Allow me the opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Alwyn van der Merwe and I'm a born and bred Namibian. I still reside in Walvis Bay, Namibia, currently employed as a Law Enforcement officer.
My love for anything "wood-ish" started back in school during the late 70's until 1981 when I matriculated with woodworking as one of my subjects. In those days we were only taught to use solid wood with the exception of hardboard (masonite) and plywood. Both being employed only as cabinet backings and drawer bottoms.
I enjoy works by the Great American Designer, Gustav Stickley as well as custom made once-off pieces. Designing is half as much fun as manufacturing.
My work principle is : a customer approaches us with an idea, photo or sketch. We design, refine and manufacture the piece / pieces once the customer is satisfied.
Seeing that this is a hobby which I practise in my spare time, I can afford to choose my projects / clients, meaning we do not do any production for shops.
Our favourite design program is Google SketchUp which is free to download from the internet. With all the available "plug-ins" it becomes a very powerful tool. The Pro version is also available but at a "price". For our purposes, however, the free version is more than adequate.
We also employ software like E-Cabinet Systems and Woodworks for designing and material optimisation.