Whenever I start a new furniture project I almost always create a 3D model in Fusion 360. I'm currently working on a bed build for our craft room that can also function as a couch. Since there are a few things I want to make sure are included in the design I find having a 3D model a huge help before cutting my first piece of wood.
I wanted to highlight 5 features that make Fusion 360 one of the most powerful tools in my shop, specifically for furniture design.
If you are interested in the entire modeling process check out my free course.
If there was one killer feature in Fusion it would be parameters. When I first learned Sketchup I always wished I could define a dimension with a name and then go and change the actual value while I was in the design process.
That is exactly how parameters work inside of Fusion 360. The bed is currently sized to fit a twin size mattress, but if we ever wanted to change that all I have to do is switch up a few numbers and the entire design updates.
This also applies to the dimensions and views inside of the plans! This has been a huge time saver especially when I'm iterating on a design or what to make plans for things that have the same basic design but their dimensions are a little different (like a table).
I also change up the thickness of the material I'm using a good bit because we all know that 3/4 in plywood never winds up exactly .75 in.
There is an entire assembly environment inside of Fusion 360. Joints are what allow you to virtually "glue" your different components together. Not only will joints work for rigid connections but they are a huge help when you are working with things like drawers and hinges.
In the bed design, I wanted to have as much storage as possible. So underneath the mattress is a series of drawers. By using joints I could create a simple drawer slider and see how the drawers will function on the inside.
While this is a pretty basic use case for what joints can do, I find being able to see how far in and out the drawers and doors go helps make sure I'm not making a mistake with the frame.
Plus joints make it easy to stage the design for rendering and plans.
Speaking of rendering this is where Fusion shines over a tool like Sketchup. While there are lots of great plugins that allow you to get high quality renders in Sketchup, with Fusion it is built directly in.
For the bed, my wife is thinking through some different color schemes, and it's easy to quickly go in and make changes to a model so she can see what it will look like.
There is also the ability to create custom materials and even bring in HDRI images where real environments are wrapped around the models. In this case, I built a virtual set for the bed to get a better idea of what it will look like once it is placed in our craft room.
Creating a 3D model is great, but eventually, I want to make the real thing. This is where plans come in. Plans are created inside of Fusion's drawing environment. You can create custom views that are both isometric and straight on.
Inside of those views it easy to apply dimensions and see how things are put together.
You also automatically create cut lists with all the parts labeled and make multiple pages to highlight different sections of the build.
Another unique aspect when creating plans is the inclusion of exploded views. In the animation environment, you can move different components around and save the view. Then inside of the plans, those views are pulled in and used in the same way as standard views.
I love how the plans in LEGO use exploded views to show how something will go together without the need for words. Typically I'm not creating the plans just for myself but also for others. Having the ability to move parts around and highlight different areas of the build is a massive help!
If you are interested in checking out Fusion 360 it is free for hobbyists and businesses making less than $100,000 per year.
In addition to the free course where I model this bed I also just finished the brand new course: Building Furniture in Fusion 360.