First Look at Shaper Studio: An Easy, Simplified CAD for Craftspeople

Shaper Studio makes it easy for woodworkers and hobbyists to enter the digital design world

(Image courtesy of Shaper Tools.)

(Image courtesy of Shaper Tools.)

While craftspeople pride themselves on using traditional methods to create unique items and products, many have seen the benefits of incorporating digital technologies. Unfortunately, much of the time is still spent in the design phase instead of the actual creation. Shaper Tools, a San Francisco-based woodworking and robotics company, recently launched Shaper Studio to help change that.

“Studio is perfect for the traditional woodworker who is familiar with analog making techniques but has no idea where to start with digital design and fabrication,” said Joe Hebenstreit, Shaper Tools CEO in a press release. “It is also a great tool for the modern maker and Etsy crafter who use digital fabrication tools but want to take their designs to the next level.”

Shaper Studio is a 2D design tool that is pared down to the basics, eliminating unnecessary features often found in universal software available that often slow down the process. Like having CAD software accessible from a pocket without having to know CAD, Shaper Studio can be used on smartphones, laptops and tablets. Once the design is complete, it can be exported to Shaper Origin or as a .SVG to other design fabrication tools.

“One of the biggest challenges for craftspeople looking to work with digital tools like a laser cutter, 3D printer or CNC machine, is creating the digital files these tools rely on,” Hebenstreit said. “What may be a simple sketch of an idea with pencil and paper can require hours or days of work to transfer to a sophisticated CAD program.”

With Shaper Studio, users have access to more than 3 million basic designs that can be combined to make unique creations at scale and with real-world units. During the design process, paths can be fine-tuned thanks to the ability to adjust bit diameter and offsets. This allows users to visualize the design and make necessary changes before cutting begins.

For people who already own a Shaper Origin, the first handheld CNC router released in 2018, the company also recently released Shaper Plate, which can be used with Shaper Studio. Shaper Plate is a universal fixture and template designed to make connecting physical pieces and digital designs easier.

Shaper Plate uses Shaper’s Hardware Catalog, which features an array of digital hardware templates, to speed up the process of installing hardware, such as a hinge or door pull. It also features ShaperTape, which eliminates the time spent on installing engravings, corner rounding, etc.

A yearly Shaper Studio subscription is $99. This subscription provides users unlimited access to the millions of pre-made designs, fonts and ShapeShifter tool, which is an intuitive shape combination tool created to speed up the design process. The company offers a 14-day trial of the full subscription. For craftspeople looking for the bare minimum, Studio Lite is available for free. It provides users with basic shapes and limited fonts and pre-made designs. Shaper Plate is available for $375.