Custom Software for Wood Man Doors

A custom builder's looking for a versatile design and drafting package for original wood door designs. But is it worth it? September 1, 2010

I run a custom wood shop and we are looking into buying door software for doing door cutlists and drawings. We do high custom houses so we need a software that would handle any type of man door style. This is for interior and exterior doors not cabinet doors. What software would some of you out suggest purchasing? Price is not an issue.

Forum Responses
(CAD Forum)
From contributor V:
The best for one may not be the best for another. Do you really want to pay for features that you do not use or cannot use? What about making a decision on something expensive and only to find out a few weeks or months later that some other software was better suited or new better technology was purchasable?

It is a big deal deciding on your software. A company that you cannot get through to the people you need costs valuable time. If you are willing to pay this amount over the course of using the software in addition to the time to learn it, then there are quite a few companies you could work with. Time equals money. You must have some time if money is no object. The bottom line is that you have to know what you are doing. That includes why you are doing it.

AlphaCAM's Door and Window was shown to me and it looked pretty good. You are right that cost is not an issue if is really what you want and need because it should pay for itself very, very fast if you made the right decision.

Sketchup Pro version (with patented press pull technology) and adding the free cutlist and materials script is much more fluent and may work better for your needs. You will need to modify the script in the bounding box area to skip over the bubblesort. Last I looked, it had a sorting of the length, width and thicknesses of the part sorting from largest to smallest. You don't need that in the script. By jumping over the variables, a two second edit, to the next call in the code below it, you can just set the axis of your parts in the Sketchup menu. Every object is stamped with a transformation matrix on creation and import into Sketchup. This is 3D gaming technology, but the programmer that added the 3D matrix code to the script did not understand that it was better suited without the sort. It kind of defeats the whole purpose.

This list is endless as new technology is created every day. To keep it short and get a refined reply you will need to post more information such as, company size, equipment, computer equipment, trade skill levels, computer skill levels, submittal requirements, and etc. It will help quite a bit.

From contributor B:
We were in the same boat a couple years ago. At that time there was nothing on the market that did what we wanted. After numerous salesmen assuring us their product could be easily molded to fit our needs (easy being a very relative term) and hours of fruitless product demonstrations we decided to develop our own system in house. Every company is different so there may be something that can be had off the shelf that will mesh well with your operation. For us the closest match was Microvelum, just not close enough.

From contributor R:
This is a common question and it may have a simple answer. How many doors are we talking about, and how many door styles? There are lots of programs for doing doors, (including mine) but you may not need any of them.

For the simple approach you probably have everything you need already. All you need is a spreadsheet, a plan on how to build your doors, and some time - simple enough? Each cell in a spreadsheet can be linked to other cells and/or do calculating. If you keep all related data for a single door on one line it makes it easy to create a parts list, and with copy and paste you can make a cutting list.

For drawing, if you only need one drawing of each door style any graphics program can do that, including the paint program included with MS Windows. Sketchup will let you play around with a drawing more, and it is free. If you want precision you need a CAD program Ė any CAD program. If you are you going to send data to a CNC machine consider that in your decision.

From contributor D:
I run a CNC router in a custom wood door shop. I build everything from 1-6 5-0ís to 4-0 9-0ís and every shape you can imagine. My company has looked at several different products that could help automate everything. I get a hand drawing with rough measurements from the salesmen. I open up PC Draft and quickly sketch the door to scale, add glass bead, moulding, and etc. dimension it, and print it out. I send one copy back to the salesmen to verify, and one to the shop to start getting parts ready. It takes me the software (BiesseWorks) that comes with the Rover, plus the AutoCad 2010. Business picks up to where we hire someone else to run the parts on the router and for me to be a full time drafter, we might get AC2010. I believe with that I can build custom door styles with parametrics for the parts, enter my custom values into the drawing, add the skin choice (wood type), print out a realistic drawing and then have AutoCad export the dimensions to Biesseworks (I believe I can do this).

From contributor O:
We use 3E software for doors and windows. It does about 75% of our drawing and cutlisting. 3E is tailored to your shops needs and you can take it as far as budget allows. My setup is for about six types of doors and windows we do on a regular basis. I plan to keep adding to the program. I just did an interior door job with about 20 doors, a couple customized doors and bifold units. It took about two hours for the drawing and cultists. It does jamb and trim (if needed) cultists also. As I said they can customize it to your needs but it costs. There is a learning curve as with all CAM software. You will find door software costs more compared to cabinet programs just because the market is not as big.

From contributor AD:
Iíve been out of the loop lately as far as dedicated woodworking software goes, but had always found it too limiting, at least for custom furniture making. I worked with AutoCAD for many years, and about five years ago switched to Autodesk Inventor. My previous job was designing mega yacht interiors, and we used Inventor for that and every other part of the boat.

If price is not an issue, you could go with Inventor $5000+, and use the tutorial I just created to make an intelligent door. I am currently working on the automated output module of the tutorial (CNC output or drawing with cut list). A big factor in choosing design software is whether the company will be around tomorrow. You donít want your software, as well as your learning investment, to go away every few years. Another consideration is developing marketable skills. Will the skills you learn transfer elsewhere if the market for what you do now takes a dive? We were constantly on the search for experienced 3D modelers at the shipyard.