Woodworking with FreeCAD



Today, we give a quick overview on how we
create furniture designs in FreeCAD. FreeCAD is an open source software that is
mainly geared towards mechanical engineers. In this video we cover how to create parametric
designs, integrate costs and supplier information into your cad model, assemble a piece of furniture,
create a cutlist, a drawing as well as a nice rendering for a piece of furniture. As an example we use this Japanese Toolbox
design we use in a variety of sizes. The big advantage of FreeCAD is that it is
fully parametric and you can change dimensions after finishing the design. We only have to change the parameter in a
spreadsheet and the box becomes square. The first step is to create this spreadsheet
with all the dimensions. For the box these are the material thickness,
as well as the inner width, length and height. We use a macro to create aliases for these
numbers so that we can refer to them by name later. The macro and all other resources are linked
on the detailed website article. The link to this article is in the description. After having saved the file with the spreadsheet
under the filename Master comes the part that is quite cumbersome.

We create a new file for each individual board. In the part workbench we add a cube. To enter a formula for the dimensions we click
the blue circle. This cube gets then dimensions from the spreadsheet
in the format filename, hashtag, table name, dot, variable name. This would be for example Master#p.Material. You can also perform calculations when entering
the dimensions, e.g. adding four times the material thickness to the overall length. After creating all the files following the
same schema we make sure the Assembly 2 plus workbench is installed.

Go to Tools, Addon manager and install the
latest version. Also make sure that in Edit, Preferences,
A2plus the checkboxes for "Recalculate imported parts before updating them" and "Use experimental
topological naming" are enabled. For the cutlist functionality we will discuss
later you have to change two files of this addon. Instructions about these modifications can
also be found on our website.

After switching to the A2plus workbench we
can now import the individual parts one by one with the button that shows a plus sign
. These parts can be aligned with one another in a variety of ways. For woodworking projects most of the assemblies
can be solved by making planes coincident. Just select two faces that you want to align,
click on the plane coincidence button and decide if the two objects are opposed or aligned
with one another. After aligning three faces a board is locked
in place. Assembling a project this way is fast and
actually quite fun. After everything is assembled we can easily
create a cutlist with the part list button. If the dimensions are not listed for you,
you have to modify the A2plus workbench as described on the website. After importing the cutlist in libreoffice
it is easy to calculate square footage, price, weight and other data.

pexels photo 6567650

You can also export the data to another software
such as Cut List Optimizer, a free optimization program that helps you to optimize sheet good
usage. When using hardware such as hinges or knobs
for a project you can add information about a part directly in the cad file. Just select the part info button from the
assembly 2 plus workbench and you can add various information. All this information will at the end show
up in the part list and makes cost calculations and ordering parts easy and convenient. Besides the cutlist a drawing is quite helpful
when building the final piece.

In the TechDraw workbench we create a new
drawing and are now free to insert different views. We can also select only part of the assembly
as for example the lid and generate a drawing of only these elements. We scale them and add measurements that will
help us when assembling the parts. Sometimes it's nice to get a better visualization
than what the CAD application can offer. With a few clicks we change to the raytracing
workbench, add a new povray project and add our objects to that rendering.

With the default settings the rendering looks
bad as it is missing any texture. On our website we describe in detail how to
use a different template file and how to fine tune the result so that it looks like this
picture. This provides already a nice visualization
how the final result could look like. Overall FreeCAD is not the ideal software
for woodworking but it is open source and you can modify everything and add new features
yourself. We like to test new ways of working with wood
– be it in software or in the workshop. Maybe you also give FreeCAD a try. If you are interested in more woodworking
and making videos please subscribe and follow us on Instagram for a look at future projects.

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