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Blog entry by Dandog posted 03-02-2011 07:06 PM 1858 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

As CNC gets more affordable and I learn about computers more and more I am tempted to build one.It’s cool that you can walk away from it “in theory” I don’t think I could .I would be a nervous wreck.I think it would be a cool build but after that can I ever say I made that??? Holy crap I think I’m Discussing Dark matter here.Here I go off the deep end ,Any way I don’t think so I think I will name my machine Sh-t Head like the jerks dog What do you think ? I’ll say Sh-t Head made that I just told him what to make.I can have Sh-t head make you one .I’m not the coolest guy but I think we ask the nerds to come play with our toys.I won’t get one in fact I might just find one to smash if you have one keep it away from me… two cents.

-- life an woodworking is one big experiment

10 comments so far

View Mike Gager's profile

Mike Gager

665 posts in 4275 days

#1 posted 03-02-2011 10:48 PM

Don’t call that dog lifesaver, call him sh-thead!

i dont really know how i feel about the cnc stuff but i do know if i had one id probably manage to ruin a lot of nice wood

View ChuckC's profile


844 posts in 3943 days

#2 posted 03-02-2011 11:42 PM

I say go for it. I don’t consider a CNC a replacement but an addition. I’m sure there was a time when people thought thickness planers, routers, jointers… etc were cheating too. I built one and it’s been a great addition to the shop.
I’d be happy to help if you decide to take the plunge..

View DLCW's profile


530 posts in 3662 days

#3 posted 03-03-2011 12:34 AM

Having owned a CNC for over two years now, I can honestly say I should have done it sooner. I came into the CNC world kicking and screaming because I’ve always done woodworking more traditionally with some power tools and a whole lot of hand tools.

First of all a CNC is just another tool. You will need to justify its expense by knowing what it can do for you and having a way to use it. The CNC does two major things for you – it enables you to do existing operations quicker and more accurately and it enables you to do things you couldn’t do before.

Quicker and faster

Many of the things I use my CNC for, I’ve done using power tools, jigs and hand tools. The results were pretty good. For example I do a lot of bent form lamination work for customers. This requires a time consuming process of building the bending forms. You cut a master template, shape it with files and sandpaper and then use it to pattern route the rest of your template pieces. This is very time consuming. With the CNC I can put a sheet of 3/4” MDF on the table, program the computer to make all my templates (both halves), tell it to start cutting the templates and I go off and start preparing the thin pieces of wood that will be glued in to the form. The CNC takes about 6 to 8 minutes to cut all of the template pieces for me and they are PERFECT. Does this one process justify a CNC? With the amount of bent form lamination work I do a good portion of the machine has been paid for.

Cabinetry – I can turn a sheet of prefinished 3/4” maple plywood into cabinet parts with mortise and tenon joinery, all shelf pin and hardware holes drilled, in about 8 to 10 minutes. Accuracy is .001” on all the mortise and tenon joinery. Can this be done the old fashioned way – YOU BET! I did it the old way for over 10 years.

Things I couldn’t do before

Well, this is really a things I couldn’t do before and get a customer to pay for it. For example, I did a carved fireplace mantle (posted awhile ago here). To hand carve this would have cost more then $10K. The carved coffee table I did would have been around $25K. If you’re Bill Gates, that’s pocket change. For the rest of us, that’s REAL money. With the CNC doing most of the carving for me, the fireplace mantle runs about $1500 and the coffee table around $2400. This is much more in line with what we the people can afford.

So, yes a CNC will change the way you approach many woodworking tasks. It will NOT negate the need for your other tools. But I have to be honest and say my table saw is used much less and my drum sander is used a lot more. Between cabinetry and bent form lamination furniture the machine paid for itself in about 15 months.

-- Don, Diamond Lake Custom Woodworks - - "If you make something idiot proof, all they do is make a better idiot"

View Doug's profile


1204 posts in 3769 days

#4 posted 03-03-2011 01:07 AM

If you can afford it I say go for it. I agree with DLCW, the time savings and accuracy would definately be enough of a reason to purchase one. It will allow you to take your woodworking projects to a whole new level. Coming from a toolmaking background I can certainly see the advantages of a CNC machine. When I first started into the trade I learned on manual machines first. On these machines I learned the basics of milling, drilling, turning, and grinding. I’ve retained this knowledge through to the present day. Learning how to operate a CNC machine never replaced these basic skills it only added to them. I see having a CNC woodworking machine the same way. Carving by hand is great, but if time does not allow CNC is the way to go.

-- Doug

View Dandog's profile


250 posts in 3782 days

#5 posted 03-03-2011 02:29 AM

Thank you for all the comments , after reading what was said I might change the name of my machine if I go for it and Chuck is nice enough me to help .Thanks Chuk and everyone for reading. I know I hit this one pretty hard but Being a Fabricator I saw CNC mills Take some jobs away from some Hard working Tradesman and retire a few old timer’s that said they wouldn’t be in the same shop as that thing.Now they have CNC welding I thought that would never happen.6 six acesses on mills and lathes oh well Can’t stop time I guess.

-- life an woodworking is one big experiment

View DIYaholic's profile


19921 posts in 3683 days

#6 posted 03-03-2011 02:44 AM

Besides wanting to get into woodworking, another reason I am setting up my basement shop is to build a cnc router, to enhance my woodworking ability and experience. The times they are a changing!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 4006 days

#7 posted 03-03-2011 03:25 AM

They are not mutually exclusive. They can even be complementary. The CNC stuff is interesting. The traditional hand tools are relaxing.

A lot of the romantic “craftsman” stuff is imaginary. It was a lot easier to do a lot of hand work when you have a shop full of apprentices to do the dull part and you can just accept and reject parts. They also farmed out work to experts. They sent legs to turners, panels to carvers. Lots of specialists were available. Now, whether professionals or hobbyists, we are spanning what would have been done by a whole group of specialists.

If you are doing it as a business, you can trust the machine a lot better than some hourly worker that has no interest in the business or the product.

Not counting home built stuff, I can see spending a couple thousand on a CNC machine before spending that much on a fancy table saw.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 4026 days

#8 posted 03-03-2011 08:47 PM

You can name your machine whatever you like but I think in the long run it will turn out to be a life saver and you may call it your angel later! I consider any tool that makes my work easier a necessary one to have!

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View DLCW's profile


530 posts in 3662 days

#9 posted 03-03-2011 09:13 PM

An important factor in the CNC or not decision is – if you are a business making a living at this, you need to consider efficiency and productivity while delivering a high quality product to customers at a fair price.

If you do woodworking as a hobby, then you have to approach the CNC decision as it would be a neat toy that could enable me to do some neat things. But, can I do these neat things using traditional methods because I’m doing this for fun and when it’s a hobby the process is just as enjoyable as the end product.

When I was a hobby woodworker, I was never pressed for time so I could do all the things the CNC could do by hand. Now that it is my “living” I have to get high quality products to customers fast and at a competitive price. I couldn’t accomplish this working only with the regular hobby shop setup.

-- Don, Diamond Lake Custom Woodworks - - "If you make something idiot proof, all they do is make a better idiot"

View ChuckC's profile


844 posts in 3943 days

#10 posted 03-03-2011 09:24 PM

Having a CNC in the shop is definitely nice to have and comes in handy.
It’s easy to think of it as just a tool but for many, including myself, building them is a hobby in itself. After seeing all the projects on this site I’m confident that most people can build their own, it’s not that hard.

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