I’m completely new to cnc, but I’ve done some 3d printing and 3d modeling before, and I’ve been playing with various programs for a few months.
Ive landed on using onshape for 3d modeling. I would probably use fusion 360 instead, but onshape being web based allows me to use it when I have some free time at work. The two are just different enough to make it hard for me to use both. For 3d printing I’ve been using cura as a slicer, but I’m not sure yet what I’ll use for the cnc.
I wish I could use SketchUp, because I learned it first and it seems so much more intuitive to me. However, it seems sketchup files don’t play nice with other programs and you can’t use the plugins you need to make it useful without the pro version, which I don’t have.
For 2d, 2.5d and vcarving, vectric aspire absolutely blows away everything I’ve tried for simplicity and ease of use. It’s super easy to learn. They have a ton of tutorials with follow along projects. It had a bunch of clipart with it. I haven’t tried the full 3d functions yet, but the full aspire package has that too. The slicer is built in, and it seems super intuitive and easy to learn also.
It is prohibitively expensive though. And beware anyone selling it for less than retail price. You may end up with an unliscenced copy.
I’ve poked around in a bunch of other software, but they mostly feel pretty half baked in comparison. Some of them are serviceable. With time and patience, though, the free options can certainly work.