Woodworking is a rewarding craft that takes plenty of skill and patience to do right. Not only do you need quality tools and the proper experience on your side, but you also need an eye for design and detail that leads to an amazing end result.
While you might think that woodworking is all about time spent in the shop, utilizing software can help you expand your horizons and push your abilities to the next level. There are many good woodworking design software programs, but many of them come with a high cost.
In this quick roundup, you’ll learn some of the best free woodworking design software to help you come up with an innovative idea and get your fine craftsmanship out into the world.
SketchUp makes the top of our list. This is a popular option, not only because it provides you with a good free platform for your woodworking designs, but also because the program has been around for quite a while.
It’s not specifically for woodworking design purposes, but the many features integrated into the software will allow you to design both 2D and 3D models with ease. In essence, SketchUp is a drawing software that has a great user interface and a variety of features that help turn a design idea into reality.
Woodworkers can take advantage of all of the included features to design anything from a basic chair or table to elaborate wood creations that will stretch the boundaries of your imagination. The interactive design interface also gives you a virtual glance at your creations before you bring them to life.
SketchUp has several versions available, including a free one for personal use. While not as fully functional as the paid versions, the free option is still a great tool for woodworking design purposes.
It uses a web-based platform to give you basic design features and comes with 10GB of cloud storage to build a library of your ideas. You can only do 3D modeling in the free version, but that’s perfect for furniture and other woodworking projects.
If you just need a basic drawing design software to hash out some of your ideas, Inkscape is a good way to go. This tool is simple to use, and the free version (invalid) gives you an extremely capable design platform.
The only downside is that it’s limited strictly to 2D designs so you won’t be able to get wrap-around views or any of the other benefits that come with a typical 3D program. Even so, it’s still effective and easy to use.
Inkscape is a great beginner option for anyone new to woodworking design because it has a simple drawing interface that will let you draw and sketch out ideas in minutes.
It’s also compatible with a range of different file formats and works with Windows, macOS, and Linux. The software is basic, but sometimes that’s all you need to get started.
3. AutoDesk Fusion 360
AutoDesk Fusion 360 is another great piece of woodworking design software that has a free trial version available to explore many of the possibilities found within the program.
If you have experience with CAD, as many woodworkers and architects do, then you’ll love how familiar this software will feel. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ve already tried it out. The software is packed full of design features that woodworkers can use to create amazing furniture ideas.
It’s also good for the average handy person who wants to build something for their home and features many aspects of CAD that other building trades can utilize as well. That means other designers, ranging from machinists to amateur hobbyists, can also utilize the great design elements included here.
AutoDesk Fusion 360 has a few different free options, depending on your desired level of use.
For personal levels, you can get a free 1-year trial that’s intended for individuals who aren’t using the program for professional reasons. This is a great option for home-based fabrication or if you’re just learning basic woodworking design.
A 30-day commercial use trial is also available which comes with more features in a limited time frame.
Also available for Windows, Linux, and macOS, Blender is another good option to explore for woodworking design. This software is fully open source and completely free, making it great for a variety of purposes.
It has a well-designed 3D modeling interface that will allow you to quickly and easily hash out concepts and make minor adjustments to your design along the way. This isn’t specific to woodworking, so CAD lovers might be disappointed. However, it’s still a great option for woodworkers and designers alike.
Blender has a variety of features that can aid your woodworking design pursuits. Its in-depth modeling and sculpting tools will give you plenty to work with as you test out and tweak any of your designs, and it gives you extra functionality if you have a need for a 3D modeling program beyond the world of woodworking.
Free woodworking design software allows you to explore the world of digital design and gives you a way to come up with cool creations before you attempt a build. Professional woodworkers, designers, and amateur builders alike can take advantage of the above free software to aid in their design process.
By trying out a free version of the more involved options, you can take advantage of the trial to see if the program meets your needs.
What design software do you use for your woodworking? What features make you choose it over other options? Let us know in the comment below!