Reply by Mainiac Matt

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Posted on What tools do CNC Routers "replace"?

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Mainiac Matt

8960 posts in 2662 days

#1 posted 01-22-2014 09:36 PM

We run an industrial CNC table router at work and I have access to it after hours for personal projects.

For all but re-sawing tasks (which we do on a dedicated horizontal band saw) it eliminates most all tasks done on a traditional band saw.

It also eliminates the need for pattern routing, whether it be by hand with guide bushings, or with a pin router.

However, if your utilization per panel is tight, you may still want to cut a part with a rectangular perimeter on the TS or panel saw. Then you can either fixture the part on the CNC or you can cut a template on the CNC and hand rout to the template.

If your doing live edge work on a big slab of rough cut wood, you can mount a face mill type bit and flatten the piece very easily on a CNC. This also comes in handy for reconditioning or flattening work benches or end grain glue ups, such as for butcher blocks.

But the more you build your proficiency with the CNC, you will find that it will have an impact on the way you design your parts, as engraving a flourish, or cutting any kind of strange curve, angle, large circle, etc…. can be done without any of the difficulty that might otherwise inhibit your imagination.

If your going to do the Euro-style hinges for cabinet work, you can cut your side panels with the toe kick and hinge pockets, and shelf pin holes in one set up on the sheet.

BUT…. having operated CNC table routers in an industrial environment both with and without a tool changer, I can say this…. YOU REALLY WANT A TOOL CHANGER!!

That’s going to take you out of the home built, or Shop Bot environment into a “real” machine. But such can be had for good prices on the auction market.

Also, good software will pay for itself very quickly. We run Enroute and love it. Tossing BobCAD/CAM in the trash can was a banner day for us.

Mastering your tooling, feed and spindle speed selection will take some time. Expect to burn up some expensive tooling while your on the learning curve. Despite the common prejudice, running a CNC well requires a lot of skill. It’s just a different kind of skill.

I’d love to set up a 4th axis and make Corinthian columns, just for the challenge. But that’s not something we have a customer demand for.

If you’re running a commercial cabinet shop, I think it would be a tough call as to whether you would benefit more from a CNC table router or a programmable panel saw, like a SELCO.

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

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