Creating design plans before beginning any woodworking project is the standard. This is because design plans serve as the template for purchasing the required raw materials and prepping your workstation for the task ahead.
Traditionally, furniture designs were drawn on paper and the woodworker relied on experience to ensure the chosen dimensions and materials could get the project done. Although this process worked out correctly for a long time, there are currently more agile tools to do the work of furniture design. These tools are furniture design software which makes it really easy for both professionals and beginners to draft and test designs.
In this post, the top 15 free furniture design software which you can use will be discussed in some details. The details will include the features and capabilities of each design software application to make it easier for you when choosing one.
Free Furniture Design Software Applications
In terms of popularity, SketchUp is probably the most widely used software for drafting or modeling furniture ideas without you having to part with money. Yes, SketchUp is a Google initiative and like most Google initiatives, the end game is ease-of-use and this software delivers.
The features of SketchUp, which is available on both Mac and Windows operating systems, include:
- Drawing and modeling tools for creating 2D and 3D models.
- An extensive library which can be leveraged for designs
- Lighting and animation effects to help you view designs in real-time.
- Collaboration support which allows you to share designed models with others.
- Note that premium SketchUp features come at a cost.
Unlike SketchUp with comes with a pricing caveat, CADPro is completely free and it offers solid features and tools for your drafting projects.
CADPro focuses solely on furniture design which means you will have access to the tools needed to create both simple and complex furniture models, as well as, visualize and document your models. Its features include:
- This free software provides the tools needed to design dovetail drawers, cabinet boxes, living room furniture, and commercial projects.
- Support for the sharing of designed models and their documentations to anyone you choose to share with.
- Voice recording options allow you to record your ideas before getting started with the design. You can also leave voice notes explaining while certain decisions were taking.
- An extensive library with free symbols, clip arts, and furniture parts to help or inspire you while creating your furniture designs.
Autodesk’s role in elevating the CAD community has been documented in different articles across the internet and its woodwork for inventor software is another masterpiece. The inventor, which is different from Autodesk Inventor, is solely for woodworkers interested in creating complex furniture designs with the aim of producing the furniture using multiple materials.
The software also provides ease of use features to ensure the design time is reduced thus making it a professional suite of solutions for furniture design. Its features include:
- The tools needed to build complex furniture designs from scratch are included in the inventor. You can create a 2D draft and 3D models without the limitations you have encountered using other software applications.
- The option to assign materials filings, coatings, and multi-layer boards when creating composite parts.
- It provides the tools for automating the generating of a bill of materials for your designs.
- It supports the preparation of furniture designs and the parts that will be cut using a CNC machining. Thus, you can create furniture design with the cutting, boring, and turning attributes of a CNC machine in mind.
- The Woodwork inventor is free for 45 days and you can keep using it after the days run out but limitations to the features you can use will be put.
This open-source software has been gathering new fans or users to itself for quite some time now. This is due to the fact that you can actually add the features you want to its interface. You can also make use of the plugins designed by others to expand the features of this software.
The features of Sweet Home 3D include:
- Extensive support for dragging and dropping items to create your furniture designs. This means you do not have to design from scratch when creating simplistic furniture models.
- Extensive tools to draw furniture designs from scratch which makes it possible to handle complex designs, texturing, lighting, and renderings thus making it easy to create photorealistic designs.
- It supports the importation of furniture designs drafted on other interfaces into the sweet home 3D interface for edits.
The Master Design software is built for craftsmen or woodworkers interested in designing cabinets, furniture, and kitchen units at a professional level. The software provides the tools needed for rendering and creating photorealistic furniture designs and it is free to use although using its premium features comes at a cost. It is important to note that the software is available on only the Windows operating system.
The features of this software include:
- Extensive tools for creating 2D drafts and animations of your furniture design. These intuitive tools are easy to use which simplifies the process of creating furniture designs.
- It supports the importation of furniture designs for edits and provides the documentation and bill of materials needed to produce the designed furniture.
- It also provides support for 3D visualizations which enables you to accurately view designs and make decisions.
Blender has become a legendary design software in the open-source community due to the professional-grade tools it offers its users at no cost. For professional furniture designers looking to take their designs to the next level using free software, you will struggle to find any better than Blender. It is important to note that Blender is extensive and using its tools comes with a learning curve.
Its features include:
- 2D drafting and 3D modeling tools for designing, rendering, and animating your furniture designs. With Blender, you get the tools to do anything you choose where furniture design is concerned.
- Blender offers documentation features and to help you document the entire design process to make implementation or building the furniture a simpler task.
- The software supports tens of file formats which makes it excellent as supportive CAD software for anyone who uses the other apps on this list.
For furniture makers who need an extensive CAD tool for designing assemblies and larger furniture projects, FreeCAD offers you all the tools needed to successfully execute your task. As a few examples on this list, FreeCAD is an open-source parametric 3D modeling and 2D drafting tool. The software also doubles as a building information modeling platform for collaborative work.
The features of FreeCAD include:
- It provides you with the tools for 2D and 3D modeling, as well as, the option to convert from one form to the other.
- It makes use of open-source libraries which means you can extend its features to include what appeals to your modeling needs.
- FreeCAD provides support for diverse CAD formats which means you can use it as a complementary design tool or export designs whenever you choose.
- FreeCAD is totally free and it offers you visualization and testing tools to boost your iterative design processes.
- The BIM features of this software make it an excellent collaborative tool for professional woodworkers.
If a free CAD software that runs on all major operating systems is what you need for your furniture design process, the Inkscape may just be the best option for you. This CAD software works on Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems. With Inkscape, you get a powerful design tool with the capacity to help you create 2D drafts and 3D models with ease.
The features of Inkscape include:
- Flexible drawing tools that support the creation of furniture models, as well as, editing existing models.
- Support for the importation of external files for editing purposes. This also means the software supports multiple CAD file formats making it a versatile design tool.
- Inkscape provides text support for documenting your design ideas to ease the implementation or building process. Texts also make sharing your ideas with others and ensuring they understand it a little easier.
We had some trouble adding this CAD software to the list because of the ambiguity with its pricing. First and foremost, Fusion 360 is free for students and young beginners looking to explore furniture design. But for anyone interested in designing professionally or for commercial purposes, Fusion 360 comes at a cost. So, your intended use of the software determines its price.
With that said, the features of this CAD software include:
- Extensive tools for 2D drafting and complex 3D modeling. You can use its texturing and animation tools to create professional-grade furniture designs.
- Rapid prototyping features for beginners who do not have the skill to create designs at a high level. These prototyping tools ensure you can get started and complete your task with ease.
- Documentation and collaborative tools help you create and share your designs with others.
- Computer-aided capabilities for professionals who intend to design and use digital manufacturing equipment to produce your furniture design.
This CAD software is a professional-grade tool for your 2D and 3D furniture designs or models. NanoCAD is free to use but you will be limited to using only specific features. To take advantage of all its tools, you will be required to subscribe to its annual subscription plans known as Nano Plus.
The features of this CAD software include:
- 2D drawing and 3D modeling tools and the option to convert your designs intuitively.
- Support for diverse file formats which makes it easy for you to import files and use the intuitive interface Nano offers to edit or manipulate designs.
- Support for the manufacturing process to ensure you get your dimensioning right for specific manufacturing equipment.
- The option to document and share your designs with other interested parties.
- Nano is a browser-based CAD software that leverages the cloud.
Newbies to CAD design and woodworking can simplify things a bit by using CAD software that supports dragging and dropping parts to assemble your furniture designs. This is what 3D Crafter intends to accomplish with its skeletal and intuitive approach to 2D drafting and 3D modeling.
The features of this application include:
- Simplistic tools for creating 3D models and photorealistic renders of your furniture designs.
- Support for importing 3D models to edit or manipulate them according to your needs.
2D furniture designs with documentation are still quite popular among woodworkers and LibreCAD offers you professional-grade tools for creating these designs. The software is also available across the major operating systems which include Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Its features include:
- Drawing and drafting tools for creating 2D drafts for your furniture designs.
- The tools for documenting the ideas behind your design which makes sharing them easy.
- Support for multiple file formats which simplifies the task of importing or exporting designed files to other platforms.
Here is another professional-grade 2D CAD software woodworkers can take advantage of due to its specialized features and documentation tools for creating complex furniture designs. QCAD provides you with over 40 design tools and 20 modification tools for you to work with.
Other features of this free software include:
- An extensive parts library with over 4,800 CAD parts which you can incorporate into your designs
- Support for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems.
- QCAD is open-source and extensible which means you can expand its capacity to meet specific design requirements.
Although this software is widely known as one of the earliest browser-based CAD software. This means you do not have to download anything but simply execute your furniture design using your favorite browser.
The features of TinkerCAD includes:
- Extensive tools for 2D drafting and 3D modeling tasks.
- Documentation support and the ability to share designs with others.
Designing unique furniture starts with creativity and your understanding of the craft but having excellent tools also helps with the process. So, get any of these free furniture design software and start exploring today.