It’s easy to do small woodworking projects at home. For example, if you’re building an ornament for your wife, or a utensil for the kitchen, or even a small shelf, you can easily just use your imagination and some math to calculate what you’re doing and how to do it.
But what happens when you increase the scale? You can’t build a large scale wooden structure (for example, a bench system in the atrium of a building) just by using your charts. This is where these design software programs come into the picture.
SketchUp is one of the most popular 3D designing websites available today, and it’s partly because of its ease of use and beginner-friendly nature. Whether it’s a simple doghouse that you want to build in your backyard for your quickly-growing German Shepherd puppy, or whether you’re building high quality, eco-friendly, green buildings that make maximum use of open spaces and natural light to conserve energy, SketchUp is an excellent choice.
The tools that come with SketchUp include LayOut, SketchUp Viewer, and 3D Warehouse. These can cover several aspects of a project, including architecture, engineering, construction, woodworking, and interior design, and give you an excellent quality model that can be used for most jobs on a varied scale.
- The website offers a free subscription if you want to try out their software, giving you 10 GB of cloud storage, a web-based 3D modeling platform, free community support, and standard model viewing of your projects, compatible with both Android and iOS devices.
- The platform also gives you different options depending on your specific needs, including a shop subscription at the beginner’s level that starts at $119 per year, to an advanced Studio subscription that costs $1,199 per year. The paid subscriptions come with more cloud storage and better usage options than the free alternative.
- The website has a system for visualizing, drawing, sequencing steps, modeling, rendering, and documenting each step of the project, giving you the complete freedom and transparency needed to carry out your work.
- You can produce 3D visualizations on the platform without having to use any integrating hardware.
- If you’re working on a project for an agency or as a group, the platform allows you to share your work and pool it together for ease of access.
- If your work includes creating photorealistic renderings of your project, this platform might not be the best fit, as it can run into some problems in this area.
- The LayOut option included in the platform is a useful tool but needs a lot of patience and practice to master, as it is not easy to create or control the elements included. If you’re very new to this design software, check out this video tutorial on SketchUp.
Several times when designing a large woodworking project, you may need to track changes from 2D to 3D work – initially making your charts and views on a more simple 2D model, and then having them rendered flawlessly to a 3D version. For beginners in design, like students, or even for people who are trying to teach these skills and features to others, Autodesk can be a great option to have at your disposal.
The features of the platform include manufacturing planning, product designing, construction, and civil engineering, providing easy ways to not only render 3D models, but also to document and draft. If you want the option to make even more realistic renders of your drawings, you can also add options like shadows, lights, and edges to your drawings.
- Autodesk’s platform comes with a free trial that offers you the basic features of the website, such as web-based 3D modeling. Additionally, if you’re a student or an educator, you get a free, one-year educational access to its products and services.
- If you’re willing to get a paid version of the product, the starting price for a single user is $185 per month. The price goes up to $335 per month if you’re working as part of a group.
- The platform is very easy to use and is perfect for beginners and students who are new to making 3D models of their designs.
- You get access to simple engineering analysis on the platform, so you can easily make sure that your workpiece is made correctly.
- The animations and exploded views used on Autodesk are easy to use and give the software a user-friendly, modern feel.
- If you started working on your project on some other website, platform, or software, and you want to switch over to Autodesk, it might be difficult to transfer data between programs due to a relatively lesser number of native users.
- You may need a lot of memory when working on this software, as it can overpower some operating systems with its memory usage.
SketchList is a unique addition to this list because it is designed with woodworking in mind. If you’re working on something that needs to be flawless, with any mistakes being spotted as early as possible, and needs advanced reports, Sketchlist is an excellent option to choose for your woodworking endeavors. It can be a great tool for cabinet, furniture, and kitchen projects, and everything you need is included, like planning, purchase, and production reports.
- There is no free version of SketchList 3D available to use. You can, however, opt for the 14-day free trial of the platform to see if it is the best woodworking design software for you.
- Paid versions of the platform start at $200 (one-time fee) for the Hobby version, and go up to $750 for the Pro version.
- SketchList 3D is not just for designing and rendering your projects. It also tells you how much material you will need, and gives you advanced reports on your planning and purchasing, making it an overall complete tool for many different woodworking projects.
- SketchList is not a complicated program to use. You can easily learn how to utilize all of its features within a week or two.
- Unlike other platforms, SketchList 3D does not come with a monthly or yearly fee, and you can use it for life by paying a one-time fee. This makes it a convenient tool to have at your disposal, even if you don’t feel the need to use it for extended periods of time.
- SketchList might be easy to use, but that is partly because it does not come with advanced engineering features that are needed to test out your project beforehand.
- There is no free version of the software, so you can’t use the basic features after the first 14 days unless you pay.
If one of your main woodworking tasks is building cabinets, Pro100 is an excellent pick for you. The product is described almost exclusively as a 3D design software for cabinet makers, and includes tools for designing kitchens, closets, and garage cabinets. Besides rendering 3D models of your workpieces, you can also generate reports on cut lists, cabinet lists, job costs, and pricing, giving you a more complete woodworking experience.
- The first option for owning this software is a monthly payment plan. You will have to make a $489 downpayment, and then pay $149 per month for 14 months, after which you will have complete ownership of the platform.
- The second option is a one-time payment of $2,550, which gives you lifetime ownership. The product comes with a key in the form of a USB dongle, which needs to be plugged into the computer you plan to use the software on. You can use the product on different computers as long as the dongle is plugged in, or order multiple dongles if you want to use it simultaneously on multiple computers.
- The software has many great features, like report generation, fast changes in designs, and a good directory to choose attractive looks for your cabinets from.
- The user interface is quite convenient, giving you the option to project your work in different modes, rotate and hide objects, or arrange objects in groups for easier access.
- With Pro100 software, you get the option to expand the default catalog and add options of your own.
- This is not the best woodworking design software on the market if you’re looking for something with a lot of advanced features. It is only suitable for cabinets and similar items.
- The key dongle feature might not appeal to everyone, as newer laptops might do away with the USB slots altogether.
CAD Pro offers a feature called “Smart Tools” that makes professional quality blueprints easy to create. It has a compact and straightforward toolbox layout that makes it easier to access all the tools necessary to set up a great design. This design software is not only good for woodworking, but also works well for beginner aspects of other related fields, such as architectural design.
The software includes professionally-designed house plans, ready-to-print PDF manuals, advanced drafting tools, and sketch tracing for your woodworking and design needs.
- The software does not offer a free basic version, nor does it have a free trial version for checking out the features before buying.
- The pricing for CAD Pro Platinum starts at $99.95 as a one-time payment, after which you can own and use the program for a lifetime.
- CAD Pro Platinum comes with intuitive snap tools to provide you with intelligent designs for your woodworking needs. These tools can help you align parallels, intersections, and tangents without having to do anything manually, giving you high accuracy in your designs.
- The software comes with a smart Photo Editor that allows you to include digital images in your drawings, giving you a more true-to-life look.
- The software is one of the most affordable on the list.
- The software does not come with a free version or a trial version, which means that you will have to buy it to use it.
- It is meant for beginners and does not offer too many high-end features, like engineering or civil options.
Design Software Buyer’s Guide
Now that you know about the best woodworking design software options that are available on the market, the only thing that remains is to pick which of these options is the best one for you. Here we have curated a buyer’s guide according to the best selling points of these options.
- Affordability – If your budget is low and you want to get started on something without spending too much money, you should go with the CAD Pro Platinum.
- Expertise – Are you an expert designer with at least a few years of experience under your belt? For you, we would suggest SketchUp.
- Cabinet making – If you’re exclusively looking to make cabinets, and want something that is specifically designed around that, you should check out the Pro100.
- Versatility – If you’re looking for options that can offer you decent services for all your designing needs, you should check out SketchList 3D or Autodesk.
Designing and creating your own woodworking projects can be an exciting and exhilarating thing. The joy of making something on your own really is unparalleled. The websites and platforms mentioned in this review are among some of the best woodworking design software available today. You can choose whichever is best for you to get started on your own and not go wrong with any of them!
If you’re interested in reviews similar to this one, please feel free to check out our other articles as well. We wish you all the best for your woodworking and designing dreams!