FreeCAD Help Requested

I’m trying to take the leap to learning FreeCAD to create KiCad 3D models. Maybe I should use the FreeCAD fourm, but I figured that I would start here first.

I have this “toolbar”??? that showed up when I dropped my keyboard. I do not know how to get rid of it, or if I even should get rid of it:

Anyone have any sort of suggestion?


I think you can drag it back to the upper tool bars and it should dock.

If a non coder wants to contribute something really useful to the project a simple tutorial on creating 3D models on FreeCAD 0.19 for KiCad would be great

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Just go to Draft WB and back to your WB (i.e. Part)
Please consider to use FC 0.19.2 which is the last stable release ATM with a lot of bug fixes and new features.


There are three small bars at the left side of the toolbar:
That is the grab point to drag the toolbar around.
It will dock to any of the edges of the main window.

Toolbars can be en/dis -abled with: FreeCAD / View / Toolbars. I’m not sure what toolbar it is though.
With all those workbenches in FreeCAD it’s easy to get lost. I’ve found a somewhat similar toolbar in the “Draft Workbench”, but for me it looks like:

I do have a bit of experience with FreeCAD, but almost everything I do is make sketches, make pads out of them and combine those into more complex objects. I have for example barely touched the “KiCad Stepup Workbench”, which is specifically designed as interface between KiCad and FreeCAD.

If you install: FreeCAD / Tools AddOn Mangager / parts_library (Which is a 2.5GB repository from github) then it has a bunch of Freecad drawings (with full internal structure in the treeview) of some electronics parts. Here for example an SDIP28.

The relative path of that drawing is: FreeCAD-library / Electronics Parts / Microcontroller / ATMEL / ATMEGA328P_PU

As is common with Open Source projects, contributions are made by many different people, who have different drawing styles, and some produce better quality work then others.
FreeCAD is also still evolving, and quite a lot of parts in those libraries are made in a way that should not be done in that way anymore, because FreeCAD has improved in the meantime and has now better features to do the same things.

This is quite a trap for beginners that makes it more difficult to find the “proper” way to do things in FreeCAD. If some toolbar or function does not appear to work properly, you do not know if it’s because it’s deprecated and neglected for some time, or if it’s some new thing that is currently being worked on. It’s one of the reasons that FreeCAD currently still is at version 0.19. (Notice the zero and the dot. It has not reached version 1.0 yet, which is usually regarded as the first stable version fit for a wide audience).


There are many FreeCad tutorials.

FreeCad is a Container for various Applications.

The Applications are called WorkBenches. Similar to Kicad having Applications for Schematic, PCB, BitMap_Converter, Gerbview…etc.

Each one has is usefullness (and limitations).

Part Workbench is like the Primitive 3D-Modeler tools in 3D print App’s

Part Design Workbench is like real 3D modeling applications such as SolidWorks, Pro-E, Inventor…etc
This is the ONE TO LEARN as it is the most robust one and will set a user up for using real 3D modeling programs, mentioned.

Draft Workbench is like 2D Drawing programs

There are other Workbenches and Plugin-Workbenches.

The popular one for Kicad users is KSU StepUp.

The Toolbar shown above is part of the Draft Workbench.

Some Toolbars have features that can be used across other workbenches. And, user can place them into multi-usefulness manner.

Generally, a complete project requires using 2 to 3 workbenches. Example, to put Text on a 3D model, user must use Draft workbench’s ‘Shape-String’

I posted several tut’s on making 3D models for Kicad - they’re not intended for true Newbies. They are set to Fast Play but, you can use the YouTube Play-Speed feature to slow it down…

Here’s a link - perhaps the ‘Capacitor Modeling’ one may be a starting point…

FYI - Screenshot of the Video’s opening image

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There is also KiCad’s official repo

Some source files of current 3D models are simple enough to give you a basic idea…

FreeCAD does have the same problem as KiCad of many tutorials for old versions. The current release of FreeCAD is 0.19.2


Like I stated, I dropped my keyboard, I don’t think I was planning on using the Draft WB at the time.

This fixed it, but really, without this advice, I do not think I would have been able to figure out where that toolbar came from.

Any idea how to install this from a ppa on an Ubuntu machine? I’m about an hour into this, and still working on it. I can get 0.18 using Synaptic, and I have 0.20 already on my machine, I don’t remember how/why.

This FreeCAD stuff is not easy.


I’ve worked with a bunch of different FreeCAD versions, and I don’t even know if the current version I use is from a PPA, Appimage or apt.

This has some pointers:

This has a list of current packages, but the links are not directly clickable.

But with “View Package details” you get a bit further…

Just download the AppImage from freecad site or github


I’ve taught CAD to many engineers (all of the CAD programs, starting with Ashler-Vellum in 1985 and up to last month doing a FreeCad tutorial using Zoom).

I’d make a series of FreeCad tut’s with respect to Kicad’s needs but, the post would disappear after 3 months.

If Kicad setup an area dedicated to FreeCad or, had a Link to such a tutorial page, I’d consider doing it in a professional/useful way that would enable users to use most any FreeCad release (some foundational things don’t change very much).


For a professional approach to FreeCAD 3D modelling, you can have a look at this channel from a professional designer

There is also a small howto for transitioning from SW to FC

Coloring the model can be done assigning the color face by face or just to internal parts.
When you have a 3D model in FC, to get the model ready for kicad I would suggest to load the kicad footprint in FreeCAD and align the model to it.
After that, simply make a simple copy of the 3D model and export it using ksu.


It took me a few months to establish my rules on how not to lose colors when exporting a model to KiCad. The key to my method is (got that suggestion from you) the use of KSU ‘Make compound…’. Don’t remember exactly and I am writing from PC where I don’t have it to check.
What you write now is something new for me.
Why you suggest to make a copy before exporting and not just exporting 3D model you have? What happens by making copy?
I am asking for an explanation for laymen.

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As a non engineer, I’ve learned a lot about FreeCAD from Joko. I’ve also stumbled across another series that is currently being produced (episode 3 just dropped only 3 days ago), though he uses the RealThunder fork. Now, by the title it is apparently going to be targeted towards creating model for 3D printing, but in the 3 videos that have been produced so far he is still introducing the Part Design and Sketcher workbenches, and hasn’t gotten into modelling anything substantial yet.

there are two methods to easily export the 3D model with ksu…
the first one is make a union of your model, and the second is make a compound.
Both methods are oriented to give you a single object to be exported as STEP.
Union is sometimes an intensive process but will fuse all parts in a single object even when imported back to the mechanical sw.
I normally suggest to make a copy before exporting the model because the export process could modify your original model; the scripts was developed before the introduction of some FC features.
Using the two buttons ‘make a union’ or ‘make a compound’ in ksu will not touch your original model and will give you a unioned copy of your model to be exported.

I think there should be a short video tutorial, based on the earlier version of ksu, that explains the process, but I cannot find it ATM.

I don’t care about my original model :slight_smile:
I save file before starting the process of exporting (so before Making a Union) and then don’t save it so my original model is preserved.
I don’t understand FreeCAD enough to understand what are these things that are added in my project tree. As I don’t like to work on anything I don’t understand I prefer to not save file after there are some changes I don’t follow. I would not know what I can do with that file if I will need to modify my model (with the file I save before it I know how to do some changes as everything what is there I know when and why I added).
What I mainly don’t understand is:
If I have a Body (I understand it as a single object) and color its faces then why:

  • if I export it to KiCad (using KSU) I will lost that colors,
  • if I do Union of my Body and then export to KiCad colors are preserved.

I understand - I have a Body, it is single object. I have to do Union of it to get a singe object ???

Now I supposed that may be making a copy (I don’t know how in FreeCAD to make a copy) you can also protect colors. But as you write that it is to protect the original object that may be it will not protect colors.

My current state in FreeCAD is that I have a way for all my needs, but that needs are not very advanced. I use FreeCAD only to:

  • make my own models,
  • shift and rotate the found step files (till now only from Wurth www) to fix to my footprints.

A Body is a container for many objects.
A Union is a single fused object.

That’s fine.
Ksu is aimed to generate 3d models which are compliant with the KiCAD Library Conventions and this needs a bit of more work sometimes.


In the main FAQ page:

There is a link to

Maybe it helps a bit that it’s not completely forgotten / burried.

I supposed Part is a set of objects (each object made of different material with its color) but Body looked for me as made of one material (only one color) with a list of operations needed to do that Body.
The fact that when selecting the last operation I select a Body (at least I understand it that way) also suggested me that it is one object.
I was surprised that I can’t color Body faces when I select Body in tree but I can color them when I select last operation made on Body.
Even I tried some reading at official FreeCAD page I didn’t found any explanation about some basic understanding what is what in tree view. But I was not looking intensively for it.
Even it seems now that I understood that Body is a container I cannot rule out that if the topic reappears in six months’ time, I will not re-think the old way.