A Learning Experience: Business and Small Shop CNC

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Blog entry by lab7654 posted 12-11-2012 12:44 PM 6179 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When I was registering for classes last year, the only woodoworking class available was the “Woods Manufacturing” class. Now that I’m in it, I realize how intensive it is. The class, for most, has turned into a business class. The whole purpose of it is to form a business (registered with the state) and turn out woodworking projects to make a profit. The best part: the students keep the cash. Not a penny goes to the school. We are learning a lot about business structure, shareholders, etc. But what I like the most is learning how to operate the CNC router. It’s new to the shop and we’re using it to make custom signs. I don’t understand every aspect of it, but I’m getting there. All in all, I’m really enjoying the experience, and in the end I might earn enough money for a new table saw.

Here are some pictures of the current set-up.

Plenty of clamps here, that board isn’t going anywhere.

-- Tristin King -- When in doubt, sand it.

5 comments so far

View Nate Meadows's profile

Nate Meadows

1132 posts in 3211 days

#1 posted 12-11-2012 03:06 PM

Good for you! Soak up all that information, it will come in really valuable later! Its just a great bonus you are learning to use a CNC. The future of woodworking is heading that way! There will always be us little guys but CNCs will soon dominate the field! Learn all you can, it is just more tools in your tool box, figuratively speaking!


-- "With a little bit of faith, and some imagination, you can build anything!" Nate

View lab7654's profile


266 posts in 3251 days

#2 posted 12-12-2012 03:48 AM

At first it seemed boring, just sitting there listening to a router spin, and I couldn’t wait to get away from it and do other tasks. But now it’s pretty fun, designing signs and playing around with the software. The best part is, once the class is done for the semester, I’m free to use it whenever to make my own signs and things.

-- Tristin King -- When in doubt, sand it.

View KarenW's profile


131 posts in 3192 days

#3 posted 12-18-2012 02:17 PM

Agree with Nate – the CNC is a terrific tool but it’s one of many tools in your shop. We’ve recently purchased a CNC and while it’s taken over some of the jobs we used to do by hand and is a fascinating piece of equipment, it can’t take the place of good, basic woodworking knowledge and experience.
But it IS a lot of fun!

-- Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best. --Theodore I. Rubin

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4581 days

#4 posted 12-18-2012 02:51 PM

Sounds like a great class and a very useful tool.


View MaroonGoon's profile


282 posts in 2962 days

#5 posted 02-20-2013 02:45 PM

At an old job I managed our CNC and ran students projects through it for them (the University was afraid the students would break it, or themselves). It truly is a great machine. I noticed the clamps that you used on your CNC. Look up what is called a “Vacuum Table”. It is basically a huge vacuum that you distribute the air flow under the surface area of the cutting table. You use a sacrificial board of mdf under the workpiece. With the vacuum being so strong and with the structure of mdf, the vacuum actually sucks through the mdf and grabs onto the workpiece so you dont have to clamp it down or screw it down. It amazed me at first and I think you would find that type of information useful in case you ever are in charge of a CNC again.

-- "Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." -- Pablo Picasso

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