I call life, which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.

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