Swamp Road Wood Works LogoShaker Bench At Hancock Shaker Village, Hancock, MA.

TurboCADTM Professional


 I have been working with TurboCADTM since the early 1990's and I am still learning some of its features for the first time. CAD tools by nature are sophisticated and complex and generally have a long learning curve. TurboCADTM has been around long enough that it now has a good base of tutorials, help files and training CDs available to the new user, which helps to shorten the learning curve. But expect to do a lot of modeling before you are comfortable with it.TurboCAD model showing a hidden line drawing of a Shaker Tall Clock hood.

I start each project by modeling the major features and dimensions in a 2D frontal view. I stick with the Shaker Tall Clock hood side view.2D drawing until I am satisfied with the major features. If necessary I will also make 2D side views, but seldom need to go that far before starting the 3D model. Working in 3D is natural. It allows you to see what the finished piece will look like, spot design bugs that would otherwise result in wasted time and material, and easily create a cut list. I complete the 3D model before beginning any dimensioning or printing of drawings. A completed 3D model looks like the Shaker Tall Clock hood at left. Note how well it represents the completed piece at right.

A 3D model can be viewed from any direction or angle. The most helpful views are the standard four isometric views and six cube views (front, back, top , bottom, right & left). However, cameras can be placed anywhere and even a walkthrough can be generated to tour the model even from the inside. I find this to be too much work to be useful.

TurboCAD uses model space layers which can be used to manage the placement of parts and the generation of views. For example, table legs can be placed on a layer called "Legs", the table top on a "Top" layer, sides on a "Side" layer and so on. If you wished to see just the legs, sides, front and back you would simply view layers Legs, Top, Sides, Front and Back. In the model space view of the Shaker Tall Clock hood, I simply viewed only layers with hood parts and did not view layers with waist or base parts. I can view all layers and rendered them (instead of a hidden line drawing) to obtain the picture at left below. Compare it to the photo of the finished piece.

A TurboCAD paper space drawing.TurboCAD rendering of Shaker Tall Clock model space front view.

The model above was drawn in model space which is an infinite space in three dimensions. 2D drawings are created by organizing views in model space and placing them on a page in paper space using viewports. Notes and dimensioning can be added in either model or paper space and placed on a page in paper space. In the picture at right I created a paper space page or 2D drawing to show the construction of a side table drawer. The drawing contains dimensions necessary to hand cut dovetails and fabricate the drawer. This side table required eight 2D drawing pages to create a complete drawing set from which the table can be crafted. The Shaker Tall Clock above required a 35 page drawing set.

TurboCADTM Professional is a powerful CAD tool. It has a rich feature set and TurboCAD rendering of an ogee foot.quality rendering. You can also texture map your model with wood textures to produce photo realistic images, though I find this difficult and time consuming and not worth the effort. TurboCADTM is especially powerful if your parts are crafted with curves that are irregular such as Bezier and Spline curves. A typical example is ogee feet. But you must be a regular user or your skills will drop off rapidly. TurboCADTM Professional is an expensive tool, $1,295 list. However, version upgrades are modestly priced, typically $129.


My SketchUp Book
SketchUp: A Design Guide for Woodworkers

My SketchUp Courses
SketchUp Courses

New England School of Architectural Woodworking

Lie-Nielsen Toolworks - Heirloom Quality Tools

Berkshire Woodworkers
Andrea M. Inganni, Furniture Maker