While everyone might know about the popular woodworking design app Sketchup, there are quite a few others to consider as well.
These woodworking design apps help you create 3D models, detailed plans, and designs for your projects, saving you time and increasing efficiency in the workshop.
Our team of woodworkers spent hundreds of hours and leveraged all their experience to come up with this list of apps for woodworker.
What's in this article?
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Best Woodworking Design Apps: Free and Paid
|SketchUp||Windows, Mac, Web-browser||For additional features||Paid (Desktop Version)|
Free (Web version)
|SolidWorks||Windows, Mac||For additional features||Paid|
|SketchList||Windows, Mac||For registration and updates||Paid|
|Fusion 360||Windows, Mac||Yes||Paid (Commercial use)|
Free (Student use)
|Shapr3D||iOS, Mac, Windows||No||Free (Basic version)|
Paid (Pro version)
|MacDraft||Mac||For additional features||Paid|
|Easy Woodworking Design||Windows||No||Paid|
|PRO100||Windows||Only for tutorials||Paid|
|Moblo||Windows, iOS, Android||No||Free (Basic)|
SketchUp - Best Overall
SketchUp is a popular choice among many woodworkers. It has free and paid versions.
It is a versatile software offering 2D and 3D modeling capabilities, making it an excellent choice for woodworking design.
If you need help with the interface, you can find helpful resources such as YouTube video tutorials and detailed books.
The most significant benefit of SketchUp for woodworking design is its range of tools and features.
It includes drawing tools like the pencil, rectangle, and arc tools, plus more advanced features like the follow me tool, which helps create complex shapes and forms.
SketchUp also has a variety of plugins, like the CutList plugin, to enhance the software's capabilities.
Even for beginners, the software is easy to use and allows for building designs from scratch and editing existing ones.
The only downside is that the software doesn't have stress analysis or design parameters, and there is a cost for using it commercially.
However, the paid version allows you to create 3D designs, annotate, and collaborate with others directly from your iPad.
Also, it supports the Apple Pencil and multi-touch gestures.
SketchUp is compatible with Windows and Mac and works with a web browser on any device.
To run the desktop version, your computer needs a 1 GHz processor, 4GB of RAM, 1GB of free hard-disk space, a video card with 512 MB of memory or higher, and hardware acceleration.
SolidWorks is a great woodworking design software that enables you to create intricate patterns.
It has many templates to create projects according to your skills and preferences easily.
The software also has an active community of woodworkers on its forums and message boards where you can collaborate and share ideas.
Also, it has powerful 2D drafting features, animation tools, and 3D designing capabilities.
SolidWorks can be your go-to software for complex woodworking designs, as it offers a range of features.
It also has analytical and testing tools that help you check your designs' integrity.
However, the learning curve is quite steep, so beginners may take a while to understand it fully.
You can get the software with a standalone license or a subscription service with technical support, upgrades, and more.
To purchase the software, you need to contact the SolidWorks sales team.
SolidWorks works on Windows and Mac OS and requires a dual-core CPU, 8GB RAM, 2GB free disk space, and a minimum of 2GB graphics memory.
Sketchlist 3D is a woodworking design software specifically designed for woodworkers.
Its user interface is straightforward, and the workflow is simple to understand, making it easy for even traditional woodworkers who find it hard to use computers.
It offers several attractive features, such as
- Different wood joinery methods
- The ability to build multiple parts with detailed measurements for each component
- Option to select the wood kind for realistic design elements
- Simulating drill holes.
It allows you to export 3D files for each component and modify any dimension with a new value.
When you make a change, it automatically updates the dimensions of all other related parts.
Two versions of Sketchlist 3D - Pro and Hobby, have different pricing. You can test either version with a 14-day trial period.
The Pro version includes contours and full support to export in CAD format for other programs and CNC router use.
It also has a powerful visual feedback feature that lets you show your design in a 3D environment and give your customers an in-depth understanding of the project.
This feature also displays the colors and patterns of your design according to the materials you selected for construction.
Although the software is easy to learn, it may not be the right choice if you want to experiment with ideas before putting them into practice.
SketchList offers weekly support meetings for customers to raise concerns and connect with other woodworkers.
The software works for Mac and Windows platforms and requires a minimum of 1 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, and 200 MB of free hard disk space.
Fusion 360 is a professional-level woodworking design software from Autodesk.
It offers a range of features that can render high-quality 3D models for your woodworking designs.
You can also access a library of pre-designed shapes to incorporate into any project.
The software also offers advanced features such as sketching and CAM capabilities, cloud-enabled collaboration, interactive simulation, photorealistic rendering, and more.
Although there is a steep learning curve with the software.
Plenty of tutorial videos and active community support are available to help you navigate and learn the software.
Moreover, Autodesk offers a generous 30-day free trial for businesses and a one-year free trial for educational use.
But the free version has a limit of ten active projects, and certain features, such as rendering, simulation, rapid feed, and automatic tool change, are disabled.
The project management feature allows for collaboration with team members, although it is only available for the paid commercial version.
Another feature that makes it an excellent choice for woodworkers is that it allows for testing and validating designs before machining, with the flexibility to add different material coatings to the final product.
Fusion 360 works on Windows and Mac OS computers, although it requires an internet connection, and you should authenticate it every two weeks to work offline.
Additionally, it requires a minimum of 4 GB of RAM, a DirectX11-compatible graphics card with 1 GB or more of VRAM, and 3 GB of storage space.
Another aspect is that Fusion 360 can be a tremendous advantage if you use CNC routers, as it also helps you generate toolpaths for the designs.
TurboCAD is a powerful CAD drawing software suitable for professional and personal use.
It can quickly design miter, dovetail, rabbet, and edge materials such as cove and base.
This will help you create detailed and accurate designs for your woodworking projects.
Also, TurboCAD lets you create a list of materials needed for the project, saving you time.
Regarding pricing, TurboCAD offers several different models, including annual subscriptions and the ability to buy and own the software.
Furthermore, you can try out the software with a free 15-day trial, making it easy to find a pricing model that suits your budget and needs.
The software works on Windows and Mac but requires a 1 GHz or faster processor with at least 8 GB of RAM.
Shapr3D - Best for iPad
Shapr3D is an app that lets you create realistic 3D models with your iPad, and it supports Apple Pencil.
Using a keyboard, mouse, or trackpad, you can also use it with other computer devices, like Mac or Windows PC.
The recent beta release for Mac provides you with an integrated rendering tool and allows you to produce detailed designs.
The free version has some limitations, but the hobbyist and business plans have more features, like the ability to export CAD files.
One of the most significant advantages of using Shapr3D is its flexibility. You can design on your iPad while on the go, eliminating the need to be tethered to a desk all day.
The business plan of Shapr3D is cost-effective compared to other CAD software and includes the convenience of an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.
The app is easy to learn, and you can choose from over 70 materials for designing many projects.
You can also sync it with multiple devices to access your designs offline.
Shapr3D requires at least 8GB RAM and a processing power similar to Intel i5 for the desktop version.
MacDraft Pro is a powerful and user-friendly software designed specifically for Mac OS. It's a popular program for creating wood projects.
It is also available for Windows OS under the name of PC Draft.
Even if you're new to design programs, you'll find MacDraft Pro easy to use.
In addition, its drag-and-drop features make it easy for almost anyone to navigate and work with the program.
One of the most significant advantages of MacDraft Pro is its ability to export all work into a PDF file, which is a valuable feature when working on larger projects or you work for a client.
Additionally, the software includes several tools to help users create better designs and projects.
The software also includes documentation features and utilizes the retina display of Mac laptops to give a polished look to projects.
You can use the software in dark mode and work with your designs in various formats. It also has quick snap, object snap, and guide snap features to help enhance the designs.
However, note that the visualization features of MacDraft Pro may not be as advanced as some other programs, and it only allows for 2D drawings.
The software isn't free, but you can try a 14-day trial version and decide whether or not to buy.
Easy Woodworking Design
Easy Woodworking Design is an affordable, user-friendly software that provides step-by-step instructions and blueprints for woodworking projects.
You can download files from their website and quickly begin your project. They also have a demo version with limited functionality.
Even if you are new to CAD software, you can quickly learn to use the program as it has many user-friendly features.
It allows you to create 2D and 3D drawings or models with drop and drag boards, real-time assembly, and various design calculations.
The project management system even allows you to estimate the project costs.
The editing tool is also excellent, allowing you to edit existing or new designs and upload and edit current drawings from external sources.
However, it may not be suitable for professional designers as it does not have a feature to test the viability of designs.
Easy Woodworking Design software is only available for Windows and requires minimal system requirements.
Pro100 is a professional 3D design software best suited for cabinet makers, kitchen designers, and other woodworking professionals.
It is easy to use and includes drop and drag tools, allowing you to design virtual model cabinets with various sizes, shapes, and hardware options.
Additionally, you can generate blueprints and cost estimates for your designs.
Pro100 is suitable for residential and commercial applications and includes a library of templates. It also lets you import external data and generate G-code files.
Access to PRO100 requires a monthly fee, but you can try it with a demo version before committing.
Pro100 is only available for Windows OS and requires an Intel Core i5 or similar processor, 8 GB of RAM, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX series, and a 250GB SSD hard drive to run it.
Moblo 3D - Furniture Modeling
Moblo is an easy-to-use 3D modeling application primarily designed for mobile devices that allows you to design furniture in 3D.
Also, with its augmented reality feature, you can see your virtual object's appearance in your surroundings using a mobile device with a camera.
Most of the features of Moblo are free, but you can also get a premium license for extra features.
With an intuitive interface, the software allows you to create simple projects like coffee tables to more complex ones like dressing rooms or kitchens.
You can also choose from different materials such as wood, metal, and glass.
Moblo is developed with a focus on ease of use and has a straightforward interface that you can use with both touch and mouse input.
You can also move, deform, rotate, and duplicate elements, apply colors and materials and take snapshots.
Currently, Moblo is available for iOS, iPad, Android, and Windows.
Many different woodworking design software programs are available, each with its own features, prices, and requirements.
These apps can help you design furniture, cabinets, wooden toys, carpentry frames, and joineries like dovetails, mortise, and tenon joints.
When choosing the right program, consider your needs, skill level, budget, and computer specifications.
For serious woodworking, I suggest high-end software such as SketchUp or Fusion 360.
Be sure to try out these apps' trial or demo versions before purchasing to get a feel for how they work and whether it's right for you.
With some research and testing, you can find the perfect software program to make your woodworking dreams a reality.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do woodworking design apps require any prior knowledge of woodworking or design?
No prior woodworking or design experience is needed to use woodworking design apps. However, if you have some familiarity with design apps or woodworking, it will help you make working with woodworking apps easier.
Can woodworking apps be used to create designs for CNC machines?
Yes, you can use designs from a woodworking app on CNC machines, but you'll need to create a G-code file for the design for the CNC controller to read and run the machine to create your design.
What are recent advances in woodworking?
Recent advances in woodworking include an emphasis on eco-friendly practices, software use, and new tools and techniques. One example is Computer Numerical Control (CNC) technology, which allows precise cuts and more efficient creation of intricate designs.
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