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  1. #1
    Hello

    I'm 9 days away from purchasing my first CNC at near 2k. Workbee CNC Router. The biggest one they do at 1500x1500. I wouldlike to plan projects, see them before I build them I have little to no experience with woodwork projects and have spent many hours down the rabbit hole of Youtube woodwork channels.

    What is the best software for planning woodwork projects?
    I see sketchup and fusion 360 are up there however I'm not a fan of "web based apps" or expensive monthly costs.

    What do you experienced planners use? I'm not new to 3D modelling however I would like something that would provide a way to visualize what it is I want to build. Showing measurements, Joints and more.

    Thanks in Advance!

  2. #2
    Some people get good results from FreeCAD, I use Rhino7 myself.
    For CAM software I recommend CamBam, have a look at the forum too. There are loads of plugins to extend it's functionality with new ones being written all the time.

    https://www.rhino3d.com
    https://www.freecadweb.org/features.php
    https://cambam.info/
    Spelling mistakes are not intentional, I only seem to see them some time after I've posted

  3. #3
    mtrehy's Avatar
    Lives in Blandford Forum, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 3 Weeks Ago Has been a member for 0-1 years. Has a total post count of 2.
    Fusion 360 is free for personal use, does cad and cam all fully intergrated, I can't see why you would want anything else. There's thousands of tutorials and examples on youtube

  4. #4
    "What is the best software for planning woodwork projects?"

    Vectric Vcarve-pro or Aspire but you have one off cost to buy them but they are very very good, download a trial you will see for yourself.

    Phill

  5. #5
    I would always begin with a pencil and notepad to satisfy myself that the whole piece worked visually.This is the part I regard as "planning". Once the concept is there,you can move on to any software package that feels right for the way your mind works.I find it better to use a 3D model of the piece to make absolutely certain that it will all go together and that the joints all line up.You should then be able to export a .dxf of the parts to your CAM program-other file types might be possible but I have yet to have a failure with dxf.Some programs will allow you to do all this without the export and they eliminate the risk of losses in translation,which is a good thing because it isn't unknown for exported files to need several elements joined before creating toolpaths is possible.Rhino,mentioned above,is particularly good with it's associated CAM module but the cost is considerable.Have a look for a few demo programs and see which feels comfortable before committing.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by notmyjob View Post
    What do you experienced planners use? I'm not new to 3D modelling however I would like something that would provide a way to visualize what it is I want to build. Showing measurements, Joints and more.
    To me, the only sensible software to go with if you want to model so you can visualize the whole Job (assemblies) and take measurements, etc is Fusion 360.
    450 for a 1-year subscription isn't a ridiculous amount and for that, you get very advanced CAD and CAM software with good support and lots of tutorials, etc on Youtube so learning is made much easier.

    Vectric software is great for woodworkers but the higher level software is pricey and while it offers CAD capabilities it is very limited and doesn't allow modeling assemblies.

    To be honest, there isn't one software that does everything best, for instance, Vectric software is great for signage and V-carving, etc because it has tool paths that are purposefully designed for this type of work, but its 3D tool paths are limited compared to F360 and so are it's more simple tool paths like pocketing and profiling, etc. Also. F360 allows advanced tool paths such as Adaptive roughing which can drastically reduce cycle times.

    You get what you pay for and there is nothing worse than having a machine that is held back because the CAM software cannot produce decent tool paths, or seeing others doing stuff that you cannot because the CAM software only has basic capabilities.
    -use common sense, if you lack it, there is no software to help that.

    Email: dean@jazzcnc.co.uk

    Web site: www.jazzcnc.co.uk

  7. Quote Originally Posted by JAZZCNC View Post

    You get what you pay for and there is nothing worse than having a machine that is held back because the CAM software cannot produce decent tool paths, or seeing others doing stuff that you cannot because the CAM software only has basic capabilities.
    Not to put a dampener on the op. But to me a Workbee CNC Router is not really suitable for high end toolpaths with its limited rigidity etc.
    ..Clive
    The more you know, The better you know, How little you know

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Clive S View Post
    Not to put a dampener on the op. But to me a Workbee CNC Router is not really suitable for high end toolpaths with its limited rigidity etc.
    Valid point, especially if the machine is being used for a business where cycle time becomes more important.! . . . But still, it's the better option in my opinion just for what it offers and the fact you can always buy a better machine which can make full use of fusions capabilities.
    -use common sense, if you lack it, there is no software to help that.

    Email: dean@jazzcnc.co.uk

    Web site: www.jazzcnc.co.uk

  9. #9
    Rhino is great for curvy, stylish NURBy work, though maybe not quite so good for e.g. mechanical stuff where you want to assemble bits and check fit etc. For that I'd use Solidworks. If I could afford it, which I can't!

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