Author Topic: Advice on a good design program?  (Read 20729 times)

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Offline Chris Meggersee

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Advice on a good design program?
« on: July 02, 2010, 12:55 PM »
I don't know how many of you will be able to help me here.

I want to know what is a good design program/software for designing cabinets etc. Preferably a free one but please mention good pay ones too.

A program that lets me do something like Chems did here in his first picture.

To everyone who doesn't use a computer to design, what do you use? Up until now I've been using a small pad of paper but it gets very messy very quickly as it is in the shop and I normally use it for writing down quick measurements.

Thanks

Chris
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Offline jonny round boy

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2010, 12:58 PM »
Chris,

Chem's drawing is done in SketchUp, which is what I use. It's completely free of charge. If you type sketchup into the search box, you'll see quite a lot of threads on it.
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Offline Jonathan

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2010, 01:24 PM »
Hi Chris,

I'd second that, Google Sketchup is what I use too and for a free download is excellent and well worth getting to grips with.

Jonathan

Offline Brice Burrell

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2010, 01:30 PM »
Another thing I'll add is, since it's free there are a lot of us using it so help is never too far away.  Plus, there are plenty of good tutorials on Youtube.

When you find the Google Sketchup download page be aware that there is a free version and a Pro version that they charge for.  The free version is perfectly functional so don't worry about paying for the Pro version.


(Note to Mods, maybe you could relocate this thread to the Computers, Gadgets, Technology section.)
« Last Edit: July 02, 2010, 01:31 PM by Brice Burrell »
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Offline Chris Meggersee

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2010, 03:09 PM »
Sketchup seems awesome. Thank you all for suggesting it.
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Offline tigger

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2010, 06:00 PM »
Hi Chris

Gotta agree with the call on Sketchup. I've spent quite a lot of time with it now and it's really allows you to put forward a prof. quote. I also give it to my clients that live up country and that allows them to be able to view their new projects in 3D without me having to fly up all the time.
If you need help with it let me know. I'd be happy to pop around and show you the basics. Cape Towns not such a big town so I'm sure we live close.
Cheers
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Offline bonesbr549

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2010, 06:14 PM »
E-cabinets was good it's built for cabinet design and is relativley quick to pick up and free

I switched to sketchup and have not lookd back because it does a lot more than just cabinets.   

Offline jstockman

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2010, 06:29 PM »
Hi Chris

Gotta agree with the call on Sketchup. I've spent quite a lot of time with it now and it's really allows you to put forward a prof. quote. I also give it to my clients that live up country and that allows them to be able to view their new projects in 3D without me having to fly up all the time.
If you need help with it let me know. I'd be happy to pop around and show you the basics. Cape Towns not such a big town so I'm sure we live close.
Cheers

Can you do everything we need with the free version or do you have to buy the Pro version

Jim

Offline jonny round boy

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2010, 06:36 PM »
The free version will do pretty much anything you want.
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Offline tigger

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2010, 03:54 AM »
Hi Chris

Gotta agree with the call on Sketchup. I've spent quite a lot of time with it now and it's really allows you to put forward a prof. quote. I also give it to my clients that live up country and that allows them to be able to view their new projects in 3D without me having to fly up all the time.
If you need help with it let me know. I'd be happy to pop around and show you the basics. Cape Towns not such a big town so I'm sure we live close.
Cheers

Can you do everything we need with the free version or do you have to buy the Pro version

Jim

the only difference between the pro version and the free version is the importing and exporting of files. i.e. You can import an AutoCad drawing into Sketchup or any other 3d programme. And then you can also export to those programmes from Sketchup.
Thats all great if you are a pro designer. But to show your clients what you are going to build for them in 3D, its perfect.

Oh, the other thing is you use Google Layout with the Pro version. Its an add-on to Sketchup and very cool to create a pro looking presentation. But I've just exported my drawings as .jpegs and "inserted" them into a MS Word .doc to be able to present on paper to the the client.
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Offline Chris Meggersee

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2010, 06:37 AM »
The only question I have about the program is how do you get small incraments right? For instance I want to measure 800mm so I move to 799.98 and the next pixel is 800.02. Scrolling changes the scale I assume (I don't actually have the cap to watch those tut vids. I might do it a bit later though if this doesn't get sorted out here) and zooming in doesn't seem to help. What do you guys do?

Also is there no quick way of zooming in? Like I know in Gimp if you hold "ctrl" and scroll it zooms into the spot you want. Is there nothing like that?

Thanks for all the help.
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Offline jonny round boy

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2010, 07:04 AM »
Chris,

Here are some pictures of stuff I've done in SketchUp:

First, a temporary bar made from deck boards, with both a timber/perspex top and a stainless top:

23660-0
23662-1

And the finished item (with stainless top):

23664-2

Here's a very quick drawing I did in response to a thread on FOG about a bathroom vanity design to illustrate an idea:

23666-3

And one from a more recent thread about building wine racks:

23676-4

This is a SketchUp model of some of my systainer models (which are available to download from the SUWarehouse) rendered in Indigo (an add-on program):

23668-5

Here's one from a kitchen design I did a few years ago:

23670-6

The next two are of a very simple MDF wardrobe I designed to fit in a bedroom alcove:

23672-7

23674-8

This is a rough drawing of a deck I was building this last week with a friend:

23678-9

As well as basic pictures, you can also do full layouts in SketchUp. This last one is a drawing I did for a friend who wanted a large garage/workshop designing:

23680-10

I could go on posting pictures all day, but I think the above illustrates te range of what you can do in SketchUp quite well!
Festoolian since February 2006

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Offline jonny round boy

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2010, 07:13 AM »
The only question I have about the program is how do you get small incraments right? For instance I want to measure 800mm so I move to 799.98 and the next pixel is 800.02. Scrolling changes the scale I assume (I don't actually have the cap to watch those tut vids. I might do it a bit later though if this doesn't get sorted out here) and zooming in doesn't seem to help. What do you guys do?

Also is there no quick way of zooming in? Like I know in Gimp if you hold "ctrl" and scroll it zooms into the spot you want. Is there nothing like that?

Thanks for all the help.

Chris,

A simple way to do it is as follows:

Click on your start point for the line;
Drag the line in your desired direction to any length;
Click to end the line - you can see the length you've clicked at in the 'Length' box at the bottom right;
Type your required dimension (in this case 800) on your keyboard - you will see this overrides the dimension in the box;
Hit return, and the line changes to that exact length.

If you have a wheel mouse, the wheel will zoom in and out, centred on your cursor. If not, there are many other ways - for instance the scroll bar on my laptop (equivalent to the mouse wheel) does the same. You can use the zoom tool (magnifying glass). You can also use the 'zoom to extents' tool (magnifying glass with arrows) to zoom out to see your entire model. Also, if you click on a line, face or object to highlight it, right-click, and go to 'zoom extents' it will zoom to fit that object to the screen.
Festoolian since February 2006

TS55R EBQ saw - CTL26 - CTL Mini - OF1400EBQ router - KS120 Kapex SCMS - ETS150/3 sander - RO90 sander - DF500 Domino - PDC18/4 drill - PSC420 jigsaw - OFK500 trimmer

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Offline Sometimewoodworker

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2010, 07:25 AM »
The only question I have about the program is how do you get small incraments right? For instance I want to measure 800mm so I move to 799.98 and the next pixel is 800.02. Scrolling changes the scale I assume (I don't actually have the cap to watch those tut vids. I might do it a bit later though if this doesn't get sorted out here) and zooming in doesn't seem to help. What do you guys do?

Also is there no quick way of zooming in? Like I know in Gimp if you hold "ctrl" and scroll it zooms into the spot you want. Is there nothing like that?

Thanks for all the help.
You realy need to warch some of the videos some really good ones are the podcasts at at www.go-2-school.com

However the answer to your questions are "how do you get small incraments right?" once you have the item to the aproximate size just enter the size you want before doing any thing else.

"is there no quick way of zooming in?" yes the scroll wheel is the zoom.
Jerome
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Offline bonesbr549

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2010, 09:23 AM »
The only question I have about the program is how do you get small incraments right? For instance I want to measure 800mm so I move to 799.98 and the next pixel is 800.02. Scrolling changes the scale I assume (I don't actually have the cap to watch those tut vids. I might do it a bit later though if this doesn't get sorted out here) and zooming in doesn't seem to help. What do you guys do?

Also is there no quick way of zooming in? Like I know in Gimp if you hold "ctrl" and scroll it zooms into the spot you want. Is there nothing like that?

Thanks for all the help.

I'm sure you will get a lot of great information here and you can also go over (if not already a memeber) and Join knots formum at finewoodworking.com.  They have a section on project plans and cad software and any question you can post there and you will get detail answer.  David Richards monitors that section and is fantastic.  He has some great how to vids and he even called me one saterday and helped me tremendously.  The key is don't get frustrated it will take a short time to get use to the basic concepts, like components and setting the preferences just right for woodworking and how to handle cylendars so they look nice and round when zoomed in and not polygons but at the same time not making the file so big.   You can find a lot of help on the web but dave by far helped the most.   And yes you can zoom to sections easily.  in sketchup go to to the top bar and go to view toolbars and check camera.   The camera icons will appear on your toolbar left side.  The icon is a magnafying glass with a box in the lower left corner with a dashed line.   You can click that drag a selection box around the segment you want to view and it will zoom in.   To quickly zoom our select zoom extents or select the icon with the manafying glass with the four arrows pointing out in all directions.   You can get as accurate as you want and the scale option is great to make a modification to a model and adjust all the measurements.  Another function follow-me is great for making things like a raised panel door etc.   Once you get acquainted to the basics you can start doing more like turned legs etc.    Take a week-end if you can and just dive in.  It's a ton easier than autocad which i tried and was blown away. I would like the pro version to easily beable to print full size scale drawings to make templates from but other than that, that version will do it for you.    


« Last Edit: July 03, 2010, 09:36 AM by bonesbr549 »

Offline Brice Burrell

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2010, 10:43 AM »
The only question I have about the program is how do you get small incraments right? For instance I want to measure 800mm so I move to 799.98 and the next pixel is 800.02. Scrolling changes the scale I assume (I don't actually have the cap to watch those tut vids. I might do it a bit later though if this doesn't get sorted out here) and zooming in doesn't seem to help. What do you guys do?

Also is there no quick way of zooming in? Like I know in Gimp if you hold "ctrl" and scroll it zooms into the spot you want. Is there nothing like that?

Thanks for all the help.


Another thing that can help is in the "settings" under "units" you see options for "precision" and "enable length snapping".  Precision adjusts how small the default increments are.  So you could have nothing smaller than one mm or you can set it a fine a .01 mm if you'd like.  Length snapping is when you are drawing a line (or any other shape) the line will jump or snap in the increments you designate.  For example, you can set length snapping to 1mm and as you draw your line in will snap to the nearest whole mm so you won't end up with a 800.02 or 798.98 mm line when you want 800 mm.

Be patient, learning this program is well worth the time it takes.  Good luck.
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Offline Chris Meggersee

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #16 on: July 03, 2010, 11:12 AM »
Thank you to everyone for their quick and very usefull replies. I don't plan on giving up, I guess I'm just used to gimp. My next question would be "how do you set it up just right for woodworking" but that it seems I should be looking through tut vids for that. Thanks a lot guys. I owe you all one.
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Offline kcufstoidi

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2010, 12:35 PM »
Chris

This tutorial by Gary Katz should be useful for what your trying to achieve.

http://www.garymkatz.com/ChartsDrawings/SketchUp-Tutorials.html

John

Offline waynelang2001

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2010, 12:58 PM »
Hey Chris

Ive never used sketchup but from what i see it seems to do the job. Im lucky enough to be ale to use 3d max for all my design work, my brother is a graphic designer so he got me a copy. It took me a while to learn but once you learn the basics then you can just about do anything.

Ive posted some pics below of some of the designs ive done. Some are better then others but thats all part of the learning.

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Offline Brice Burrell

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2010, 01:16 PM »
Chris, when you open Sketchup you have the option to choose a template.  The design and woodworking metric template is probably what you'll want.  Another template to look at is the one for beginners, it helps you figure things out as you're working. 
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Offline Chris Meggersee

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #20 on: July 03, 2010, 02:52 PM »
Brice, Thanks. That is the one I have been using.

Junk, Thanks, that link is useful. Was that your first post Junk? If so  [welcome] to FOG.

Wayne, wow. You are on another level. Just wow.


Ok so this is where I'm at in designing that cabinet I made.

Front


Side

And now this is my problem.


How do you apply routing to the drawing? Or more specifically how do you fill in the arc?
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Offline Chris Meggersee

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #21 on: July 03, 2010, 03:44 PM »
I take back my last question. I just watched a tut vid and discovered the "follow me tool" I also now see the importance of tut videos.
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Offline Brice Burrell

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #22 on: July 03, 2010, 04:22 PM »
Ohhh yes, I remember when I was starting out in Sketchup and used a ton a construction lines too. ;D  Thank goodness I'm long past that.  Right now construction lines as references are all part of the learning curve.  Chris, you're on the right track but I assure you there are much better ways.  You will be amazed how easy this program is when it all starts to click in your head.


I forget that other parts of the world have caps on bandwidth.  We in the States don't so I've watched many hours of Sketchup tutorials on Youtube.  Watching video tutorials will cut the learning curve by 3/4 or more.  I have to say the video Junk linked to is a very good video because it shows you how to make an actual project not how to use the program in theory.     
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Offline Chris Meggersee

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #23 on: July 04, 2010, 10:29 AM »
Ok so this is where I am now and I think I got it down. Using components and groups etc.


Man this makes life easy. The next step is the hinges :/

I know there are a lot of design flaws and yes it makes me embarrassed but it is the first cabinet I have ever designed and built completely by myself so I'm happy I've seen those flaws and will learn from them.

I just want to take a bit of time to really thank everyone for their help. It has made a huge difference as you can see. Thank you.
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Offline Brice Burrell

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #24 on: July 04, 2010, 10:50 AM »
Chris, you've been a great addition to the forum, you've been eager to learn and willing to share your experiences.  I'm pretty sure I can speak for all the guys here, it's been a pleasure helping you with this. [thumbs up]
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Offline Peter Halle

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #25 on: July 04, 2010, 10:57 AM »
Chris, you've been a great addition to the forum, you've been eager to learn and willing to share your experiences.  I'm pretty sure I can speak for all the guys here, it's been a pleasure helping you with this. [thumbs up]

DITTO!

Offline mhoy

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #26 on: July 04, 2010, 01:53 PM »
Wayne: Wow, your spider looks a LOT like the spider kit I just built with my kids!  Love the scorpion too! Are the plans available for it? I'd need a better scroll saw, my craftsman one (garage sale) is better as a vibrating sander.  [embarassed]

Mark
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Offline JEP

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #27 on: July 04, 2010, 02:45 PM »
So now that Chris has his cabinet designed in Sketchup, how does he get a cutlist of the parts he will need to make in the shop for this project?  Can Sketchup generate a parts list?

Joe

Offline Brice Burrell

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #28 on: July 04, 2010, 04:14 PM »
So now that Chris has his cabinet designed in Sketchup, how does he get a cutlist of the parts he will need to make in the shop for this project?  Can Sketchup generate a parts list?

Joe

Unfortunately Sketchup won't generate a cut list. 
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Offline jonny round boy

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #29 on: July 04, 2010, 05:27 PM »
So now that Chris has his cabinet designed in Sketchup, how does he get a cutlist of the parts he will need to make in the shop for this project?  Can Sketchup generate a parts list?

Joe

Unfortunately Sketchup won't generate a cut list. 

There are some ruby scripts out there that work for cutlists - I've never used one myself, but a quick search reveals there's several. Here's one. Note that I've just looked at the page quickly, I've not used it so if it doesn't work don't blame me!
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Offline waynelang2001

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #30 on: July 05, 2010, 03:57 AM »
Wayne: Wow, your spider looks a LOT like the spider kit I just built with my kids!  Love the scorpion too! Are the plans available for it? I'd need a better scroll saw, my craftsman one (garage sale) is better as a vibrating sander.  [embarassed]

Mark

Hi Mark, I did get the design from the woodcraft model, I just did alot of redesign because the woodcraft one fits together like rubbish. I want to make a nice big version one day and if i had left all the peices like they where it would never fit together because thicker pieces dont have as much give as the thin material the original model has.

The scorpion on the other hand i designed from scratch. So i havnt had the time yet to lay out a cutting plan for the pieces yet. I also need to get myself a scroll saw [eek]
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Offline Chris Meggersee

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #31 on: July 05, 2010, 05:20 AM »
I tried using one and it was rather confusing. I tried "cut list 4.0" I think. It was mainly because it was all in imperial and for the plugin to register what type of wood it is you have to rename the material a specific name and then paint your design.
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Offline NuggyBuggy

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Re: Advice on a good design program?
« Reply #32 on: July 30, 2010, 09:54 AM »
The only question I have about the program is how do you get small incraments right? For instance I want to measure 800mm so I move to 799.98 and the next pixel is 800.02.
I know there have been a few other answers, but once you have started drawing a line, you can also just start entering a measurement.  When you hit enter the segment will be of that length.  The other ways work too, but this is the easiest for me.
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