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Hello and welcome to our review of cabinet design software for furniture makers! This is the second and final part of the review, where we’ll take a look at 5 more software product aimed at providing the best cabinet design experiences. If you want to take a look at the first part, click here.
IKEA Home Planner (formerly IKEA Kitchen Planner)
IKEA Home Planner is a web app available for all modern browsers and platforms. It can run on Internet Explorer 11, Firefox 44+ and Google Chrome 48+.
IKEA’s planner is primarily used by those who are considering the purchase of IKEA kitchen products. However, it can be used by literally everyone else.
Unfortunately, the IKEA Home Planner isn’t the most stable piece of software. As of now it’s quite buggy and prone to various errors which can possibly lead to data loss. Keep that in mind when working with IKEA Home Planner; that might be a serious disadvantage that will prevent you from working with the software.
IKEA Home Planner was formerly known as Kitchen Planner. The tool’s functionality and scope has been expanded over the last years, and it has then been renamed to Home Planner.
IKEA’s planner and the similar tools are little more than the marketing tools instead of real design software. If you are working in the house design industry, chances are you won’t need this kind of software. It’s usually too lightweight, buggy, and its library usually only includes the host company’s products.
Luckily, the limited library isn’t a problem. Cabinets usually come in standard sizes, so swapping one manufacturer with another won’t be a huge issue.
IKEA Home Planner’s biggest advantage is its clean, simple interface. The planner tool also automatically makes a shopping list each time when you add items to the plan, allowing you to easily calculate the cost of all items.
Unfortunately, there’s quite a lot of disadvantages preventing IKEA Home Planner from being an application of choice when it comes to cabinet design. The main disadvantage is the extreme bugginess of the tool. IKEA Home Planner is very error-prone, occasionally crashing or refusing to save your work. It can be a very frustrating experience, especially if you’ve spent several hours working on a project.
There are no “walkthrough” option, disallowing you from traversing the virtual space in first person mode. You can only stay on the outside. In addition, the layour area is very small, only 8″x5″, and you can’t pan your viewport while in 3D mode.
The last straw here is the overall graphics quality and some additional hiccups. First, the 3D items do not look realistic at all’ second, they will not move or be deleted even when you commanded them to. Plus, it’s practically impossible to find non-IKEA items; only a few generic floorings and item colors will not bear IKEA’s tag and price.
CONCLUSION: If you’re a professional, IKEA Home Planner is a complete waste of your time. Its sheer lack of features, extreme lagginess and virtual non-existence of any other brands in its catalogue prevents it from being used as a cabinet designer’s tool. Its freeware status does not change that a bit – so if you want something for your job, look for more powerful programs, such as Google SketchUp or Autodesk HomeStyler. We’ll review both of them below.
Yet another CAD tool designed for cabinet and shelves construction, Polyboard is a more professional piece of software designed for professionals. It is a parametric cabinet software, allowing you to design various woodwork and even produce it, provided that you have a CNC machine. Polyboard is a paid program, with prices ranging from $860 for the Lite version to $3866 for Professional version with CNC support.
Polyboard has a lot of in-built options to let you create and design beautiful, highly detailed cabinets. Users of Professional version can prepare the parts for manufacturing immediately, as the software fully supports various CNC machines.
In addition to many basic features you’ll expect from a CAD software, Polyboard provides several additional features. For example, you can add a custom number of slopes and vertical divisions, modifying the distance between them. You can, of course, create additional horizontal divisions (commonly known as shelves), making them both mobile and fixed, place doors and drawers into available spaces.
An extensive materials library for frames, panel and edges allows you to further customize the product, personalizing the resulting item and tailoring it to the particular customer’s needs. You can also change the edge style, further modifying the product design. Not to mention that Polyboard fully supports all features of traditional CAD programs – such as zooming in and out, viewing any section in 3D, etc.
When it comes to cabinet construction, you can choose from several manufacturing methods that would fit several construction scenarios. Once you select the materials, styles and manufacturing methods, the material list will immediately become available.
The cabinet tool will work with virtually any CNC tool. For that purpose, the professional version can provide DXF files of the design blueprints. Concise and user-friendly GUI provides a lot of graphic details and various features, allowing you to easily manipulate the cabinet.
The installation kit does not include the documentation. However, some information can be found on the developer website. The installation process is very simple.
PolyBoard is only compatible with Windows. There are no Apple macOS or Linux versions available.
CONCLUSION: Polyboard is a very powerful cabinet design tool. It has a very wide set of features designed particularly for professionals. If you need such kind of functionality – especially if you work with CNC machines – Polyboard is an application of your choice. The price, however, is a very large stopping factor. The least expensive Lite version costs $860, and it does not have several very important functions that are needed for professional users. If the exorbitant price is not a problem, Polyboard is the best software we’ve reviewed – and we’re definitely ready to recommend it.
Edraw Max is, in fact, not a specialized cabinet design software. It is a 2D flowchart generator mainly designed for office use. However, it can be used for generating various blueprints and schemes, so there’s some limited potential in using it for cabinet design purposes. Edraw Max can generate technical drawings, thus earning a place in our review. So, let’s take a look at this piece of software and see whether it can be effectively used in cabinet design.
Edraw is a very easy to use software with a simplistic, Microsoft Office-like interface. The familiar concept makes it easy to master the program. You won’t need to delete existing objects if you’ll have to change their shape. Adding or removing any connection points is as easy as ever, and the automatic resizing feature allows you to fit any addition into existing elements. Edraw allows you to preview any changes before you actually make them; just hover the mouse over the effect you’re going to apply. If you don’t like the change, move the cursor away and nothing will be applied.
As you edit your blueprints, the canvas will automatically expand. You can add additional layers or pages. This is especially useful for technical diagrams. Variety of examples and premade templates are especially helpful if you’re unsure what type of chart you require.
Edraw Max offers real-time collaboration thanks to its own cloud service, Team Cloud. For example, you can show the project progress to your clients. They will have to download the free Edraw Viewer app to view, save and print the blueprints. They, however, cannot edit or comment the project, so the possibilities of the cloud service are kinda limited. However, when you depend on the client’s approval to continue working on the project, these features will be very effective to increase collaboration. To let your client edit or comment the project, he or she will have to download the trial version of Edraw Max. Another downside is a complete lack of revision history; plus, you cannot encrypt or password protect the blueprints.
Luckily, you can export your collaborative projects to a wide variety of formats, including PDF and HTML. You can create presentations, allowing you to capture the attention of your viewers and clients. If you have to, add hyperlinks, labels and various connection points to the figures.
Let’s now take a look at the price of Edraw Max. Edrawsoft offers three licensing options: annual subscription ($99 for first year, $69/year for renewals), “perpetual” license ($179, unlimited use, free upgrades for three years) and the lifetime license ($245, unlimited use, lifetime upgrades). As far as we’re concerned, all three options look like a nice deal, especially if you already have a separate application for full-scale 3D cabinet design.
CONCLUSION: Feature-rich and simple to use, Edraw Max is a powerful tool for 2D blueprints and technical diagrams. While this particular software isn’t exactly affordable, the price seems justified by the set of features and simplicity it offers.
Formerly known as Google Sketchup, this software was sold to @Last Software in 2012. It is one of the easiest, yet the most feature-rich CAD software that is suited for both enthusiasts and professionals.
SketchUp is available in two editions: SketchUp Make and SketchUp Pro. SketchUp Make is a lite version devoid of several features. It is available free of charge for personal and educational use. Then, there’s SketchUp Pro, a full-featured version for commercial use. We’ll review SketchUp Pro, as it has the most features.
Any kind of CAD software is usually supplied with a starting library of various models and symbols. SketchUp Pro includes access to Trimble 3D Warehouse, chock full of various models available for download. While the built-in library isn’t as rich as you can imagine, you will have access to huge variety of shared assets, models and designs. There are also additional features available, such as textures, lighting effects and animations. You can install plugins to add support of photorealistic renering. However, Sketchup Pro lacks several architectural tools, including a wall tool and a house wizard. That’s not a very large problem, knowing that Sketchup already has a huge feature set, but these omissions aren’t exactly pleasant anyway.
Like any high-tier CAD application, SketchUp Pro is outfitted with the best tools and features to help you edit your 2D and 3D projects. SketchUp is focused on 3D editing, but you can still use it to work with 2D projects. List of functions includes layer managing and color/text editing. Additional icons and shortcuts will aid the navigation, while three types of toolbars – style, measurement and layer – will easen up the editing process. You will be able to quickly switch different functions and quickly apply styles.
One of the most important parts of any CAD application is its user interface. What makes SketchUp Pro so easy to use is its extremely intuitive user interface. Working with SketchUp Pro is as easy as drawing with real pen on a real piece of paper. You can customize all elements, including tool palettes. Rearrange, remove or add separate palettes however you like. Never lose track in list of features thanks to large, understandable icons.
Setup manager, macro recordings, importing capabilities and other features improve the general convenience and ease of use. There’s also a command line mode, but it will take some time to learn the forum and user’s manual before you’ll be able to master this element of interface. It is definitely not the easiest part of the application.
CONCLUSION: Being one of the most intuitive and easy to use CAD applications, SketchUp Pro is one of the most novice-friendly cabinet design applications to ever exist on the market. Huge amount of assets available in the 3D Warehouse will always provide you with premade models, textures and symbols. While the architectural scope of use is quite limited, SketchUp Pro remains one of the best propositions on the market. We’re definitely ready to recommend this program.
Autodesk Homestyler is a free application from Autodesk, a renowned developer of various CAD programs, including AutoCAD. It is mainly aimed towards enthusiasts rather than professionals, thus presenting a watered-down version of otherwise professional CAD software.
Homestyler runs as a web app with no offline version available. It was initially using Adobe Flash, but as Adobe decided to pull the plug and put Flash to an end, Homestyler has transitioned to HTML5. As such, all you need to run the app is a web browser and a decent internet connection. Mobile users can download the iOS or Android apps.
Homestyler is a very simple application. You can add various objects, including furniture, by dragging and dropping them from the left pane to the layout. The similar way is employed to add openings and other kind of objects. Most of the objects’ shapes are editable, allowing better customization. Floor plan is also editable to a certain degree, allowing you to choose from a variety of floorings, add labels on different rooms, exact dimensions or other features.
To let you construct an ideal floor plan, Homestyler has quite a large catalogue of furniture props. Like in most other freeware applications, you can’t modify them directly. This can be partially alleviated thanks to a nice collection of materials you can choose from. So, even if you won’t be able to find an exact match of an object you’re looking for, you’ll be able to find something that would resemble the item you want.
Users of Homestyler can save or print the designs. Both 2D and 3D designs can be exported to other software as DWG design files. Of course, you can also print the designs in both two or three dimensions.
Those who would like to see how much they’ll have to scrounge up will appreciate the “Shopping” view. It will give you the links to the companies who sell the products you’ve chosen. Some items are quite generic and don’t have a price tag of their own, so you won’t be able to find out the exact price for all items.
There’s also a small bonus for all users of Autodesk Homestyler. The developers have provided a lot of landscaping tools for the users. They include Gravel, Grass, Water tool and even more.
What makes this application so unusual? In addition to being freeware, Homestyler allows you to export your projects to other applications. Even the paid apps don’t usually have this feature. Homestyler is easy to learn and master, allowing you to jump straight in without any prior experience and still get good at using the app. You can even share your works on various social media sites.
CONCLUSION: Free and simple to use, Homestyler is your application of choice if you’re not a professional cabinet designer and only need to use the app once or maybe twice for house decorating. Despite being free, Homestyler has several important features, including landscaping tools and powerful sharing and exporting capabilities.