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Thread: 3D Planning Software

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
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    Lima Ohio
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    Question 3D Planning Software

    Hey all! I would like to start planning out my projects before I begin them, as I've heard that's a good habit to have. I can find a modeling program online pretty easily, but I wanted to see what you guys use. I am awful at hand drafting so paper and pencil isn't my go-to for personal projects. Free is recommended, but if something has a price, usually there's a good reason. Thanks guys!

  2. #2
    I use Solid works because I used to use it at work. I find it much easier to use than ProE, and quite powerful. SketchUp seemed pretty basic to me and less intuitive the couple times I tried to use it.

  3. #3
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    While there is a learning curve to any 3D capable software, SketchUp is probably the most prevalent among woodworkers because it's available for free (non-commercial) and pretty darn capable with a broad support community. There are lots and lots of threads about this here at SMC...
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  4. #4
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    I am just starting CAD as well...
    I used CAD 20+ years ago, but not since.. so kinda a newb.
    I did a lot of research on this...
    for me, I settled on Fusion 360 by AutoCad, it is also free for those who meet the requirements. If u are a hobbiest, u meet the requirement.
    For me, Parametric modeling was a MUST. Sketchup is not parametric. The benefit of parametric is, you build models based on part sizes. The part sizes can be expressed as a function of other part sizes. For a simple example, if you are building a bookcase, and you decide it should be one foot taller, you simply stretch the bookcase up 1ft. All the dimensions of the associated parts, such as back panel, sides, moldings, etc, all change accordingly. Without a parametrics, you often have to re build from scratch. A slightly more complex example, you design a desk 24x48".. but then, you decide it should be 30 x 60". With parametrics, simply stretch it in both planes, and it will re dimension and re size all parts on your cut list. You decide the associations between the parts when you design.

    So far, I think Fusion 360 is relatively intuitive, but it is a very complex program, so its quite intense. If you want just a basic CAD program, this is prob. a larger learning curve than most would be willing to swallow. If u are mechanical, good with numbers, good with building formulas (similar to spreadsheet formulas) then its not too bad. But, expect a good 40hrs IMO to have a good understanding of the software so u can start designing without too many interuptions with learning.

    Fusion 360 has a decent amount of tutorials both free and pay. Choose wisely, as the investment in time towards the learning curve is a lot to swallow for most non CAD users. ONce u learn the program, the liklihood of switching becomes less n less....

    Of course, the other programs mentioned are all superb software, prob. overkill for a newb at CAD. There is also Auto Cad Inventor which is the next step up for woodworking which becomes expensive, IRRC $2k+. I did not want to invest $$ in to software, as maybe I wont like it and have to change software in due time, so Fusion 360 solved all those issues.

    Also cosider if you ever will use CNC machines, if so, be sure your software is CAM friendly. Fusion 360 is. I was suprised how many great CAD programs were out there, at all different price points, some as low as $100, others up to $5k. Many have annual license fees to keep the software updated. IIRC, I think sketchup SHOP now has an annual fee of $120.

    HOpefully other more experience users will respond.

  5. #5
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    Dec 2005
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    Sketchup. .....

  6. #6
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    Aug 2010
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    Scarborough(part of Toronto|) Ontario
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    I use SketchUp Make, 2017, It's free.

    Tim

  7. #7
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    The only one I have used is Sketchup, and I am using Sketchup Make 2017. It took me a while to learn how to use it well enough that using it was efficient, and if I don't use it frequently enough, I tend to forget the shortcuts. I cannot draw, though, so it is nice to be able to produce a model that looks close to the real thing with Sketchup.

    I like it best for being able to make quick design changes and see what they will look like. I have done joinery as part of the model, but mostly because it is kind of fun to play with. Otherwise, that sort of thing is probably more time to model than it is worth for an experienced woodworker. Just my opinion.

    My biggest complaint is that every time Windows does an update my version of Sketchup is unusable for a few weeks until the Sketchup programmers catch up with the changes. Most times, the select function in Sketchup takes minutes to react to a click, which makes many operations virtually impossible. Then again, it's free!

  8. #8
    I used sketchup for years and it was fine for simple things. For more complex things, I found that I spent more time working around glitches, bugs, and inconsistencies than actual drawing. When I got a 3d printer, I learned Fusion 360 and I've never looked back. Although it is more complex than sketchup, it actually works.

  9. #9
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    FWIW, I’ve never had bugs, glitches, or inconsistencies for furniture drawings.

  10. #10
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    I was going to mention Fusion 360 in my first response. It's a great program, especially if one also has aspirations for moving to CNC, etc. SketchUP Make, however, has an extremely robust support community including around woodworking and has been around a bit longer. Autodesk is no slouch, however, and Fusion 360 is gaining a lot of users these days because of the availability of licensing to individuals at no cost (at least so far) and the level of complexity that once can get to including support for CNC as I mentioned. SketchUp can go a long way, too, but some more advanced things require the fee-based "professional" version. Most woodworkers can get what they need from the free SketchUp Make 2017 product (or the cloud based implementation like Fusion 360 is) without spending money.

    Traditional CAD still has a place, but where these newer applications shine is that you can render them to better visualize the end result. That's honestly killer...no nice wood is harmed while you work out the details of what you want a project to be in the end.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  11. #11
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    Jim, I like how you wrote Fusion 360 "is free for now"
    I too wonder if the plan at AutoCad is to hook new users, than conver them into paying users. As once someone invest in the learning curve, its hard to not continue with the same software. Its the path of least resistance. Seems "free" wont last forever...then u have to wonder, how much per year? $500? This is a gamble, and its good that you shined a light on it. I should have mentioned this, as I am skeptical on this issue as well.

    As for Sketchup, I dont see "MAKE", as on offering on the SU web site, I think it was converted to SHOP. The WW version is SHOP, and its $119 per year. Seems all these companies keep shifting products around, trying to find a profitable business model. Again, I am quite surprised how crowded the CAD field is.

    AGreed on rendering, to visualize the finished product. 3D Cad is sooo powerful, and if the learning curve was not so steep, nearly everyone would use it. The ability to view a piece at different orientations, change the wood types to find what looks best, just a dream. Like others, my end goal, is to fully design my work, perfect it in CAD, and when I hit the shop, focus on making the parts to spec. For me, too many mistakes when designs are half baked.

    Another poster mentioned something I have noticed already. If you dont keep using the software, you start forgetting bits n pieces, constantly leaving you in learn mode, vs. design mode. Yes, its frustrating, but hoping after a year or two, it will stick, even when not using the software daily.

    I am curious if other ww appreciate the value of parametrics?

  12. #12
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    https://help.sketchup.com/en/downloading-older-versions

    Make 2017 is still available for download.

    I will add that while "free" is nice...folks have got to start embracing the idea that supporting something has a cost and it's not unreasonable for any company offering software to expect to get paid. "Free" right now is merely a gift and any expectation that something will remain free forever is unrealistic.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Massachusetts
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    I use CREO (Pro/E) because that's on my work computer. Never had the gumption to learn sketchup. I do have it and use it for it's wide variety of existing models. In my attached image are quite a few imported models from sketchup

    Garage.JPG

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Phoenix AZ
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    212
    I have been using Sketchlist 3D for awhile now and really like it. It was developed by a woodworker for woodworkers so it excels at cabinetry, tables, etc. They just introduced a cabinet wizard that will allow you to “stretch” or “shrink” a cabinet and the wizard automatically updates the dimensions of all affected parts.

    There is a 30 day free trial. Afterwards it is $150 for the “homeowner” version and $750 for the pro version. (I use the homeowner version). I think it is well worth it.

    I found it easier to use than Sketchup.

    https://sketchlist.com/
    “Pay no attention to what you cannot control..” Epictetus, 100 A.D.
    It costs nothing to be kind to others

  15. #15
    I've been using Sketchup Free for about nine months and wonder how I managed without it.

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