Best Software for Beginners?

I saw an old thread from 2021 that discussed best 2D software but wanted to check to see if there was anything more current. I’m slightly familiar w/CNC software, I have a small CNC/router table (SainSmart Genmitsu 3018-PRO) which used Easel / GRBL so I understand the basics. However, AutoDesk Fusion 360 seems like WAY more program that what I need for 2D cut outs. From what I understand so far, I’d start w/Inkscape to design and convert drawings into .svg files then those files go into Fusion 360 to create the g-code file which then goes into FireControl for cutting? Is that correct? Fusion 360 just seems very overkill for the types of simple projects I’ll be doing. It also seems like a lot of steps to say, design and cut out a flower shape or new numbers for my house. Any recommendations are appreciated. Thanks!

Fusion is powerful but as you move on through designing projects it is nice especially the sheet metal tools. However I barely know how to use Inkscape so I might be handicapping myself.

Keep in mind you will need to learn FireControl if you are getting the Pro or XR table. FireControl is not too difficult to navigate but it will take the g-code from either SheetCAM or Fusion 360 CAM process.

There-in lies the fact that you will need to learn the second program which will be either SheetCAM or the CAM portion of Fusion 360 to make your g-code. Those are your only two options at this time.

And the third software you need is where your drawing will be made in a DXF or SVG for SheetCAM to process. Obviously, Fusion 360 can process DXF, SVG or its own proprietary file. There is a plethora of programs out there that can generate an SVG or a DXF file. One of the programs you use for the CNC router table may likely be able to create the SVG file for SheetCAM or Fusion to do the CAM process.

As @Duhicky mentioned, Fusion 360 can be overwhelming but it is FREE for most of us (hobbyists). SheetCAM, as I have been told, is easy to learn and works great and is a one time charge.

If you are looking for more advanced technical 2D drawing there are SolidEdge, FreeCAD (both free) and of course Fusion 360 as well as dozens of others. If you are more into art form then Inkscape comes up very high on the radar for many people on this forum.

My suggestion is learn how to make something simple like a bracket with several features: several holes equally spaced, dimensioned, rounded corner, etc. Do this on each of the programs you are considering. The one that seems more intuitive may be worth sticking with for a bit. If you keep bouncing all over, you will not commit to the learning that is necessary. Lots of great YouTube videos for all of them.

EDIT: I forgot to welcome you to the forum. Nice to have you here.

You might use the search feature for advice from others on the number of CAD/CAM programs out there and their pros and cons. This topic comes up about every 3 to 6 months but the advice is fairly consistent. I am a proponent for FUSION 360 since I have finally got past the learning curve for much of the beginning lessons.


Thanks! Yes, I’m working my way through YouTube tutorials for Fusion 360 plasma cutter beginners. Sounds like I’m on the right track w/Inkscape, Fusion360 & FireControl. I wanted to make sure there was not a simpler process that I was overlooking.


I don’t know anything about Easel, but if you can output DXF and/or SVG files, you can use it for design. Sheetcam can take either format to post process into a cut file.

I use FreeCad, because I was already using it for 3d printing designs. I also use Inkscape for anything that doesn’t need precise dimensions and hole placement.

1 Like

Fusion 360 free version is the way to go. It might take a little while to get comfortable moving around but you’ll never need to change. I use Inscape for letters and Trace Bitmap (I made a quick video to show you how to create SVG files and bring into fusion. I added it below because its a game changer in world of designing. You still have to clean up the designs most of the time so you can cut them. GL designing