Reply by JAAune

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Posted on What tools do CNC Routers "replace"?

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1864 posts in 2649 days

#1 posted 01-16-2014 04:12 PM

It’s possible to replace a lot of tools with a CNC but not advisable. I’m pretty quick at modeling and programming but there’s no way I can program and a circle, clamp the material to the table and cut it on the CNC faster than I can zip one out on a bandsaw jig. You’ll get the most efficient operation from using the best tools for the best task rather than trying to get a single machine to do it all.

Setup time is a little on the lengthy side for CNC. Milling times are typically pretty fast but some machines are still faster at certain tasks. A shaper with power feed can produce moldings quicker and with better finish. Planers can flatten a surface 10” wide (or wider) in one pass. The CNC can do about 1 1/2” wide at best and the surface isn’t as smooth.

You could use the CNC router like a giant drill press by using manual data input but it’s a little inconvenient. I’d still recommend a drill press for any serious production shop. Our shop is equipped with a CNC router and four drill presses (three setup with dedicated fixtures at the moment).

Also, if you rely too much on a single machine you’ll have to do a lot of work setting up and taking down operations to switch tasks. Multiple machines that can be setup and left that way for a couple days are beneficial. You’ll also avoid having the entire shop shut down when your CNC router spindle burns up and you have to wait a week for the replacement to arrive.

-- See my work at and

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