Reply by DS

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Posted on Is CNC Woodworking?

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3320 posts in 2954 days

#1 posted 07-17-2017 05:38 PM

CNC machines have been around for decades.
The hardware of the machines hasn’t changed much since the beginning.

The real innovation has come with software. CNC woodworking used to be very inflexible. An engineer would take a month to manually write g-code and then that code was used to produce thousands of identical parts.

Today, our g-code is disposable. Use it once and forget it. The 3D design tools are incredible. The post-processing links from 3D models to g-code has enabled us to very rapidly produce custom items that were once thought to be prohibitive.

That said, there are two skills that are essential for CNC woodworking. 1) CAD/CAM design (computer skill) and 2) Woodworking skill.

In early 2000 I put together a ten person team to create designs and programs for a large custom shop. Unfortunately, the pool of people with BOTH of the necessary skills just didn’t readily exist at the time.

I hired people from both schools. I hired CAD artists and taught them woodworking and I hired woodworkers and taught them CAD/CAM. In all cases, those who knew woodworking first were more successful than those who knew nothing of woodworking but were computer geniuses.

The CAD artists were very proficient at making wonderful pictures and designs, but struggled to produce anything that could be built successfully in the shop. The woodworkers struggled with basic computer skills and abstract designs, but, their work nearly always produced something we could build and sell.

Much of woodworking cannot be taught in a classroom setting. It is learned in the shop, often with hard lessons learned from mistakes. This re-enforces to me that CNC IS woodworking.

Your thoughts?

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

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