Why CabWriter?

Designed for the small to mid-size shop, CabWriter is an affordable, fully featured custom cabinet design program implemented as an extension to Trimble’s SketchUp drawing environment. Our goal was to design a powerful cabinet design program that would meet the needs of a professional cabinet shop, but also be an affordable option for the home shop. If you build the occasional cabinet at home, then the free version of SketchUp Make and CabWriter Home is all you need to design high end custom cabinetry and create an Excel compatible cutlist for an affordable price. If you are doing business as a professional cabinetmaker, then you will need to use CabWriter Pro. Trimble also requires that you purchase a SketchUp Pro license, which also gives you more advanced native SketchUp tools as well as the ability to create professional shop drawings, which is not possible with SketchUp Make. Click here for more information on the system requirements necessary to run SketchUp and CabWriter.


Our philosophy is to focus on what we do best, providing innovative cabinet design software at a fair price rather than replicating existing technology that others have already perfected. Instead, we leverage existing software technology to provide additional features such as SketchUp Pro for professional shop drawing creation and a wide variety of programs, such as Vectric’s Cut2D Pro for CNC integration. Using CabWriter Pro, along with CabWriter CNC, and other compatible applications, you can bring your design from screen to machine in hours instead of days. Plus, you have the flexibility to design a solution that meets your needs and budget; purchase just what you need to get the job done and expand your capability in the future.

Flexibility and Efficiency

In today’s fast-paced environment, custom cabinet shops must quickly create designs and immediately get them into production to keep project costs down — every hour saved in the design phase is money in your pocket. In addition, customers today expect to view the final product interactively in 3D and make quick changes to the design.

Custom cabinetmakers need to specify their own construction methods, generate non-standard size cabinets, and create high end touches like unified face frames that span multiple cabinets. They also need to quickly generate a cutlist, perform plywood optimization, and create professional shop drawings, including elevations, sections, and details. Finally, many shops today have CNC capability and need to export parts directly to their CAM software. Historically, this kind of design capability has been out of reach of the small shop due to its high cost, often $15K – $30K. Or, the available programs are simply libraries of standard sized cabinets and don’t support truly custom designs, which is fine for somebody who needs to configure semi-custom cabinet designs, but not good enough for the high-end custom cabinetmaker.

Parametric Drawing

In order to implement this type of advanced capability, your software needs to know exactly how a cabinet is built, part by part, which is beyond the capability of 2D drawing programs. Most 3D drawing programs, such as SketchUp or Solidworks, allow you to draw cabinets part by part, exactly as they are built; however, without any specialized capabilities, you have to draw each part of every cabinet manually, which could take days, if not weeks. CabWriter offers parametric drawing capability, giving you the same power and flexibility as the most expensive drawing programs. Parametric drawing means that instead of inserting cabinets into your drawing from a library of standard models and sizes, you describe your construction methods via parameters in the software. Do you use dados, butt joints, qualified tenons, captured backs or another method for carcass construction? Integrated toe kicks, or a separate ladder base? Raised panel, cope and stick, or flat panel doors? What is your toe kick, base cabinet, and upper cabinet heights? Do you have decorative side panels? If so, are they butted into the face frame or mitered? All of this data, and much, much more about your construction methods, are entered into the program during setup and after that, the software knows how to draw your style of cabinets.

Now, the magic happens. After using the wall tool to draw walls and define the space, you’ll use our exclusive Story Stick layout tool to indicate the type of each cabinet and where they begin and end, and CabWriter will automatically draw it part by part, exactly as you will build it, including the joinery. A wide variety of cabinet types are supported including standard upper or base cabinets with or without drawers, drawer banks, sink bases, angled or blind corner cabinets, refrigerator cabinets, divided cabinets, and more. You can quickly and easily edit an existing cabinet to change its dimensions, type, or features. For added flexibility, different cabinets in the same design can have different construction methods. All of this adds up to a significant time savings for you.

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SketchUp is an extremely powerful, easy to use 3D modeling program that provides a solid, and well supported base for the CabWriter environment. For those who have never heard of SketchUp, it is a 3-dimensional modeling, and documentation tool used widely in the architectural engineering, construction, product design and marketing industries. SketchUp also has an extensive 3D Warehouse where you can download previously-drawn objects, such as appliances or accessories, to make your kitchen look even more realistic.

The original developers of SketchUp likely did not have woodworking on their target market list. But SketchUp could not be better suited for woodworking and cabinetmaking if it had been the only customer target on their list and the developers were all woodworkers! Click here for more information on SketchUp and a list of resources for learning the program.

See what’s new in CabWriter version 4!