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Forum topic by MontanaWC posted 02-11-2019 07:07 PM 207 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 10 days

02-11-2019 07:07 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cnc router autocad

Greetings, I am new to the community. I just purchased a 4’x8’ cnc router and am looking for some software recommendations. I am a furniture guy looking to design and manufacture simple office furniture (conference tables, desks, worktables etc) as my main use. I would also like to get into some cabinetry and guitar design work as well. I plan on purchasing a 3d laser scanner in the near future to replicate some guitar bodies I have so any software that can incorporate that would be awesome.

I haven’t used a cad program since high school, (now 36yrs old) so I will need a class to get familiar with all the technology. I am located in Northern NJ if anyone has a class they know of, pls advise.

thank you in advance for the help.


3 replies so far

View Madmark2's profile


417 posts in 859 days

#1 posted 02-11-2019 08:41 PM

Inside AutoCAD is the standard text & program.
Mach3 is the freeware cnc software.
Converting from cad to GCODE (the cnc language) is the tricky part. Initially it can be done by hand but in a production shop it limits production and makes the software side fragile. Fortunately if you export the cad as a DXF (Drawing eXchange Format) ASCII file then you can get the conversion to GCODE to fully automate with a little light coding.

View RickKr's profile


3 posts in 42 days

#2 posted 02-11-2019 09:36 PM

You should take a look at AutoCAD’s Fusion 360. It is 3D CAD/CAM software that can generate G-code.

I’ve been using 2D CAD programs since the late 1980s, first with the professional AutoCAD and then with the “home-user” type stuff, mostly from AutoCAD. I’m currently using AutoSketch, which is a very “dumbed down” program from AutoCAD, but it is not supported anymore and I am pretty sure it does not interface with CAM or CNC. I have had TurboCAD for a decade or so, but have never gotten over the learning curve to where I was comfortable using it.

I recently was dealing with cutting gears from Baltic birch plywood (BBP) and MDF and ended up having a set of one of each of three sizes cut by CNC router in BBP and I used those to “clean up” the MDF gears that I had bandsawed and sanded. The guy who helped me with the CNCing first got me started with Fusion 360 because that is what he uses for drafting/design and converting to G-code and defining toolpaths.

I was struggling with Fusion 360 at first because it is so different than what I was used to with 2D. I had to learn a whole new language almost, but it is actually pretty easy. One thing that really helped me were some tutorials by Lars Christensen.

I have since bought a “lesson book” to start from the beginning to learn design and drafting using Fusion 360. I have wanted to get into 3D modeling, and tried SketchUp when it first came out and have tried it in TurboCAD 2D/3D ver. 18 but none took hold. But, I am liking the book, although it is going slow, only because of how busy I am in general.

Fusion 360 is free for home/hobby/students users but requires a license for businesses with $100 or more gross income (or something like that – see the links on how to buy it).


-- If you want nice clean, fresh oats, you must pay a fair price. However, if you can be satisfied with oats that have already been through the horse, that comes at a lower price.

View Balloonengineer's profile


4 posts in 3454 days

#3 posted 02-21-2019 06:16 AM

Autocad is NOT used by a large number of CNC Router owners. Fusion 360 is being used more (and free for hobbyists and startups earning under $100K). There are many specialty cabinet design software programs used, but mainly by larger cabinet shops, and most are very pricey.

Mach3 is NOT free (although widely pirated, especially with Chinese import machines) and is a machine control program. I consider it deprecated as it has not been updated since 2012 and is having issues on computers with current OS versions. If you do not have a machine control program, consider Mach4 instead.

Most hobbyists with a 4×8 machine are using special purpose CNC router CAD/CAM software like Vectric Vcarve or Aspire. Another program in this space is ArtCAM, which is not currently available, but coming back soon under a new name and owner, I suggest you download the free demo version of Vcarve and see if it will meet your requirements, as it is the easiest to use for items like 3d carvings, signs and similar. You should also download Fusion 360 as it will be useful for drawing full up furniture pieces, and cutting them (it has a CAM module to generate g-code for your router). The new ArtCAM version should be released within the next two weeks.

You may find a quality 3d scanner costs as much or more than your CNC. There are lots of guitar profiles available already for free. If you are on Facebook I know there is a group for Fusion 360 Luthiers, and many other Luthier groups to check out.

A good book discussing the flat pack style furniture is

-- Tubular latex pressure vessel configuration engineer

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