Should CNC-made "woodwork" be included in LJ?

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Blog entry by LittlePaw posted 07-19-2013 07:45 PM 3270 reads 0 times favorited 30 comments Add to Favorites Watch

In response to Dr. Savage’s posting on my “Calla Lily”, I replied:
You’re so right, Doc. With CNC machines getting so popular these days, we are seeing more and more woodwork done on the CNC that are far from hand-made. I think that is dishonest. What should be considered CNC or machine made? IMHO, anything that can be made by just turning on a piece of equipment (and I understand that it takes certain skill/knowledge to program a CNC machine), walk away and let the machine do the work should be put in a different category from hand-made wood working. I am not opposed to using certain power equipment, as long as the user must maintain absolute hand control during the process such as angle grinders, power chisels, HS power carving units that take as much control and concentration in their use should be okay. I use them to quickly remove waste wood so I can start carving. I probably won’t make any friends with this comment, but that is the way I feel about using CNC, laser, router duplicators for wood working. I think LJ should set up a different category to accommodate CNC users without hurting those who take pride in making them by hand – the old fashion way.
Before CNC users get all bent out of shape, I do agree that there is a place in wood working using CNC and other automated equipment. I am saying that users should be up front in stating that they are machine (CNC) made and not hand-made. It makes a significant difference in pricing and value, again IMHO.
Responses, pro or con are welcome.

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

30 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4730 days

#1 posted 07-19-2013 07:56 PM

it may not be hand made, but it still is woodworking in every sense of the term.

If you start a CNC vs handmade -then lets be fair – how about considering hand-made projects as projects made by using hand tools only – no jointer, no planer, no table/bad-saws , no power routers or any of those tools.

I do not own nor operate any CNC machines, and have no access to one – nor am I interested in this, but some people do. and that is just another form of woodworking that should be let into the mix. I see no reason to omit those from LJ.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View EEngineer's profile


1137 posts in 4695 days

#2 posted 07-19-2013 07:56 PM

When I first discovered CNC routers, I was extremely anxious to build one. I have the background for it – much of my electronics design experience is in factory automation, specifically in motion control and CNC.

But as time went on and I thought about it more, I lost my enthusiasm. A large part of my enjoyment in woodworking is the “hands-on” aspect – actually sawing the wood, routing the wood, clamping and glue-up. I began to realize that I just wouldn’t enjoy CNC as much as I do my current level of woodworking. There are no plans for a CNC router in my shop now.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4730 days

#3 posted 07-19-2013 07:59 PM

to add content – this is – a community of woodworkers – the more the better. This is not your local market place where you place 2 projects side by side for someone to pick and buy where someone with a CNC setup has the upper hand on a hand carver in the number of pieces they can pop out of their shop per hour.

I simply don’t see how you as a hand carver suffer (?) from someone posting a CNCed project. enlighten me please.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View RICOCO's profile


47 posts in 3663 days

#4 posted 07-19-2013 08:19 PM

Sorry, but I have to strongly disagree with the premise that one form of woodworking has more merit that another.

The concept reeks of segregation, like back of the bus for CNC.


-- Paul

View Buckethead's profile


3196 posts in 2950 days

#5 posted 07-19-2013 08:25 PM

I think most will agree that CNC is its own art form. It’s absolutely woodworking and I love to look at the projects the CNCers put together.

I’m sure there was some angry carpenter who complained about the proliferation of steel too.

Up next: wood printing.

I think we will live to see houses/furnishings/anything wooden printed. Labor may become obsolete.

Rut roh….. This opens up a “whole nother” can of worms.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View cwdance1's profile


1163 posts in 4341 days

#6 posted 07-19-2013 11:38 PM

I happen to have a small home made CNC router. Its used mostly for engraving and not the construction of what I make. Does that mean I would be banned from the cite?

View Alongiron's profile


654 posts in 3775 days

#7 posted 07-20-2013 12:20 AM

Some folks like power tools to assist, others do not like power tools. I am in favor of power tools and that includes CNC router. I do respect those that have the talent to do; let say chip carving. Normally when using a CNC Router it is for some sort of decoration anyway…..

-- Measure twice and cut once.....sneak up on it! Steve Lien

View Dark_Lightning's profile


4551 posts in 4190 days

#8 posted 07-20-2013 01:12 AM

I’m not sure what the problem would be. CNC work would be pretty obvious, for the most part. I had one of my sons make a Post-it dispenser of my design in wood shop using a CNC router. Truthfully, in that case it would have been impossible to tell if it was done by machine or not. Generally, though it would be obvious. In any event, it came out so well that I went and had my name laser-engraved in it so that it didn’t grow legs.

This sounds just like the arguments my wife’s quilting friends have- machine quilt or hand quilt? There are strengths to both styles.

In any event, with wood, seems like the person has to do some amount of work to get the project into a state that allows the CNC work to be performed.

Buckethead- I don’t foresee a 3-D printer using wood anytime soon. And yet…genetic engineering could end up being the next 3-D printer. We’ve already built a trachea for a little girl. Hmmm…went to school, got degrees in medicine, forestry and biology so I could genetically engineer a tree and grow it into a house. Cool. The future is going to be even wilder than we may imagine, given the rate of increase in our knowledge and capabilities.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4390 days

#9 posted 07-20-2013 01:26 AM

It is totally up to each and every individual as to what tools they choose to use.

When I first started woodworking I learned my woodworking skills exclusively using hand tools and then added power tools as time progressed because I found them beneficial and time saving…but I have the background skills to enjoy my woodwork without power tools if need be.

.One very important fact is that my woodworking is not dependent on having electricity…but we will always have electricity and are all woodworkers…
Each person should do whatever makes them happy and not feel an obligation to do what makes others happy…you only live once…so do what you enjoy if it doesn’t hurt others…

View abie's profile


922 posts in 4852 days

#10 posted 07-20-2013 02:18 AM

Oh the Can o’ Worms has been opened.

-- Bruce. a mind is like a book it is only useful when open.

View NormG's profile


6507 posts in 4085 days

#11 posted 07-20-2013 02:51 AM

I am staying out of this one

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View Rudolph's profile


4 posts in 2857 days

#12 posted 07-20-2013 04:08 AM

Guess this is as good as any topic for my first ever LJ post.

You wrote “woodwork” with quotes, as if CNC-ing stuff out of wood is somehow fake or illegitimate. It’s work, and it’s work done on wood. That makes it woodwork. If anything deserves a quoted “woodwork” it’s stuff made out of MDF, which I believe is work done on something made out of dehydrated, leftover, movie theater hot dogs.

Now I don’t personally consider CNC made stuff to be “hand-made” either. That said, I don’t see anywhere on LJ that specifies anything about projects being handmade or otherwise. It says “woodworking community” and “woodworking showcase”, nothing more. Wood having been worked, shared with others who like working with wood. I don’t even see a requirement that the one working the wood has to have hands. Or be human…

View degoose's profile


7281 posts in 4436 days

#13 posted 07-20-2013 06:45 AM

If you can put a log in a machine and have a table come out the end then it is not really made by a woodworker… but as far as my work with a laser and in future a cnc router…I dress the timber from rough sawn, joint, thickness,rip,crosscut,sand,route an edge… and then embellish with a laser… then more sanding and small part of the over all process is cnc…
On the point of hand made… none of the work I have seen on LJs is HANDMADE…. every piece had been made with a tool… either a hand tool or a power tool… never by hand alone….LOL
Just my 2 bits worth…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View ChuckV's profile


3385 posts in 4609 days

#14 posted 07-20-2013 12:16 PM

I see no reason to worry about this question.

I would rather spend my free time relaxing in my quaint woodworking shop where I can get back to nature and escape from the rat race that is the modern world. But, to each his own.

Now, back to my shop:

-- "Join the chorus if you can. It'll make of you an honest man." - I. Anderson

View toolchap's profile


150 posts in 4002 days

#15 posted 07-20-2013 01:02 PM

Each to his own. If that is what moves your glands, go for it.

I now feel moved to build a cnc controlled panel plane to thickness my stuff while I surf LJ’s.

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