Computer Aided Design has come a long way in the last decade, but most of the heavy-duty pro-level apps are still much too complex for the average guy to use for fun. Google offers a much simpler tool called SketchUp (free) that’s popular among the high-end DIY crowd. But what if you’re out and about — like, say, stuck in a waiting room — and want to visualize your latest carpentry concept? There’s an app for that: Woodcraft.
Google’s SketchUp relies on Boolean objects — the process of creating standard shapes, then modifying them by adding or subtracting the space overlapping between shapes. Let’s say, for example, you wanted to create an empty box with no lid. You could start by creating a cube. Then you could create a slightly smaller cube, place it inside the other one completely overlapping the top, then subtract. In that case, you’re left with a box with a box cut out of it — or a box with walls sized based on the difference between your original two boxes.
This is a lot less complex than creating the box from scratch by noting points in space and connecting them. But it’s still a lot more complex than Woodcraft. Created by a company called Fasterre, Woodcraft is an iPad app that’s essentially a mashup of traditional CAD apps and a carpentry planner.
In Woodcraft, you create a project, then drag in raw lumber from an indexed library of common carpentry sizes. Each item drops onto the work area on your iPad. Then you can move the items around, and you can “use” tools like a table saw, a hammer, or a hand saw to cut your raw wood into shapes and attach them together. To keep item placement simple, Woodcraft offers the ability to switch from 3D to 2D and back again. This helps a lot when you’re trying to do something like line up a bunch of lumber in a plane.
I downloaded and tried the app, and I’ll tell you straight up that it’s still too complex for me to use easily. After a a bit of dinking around with various components, I reverted back to my standard paper and pencil. Of course, my paper and pencil won’t produce a bill of materials from my project like Woodcraft will. Woodcraft even takes into account the size of the raw stock so you don’t end up buying one board too few by thinking you can get a 6′ piece from two 3′ sections remaining in a board.
For more information, take a look at the product site (below), or if you have an iPad and are interested, you’ll also find a link to the app in the Apple App Store. It’s $10, which is a little pricey as apps go. But then again, it’s a pretty complex app.
Do you pre-visualize your projects? And if so, what tools do you use?
Fasterre’s Woodcraft [App Creator]
[Apple App Store]
PS: Note the comments on the YouTube video above where a number of people call out the app creator (or whoever shot the video) for their poor saw safety. True!