SWOOD CAD The Game Changer for Woodworking Design and Manufacturing

   By Dave Matsuzek on June 9, 2023

I designed this entire product line of bookcases (shown below) in under twenty minutes in SWOOD woodworking design, and I wasn’t rushing. That includes the joinery, hardware, moldings profiles, and materials changes.

In my fifteen years as a SOLIDWORKS user, I’ve designed a lot of furniture including built-ins, tables, cabinets, etc. using sheet goods and solid wood. SOLIDWORKS is fantastic for that application. Recently, I was given a tool to bring SOLIDWORKS’ woodworking design capabilities to another level. The SOLIDWORKS SWOOD Add-on allows me to easily create a basic template and use it to create an entire line of furniture, insert joinery, define grain direction for nesting, before changing it with a few clicks of the mouse. Let’s walk through the design of a bookcase product line to explain some of SWOOD’s great features.

Best SWOOD Features

Units of Measure

First, I don’t need to worry about units of measure. Being based in the US, I use inches for most measurements but many sheet goods are metric. Baltic Birch Plywood is almost always sold in millimeters, and that undersized 3/4 inch plywood might be 18mm or 19mm. A lot of hardware, especially European hardware, is metric. Shelf pins are metric, edge banding thicknesses are often metric as well.

Say for example I’m building a bookcase from 18mm plywood. I want it to be 42” wide, 32” tall, and 11” deep. The length of the bottom needs to be 42”-18mm-18mm…or 42- 0.708661-0.708661 so that width needs to be 40.582678. OK, I am being a bit ridiculous in my accuracy and certainly don’t need to go out to the 6th decimal place but even 40.583 is an odd number. Why not let the computer figure it out for you. Even better, if I switch to 15mm or actual ¾” plywood why not have the computer instantly update the model?

18mm Thickness

18mm Thickness

16mm Thickness on SWOOD Woodworking design

16mm Thickness

¾” thickness

¾” thickness

You might notice that my material changed on the last picture along with the thickness. That was simply a matter of dragging and dropping my material from my SWOOD Library onto my part.

basic bookcase in SWOOD library

Edge Banding 

Edge banding is just as simple. I’m going to add some solid wood edge banding to the top and some thin veneer to the faces. I will even use the edge banding to drag and drop a solid wood mitered facing to the top from my SWOOD Edge Banding Library. Then on the edging, I can drag and drop a molding profile.

Ash Edge Banding in SWOOD

SWOOD Bookcase defined

Adding Joinery

Now that I have my basic carcass defined, I will add my joinery. Once again this is handled completely by SWOOD and I simply need to pick the joinery I want to use from the fully customizable library. I think in this first iteration of my woodworking design I will use simple pocket screws.

add joinery

Edit Frame Command

Now some real fun begins, I am going to drag and drop that template into blank SOLIDWORKS Screen and create the “Narrow” version of bookcase with a length of 36”, height of 36.5” and depth of 11-1/2”. I will use SWOOD’s “Edit Frame” Command and that’s all I need to do.

narrow version of bookcase in SWOOD

Next, I’ll drag and drop shelving in place from my SWOOD Box Library. I will tell it how many shelves I want, what pattern of holes I want for the adjustable shelving, and any offsets or reveals I would like.

bookcase in SWOOD

Making Quick and Easy Adjustments

There we go. Success! But my next iteration needs to be six feet long. I’ll use my basic template again, adjust the length and width as needed, and since I am worried about the shelving sagging over time I am going to add a center partition by dragging and dropping that into my template, adding its joinery, and new shelving.

Adding Shelving in SWOOD

Customizing Design

It gets better though, a client loves our general design and would like to custom order a piece that is just under 8ft long, with shelving flanking drawers. They also live on the 4th floor of an apartment building so knock down joinery is a must. I’m going to grab my original template, swap out the joinery from pocket screws to cam bolts, add two partitions instead of one.

Two partitions in bookcase

Now I can simply drag and drop my drawer faces on. I am going to make them from Ash, the same as my edge banding, but for a twist, I am going to run my grain direction vertically along the drawer faces.

grain in SWOOD woodworking design bookcase

The drawers are defined. I’ll drag and drop my material onto them and align the grain vertically.

materials in SWOOD

CAD drawing in SWOOD

And now we can add some hardware such as drawer pulls and boxes. Again, it is just a matter of dragging and dropping directly from my SWOOD Connectors library onto my part.

drawer pulls added to sketch woodworking design

And here is our completed custom piece.

Completed Bookcase using SWOOD

I really liked the look of my three designs but wanted to offer them in different materials. Maybe a cherry and maple version for all of them. All I need to do is edit my Materials and grab the proper material from the SWOOD Library. To change the hardware, I’ll just delete the hardware I want to change and drag and drop my new hardware from the SWOOD woodworking design library.

material options in SWOOD

So how did my time breakdown?

  • Creating my basic frame, I used as a template: 5:26
  • Short Bookcase: 1:04
  • Long Bookcase: 2:25
  • Bookcase With Drawers: 3:53
  • Change materials and hardware: 4:30
  • Total Time: 17:18

Want to learn more about woodworking design with the SWOOD add-in? Read the TriMech blog >> Get to Know SWOOD Woodworking add-in for SOLIDWORKS (davidc858.sg-host.com) 


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Dave Matsuzek

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