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Ask HN: 3D Modeling Tools for Woodworking/Furniture?
15 points by mc32 11 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 11 comments
I have the idea of making some simple furniture with some of the extra time as something semi productive to do.

Are there decent to use OSS tools? I see some SkethcUp and others recommended.

It doesn't need to render things realistically but would be nice if it can tell you that some pocket holes are going to run into each other, for example.

For that, I think you would want a 3d solid modeling program. The best known program in that space that I know of is SolidWorks. We were looking at using it for a local company run by a friend that was doing one-off conversion of vehicles from internal combustion engines to full battery electric, but it was damn bloody expensive. You could get a student version, if you could prove you were a student, but the models it allowed you to make were simple, and were intentionally incompatible with the models made by the professional version.

I’m sure there are others in this space, but I don’t know of any names off the top of my head.

One option you could try in this vein is OnShape, it’s “cloud” CAD written by some ex-Solidworks engineers. It’s free (gratis) unless you want to make your models private, and is quite surprisingly good. I would personally always pick it over Sketchup because I much prefer parametric solid modelling.

Second OnShape. Autodesk Fusion370 also has free license for hobbyists and even startups with low revenue.

In the OSS world, I believe the best contender in that space is FreeCAD. I've yet to try it myself.

How do these compare to openscad?

If you are doing this for fun just I would try a bunch of different software.

In the OSS range:

FreeCAD, Blender, OpenSCAD are some helpful OSS. Even though none of those are ideal for Woodworking you could learn a lot from just using them.

Some free as in beer (or free trial) software would be:

TinkerCAD, Fusion360, SketchUp, Carveco, and Rhino.

It is pretty normal for Professional users to use a bunch of different software packages to use the best parts of all them.

Scrap wood is probably a more straightforward approach. It will give experience with woodworking instead of 3D modeling. Scrap wood will let you make better mistakes. Grain and density and dimensional instability will all come into play. Your hands and body will learn things that sitting before a computer can’t teach.

To put it another way, picking the right 3D software is probably a woodworking XY problem. Furniture can and is made without it. Good luck.

I've used FreeCAD for some basic 3D modeling work.


It's free and fairly easy to use.

I never hear about this one: "DesignSpark Mechanical" Its a great solid modeler IMO. It exports .STL, 2D Autocad .DXF's and .PDF's.


It's FREE.

I've been using it for years. I used to develop solid a modeler but I have't used many others so I can't really compare and contrast.

Matthias Wandel has a website - https://woodgears.ca/ - which contains a lot of guides/useful things for woodworking. I don't believe he has any 3D modelling tools, but he does have some software to help with building wooden gears, and other useful things.

Doesn't strictly answer your question, but if you're looking to make "simple furniture" 3D modelling is not strictly necessary, you can do a lot with a few simple measurements and 2D-designing.

I know it's not oss, but Fusion360 is free for non-professional use.

Sketchup or Fusion360 - not OSS but who cares...gets the job done.

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