What is the best CAD Software for Woodworking & Furniture Design

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Forum topic by Italo78 posted 11-03-2018 05:28 AM 31336 views 1 time favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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18 posts in 2361 days

11-03-2018 05:28 AM

Topic tags/keywords: cad software solidworks nx autocad sketchup revit inventor woodworkers furniture

Cheers to all,

What is the best software for woodworkers?
I have a background in Cad but I have only recently started wood working.
From the many forums and YOUTUBE videos that i came across, it appears that Sketchup is the preferred software for woodworkers.
From this list can you please tell your top pick and why.
Inventor, Formit, Fusion 360, Blender, 3DS Max, AutoCAD, Rhino, Solidworks, Siemens NX, Revit and Sketchup.
Also, if I am going to learn a new software, I would prefer one that is widely used in the workplace having an Engineering background

Thanks for taking a look!

- Windy City Tony

28 replies so far

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1556 posts in 5004 days

#1 posted 11-03-2018 06:17 AM

I use Autocad Architectural Desktop, and I have a degree in Architectural Engineering and that’s probably why I use CAD since I already know it. Our commercial millwork shop now uses Microvellum (extremely expensive and takes much training in it) along with Autocad Architectural Desktop.

If you’re looking for 3d then I think most woodworkers are using Sketchup. Sketchup is an awesome 3d program and well worth learning if you’re a woodworker designing your own personal stuff. Sketchup has a large learning community.

I have a friend that’s an Architect using Sketchup Pro and is doing some awesome 3d work in it.

-- Bruce Free Plans & Calculators

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6184 posts in 3813 days

#2 posted 11-03-2018 01:13 PM

I use the free version DraftSight, it is very similar to AutoCAD.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View LesB's profile


3471 posts in 4905 days

#3 posted 11-03-2018 05:19 PM

I use a Mac computer so I chose Microspots, Mac Draft Pro for my 2D drawings.
It is cross compatible with most of the other CAD programs and I found it reasonably intuitive to use.
They offer a couple of versions (grades) and a trial period if you want to try it out.They just came out with a Microsoft version too.

-- Les B, Oregon

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6323 posts in 4706 days

#4 posted 11-04-2018 12:55 AM

What is the type of cad drawing you want to do, 2D or 3D? 3D is fine for “concept” drawings, but 2D is better for details. If I were machining a part on a milling machine or lathe, I would use a 2D drawing. I use Autocad for all my 2D drawings and have not seen a need for 3D. I prefer Autocad (mainly because that’s what I learned) and I can use it in any type of drawing; structural, architectural, woodworking, plumbing, electrical. It is a very versatile software. It is a very expensive software, but you can get it free (as a student) as long as you don’t use it for profit.

View lumbering_on's profile


578 posts in 1952 days

#5 posted 11-04-2018 01:33 AM

I’ve made the move to Fusion 360 as you can get it for free as a hobbyist. I was using Sketchup, but I didn’t like the move to the web-based version. I also found that after the switch to Fusion 360 a lot of things are much easier than they were in Sketchup. In fact, I now find Sketchup down right clumsy and frustrating to use.

View Rich's profile


8136 posts in 2052 days

#6 posted 11-04-2018 01:43 AM

I have SketchUp Pro and it does everything I need. Combined with a rendering package I can show my clients exactly what they will get.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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11 posts in 1998 days

#7 posted 11-06-2018 04:05 PM

Glad this question was asked. I am also an AutoCAD guy, but prefer not to pay the price for it. I haven’t had the need for a detailed CAD program for design needs as I mostly can do that by hand (quick drawing with dims). What I need it for is to show the customer the design (3D) so I was trying out Sketchup, but like lumbering_on said it is clumsy. I might try Fusion 360 that he/she suggested.

View shawnn's profile


156 posts in 2827 days

#8 posted 11-06-2018 07:58 PM

I’ve used Pro Engineer extensively for years (now called Creo), which is one of the most widely used engineering packages. I have also used Mechanical Desktop and to a lesser degree Inventor, and Solidworks (very little). I did production design using Autocad AME in Release 12… took all night to generate ISO views, running a single view per Pentium workstation… Creo is expensive and probably overkill for most woodworkers but they now offer “pay as you go” service; they also allow a one month free trial version, which you can extend the use of by changing the date on your computer prior to running it. Just mentioned it since, IMO, if you’re going to invest your time in the learning curve you might as well hit the broadest market. I also did a long term live review of Catia V6 just after it was introduced, I wouldn’t have a copy of that if it was free. That was several years ago, it might have matured in the interim but it was a (bad) joke back then.

I have used 2D Autocad since x286 processors and can verify that Draftsight is functionally an exact replica and is free, assuming you can get their goofy e-mail verification to work. There are ways to make it work if it doesn’t after downloading and well worth it considering the price of Autocad. It even uses the single & double-digit hotkeys from Autocad (“L” for Line, “E” for erase, etc.) even when their command has a different name (Erase is actually Delete in Draftsight).

View Italo78's profile


18 posts in 2361 days

#9 posted 11-12-2018 04:04 PM

Thanks to everyone for taking time out of your day to reply to my question.
I have quickly tested the free version of Sketchup and Fusion 360.
Although both software appear to be great powerful tools, I cannot really comment on either since I have only tested the user interface and the tools available for each.
I was planning on testing out Solid Works since that is the cad program that appears to be widely used in the workplace today. I have used Solid Works for work nearly 15 years ago, but I have not used it since (and I can telly you that I have forgotten how to use it).
Has anyone worked with Solid Works for woodworking? I have only found a few SW woodworking videos online but nothing very solid.
Will it take long to re-learn? Does SW provide cut lists?

Thanks again to everyone for your time.


View KamileD's profile


1 post in 1527 days

#10 posted 01-08-2019 10:03 AM

Have you looked into Woodwork for inventor? It works with Inventor so it’s not cheapest on the market. Nevertheless, it saves an incredible amount of time by automating BOM, drawings and many other specification generations.
Here’s a link to it:

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918 posts in 1241 days

#11 posted 01-08-2019 11:18 AM

SketchUp for me. Simple, powerful, massive library of components already available.

View DannyW's profile


360 posts in 1260 days

#12 posted 07-16-2019 07:01 PM

I know this is an old post but does somebody have an update recommendation, preferably 3D? I did some searching and was interested in Fusion 360 but it is no longer free to hobbyists and is only available as a subscription. I was looking for some thing easy and free (or cheap) that specifically had woodworking features, and preferably with a good following to help in learning the program.

-- DannyW

View dschlic1's profile


517 posts in 3432 days

#13 posted 07-17-2019 05:34 PM

Fusion 360 is still free for hobbyists. They make you jump through some hurdles, but its there. I use both Fusion 360 and SketchUp. Both have their strengths and weaknesses.

View Tim Lanier's profile

Tim Lanier

14 posts in 1197 days

#14 posted 07-17-2019 10:05 PM

I know this is an old post but does somebody have an update recommendation, preferably 3D? I did some searching and was interested in Fusion 360 but it is no longer free to hobbyists and is only available as a subscription. I was looking for some thing easy and free (or cheap) that specifically had woodworking features, and preferably with a good following to help in learning the program.

- DannyW

I’m a hobbyist and have been using SketchUp to design my woodworking projects for over 10 years. Now that I’m an employee I get SketchUp Pro for free but before that I used “Make” which is the free version of “Pro”.

SketchUp Make 2017 is still available for free from

SketchUp is easy to use but I think it really helps to have someone show you the basics when you’re getting started. There’s a ton of free training available on youtube and other places on the web. I also think our in-house training materials are excellent at

If you’d rather use the free web version you can find that at
If you don’t mind paying for a more powerful web version, there’s a Shop subscription for $119/year.

View DannyW's profile


360 posts in 1260 days

#15 posted 07-18-2019 07:29 PM

I have been looking at video tutorials on both Sketchup and Fusion 360 from a woodworker’s standpoint. Both will require a learning curve but so far I like what I see in Fusion 360 far better; I like the parametric focus as it looks like building components will be much easier and more versatile once I get the hang of it. Thanks for the note about it still being free for hobbyists.

-- DannyW

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