3d modeling for woodworkers

As woodworkers we have drawn up plans by hand on sheets of paper and if lucky enough to 1:1 scale.  Then came cad which simplified drawing altogether, now you can comfortably draw and make changes to your drawings without making a mess on paper, plus you no longer need an over sized table, pencils, rubbers, rulers etc everything fits in one screen on your desk.

Mock ups still to this very day we make, whether they are model sized smaller versions or full scaled true to life but guess what these aren’t cheap to build and unless your drawings are spot on changes need to be made which requires in some cases starting all over again.   Isn’t this obvious that this is serious time wasting and money thrown down the drain.  As with 2d drawings for some time now 3d modeling has been available, over the years 3d applications have come a long way from cartoon like renderings to full blown photo realistic renders in fact so realistic that it is very difficult to distinguish between a 3d modeled render and a real photographed object.  Many of the billboard signs you see on the highway of cars being advertised are just 3d renders.

modeled car

So how will aid us as woodworkers?  Imagine all your work can be visualised on screen regardless of the size in a 1:1 scale.  Your materials can also be applied to make it realistic and to help you choose when you want to create a contrasting effect.  Also you may think you drew up correctly but when comes time for assembly the drawer bottom is 3/16″ short.  This is where modeling it on screen will reveal these mistakes and save you a lot of money, time and just plain and simple headaches.

Here is a bed that has been modeled in a 3d application, this is unbelievable stuff the level of detail and visualisation.  Imagine taking this to your clients rather than some sketch you drew up.  This shows your artistic capabilities as an artisan, it also shows that you take pride in your work.  We may work like they once did 200 years ago but we also implement the better aspects of modern technology into our work.


There are several different modeling applications on the market and some are as much as $7000.  The most popular woodworkers are using today is Sketchup.  Sure it works fine but the renders are awful but then again who cares no one other than you is going to view it, but if you are going to show it to your client well I’m different I couldn’t do it but then again I come from a graphics industry background.  My previous job entailed in using 3ds max but not having worked with it for so many years I have forgotten a lot but no worries practice makes perfect.  However max is now only for fun it isn’t a 3d application that is designed for manufacturing use but more so for film and television, product modeling and awesome photo realistic renders.  What I’m now endevouring to learn is Autodesk Inventor Professional 2016.  This can be used not only for woodworking but metal work as well which I intend on learning so I can build my own movements.  The learning curve is huge I must admit this software is most definitely not for the average Jo and I say this not because the average person is stupid but it takes time and dedication to understand many different aspects of the software, this time not everyone has because the dedication to learn is definitely harder to attain when your 40+

As primarily hand tool woodworkers living now in the 21st Century we need to utilise and incorporate modern day technology in our unplugged environment.  We choose to work wood by hand for thousands of positive reasons but one important reason is attaining and maintaining our skills.  The use of this software does not impede on our skills nor does it take us away from our unplugged lifestyle of everyday woodworking.

I would like for you to take the time in watching this video on youtube on how you as an artisan can model in inventor and hopefully gain an insight into the world of 3d modeling and how you can implement this idea into your own woodworking.

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