- As a beginner, Autodesk was pretty overwhelming, and I felt like I needed hours of tutorials/poking around the interface in order to find the commands/buttons for the simplest features to make simple parts. Large, resource consuming software, only free for me as long as I am a student.
- Sketchup was really easy to pick up but annoying to use for engineering/fabrication stuff because it is not parametric/constraint-based modeling software. I was using it for 3D printed parts and a lot of files would not slice properly for reasons that were very difficult to diagnose or fix. Quickly ran into features I needed that were not in the free version.
- FreeCAD is missing a lot of features I'd like, but so far it has always been possible for me to find a different feature to use in order to achieve the part I want. Free and open-source.
I want to mill some very small boxes out of some scrap pieces of wood, so I designed the box below, which can be easily customized. For a simple piece like this though, it makes more sense to just prepare a set of 2D lines in Inkscape or similar software, which is what I ended up doing afterwards. At the CNC machine, I then use another piece of software to set up all the details of how the machine will cut each vector path depicted in my 2D file.
Hopefully these boxes work out. If so, I'll make a bunch with different designs and embellishments (engraving, marquetry, decoupage, rock inlay, etc). They will make good gifts. I also think they may sell well on Etsy. It would be very practical to use my hackerspace membership to cover my hackerspace membership fees.