I’ve tested 4 of the most popular free software for 3D furniture design, to walk you through the differences. I’ve compared them across important factors like device compatibility, price, ease of use, and, most importantly, the quality of renders. Read on to find out the top software for working on a tight budget.
For most users, I’d recommend either Sketchup or Solidworks. Sketchup is totally free online software, with a simple and intuitive layout that’s easy to learn.
Solidworks is a more powerful 3D modeling software for Windows that would suit professionals who require advanced features.
1. SketchUp – Best for Beginners, iPad & Free Online
Unlimited free version
Online software with no download required
Popular among furniture designs for numerous tutorials and models available online
Flexible yet high-quality 2D and 3D modeling
Online means it’s reliant on good WiFi for optimal performance
Free version has limited storage and functionality compared to paid versions
SketchUp is one of the most widely used free CAD software and is very popular among furniture designers. Unlike most furniture design software, SketchUp offers an unlimited free version alongside numerous paid license options.
It’s super simple for new furniture designers to get up and running with this 3D modeling software. You can create both rounded and polygonal 2D and 3D models, access a catalog of pre-built furniture models, and use a variety of detailing effects.
For example, you can use lighting and animation effects to produce realistic visualizations of your models, with the ability to make shadowing elements to demonstrate bending. So whether you want to model tables, chairs, cabinets, or bookshelves, SketchUp is a great tool.
SketchUp free is an online software, so it’s really quick to get up and running without any download necessary. It also means you can access your designs anywhere, can easily share them using the collaborative features, and even view them on your mobile via the SketchUp Viewer app.
However, this does mean that the software is reliant on having a good WiFi connection (SketchUp does autosave every 10 minutes to help prevent you from losing work if your internet connection fails).
The free version comes with 10GB of cloud storage, which increases if you choose to upgrade to a paid plan (all of which come with a 30-day free trial).
There’s always going to be some learning curve for beginners regardless of how user-friendly a software is. However, SketchUp’s simple and intuitive layout, ability to be easily used online, and the fact that there’s a wide user community around it make it the best furniture design software for beginners.
SketchUp is also one of the few high-quality furniture design apps available as an iPad app. SketchUp for iPad is a really well-designed and intuitive app that allows you to create, edit, and mark up 3D models from anywhere.
If you have a stylus for your iPad, you can use it to create your own hand-drawn sketches that you can then turn into furniture models, something you can’t do on the other versions of SketchUp (or most other furniture software).
With the ability to redline models and make field edits, import imagery and photo textures, view models in AR, and access over 4 million pre-built models, this is a multi-functional furniture design app that covers everything you need.
2. Solidworks – Overall Best CAD Furniture Design for Windows, Visualization & Professionals
Photorealistic renderings & visualizations
Excellent support & regular updates
Used by professional furniture designers & leading businesses
Advanced 3D modeling capabilities
Free trial only
Steep learning curve
It’s difficult to one name one program as the overall best furniture design for Windows 10 as so much of it comes down to the features you’re looking for. However, if you’re looking for the software with the overall highest quality and flexibility, we recommend Solidworks.
This is one of the world’s most popular CAD software, used across many applications from furniture design to aviation engineering. So what makes it so good?
For starters, there are no material restrictions and the advanced surfacing capabilities enable you to create complex shapes as well as simple square designs. It’s used to design Tom Raffield lamps, for example.
All your models are linked to the drawing views, so any tweaks made in drawing plans are automatically updated in your models. Solidworks renderings are some of the most realistic out there, allowing you to produce professional standard images without costly prototyping, so it’s also our pick for the best furniture design software for visualizing.
It isn’t just Solidworks wide range of capabilities that make it the best furniture design software for Windows 10, but its support and community also. It’s used by tens of thousands of designers across the world and the developers are constantly working on improving the program, with exciting new features regularly being added.
Solidworks is one of the most popular furniture design software among professionals, with some people even claiming it’s used in Ikea.
There are numerous case studies showing how valuable a tool Solidworks can be for furniture design businesses – Davis Furniture Industries, for example, cut design time cycles by 75% and doubled the number of product families produced with the help of this software. Viecelli Moveis, Brazil’s leading custom furniture manufacturer, also uses Solidworks.
This is easy to understand when you get to know Solidworks’ intuitive features and design. The design library is fully customizable, allowing you to save and reuse features to speed up repetitive tasks, while with Smart Components you can automate tasks.
There are numerous examples of Solidworks furniture design on YouTube if you want to see the software in action before trying it out for yourself. This software was more complex than SketchUp and others and does require more training.
3. SketchList 3D – Best for Mac and Woodworking
Specialized features for manufacturing your furniture designs
Smart wizards speed up & simplify processes
3D model boards simulate real-life working methods
Available on Mac & Windows
Not as well-designed or user-friendly as other software
Free trial only
As is often the case with specialized design programs, there is less furniture design software available on Mac than there is on Windows. While SketchUp is, SketchList 3D is a more specialized, furniture-focused program that’s our pick for the best furniture design software for Mac.
This software is specifically designed for furniture and kitchen modeling, as well as making room floor plans, and has an array of advanced features that help you not just design furniture, but then create it through woodworking.
For example, you can make use of a dynamic material database to create accurate measurements and high-quality textures, while the drag and snap feature allows you to quickly model while ensuring high accuracy. On top of that, SketchList 3D boasts photorealistic rendering that brings your models to life in fantastic clarity and detail.
There’s also the Cabinet Wizard, which makes it super simple to create 3D models using pre-built models which you can then customize aspects like size, thickness, and doors by changing values, which can really help to speed up your work. As this tool is rule-based, the entire model is automatically adjusted whenever you change a single element.
You can make use of 3D model boards that simulate real-life woodworking methods for improved manufacturing accuracy, along with automated material pricing.
This furniture design software is also very flexible, allowing you to add custom shapes and features like contours and joinery, to work in metric or imperial, and with a dynamic material database that can easily be adjusted to log precise measurements along with textures and opacity.
SketchList is a very intuitive program designed to make the furniture design process as efficient as possible, thanks to the ability to design and save project templates for fast access. You can also run and share streamlined reports with clients complete with real-time updates.
As SketchList 3D is more aimed at serious hobbyists and professionals rather than beginners, it’s not free but does offer a 14-day trial so you can test it out. It’s not as well-designed or user-friendly as SketchUp and SolidWorks, which is something to consider.
Another free trial program worth considering if you’re looking for the best furniture design software for CNC is Woodwork for Inventor, an impressive program that’s fully integrated with Autodesk Inventor.
4. PolyBoard – Best for Cabinet-Making Cut Lists
If you’re not familiar with a cut list, or cutting list, it’s essentially a list of all the materials and parts needed for a particular project, and contains information on those materials, such as width, length, height, and how much is needed. The main benefit is to help achieve efficient planning.
Excellent cut list features
Specialized features for cabinet design and manufacturing
Used by professionals and businesses
Room & interior design features
Limited to cabinet design, not suitable for designing other software
Free trial only
PolyBoard provides instant access to cut lists and a variety of other useful features. The software’s parametric motor instantly generates 100% accurate output complete with all cut angles, while cut lists are available in PDF and CSV.
They can even be converted into sequential cutting maps (using OptiCut, PolyBoard’s cutting optimization software) to minimize material waste while maintaining full-grain matching.
Aside from cut lists, PolyBoard has a range of other features that make it one of the best design furniture software with a free trial. For example, its parametric nature means that all you need to do is enter sizes and the software draws and updates projects automatically, which can really help to speed up and simplify the design process.
It also has a room design and layout function so you can gain a better understanding of how your cabinet designs will fit into real-life settings. This is super intuitive, allowing you to drag and drop items, resize to fit, and incorporate complex aspects like sloping ceilings and irregular angles.
There’s also no shortage of flexible design elements you can incorporate into your products, including multiple door options (single, double, hinged, overlapping, sliding), veneers, sandwich panels, and accessories like handles and knobs.
This is another furniture design software used by professionals and businesses across the world, including Philip Morison, The Cabinet Shop, and Edward Wynn-Jones. However, bear in mind it’s designed specifically for cabinet making and so isn’t ideal for designing other furniture like chairs and tables.
How To Pick The Right Software For You
Much free online furniture design software is only compatible with certain operating systems, so you should definitely check this beforehand.
Luckily, some of the best furniture design software like SketchList 3D and SketchUp is available on both Mac and Windows, with the latter also available on iOS and online.
Android options are slightly more limited, though there are still options, such as HomeByMe and Ultimate Closet 3D Designer.
If you’re looking for the best furniture design software for Linux, Inkscape, SolidWorks, PolyBoard, and CADPro Furniture Design Software are all popular options.
2D or 3D Furniture Modeling?
Most of the best furniture design software offers both 2D and 3D modeling, but it’s not uncommon for free programs and cheaper ones to be limited to 2D. Make sure you double-check the software supports whichever you want to do before signing up.
This is perhaps the most important factor when picking furniture design software. There are always so many variables when it comes to any kind of computer-aided design, and features vary a lot from software to software, so you need to be absolutely sure that your chosen program has the functionality you need.
For example, if you want to construct your own designs you’ll want a woodworking furniture design software like SketchList 3D, while if you’re looking for highly flexible cut lists you should check out PolyBoard.
3D Rendering & Graphics Quality
High-quality graphics and rendering are important for several reasons. Not only do you want to be able to realistically visualize your models before making final decisions, but if you’re a professional designer, you need impressive models to show off to clients. Naturally, more expensive paid furniture design software like Solidworks typically have stronger graphics than free versions.
Amount of Training Required
Using a new software can often be intimidating, so it’s important to check a program’s complexity against your experience level (and how much time you have to dedicate to learning the ropes).
SketchUp is one of the more beginner-friendly furniture design software. While more advanced programs like Solidworks do have a steeper learning curve, there are still plenty of resources online that make it possible for anyone to learn how to design furniture online.
Free Trial & Price
Virtually all furniture design software offers a free trial (usually at least two weeks), and you should definitely make the most of this, as subsequent subscriptions can be pricey for quality software.
Alternatively, you can always opt for software with free versions, like SketchUp, or completely free and open source CAD programs such as FreeCAD.
What is Furniture Design?
Furniture design is a crucial step in creating many everyday items we take for granted, such as cabinets, chairs, tables, and more. It’s used across many professions, including interior design and carpentry, to create top-quality, functional, practical, and aesthetically pleasing products.
The best furniture design software includes advanced features for accurately designing and visualizing each step, from the structural frame to outer appearance and even how it will look in a home or other setting.
If used correctly, furniture design software can make it quicker, easier, and more accurate to create designs than if you were to use the pencil and paper approach, and it also makes editing and revisions much smoother.
What Makes a Good Furniture Design Software
Furniture design software can vary a lot in terms of quality and usability – here’s what to look out for in a quality program.
- Smart design and layout that makes the software intuitive to use.
- High-quality rendering and graphics for realistic visualizations.
- A variety of functions suited to different applications, such as cut lists and woodworking.
- An extensive catalog of pre-built designs and furniture models you can use as templates.
- Free trial to allow you to test the software before subscribing.
What Can You Do With Free Furniture Design Software?
The best free furniture design software offers a wide range of functionalities, such as intricate contouring of complex shapes, parametric modeling that automatically updates models when anything is changed, and tools like cut lists for manufacturing your designs.
However, bear in mind that free furniture design software is typically less extensive than paid programs and is often lacking in more advanced functions.
Free software will also typically have much smaller model libraries than paid versions, more limited functionality, and less storage space. Nevertheless, I still recommend you use free trials to test software before you make a final de
While there are several free furniture design software options, most require subscription payments that can range anywhere from $10 to over $100 a month. The price you pay depends on the quality of your software and what kind of license you have (hobbyist, educational, or commercial). For example, Solidworks (one of the best furniture design software), retails from $3,995 for a perpetual license.
What About Room Design Apps?
There are many high-quality interior and room design software on the market, such as Virtual Architect Ultimate Home Design, Foyr Neo, and Floor Planner. Which is best for you depends on your budget, experience level, and the features you’re looking for.
If you’re looking specifically for a room design app, it’s worth checking out Morpholio Board, a free interior and furniture design software for iPad. This allows you to create AR furniture and easily design rooms and decor, so it can be really useful for inspiration and is really highly rated, with 4.4 stars on the App Store.
Is Furniture Design Software Easy To Use?
There is always going to be a learning curve when it comes to using any type of design software, especially if you’re new to it. However, some programs are certainly designed to be more beginner-friendly than others.
SketchUp is a good example of this, not only because its free version is designed with beginners in mind, but also because it’s very widely used with a very active community, so it’s easy to get help and there are countless tutorials online.
Of course, more advanced programs like Solidworks require a bit more getting used to.
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