I'm looking for opinions/suggestions for a 2D CAD program that's
inexpensive (yeah, that's vague, but figure <$100) and useful for
designing furniture. This is purely weekend hobby work, but I'd like
precise drawings of my designs. I also imagine that it would be
useful to generate a bill of materials, a cutting list, maybe a "map"
of cuts on a sheet of plywood.
I'd also appreciate links to CAD reviews from a hobbyist woodworking
point of view. (This article is what got me thinging -
I'm a computer programmer, so I'm not afraid of a steep learning
I use two CAD programs. Turbocad Pro and Intellicad. Turbocad will do an
excellent job for you and the 2D version is free. It's relatively easy to
learn (no CAD is easy but this one is better than most). No bill of
materials though. The other is Intellicad. An AutoCAD clone, it is, like
AutoCAD, harder to learn but has the advantage that tutorials for AutoCAD
are prevalent all over the net and are applicable to Intellicad. It will
also run LISP routines (automation). Free LISP routines are all over the
web. There are additional bill of material add ons available for it.
I use AutoCAD Lite and it works fine. I don't think you can get it for
under $100 though. I think I paid over $300, but I use it for work also. I
draw almost everything I make and for small patterns and such, I print full
scale. This weekend I made some bandsaw candle holders and just printed
out the patterns full-scale and glued them to the stock to cut. Works
I would definitely go with MSC.Patran to do the solid modeling. You can
then link in other modules to do finite element analysis, thermal analysis,
etc. Oh, wait, did you say $100 or $100K? An average person can probably
pick it up in a couple of weeks. Since you're a programmer, I'd allow a
While I don't use it for my woodworking much I have been using QuickCad by
Autodesk recently. We are about to build a house and I've been using it to
generate ideas for inside the house and land placement. It works well for
me. It was well under $100. and will export in many of the popular Cad
files. Can even export into one file format then import into .jpg if need
It will generate lists but will not create cutting lists. But the lists are
a simple database you might be able to export the list out to another sheet
As far as reviews. From what I remember on rec.woodworking this program is
not rated very high on the list. I don't know why because I've not used the
other programs. I suggest you do a search here to get some of the previous
I have both TurboCAD and QuickCAD 8. I settled on the latter for measured
shop drawings and to use as a basis for a developing a cutlist. It fits
you're criteria for inexpensive +/- $50.
For cutlists, I use CutList Plus from Bridgewood Design and _highly_
recommend it. As a programmer you will appreciate the professionalism of the
author and his responsiveness to his customers input.
I am a rank amateur when it comes to CAD, but if you want to see a paltry
example of what a newbie can do with the program in a few minutes, check out
page 5 of my projects page, "708 style writing desk" ... just two simple
views, and not exhaustive by any means, but serves multiple purposes for me
for planning and execution of projects as I normally work without plans.
Lastweek I purchased Autodesk QuickCad 8 at Staples for $53
w/tax. I am pleased with the program, and have used it to lay
out the next couple of projects. The learning curve isn't too
bad as it seems pretty intuitive. There's features I would like
have included...but for the money, I won't complain.
Have a look at SketchUp (www.sketchup.com). I have been evaluating it and
it works very very well for woodworking projects, and the learning curve is
not big at all, I can use it and I'm a programmer too. :-)
Anyway, I love this program already, I'm buying it.
Yeah, the only downside. I had a really good look at it, I made a sample
woodworking design and a sample bathroom remodel (with cabinetry, of
course) in the alloted tryout time.
It's amazing to me, that I could do three things in 8 hours of use (the
alloted tryout time): 1) Learn to use it with the online videos, 2)
Design a sample cabinet for my garage, and 3) Remodel a bathroom (toilet,
tub, shower, and cabinets) so that you could walk inside and see the
texture, color, and size proportions.
The really cool thing about SketchUp is that you can do a rough design
first, and then if you like it, you can refine it later. You do not need
to design stuff down to the millimeter at first. This is what frustrates
me about CAD. I need to see if it's a good idea first before I spend
hours and hours on details.
Even though I am not a pro, $500 is worth it because of the time and
material saved (I have made expensive design errors in the past), and
because I can use the program for our home improvements.
When I use a CAD it is Turbocad. However I find it more a pain in the ass
and time consuming for general projects and only use it for specialized
situations or when I want to play what if.
Now cut lists, sheet layouts, pricing, and pick lists are a different story
and I highly recommend Cutlist plus http://www.bridgewooddesign.com /. They
have a limited trial version and three levels of working models.
As a side note on cut list plus. A lot of people I recommend the program too
are interested in many of the functions but indicate that pricing a project
isn't something they worry about because they do it for fun. We all run into
friends and relatives who want something built for them and will "give you a
little something for it". I strongly suggest that they run the job through
cut list plus. You'd be absolutely amazed at what that "little something"
actually comes out too, even without labor and overhead figured in. And,
when you quote what that "little something" might be, it's nice to have it
in black and white. Even nicer to have the job also run with overhead and
labor charges figured in so you can show them both.
I am not talking about anything illegal . I am talking about copies of
turbocad. Ihave an old version 6.5 that Ibought from turbocad . From that I
learned the basics, enough to do my basic drawings, for a room I was
paneling . then I realized even with this version it would be years before I
could take advantage of the total program. CAD programs are so extensive
there are no end of stuff you can do with them . simple two dimensional
drawing doesnt even scratch the surface Autodesk is probably the rolls royce
of cad priograms and of course it comes with a rr pricetab, turbocad in my
opinion is a good alternative,and as Isaid earlier versions can be found on
"Russell" < firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote in message
I just checked Ebay there are versions on ebay for $30 you cant go wrong.
when I did the last library I used a local millwork company's moldings .
Their brochure had their molding shown full size and drawn to scale .I just
added this to my Turbocad library so I could add their moldings into my
drawings ..... If nothing else get a TC version just to learn on .
These programs not only have CNC applications but the later programs have
rendering features that show designs in almost any aspect with photographic
quality . Thjere are not that many customers that understand
blueprints/drawings but most do comprehend pictures...mjh
"Mike Hide" < email@example.com> wrote in message
Turbocad's license agreement states that it is transferable. AutoCAD's days
of being top of the line are long gone. Technological advancements have seen
to that. You can get far higher performance for far less money. Turbocad, in
various versions, shows up on Ebay all the time. Version 8 Professional
(they're up to 9.5 now) can often be had for less than $100.00 and has
capabilities that you will probably never take full advantage of. Be aware
though that Turbocad comes in three packages: Designer, Standard and
Professional. If 2D is all you want, any of them will do. If 3D is in your
future, Professional is the one to get.
Done in version 8 Professional:
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