Building and designing your furniture is a fun and rewarding experience. Thankfully, the age of computer technology has allowed do-it-yourselfers to design detailed blueprints for project planning easily. Many people who are new to building design software may be wondering which is best for furniture building?
The best furniture building design software allows the user to be versatile in the design concept and the most precise scales and measurements. SketchUp, Fusion360, and SolidWorks are the best software for furniture building design; however, many quality programs exist.
This article will discuss different design programs, their capabilities, the pros and cons of each, and how to begin using them. We are also going to discuss some general principles of furniture design planning. By the time you have finished reading this article, you will have all the tools you need to bring your dream furnishings to life.
How Building Design Software Works
Most building design software programs work relatively the same manner, but with certain key differences that make some more or less advantageous depending on your particular need. Generally speaking, building design software works by allowing the user to create and design objects in extensive detail, allowing practically every possible factor to be customizable.
For this reason, it is essential to take your time and get to know what each program offers the user to decide which is most directly suited to your specific need.
Although many of the programs on this list have similarities in the way they function and operate, building design software varies most extensively in the following ways:
- Cost of Purchase
- Scale (intended for larger or smaller designs)
- Target Customer Base (intended more for professional or casual users)
- Learning Curve (how much training and time is required to become competent)
- Interface Detail (the simplicity vs. complexity of available design tools)
- Visual Appeal (aestheticism of the layout)
As it pertains to furniture building design, it is recommended that you lean towards simplicity. Many of the programs subsequently mentioned in this article have capabilities that go well beyond the relatively basic need for furniture designing. For this reason, we advise the user to choose a program that serves their purpose with the least amount of headache.
Choosing an overly advanced program may cause new to design software to become unnecessarily confused and discouraged.
Typical Operating System Requirements For Running Computer-Aided Design Software
To properly operate most building design programs, your PC’s minimum capability requirement must be in place. This includes a certain amount of graphic display, memory, disc space, and processing power. Before you commit to a program, it is important to double-check that the computer you are planning to use in conjunction with the design software meets all of the necessary technical requirements.
For example, to run AutoCAD 2020 building design software, your PC must be able to accommodate: at least 8GB of memory space, 1920 x 1080 resolution or greater, possess a 2.5 gigahertz processor, and a Windows 10 operating system. Some upgrades or updates may be required to get your computer up to speed with the requirements to run these programs.
It is also important to mention here that some of the following programs are preferable for Windows or Mac computers. Always be diligent about the compatibility of your system and the software you are considering.
SketchUp is a fully interactive architectural 3D design program which has been around for the past two decades and remains on top of the industry. Originally developed by Google, SketchUp has undergone many upgrades and made many improvements to its platform over the years. SketchUp also offers an IOS application called SketchUp Viewer, which can be used to view projects from your phone in great detail.
The SketchUp platform encompasses an incredible array of features that make it ideal for furniture building, home renovation planning, and remodeling. The detail that SketchUp offers is incredibly unrivaled, and the options are endless. This makes it the perfect software for bringing your imagination to life. If you can dream it, SketchUp will architect it.
One of the most appealing features of SketchUp is that it offers a free version, as well as a paid pro upgraded version. This provides users an opportunity to experiment and become familiar with the software before committing financially. Although the free version of SketchUp does have certain limitations not found on the paid pro upgrade version, we estimate that you should be able to get by with the free version for designing basic furniture projects.
The SketchUp interface is visually appealing and conveniently laid out, making the learning process simple and easy compared to other similar software.
Because of SketchUp’s reputation and longevity in the industry, the fact that it is free, and its convenient compatibility with other Google and Apple platforms such as Google Drive and iCloud, there is no doubt SketchUp comes in at number one on this list.
SketchUp will most likely prove the fastest way to produce a final product, so if you are in a hurry, have strict time requirements, or can not wait to get started building, SketchUp will be a welcome relief for those less-patient designers.
Although other programs on this list may offer features that uniquely fill your specific building design needs, it is advisable that everyone first check SketchUp before looking any further.
Fusion 360 is an all-inclusive software which is best used for designing individual objects. As opposed to the broader architectural scale of the formerly mentioned SketchUp, which can be used to design just about anything from Buckingham Palace to a star screwdriver, the Fusion 360 software specializes in single item design, for example, a couch, a picnic table, or a bunk bed.
Fusion 360 is commonly used by machinists and engineers to create extremely complex machinery, engineering, and various technical components. It should go without saying that utilizing this software to bring your furniture ideas to life will be a breeze.
Fusion 360 offers a free trial — which, although not quite as luxurious as the SketchUp free full version — still allows users to become well versed in the designing process before deciding whether or not Fusion 360 is the right software for them.
This software is compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems. It has an IOS viewer application, making Fusion 360 a very competitive number two on this list.
Coming in at number three on the list is the SolidWorks software design program. SolidWorks software is similar to Fusion360 in that it is intended to be used to design individual objects and components. However, it is geared towards a different type of user in some fundamental key ways.
One of the things that many customers praise about SolidWorks is the ability for users to customize keyboard demands and prompts. This is incredibly beneficial because rather than learning predetermined key commands, which can be time-consuming and difficult to memorize, SolidWorks lets you, the user, decide how you would like to arrange your prompts.
One of SolidWorks’s drawbacks is that it is designed particularly for Windows operating systems and is therefore not optimal for Mac users. If you are a Mac user, SolidWorks is not recommended for you.
SolidWorks is a more professional level program, designed for industrial use by project managers and the like, as opposed to Fusion 360, which was designed with the average person in mind, and operates a little bit more informally. However, that is not to say that the SolidWorks software can not accommodate furniture building designs. If you feel comfortable using it for that purpose, we encourage you to do so.
Whenever the topic of blueprint design software is raised, the first thing that comes to the minds of many is AutoCAD. Along with SketchUp, AutoCAD is the most notable name on this list, and it is not without good reason.
AutoCAD is the oldest software on the list. As such, it paved the way for all successive programs to follow, yet it remains a leading force in the industry to this day! AutoCAD is an incredibly versatile software that can accommodate a huge range of scale. This makes it enticing for just about anyone from architects to machinists, and of course, furniture designers.
AutoCAD is capable of both 2D and 3D design, has many layering options for convenient multitasking, and boasts the simplest and easy to use interface layout of any software mentioned on this list. It has something for everyone, all the way from the top of their class career architect to the casual hobbyist, simply looking to explore design options and have some fun while doing so.
One of the unique things about AutoCAD is that their website offers accreditation for completed learning programs which they teach. This is great for anybody looking to work with the software on a more advanced level.
AutoCAD offers a free trial and is compatible with Windows and Mac software. Also, their IOS app is capable of viewing designs and editing them as well. The latter fact alone will likely be the decisive selling point for many designers who prefer to edit designs on the go.
Next on our list is PRO100, a furniture design software specializing in cabinetry and shelving units. If the furniture you are looking to create happens to involve cabinets, you need not look any further.
Although this software is undoubtedly by no means limited to the cabinet and shelf design, it is, in fact, highly geared towards home modeling, floor planning, and other recreational layout ideas. PRO100 is used at the scale of an entire room. It accounts for every detail imaginable, taking all of the guesswork out of your furniture project planning.
One of the nicest things about this software is that it allows the user to view their finished product in extreme detail, accurately portraying a lifelike visual simulation, right down to the building materials used. This means you can view your creation from an editorial and dimensional perspective. You can also view it in all its finality, something many other furniture design software does not offer (at least not to the extent which PRO100 does).
There are not many drawbacks to mention in the PRO100 software, but one worth noting is the lack of a smartphone application. For those who prefer this mode of viewing, it may not be the most optimal choice. However, the manufacturers do offer a free demo and a free comprehensive tutorial, which is sure to get you started in the right direction.
CATIA is at the cutting edge of 3D design software, graphically. Their visual quality is nothing short of superior, and CATIA’s software offers many unique features that the competitors do not.
CATIA design software has a virtually endless potential of possibilities, including but certainly not limited to vehicle design and the automotive industry, designing tools and parts, metal fabrication planning, architectural structures, and even aircraft design! What this means is that it is more than aptly suited to accommodate furniture construction ideas and templates.
One of the CATIA software’s perceived cons may be that design is intended for extremely intricate modeling and highly detailed planning. This is a potential drawback for prospective users who are new to building design software and may seemingly find CATIA’s layout excessively convoluted. However, to combat this, they offer online training via e-learning. Still, for someone simply looking to buy and begin, it will not be their first option.
Of all the design software mentioned in this article, Woodwork for Inventor is the most specified furniture blueprint creation program. For anyone serious about building furniture, especially as a means of income, this is the program for you.
One of the greatest benefits of this program is that it includes a thorough list of building materials and will even prepare a complete shopping list of what to buy upon completing your design. This software uses accurate calculations to prepare cutting lists and measurements, which, if followed correctly by the builder, eliminates all possibility of error; hence everything fits together like a puzzle.
The Woodwork For Inventor software is designed with the unique goal of making the transition from the cyber world to the physical seamless. In other words, Woodwork For Inventor extensively prepares the user for the construction and assembly phase of their project, and not only the computer element. This makes it very appealing to those persons who are more the hands-on type, and desire a software which will act for them as a means to an end.
Last but not least, on this list is the SmartDraw Cabinet Design program. This software is a well-rounded product, designated primarily for cabinets, and very practical for designing any furniture type. SmartDraw software is also very heavily intended to be used with floor planning and layout ideas.
Although SmartDraw Cabinet Design includes many of the same features as other products mentioned on this list — particularly PRO100 — it is unique in its impressive template selection, which offers over 4,500 that can not be found anywhere else.
SmartDraw is best used for creating diagrams and broad layouts, as opposed to the Fusion 360 software, for example, which is used for small scales and extremely intricate details. Another special feature of SmartDraw is its graph design element. SmartDraw is great for making Venn diagrams, flow charts, bar graphs, timelines, planograms, and even family trees!
The icing on the cake when it comes to SmartDraw software is its comparably low price. It is significantly cheaper than other programs mentioned on this list, making it an excellent option for those on a budget. The money you will save for going with SmartDraw will free up funds, which can be better spent on building materials. You are still getting most of the same features as the other programs.
Purely from a cost/benefit perspective, SmartDraw is undoubtedly one of the best products on the market.
When choosing a furniture design building software program, many considerations must be taken into account. This article’s point was to provide the reader with the necessary tools to make a well-informed decision on which product is best suited for attaining their desired result and bringing their ideas to life.
Considering all factors, we can confidently declare that SketchUp is the most optimal program overall for furniture designing. It has a free full version. It has a complete range of scales. It is straightforward to understand, so you can practically begin using it immediately. Moreover, SketchUp allows for textural views to be displayed, providing a lifelike portrayal of how your finished product will look. While other software on this list provides elements not offered by SketchUp, they come up short as a whole.