The SketchList 3D Pro is billed as a great CAD (computer-aided design) tool for cabinetry. I’m no cabinet maker, but I do love DIY projects and my garden storage box was washed away in a flood two summers ago.
So, instead of buying a new box, I thought I’d build one from plans available on the Internet and attach a folding workbench to the back of it. Even if the program is designed with cabinet making in mind, the real test in the software’s utility for DIY folks is how versatile it is. We’re always looking for ways to get the most of our money, right?
Getting started is pretty simple. Just open it, enter the dimensions of your project, and away you go. It only takes a couple of minutes to get designing, which is great if you’re really interested in getting to work.
A garden box is pretty basic, which is a good intro to this sort of software. Even if you’re really into cabinetry, there’s still a bit of a learning curve with regard to using all the features. Fortunately, there are some pretty good tutorial videos that can help you figure it out. Plus, there’s technical support. That’s pretty awesome, as it was not something I initially expected since the software is a one-time payment, and not a monthly subscription. Cool!
One good feature is that it allows you to build your projects with the actual color and grain of the woods you plan to use. If you have to show your plans to a prospective client, this allows them a better idea of what it’ll look like when it’s finished. As for my box, I picked a pretty basic pine and just went with it all the way around.
I assembled the back, sides, and floor pretty quickly, leaving the roof and the front door for last. These will all be basic construction so there’s no need to complicate things. I want something a little more waterproof for the roof. There’s a feature that allows you to build new construction materials with different textures. If I really wanted to put the time into it, I might try to design asphalt shingles because that’s what I’ll probably use. For our purposes here, I just subbed in granite because it looks vaguely the same.
That left building the door, which is a bit trickier. It’d be nice if this software was sophisticated enough that you could easily manipulate features, i.e. quickly and efficiently build doors from a pop-up screen. This sort of thing has been pretty standard in other kinds of building software for years. Think of it as Photoshop for CAD. So you’ve got to take a bit of a long, numbers-heavy road to building doors. If you’re doing this professionally, and need to get your design approved by a paying client, that’s probably a bonus.
My idea is to put two forward-opening doors on the front of the box. This will allow me to lock it, and open it so that I’ll have easy access to everything. Once I’ve got everything organized inside, I can open just the side I need if I want to.
With the aid of a tutorial video, I was able to design the basic door pretty quickly. So, in less than an hour, I went from being a first-time user of this software to having a rough draft for a new garden box. That’s pretty handy.
There are a couple of features I’m looking forward to monkeying around with as I gain more experience. The first is designing hinges and handles capable of handling a padlock. My garden is in a public space and keeping prying hands out of it will be a trick, especially having to figure out how to put the hinges on the inside so someone can’t just unscrew them. The other is building internal shelving and hooks. Both of those are permissible with this software.
SketchList 3D Pro is a really good CAD software for the DIY set. There are a few things that they could have included to make life easier for non-professionals, but it’s still got a lot of versatility so that you don’t need to be a cabinet maker to make use of it.
All in all, I highly recommend this software, and will now be using it as my primary go-to when I need to work with cabinets.
Header image credit: Jeanne Michelle Smith, Flickrr
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!