Computer-Aided Design (CAD) used to be only for those with high-end computers and very expensive software. I remember a designer at GM telling me 20 years ago that the company paid more per year for the workstation and software he used than they paid him. That has all changed with the average home computer becoming more powerful and low-cost or even free software. For many years Sketch-Up was the leader in free software. However, that has now changed since the free version has gone away, or at least hasn’t been updated in a few years.
Enter Fusion 360 from AutoDesk, a long-time leader in CAD software. This is top of the line software and get this, it is completely free for students and hobbyists. It stays free until you make something like $100,000 using the software. This isn’t a crippled version, it is the full version. I don’t believe that the free users will be using anywhere near all the features of Fusion 360, but everyone can learn and benefit from it.
Once you learn to design your projects digitally first, it will open up whole new worlds for you. You can try several things without using materials. You can discover and work out problems sitting in your office chair rather than in the shop or at an outside site.
There is a bit of a learning curve. I took drafting in school and since I work in the computer field I fully understand the concepts of CAD. However, I’ve tried several times over the years to learn it on my own without much success. Our local community college has classes, but that meant committing to going into the school twice a week for 3 months at a time, and my life is just too busy for that. I’m now going through a course called Fusion 360 For Hobbyists and Woodworkers at Udemy and it is just the jump start I needed. Further, right now the course is only $10
For anyone that wants to design their own projects, I consider this a must-have skill. Therefore why don’t you give it a try either with or without the class?