Hi, I am Sharique Tharani. I write about CNC machines, Woodwork, Metalwork & CAD CAM. I have experience integrating automation in 200+ woodworking industries in India, UAE, Kuwait, Srilanka, Nepal & Bangladesh. When I have time I like writing and reviewing Machines.
Thanks to the internet, the woodworking industry has become flooded with large-scale manufacturers to DIY enthusiasts, who are pursuing all sorts of tutorials and project plans. The innovation and the infrastructure available in the market have caused a surge in demand for woodworking and furniture design software.
Software companies are constantly releasing new applications to stay on top of the ladder. With so many CAD/CAM woodworking and furniture design software flooding the market, getting quality software can be a daunting task. Do read this complete article to check for paid and free woodworking design apps.
Why Buy a Woodworking Software?
Imagine manufacturing a piece of furniture with all the efforts on the shop floor and ending up with a lousy product design with many mistakes. Before going to the shop floor with a sketch and a spreadsheet, wouldn’t it be wise enough to design the product on professional software and get the manufacturing instructions straight in black and white?
A perfect woodworking software would help you go through the below-given process:
- Get requirements from the client.
- Make a 3D furniture design with the required material and finishes.
- Bid on the job & get estimates ready.
- Present it to the client in a photorealistic image, virtual reality, or an animated video.
- Make changes if asked.
- Close the deal.
- Optimize the project for machining.
- Send the job for order login and procurement of materials.
- Make a Job card, assembly instructions, and CNC CAM files for machining.
List of industry’s best woodworking software.
- 3D CAD Pytha
- CABINET VISION
- CAD PRO
- PALETTE CAD
- SKETCHLIST 3D
- SWOOD DESIGN
Note: The woodworking Software below is in alphabetical order
1. 3D CAD Pytha
Pytha is a German-made CAD-CAM system. It is a powerful 3d modeling software for woodworking, shop-fitting, joinery, exhibitions, kitchen, wardrobes, and any other custom-made project. 3D CAD Pytha helps from planning to presentation and production. It has the unprecedented flexibility to deliver outstanding results for both millwork and casework.
3D CAD Pytha helps woodworkers to start from the concept up to the finalization of the project. It is an ideal system for a company equipped with either conventional or modern machines.
- Best furniture design software with unlimited modeling features in 3D.
- It has powerful and intelligent parametric functionality that allows you to change your constructions in a flash.
- Packed with a high-quality raytracer that allows for excellent presentation capabilities. e.g., high-end photorealism, panorama, animations & virtual reality.
- Lite version named Pytha Planner for woodworking of kitchens and wardrobes
- Integrated generators allow you to interactively create parametric cabinets, drawers, kitchens, stairs, doors, etc.
- Free Viewer for architects and contractors; this helps them have a 3d experience with dimensions resulting in better understanding and fast project approvals.
- iOS and Android applications for photo-realistic 360 panorama experience
- Easy CAM output for known CNC machines. It has the capability of user-defined G-Code & M-Code programming for local machines.
- Easy to learn, easy to use.
- It Covers planning presentation and production aspects.
- Good features for both custom and module-based furniture.
- Suitable for HDR rendering and animations.
- Ideal for small to medium-scale manufacturers and showrooms.
- No database is attached to the modules, which makes it difficult to change the library attributes in bulk.
- Over-flexibility of the system opens room for mistakes.
- Lack of cloud-based solution.
- Lacks 5-axis machining and simulation.
AutoCAD stands for Automatic computer-aided design developed by Autodesk. It is the most used CAD software, which eliminates the need for traditional drawing tools while presenting ideas. Due to its wide range of features and flexibility, AutoCAD is known to be the traditionally used CAD software in the world of architecture and engineering. It also offers free access for students and educators to empower learners. AutoCAD for woodworking is yet not developed dedicatedly by the company. Although some European companies have made Autocad woodwork design possible. This Autocad for furniture design has programmed a plugin using Autolisp programing language. Check the video below to learn and make your cad for woodworking.
- Along with 3d modeling, 2d drafting, and rendering capabilities, it offers solid, mesh, surface modeling, 3d scanning, and point cloud modeling.
- Users can create, modify and adjust section planes to get the interior view of 3d objects.
- CAD standard checker helps the user to maintain a consistent style for different parameters of drawings.
- Inbuilt geographical locations and online maps help architects to review drawings at the designing stage itself. Maps appear behind the drawing objects and cover the extent of the GIS coordinate system assigned to the drawing file.
- It has discipline-specific programs like AutoCAD Architecture, Auto CAD electrical, AutoCAD Map 3D, AutoCAD Mechanical, AutoCAD MEP, etc. An updated version of AutoCAD 2022 comes with an industry-specific toolset.
- PDF, DGN, and DWG native file formats with 3rd party file converters help easy interoperability.
- One can display the drawings on multiple windows in the same instance.
- Cloud storage connectivity.
- Easy availability of users.
- Tons of online resources.
- Program your plugin and functions
- Not ideal for woodworking
- Highly expensive if buy a plugin.
Blender is an ideal computer graphics software with various tools for 3d modeling, ultra-realistic rendering, rigging, animation, sculpting, simulation, motion tracking, and video editing. Blender for furniture design would be a good choice, But for woodworking and joinery, it will be tedious to use and lack accuracy. A good skilled person can make use of Blender for woodworking up until 3d design and photo-realistic rendering. Hence you can consider it as a free woodworking design app.
- Blender is full of comprehensive 3d modeling tools which allow you to create, transform and edit 3d printed models. Blender has tools like Grid and bridge fill, edge slide, collapse, dissolve, and full n-gon support.
- The inbuilt path-tracer engine or Cycles Render Engine helps users create flawless renders. For instance, CPU & GPU rendering, PBR shaders & High-dynamic-range rendering, physically based rendering, VR rendering, etc. Real-time viewport rendering allows you to inspect or preview animations in complex scenes.
- Sculpting is a lot easier with Blender. Digital sculpting tools fill up the gap between concept exploration and final model production. Blender offers Multi-res sculpting, Dynamic Topology sculpting, Mirrored sculpting or masking, etc.
- Blender’s animation and rigging toolset bring life to the imaginative characters. Animation tools set comes with features like Character animation pose editor, Non-Linear Animation (NLA) for independent movements, Forward/inverse kinematics for fast poses, Sound synchronization, etc.
- The automatic and manual camera and object motion tracking features allow you to import or track raw footage, mask areas, and track camera movements live in complex 3d scenes.
- GNU general public license allows programmers to get the source code and modify it. GPL not only empowers the general public but also helps in responsive bug fixing, better usability, and introduction to new features.
- Free and open source.
- Top-notch furniture design software.
- Python scripting for custom tools and add-ons.
- Keyboard shortcuts for easy workflow.
- Customizable user interface.
- Not made for woodworking and joinery
- Cannot be used for making technical drawings.
- Collaboration and social sharing of the file are not possible.
- Easy to use but needs a tutorial for beginners
4. Cabinet Vision
Cabinet Vision is the industry’s leading cabinet design software tool for the cabinet and joinery industry. It uses solid modeling tech to generate images of 3-dimensional presentations of the final product on screen.
Many have praised Cabinet Vision for making simple tasks extremely easy and complex tasks possible. You can bet it’s the software to eliminate costly mistakes in the factory. It helps you boost productivity, increase turnover, and save a ton of time in design and set-out.
- The Cabinet Editing feature allows for the easy creation of assemblies. It allows for quick library build & creation of one-off custom cabinets.
- The material Summary feature gives a complete BOQ.
- It can seamlessly connect with your CNC machine. You can start and complete the entire job just using one program.
- Easy to use for cabinet-makers.
- Complete design to manufacturing solution.
- Affordable solution for both factory and showroom.
- Good CRM system.
- Bid jobs right from design.
- Cumbersome for custom furniture designers.
- Steep learning curve.
- Average 3D rendering.
- No local support except for a few countries.
CAD+T is an AutoCAD-based system. It is a highly flexible, fast, and powerful software for interior design and visualization. The software utilizes 1 Data Model that allows for highly efficient product processing. It consists of over 60 applications based on AutoCAD and Autodesk Inventor. The software also offers cutting list optimization, project management, and a direct link to CNC technologies.
- Data of all the used materials and designs are directly sent to the machines, thereby eradicating the need for more programming on the machine for unique parts.
- The material Summary feature allows reports that explain how much of a particular material will be needed.
- Major CNC machines post processors available.
- OPRM Classic/ Professional & Virtual Reality Enables you to create perfect presentations of your designs quickly and easily. This helps you impress anyone with images, videos, and even virtual reality.
- One of the few systems in the market having an ERP system packed with CAD|CAM program
- Good for panel-based furniture.
- Design to manufacture.
- Very strong in ERP.
- Based on a solid backend from Autodesk Inventor®
- Good reports and data output
- Technical for starters.
- Steep learning curve.
- Average 3D rendering and visualization.
- Very few local support partners.
- Expensive for small and medium-scale companies.
6. CAD Pro
CAD Pro is Computer-Aided Drafting software. It can be used for mechanical drafting and detailing of projects, to create residential and commercial landscape plans, floor plans, home designs, etc. A variety of inbuilt tools like smart dimension tools, photo plugins, auto-shape tools, architect tools, detailed fill patterns, customized views, etc. aids hassle-free designing.
- It allows you to insert pop-up images, text notes, verbal explanations, or audio files in your designs for better understanding.
- Different painting tools allow you to modify external images and designs.
- The auto tape measure tool allows you to measure the distance between design objects by hovering the mouse cursor.
- The sketch tracing tool enables users to scan hand-drawn sketches of designs and make them a traceable template.
- Free DIY home improvement project designs (deck designs, house designs, garage designs, shade arbor plans, tree house plans, outdoor kitchens, etc.) allow users to make their personalized designs with minimum effort.
- It also has professionally designed floor plans and house plans. Users can modify it according to their needs and use it for free.
- It has over 5000 free pre-drawn symbols and auto shapes to insert in your blueprints for easy interpretation of your ideas. One can also create customized symbols and save them for future use.
- Save files as PDF documents and import or export AutoCAD files as DXF R12, 13, 14 & 2000, WMF, EMF, BMP, GIF, JPEG, TIFF, and PNG formats.
- Easily share CAD Pro designs as images using the ‘Send as Mail’ option.
- Free file viewer allows you to view CAD Pro files without purchasing the software.
- Integration with Microsoft Office to import or export CAD documents.
- No free trial to experience software features and tools.
Fusion360 is one of the most recommended furniture design software in the woodworking industry. It’s an advanced tool that provides all the requirements for woodworking professionals and newbies alike.
Not only can you design furniture on Fusion360, but also you can design objects made out of a category of materials other than wood. The top features of Fusion360 include 3D visualization as well as 2D documentation.
- A cloud-based 3D CAD system.
- The cloud feature allows for all files, models, and projects to be stored and saved online.
- Fusion360 is an easy-to-use tool. It has an intuitive interface that simplifies the designing and editing process.
- It’s an efficient and powerful tool that comes at an affordable price tag.
- Very easy as a designing tool.
- Cloud-based helping teamwork and collaboration online on a single drawing.
- Powerful add-ons and third-party plugins.
- Good support and tutorials readily available.
- Limits user until designing
- Lacks in furniture engineering, although some 3rd party extension might help
- No perpetual license & expensive subscriptions
- No parts list, bill of material, bill of quantity & estimations.
Imos is a 3D modeling software that’s perfect for furniture and interior furnishing manufacturers. It provides multiple ways of designing and modifying furniture at every step of the manufacturing process. It has a good link with modern machines; this allows for an economical manufacturing process and makes it one of the best woodworking software. imos is also sold as Wood Cad Cam software by Homag group. If buying imos from homag will only cater to limited manufacturing requirements.
- Specialist in furniture manufacturing and design with cloud services offering solutions for web-based designing and e-commerce &.
- The cloud feature allows for importing all the hardware library items directly from manufacturers into your project. This allows you to spend more time on design rather than worrying about technical errors.
- Very strong in manufacturing with connectivity to significant CNC machine providers
- Database-backed 3D elements help in the seamless integration of design to direct machining with zero room for errors.
- Huge library directly from vendors
- Cloud-based design solution
- Based on AutoCAD®
- Helps collaborate with manufacturers, suppliers, and customers
- Simplifies communication between designer and operator on the shop floor
- Expensive product and library
- The steep learning curve and integration part makes it very hard for small to medium-scale manufacturers.
- More on the engineering side than designing. This makes it feasible only for mass producers.
- A tedious design process for a curvilinear furniture
Microvellum is a woodworking design software company headquartered in Central Point, Oregon (USA). It is building technology for woodworkers since 1995. It is an AutoCAD-based CAD system; this helps reduce the time spent on learning. It’s a manufacturing software solution that enables cabinet and millwork companies to produce accurately and efficiently.
- AutoCAD® based product making the core functionality of designing known
- It helps in making custom furniture models very quickly in 3D.
- Good in making reports, job estimation, BOQ, etc.
- Robust drafting tools with decent photorealistic rendering capabilities
- Supports known CNC machines available in the market. Which helps to reduce the rework and time spent on making programs on CNC
- Easy to use for custom furniture designing
- A perfect tool for a draftsman
- Good 3d visualisation
- Design to machine support
- Detailed Job estimation, bill of material & custom made user-defined reports
- Steep learning curve
- Lacks a lot in engineering and manufacturing when into a custom design
- Very expensive
- No local support except for a few countries
- No cloud-based solution
10. Palette CAD
PaletteCAD is a 3D rendering software used mainly by interior designers and architects. It is majorly used to design plans, layout diagrams, and objects. It’s an excellent tool for animation & visualization for sales teams.
- An excellent solution for architects and interior designers
- Power-packed with a lot of visualization and 3d rendering tools
- Cloud-based solution and seamless integration with designs stored locally.
- The inbuilt library catalog makes it easy to use. A good catalog helps in making quick architectural drawings and floorplans
- Helps in converting cad blocks into NC code
- Bundled with iOS and Android applications for a good presentation
- Easy to use
- Great for making a presentation sales pitch
- Suitable for rendering and animations
- Decent in generating reports
- Difficult for modeling custom furniture and joinery
- Steep learning curve
- Very limited catalogs
- Exports CAM files for a handful of CNC machines. Although the company gives support to make your machines compatible at an additional cost
Pro 100 is versatile 3d cabinet design software that handles everything from designing to cost estimation. It can be used to design custom and standard cabinets used for furnishing home and office interiors. Users can also design custom closets with shelves, racks, and storage bins for space management. It is recommended to go with PRO 100 before buying expensive and specialized woodworking software.
- Unlimited design features from designing to 3d modeling, rendering, and panorama rendering, with dimension-ed floor plans and elevations.
- In addition designing software automatically generates cut lists, cabinet lists, and cost estimates based on style, layout, wood material, finishing type, and method used for the construction of the product.
- The woodworking software also has an inbuilt library of objects, cabinets, appliances, and furnishing accessories such as drawers, shelves, handles, fittings, etc. used to design kitchens, wardrobes, bathrooms, living furniture, or office fit-outs.
- Optional panel optimization or CNC software package is also available. Customized designed data can be imported to create a g-code for the CNC machining of the product.
- Switching between different metric units can be done during the design process itself for a better understanding of measurements.
- It has excellent visualization features. Changing the color of panels, doors, fronts, and walls, and adjusting the level of realism is just a matter of clicks.
- Inbuilt object library with drag and drop feature.
- Users can also create personalized object and material libraries for future use.
- It can be used to design all types of millwork and casework products.
- Automatic price list and report generation.
- Can easily import files, textures, and 3d objects from other programs and the internet.
- Only limited to cabinet designing.
- Recommended for professional furniture designers with prior experience.
12. SketchList 3D
SketchList 3D is a versatile woodworking software for designing, visualization, and optimization of millwork and casework designs. One can create personalized kitchen designs, Wardrobes and closet designs, cabinetry, shelves, and other custom furniture designs with minimum effort.
- SketchList 3D can be used for everything from 3d furniture designing and rendering to 2d layout generation and cost or material estimation.
- It has an inbuilt tool kit that enables you to set joinery, contours, holes, angles, board shapes, etc. with just a few clicks.
- Sizing, cloning, spacing, and mirroring design components are just a click away.
- Auto-generation of cut lists, purchase lists, and cost estimates based on designs.
- Enables you to enlist clients’ requirements and record feedback.
- Users can save designs in templates for future use.
- Easy to learn easy to use
- Toolset with drag and drop feature.
- 14-day trial period with full access to all SketchList 3D designing tools.
- Live customer support and guidance.
One of the most popular 3D design software in the market. It’s highly intuitive and easy to use, even for beginners.
SketchUp is simple yet jam-packed with many features ideal for engineering, architecture, and interior design. Unfortunately, it isn’t dedicated furniture design software. However, it’s pretty efficient for it.
- It has a dedicated community known as 3D Warehouse. Here members can share their designs and allow others to view and download their designs
- Free for non-commercial use, this helps reduce the investment. You can pay when you get your first order.
- Easy to learn from tonnes of material available online
- It’s easy to use and highly accurate. Therefore, you can model just about anything with great accuracy and detail
- It comes with many extensions and plugins. These plugins allow you to create a cut list, BOQ, panel optimization, etc.
- It Has the capability of programming your owature
- Easy to use and easy to learn
- Free for starters
- Good support and training material
- Easy local support and designer available
- Free library elements from 3D Warehouse
- Capability to program your parametric library
- Only CAD no CAM
- You will have to depend on 3rd party addons for furniture and woodworking. This can be expensive and lack customizations.
- Mediocre quality rendering
- No end-to-end solution. More into designing lacks reporting and machining
14. Swood Design
SWood is a France-based woodworking software solution. It has helped woodworkers produce products such as stairs, windows, doors, furniture, etc.
SWood design is an addon inside SolidWorks. It is dedicated to woodworking and panel-based furniture. SWood can be of good use for someone in both the woodworking and metal industries. Because it works on SolidWorks, most of the metal-related designing and machining is already covered
- Design in 3d with ease and accuracy, which helps the job to right up to production from one file
- A great community full of large woodworking libraries to help anyone get started
- Useful for both custom furniture makers and module based cabinet-makers
- Works on a parametric design model. This makes it easy for both standard and non-standard products
- Solidworks based
- Suitable for both designing and machining
- Widely available library and study material. This makes it easy for starters
- Easy local support and designer available
- CNC ready for any machining i.e. 2.5 axes, 3 axis & 5 axis operations
- Integrated simulator for better security
- Expensive for small to medium-scale companies
- Lacks professional visualization tools
- Complicated for designers and non-engineers
- No solution for a showroom or franchisee with a small budget
A woodworking software dedicatedly designed for woodworkers by TopSolid. It is a France-based company. It has a stronghold in the metal industry.
TopSolid has 35 years of experience in CAD|CAM, predominantly in the mechanical sector. It provides end-to-end solutions for woodworkers.
- Topsolid’Wood has an excellent design capability when it comes to custom-made furniture and joinery.
- A great 3D modeling and visualization system for a woodworker, interior designer, and manufacturer
- Parametric modeling makes it easy to work on complex projects
- The cam output supports all the machine operations from 2.5 to 5-axis machines. It has a simulator to check the machining.
- Easy to use
- Great tools for custom modeling
- Photorealistic render engine
- Supports collaborative working
- Inbuilt toolpath simulator
- Easy drilling pattern interface
- Exports CAM files and NC code for almost all the CNC machines
- Steep learning curve
- Very few library elements are provided with the system
- Difficult for planners and non-engineers
- Very expensive for small-scale to mid-scale companies
What woodworking software should you buy?
Well, there you have it. The article lists the best woodworking software in 2021. Before shortlisting the above 10 CAD CAM software for woodworking, our team reviewed many of the software. We have taken feedback from people using this software. We hope the above woodworking design software has the solutions and features you require for your business to grow and thrive. It is recommended that you look for software having a strong local presence. Make sure the software is scalable so that you can grow in time and stick to the same software for at least 10 years-15 years. Switching software can be very tedious and disturbing, especially if you are at a developing stage.
If you are finding making a decision challenging, focus on this below point
Ease of use and learning curve
Ask yourself what products you manufacture today and where you see yourself in 5 years. Is the software you shortlisted able to give you easy-to-use and easy-to-learn design support? Ease of use and learning curve is a very important aspects, because you might very likely need to train a new operator after a time, and this might get you in trouble if the software is difficult to learn and use. Better ask for a live demo and see your products designed in real-time.
Once you list down the products you manufacture and shortlisted suitable software, you then have to look at the infrastructure (Machinery, ERP, CRM, etc.) you own and are in a plan within the next five years. Is the shortlisted software able to communicate with your infrastructure? Ask for an onsite demo.
Support & Hotline
Look at the support team in your country. Are there enough people to give you hotline support and training? Take a review from an existing customer.
Library Catalog bundled with the Software
A ready product library of known hardware brands, fittings, and material finishes would give you a good headstart. Hence it’s better to ask up front if the library catalog is available. Trust me, making the library elements would be a time-consuming and frustrating job.
Budget is essential to look for, but we kept it as the least priority as most of the products with good efficiency are expensive. Hence, it is better to spend on a product that is productive and has a low recurring cost with no hidden charges. Beware, most of these systems might charge you a bomb for after-sales support and service. Don’t be under the impression that the product is going to be a one-time investment. To sum it up it’s better to get post-sale service costs and terms on paper in black and white.
Let us know in the comments below about your experience and feedback using woodworking software.