Cabinet layout app – SketchList 3D overview

Free cabinet design software layout app explained step by step designing a basic bookcase.

We want to design a simple bookcase to learn to use the SketchList 3D software to create a cabinet as a bookcase.

Let’s go step by step.

We’ll start this post learning about the structure within our book cabinet.

After staring SketchList 3D create a new project.  The new project options are under the file menu item on the top left of the screen.


  1. A project is whatever it is you want to create – from a bookcase to a kitchen to a framed basement.
  2. Projects contain assemblies and only assemblies.
  3. In the new project window, enter the project name and the width, length, and depth.  You can also indicate if this design is using the metric or imperial measuring system.

Our bookcase consists of one assembly

  1. Assemblies are organizers – collections of boards that belong together.   And our bookcase has one assembly.
  2. Assemblies belong in projects.  They are the only object allowed into the project.
  3. Assemblies organize or group together doors, drawers, hardware, and boards.
  4. They allow you to move, delete, resize or copy the group of objects as one.  This saves time and effort.
  5. Assemblies may be resized at any time.
  6. Each project is created with one default assembly.   And that in our cabinet layout app is the same size as the project.
  7. You can insert any number of assemblies.

SketchList 3D  works with doors, drawers, and hardware.

You can think of these three objects as sub-assemblies.  They are logical groupings of the boards to form a door or drawer.  Our bookcase has no drawers.  But it makes some sense when describing the structure to include them here. Skip the rest of this section if you like.  Or learn more about doors and drawers.

  1. Doors, drawers, and hardware belong in assemblies and only the assembly.
  2. Doors, drawers, and hardware organize or group together the boards that form them.
  3. They have names and dimensions – height, width, and depth.
  4. This organization allows you to move, delete, resize, or copy the group of objects as one.  This saves time and effort.
  5. Doors, drawers, and hardware may be resized at any time.
  6. They are inserted into the assembly as empty outlines of the door or drawer.
  7. You insert boards into the empty doors and drawers to finish them.

Most shelving cabinets are made of some sort of boards

  1. Boards exist in assemblies, doors, drawers, or hardware.
  2. They are three-dimensional objects that look like – well – boards.
  3. They have names and dimensions – height, width, and depth.
  4. When created they contain four edges and two surfaces.   More edges can be added with the shape tool by cutting the board as needed.
  5. Boards are made up of material types – sheet or dimensioned lumber.
  6. Boards have color or wood grain design ‘build in’ depending on which you select.
  7. There are three types of boards.  To insert a board you click on the board icon at the top of the screen.  The square icon inserts our backboard.  The horizontal icon inserts the top, bottom, and shelves.  And finally, the vertical icons place the left and right sides.

So now it’s easy!  Think of our cabinet as a bookcase.  And then go through the steps in terms of structure.

We create a project.  For now, we’ll use the default assembly for the shelving cabinet.  Then we’ll add five boards for the structure.  And after that, we insert the shelves.  Simple as that.

Tools within the SketchList 3D cabinet layout app.

SketchList 3D uses many different tools.  But there are only three tools to size and locate boards in the assembly. And the concept is the same in all three.

But first, know that we locate objects by the distance from the bottom, left, or front of the container [project, assembly, door or drawer] in which they exist.

Locating happens by setting those distances.  Take for example a board that you want to place 4 inches from the left of the assembly.  Simple.  Set its left value to 4!  Six inches from the bottom?  Again simple.  Set the bottom value to 6!

How to do that?  One of the three tools.

  1. Form
  2. Spreadsheet
  3. Dots – Red and Blue

The form is sort of a calculator.

The title of the form depends on what you selected.  In this example – a door.

bookcase board form

There are 3 sets of three ‘calculators’ and those contain three values.  If you want to move the door so its front equals three – type 3 into the front text box.  Then click the Back button to move the board backward.  The value for back becomes 3 3/4.  Change the width to 18 and click the Left button and the left value becomes 40.

The spreadsheet is another calculator.

Here you can see more objects at one time.  The advantage is that you can use other size and location information to help you.

bookcase cabinet

With the spreadsheet, you change a value and click the column heading to change the related value.  For example change the Side bottom 2 from 6 to 16 and click the column heading Top and that value will change to 38 1/4.

Dots – Red resize and Blue locate.

Each object – assemblies, doors, drawers, and boards have red dots on their edges and blue dots on their corners.

Right-click either and a form opens allowing you to change the size or location.

bookcase cabinet design

Change a value and click OK.  And the Copy and paste buttons on the blue dot form allow you to copy a value from one object to another to have them meet at that point.

This video will put it all together for you.



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