How to Design for CNC woodworking in Fusion 360

The following is a recommended process for design development in fusion 360. Although the example is specific to cabinetry, the principles can be applied for any kind of modelling. Key to success, is following a clear process that allows for modification as the design develops

A winning workflow

The key strategy of the workflow is to work from a high level creating a framework and to work down adding detail as the design is developed. Doing this ultimately reduces design time and creates a model with a robust structure and timeline that allows modification in the future should it be required. Here the steps are demonstrated below.

Sketch (on paper) – the idea needs to be nearly fully formed before trying to model it, otherwise you will end up with a hot mess.

Sketch out the outline of your design. You should try to get most of the details that will drive the design in one sketch. This should contain the detail of where principle components are to be aligned.


Next, create local sketches on the planes of principle components. Only create one component for each unique component at this stage (that way repetitious work can be avoided later). In this example there is a high degree of symmetry, so one side panel, one leg and one shelf only are modelled it this stage.

Next we can create some mirror planes through the axis of symmetry from which we can duplicate components to fill out the structure.



Following this, we create the joints of our components. To do this  We should use the user parameter MAT_THICKNESS to define the length that the fingers extend into the component. We will start by PRESSING the fingers into one of the components which is to become the male component.


We can then use the combine tool to do a boolean operation. We select the male component as the tool component and the female component as the target body. REMEMBER TO KEEP BOTH BODIES!




We can then use the combine tool to do a boolean operation. We select the male component as the tool component and the female component as the target body. REMEMBER TO KEEP BOTH BODIES!


Now we can lay out the components for machining. I recommend the tool which automatically copies bodies from the model and lays them out based on the smallest dimension (thickness). You can also define the stock size so components are laid out within the perimeter of the material. The layout below has been manually adjusted to optimise for space.


Next, we want to apply dogbones to the layed out components. The plugin is available from: The dogbones overcut internal corners allowing components to fit together








We can now create ANOTHER sketch (call it: “LAYOUT”). In the sketch use the “project” tool to project all of the body geometry onto the sketch. From here we can define points near to each component where a drill hole can be made to screw the sheet down to the spoil board.


Switch to cam mode! Setup the job by selecting all the components. It is really important to set the WORK CO-ORDINATE SYSTEM correctly! (Note: this is independent of the MODEL CO-ORDINATE SYSTEM) Be consistent – I always use the bottom of the stock as Z=0. The longside is always the X axis. To set the Work cordinate system the easiest way I have found is to set the “Orientation” field to “Select Z axis/plane & X axis” then select the top face of a component.


Setting up a series CAM operations can be done once with all operations it the feeds/speeds and tools you use typically and then saved as a template for furniture the following operations are typical (in a similar order):



  • Drilling holes for hold down screws

  • Drilling for any other holes

  • Engraving

  • Chamfering

  • Countersinking

  • Pocketing

  • Internal profiling

  • External profiling



An example of a template for operations can be downloaded


Once the relevant geometry for each operation is selected the toolpaths are generated. The process can be simulated to check and then posted out to GCODE.