free sketchup alternative?

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Forum topic by trsnider posted 11-09-2019 02:16 PM 320 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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152 posts in 2545 days

11-09-2019 02:16 PM

I have a hate hate hate love relationship with sketchup. It’s great for creating detailed 3d images for projects. I don’t like the tediousness of tweaking parts once created, dimensioning somewhere else other than corners, and probably the amount of messing around trying to print almost full page size. Is there a good alternative? I don’t need something cabinet oriented since I don’t build those. I used to use a 2d program by Ashler Vellum that was geared toward woodworkers but that was discontinued in lieu of their paid 3d entry version. It won’t work in compatability mode. Maybe I’ll reload win98 on an old pc and start using that again, but I’d rather not.

8 replies so far

View Lazyman's profile


4080 posts in 1923 days

#1 posted 11-09-2019 02:29 PM

Fusion 360 is a more robust program but that brings with it more complexity too. For me switching after learning Sketchup was enough of a pain that I always went back to using Sketchup but if you are determined to switch, I think you will find it works pretty well. F360 is free for hobbyists and businesses under $100k/year. Another package that I have heard about but never tried is FreeCAD. I think I saw a thread on LJ recently about FreeCAD so that might provide some more info.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View muesli's profile


469 posts in 2044 days

#2 posted 11-09-2019 03:14 PM

Here are two videos, showing the workflow in FreeCad:
Maybe they help you to decide, if FreeCad is an alternative for you.

-- Uwe from Germany.

View ShopCat's profile


73 posts in 4115 days

#3 posted 11-09-2019 05:18 PM

I am glad I grew up in a town/generation where we all had to take a semester of shop-drawing. Even with a career in IT I find I can do it faster and near ‘nuff with just a pencil, board, triangles, square. If I had to use CAD to design it I probably couldn’t build it anyway. If you have a hate relationship with a software tool, it probably isn’t you, and the designers aren’t going to fix it. I looked at SU a decade ago, decided the architect flunked the class on UserInterface.

-- ShopCat

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73 posts in 4115 days

#4 posted 11-09-2019 05:25 PM

Also, look in to Oracle Virtualbox. I don’t know your level of IT savy, but your PC is probably big enough to run a Virtual Machine. So you can just build a VM of W98, and run it in the Oracle box. I do all my web browsing in a Ubuntu VM running on a Windows host.

-- ShopCat

View JerryMaldonato's profile


36 posts in 858 days

#5 posted 11-09-2019 06:53 PM

While the IT world tends to remain stagnant (there are still Tandems out there running COBOL/SNOBOL), I think it’s safe to say that SketchUp has come a long way in the decade since you looked at it in terms of features and usability. The thing with SketchUp is to get a good foundation and learn the best practices for modeling. Users often get on do a few push/pulls and give up. It’s an incredibly powerful tool for woodworkers IF you know how to use it.

View trsnider's profile


152 posts in 2545 days

#6 posted 11-09-2019 09:37 PM

I’m real acquainted with Sketchup and use it frequently. There are a few frustrating aspects of it the really really annoy me. I wish Trimble developers would fix those (and then I’d find something else about it to complain about :) )

View LeeRoyMan's profile


331 posts in 262 days

#7 posted 11-09-2019 09:44 PM

There are a few frustrating aspects of it the really really annoy me.
- trsnider

Please share, maybe someone can help or maybe I’m experiencing the same frustrations.

View MrRon's profile


5767 posts in 3779 days

#8 posted 11-10-2019 06:28 PM

Luckily I had to learn Autocad on my last job. Now retired, I use Autocad for all my projects. There is a learning curve for every design/drawing program available. I have tried other programs, but Autocad, being the industry standard is to me the most intuitive program to learn. Autocad is such a powerful program, I haven’t used everything it can do.

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