Best design / construction software

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Forum topic by HardKnockCarpentry posted 08-07-2019 10:18 PM 324 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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21 posts in 282 days

08-07-2019 10:18 PM

Been looking at getting some design and construction software. Right now I just design everything by hand on graph paper, and as much as I love doing that, I’m getting so busy that I don’t really have time for it.

I mainly do built-ins, decks, and other random cabinetry. So anyone have any good suggestions?

5 replies so far

View ArtMann's profile


1433 posts in 1322 days

#1 posted 08-08-2019 01:26 AM

I only use computer aided design for stuff like that when I have plenty of time and want to see a 3-D rendering. It takes me longer to model something in Sketchup than to just sketch it out with a pencil and graph paper.

View bruc101's profile


1366 posts in 4048 days

#2 posted 08-08-2019 02:12 AM

I use Autocad Architectural Desktop.

Here is a free version of a pretty good clone of regular Autocad. I gave it a try just for the heck of it and it works just fine for a robust cad program. Learn some basic cad and it will surprise you. Also has the same commands and UI as the classic version.

Free download

-- Bruce Free Plans

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21 posts in 282 days

#3 posted 08-08-2019 02:30 AM

Awesome, thanks guys. Yeah, I’ve been farting around with Sketchup, and really like it so far, but as you said, feels just as time consuming as pencil and paper. Granted, that’s with me learning it still. I’ll use the 30 day trial on it, and see how well it goes.

View Sark's profile


196 posts in 866 days

#4 posted 08-18-2019 04:35 AM

Worthwhile learning sketchup. Takes a while, but as a sales tool, the 3D rendering is worth it. When I did mostly cabinets, I used KCDW which is simpler to use, and generates cut lists as well as renderings. Sketchup is really designed for modeling and you can use it to design a deck or fireplace surround or custom cabinets. Anything. There are add-on packages for sketchup that will do take-offs of your plans, but I never got that far with it. As a design and sales tool, its hard to beat sketchup. For engineered drawings with take-offs and cut-lists, there are other options, as suggested.

Also, there is a free version of sketchup, so I’ve never paid for any of it. The cost will be in the time it takes you to learn it…and optional 3rd party packages if you need them.

View Marty5965's profile


161 posts in 2452 days

#5 posted 09-10-2019 10:24 AM

Where software wins over paper IMHO is when you change something. For example, let’s say you design a deck and SWMBO decides it might look better 2 ft wider, 1 ft longer and 6 inches higher. Just edit your components for each type in sketchup and voila! If you need it, and can afford it, the professional version will generate parts and cut lists for you as well. I use the free version and maintain my own cut list in a spreadsheet.

-- Marty, Wilmington, OH, learning every day....

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