Beginner CAD User

I must admit my computer technical skills are below average. I have been using a free drawing program called Inkscape to re-create some of the thoughts and designs I come across. The tutorials I have come across on YouTube have been life-savers. Plus it is free, so the entry cost is what my wallet prefers.

My question for anyone well versed in CAD Software - Which do you prefer for beginners and why? What CAD Software do you use now?

I am genuinely curious to learn more about CAD software, and believe that one day it will help elevate my thought transfer to paper/blueprint process. I will certainly do my research on YouTube, but am curious to what this community thinks/recommends! Thanks in advance!


Hello SnowZ,

It great to hear that you are looking to expand your knowledge in CAD. While there are many different softwares out there, I recommend for a beginner to use AutoCAD LT, preferably an non current version if cost is an issue.

There are many instructional books available at local bookstores and on Amazon that can guide you on how to use the program.

Another good source to learn would be at most local community colleges or design institutes. Most offer several levels based on prior experience but a beginner course should typically cover the basics needs to create 2D shapes that the WAZER works on.

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I would start with Corel, I find it is very approachable software to learn when getting started and inexpensive. It also exports into all the standard file formats you will need to transfer files to other programs.

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@MarcusP Thanks for the info Marcus! I have a friend who uses AutoCAD in his college courses. He has recently shown me a few things and I was definitely feeling intimidated. I was not aware of the LT version, which is a little less intimidating and easier on the wallet!

The “For dummies” guide book is actually something I had on my Amazon wish list already! :joy:

@Trevor Thank you for the info! I have never heard of Corel before, and it definitely seems like an easy price point to enter the CAD world.

After viewing a few Youtubers who cover CorelDraw for beginners, it looks very promising! My PC specs also meet the recommend requirements :sunglasses: I am very excited! Thank you so much for the suggestion!

I recommend Draftsight, its $99 per year, every bit as powerful as AutoCad, has a classic mode that emulates AutoCad and is very intuitive.

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@DT-LaCrosse1 I’ve never heard of Draftsight. Looking through their website, it appears to be very robust and a great entry-point for 2D designing. Honestly, the emulation tool is very valuable on its own! Also, the image raster tracer is pretty neat too. I have added this as my #1 contender. So far they are ranked -

  1. Draftsight
  2. AutoCAD LT
  3. CorelDraw

Where are you able to find the $99 price tag? Their website is showing me $199 (Which still isn’t bad for the features it is offering and the fact that it is annual)

We have the Draftsight Standard at $99/yr, they may only offer Draftsight Professional. We’ve had it for a few years, we may be grandfathered…

Ah, the ole grandfather process. Sounds like I shouldn’t wait too long! I will probably wait for my semester to quiet down before I commit to a software. This gives me enough time to check out videos on YouTube. Perhaps I can find a CAD 101 Summer Class to kick-start my skills :thinking: Thanks for the info!

No problem, one more thing, some of these CAD software companies offer a student discount, something that might be worth asking about.

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Hi You all,

I am a big fan of AFFINITY DESIGNER by SERIF.COM, one license costs only $50,- or so.
is is very intuitive and easy to use.
It can export SVG files for WAM.
Had bad experiences with inkscape, could not create an DXF for WAM to read properly.



@DT-LaCrosse1 Good point! I will definitely take advantage of this if I am eligible

@madebywitteveen.NL I have never heard of Affinity Designer, but their website looks very modern! It’s amazing that the software is subscription free, and even available across both Windows and Mac OS! Even on the iPad - that’s awesome! This is seriously worth looking into. Thanks so much for introducing me :slightly_smiling_face:

I’ve seen Inkscape’s clunkiness on Youtube and I know that WAM needs vector images, so I will keep that in mind when researching. This has been super helpful!

Didn’t know Affinity either, I was searching for ‘top 10 vector based graphic design’ and Affinity came up.

Let me know if you’re getting into it, there are some specific settings for the correct SVG you have to set properly.

Best regards

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QCAD is open source (aka free)
But if you want it per-compiled, its like 30-40bucks one time fee.
You can use it free, and still export SVG and that is all you need.
It’s a 2d cad program, so none of the 3d stuff… But there is also a version that allows tool paths, cut widths, etc. (Basically you can make your gcode with it instead of WAM)
(At the end of the day, the machine just reads a text file and does it’s thang.)
I’m not advocating to use it instead of WAM, just pointing it out.

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@spdkils Thanks for the suggestion! A free trial always goes a long way when getting a first impression. Plus, open source is always promising in terms of visibility and number of possible devs/updates!

I think I have definitely shifted my focus to more of a 2D based drawing software until I am comfortable. If there is a need to advance into a 3D modeling software, I can cross that bridge when I get there :sweat_smile:

The CAM software inside of QCAD is pretty cool though! I took a look through QCAD’s tutorials page and there is so much content there - it is great to see. Definitely a lot to learn, but I hope to dive into CAD in the next few months

If you’re considering paying for AutoCAD LT, it might be worth looking at Fusion360. It’s free for tinkerers and is an extremely capable application. There are loads of tutorials and Autodesk’s own Help documentation is superb.

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@spdkils did you use the CAM section of QCAD already??
It saves time to draw and directly go to gcode but setting it up is a struggle perhaps?
Best regards

I have not (yet), but the more times that WAM fails, the more I’m thinking of diving into it.
I’ve already had WAM fail on 3+ full bed designs. Where I’m 99% sure that it isn’t the designs fault. (I use only poly line, or segments, etc.)

I sent one to support last Friday. Waiting for some response. I’m perfectly happy to let WAM do the gcode generation. However if 50% of the cuts I want to make fail in the software, I may have to come up with other options. (The machine is great, it can do it… The software is the weakpoint

Right now, I’m thinking of NEVER touching anything but center cut, and dealing with all inside/outside pathing myself, as well as tabs. So choose material, center line (but not really, i will have already solved for that in the drawing) and go!

I’ve used many different CAD systems and been in this space for a long time.

Here are some of my favourite, free versions*

Fusion360 Free startup licence
SolidEdge Community Edition



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