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Are the options: vacuum, Phenolic VS MDF table, Spindle VS Router worth it

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Forum topic by gwdwoodworks posted 03-26-2021 04:33 PM 1420 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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gwdwoodworks

5 posts in 407 days


03-26-2021 04:33 PM

Topic tags/keywords: spindle vacuum mdf table cnc options

Hello,
First – thanks to everyone as I have been on this site for years, always reading and learning from your wisdom. First time with a post as I usually find that my questions were asked and answered already, just take some searching.

I am buying my first CNC machine soon (Stinger 3 or RC Series). I build furniture, slab work, epoxy pours, wall pieces as I have my own mill. I work full time and do my woodworking on nights and weekends. I don’t think I will ever be a production shop but never say never, right.

Here is my dilemma. These machines are not cheap. I have a habit to buy “everything” and then find out I didn’t really need it. But I don’t want to look back 2 years from now and say, dam I wish I would have asked someone and made the investment.

I have read all I can, I have talked to the OEM. So I thought let’s talk to people that have used the machines, and find out what they think.

Spindle: do I need the 3k upgrade to a spindle (4hp) or will the router do me just fine.
Spindle part 2 – if I do get a spindle, do I need 4hp, or is 1hp better than the default 3.5 hp router
Table: do I need to upgrade to a Phenolic table or is MDF fine (about 1k difference)
Vacuum: do I need to 3k upgrade
Starter kit: buy it with the machine or buy it on my own

I hope this was not covered in other posts and thanks in advance for your feedback.

-- Greg, Easley SC


8 replies so far

View tvrgeek's profile

tvrgeek

2304 posts in 2982 days


#1 posted 03-26-2021 07:00 PM

I think there are entire forums dedicated to these machines so you might a more experienced audience.

An amazing bit of machine for “hobby” so my hat’s off to you.

View Madmark2's profile

Madmark2

3253 posts in 1921 days


#2 posted 03-26-2021 07:08 PM

15 years ago I bought an entry level – $2500 – CNC router that used a standard Porter-Cable 693 router head. The bed was 24” x 18” cutting area with about 3” of Z travel. Leadscrews on all 3 axes.

Although sold as a wood cutter we cut aluminum panels on it. We used a slow feed, a single spur solid carbide spiral upcut bit, and a coolant sprayer to cut a ton of aluminum on it.

Since coolant doesn’t mix well with MDF we covered the base with 1/2 HDPE.

We’d load the gcode into the Mach3 software, turn on the coolant, kick off the gcode and let it run. The estimated run times were accurate to the second and we’d let it scream in the corner unattended.

We had AutoCAD and wrote a converter that would read a .DXF file and generate the gcode automagically. You could draw something in AutoCAD, run the magic software and make a part. Like a 10 yo on a bike – “Look ma! No hands!”

Never had the 693 motor overheat even on hour long runs.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View gwdwoodworks's profile

gwdwoodworks

5 posts in 407 days


#3 posted 03-26-2021 07:19 PM

thanks Madmark2 – good information.

-- Greg, Easley SC

View CDarby67's profile

CDarby67

1 post in 159 days


#4 posted 08-12-2021 05:35 PM

gwdwoodworks,

I find myself in near the EXACT same situation you were in March 2021.

Its been 3 months, so i assume you have your CNC. Did you get the stinger 3? What options did you get?

What is you thoughts?

Clint

View gwdwoodworks's profile

gwdwoodworks

5 posts in 407 days


#5 posted 08-13-2021 10:16 AM

Hello Clint,
I don’t have the machine yet, ordered end March and got word the machine is ready for pick so heading to Camaster in 2 weeks to get training and pick it up.
Stinger 3
I went with an MDF table
I did upgrade to the 4HP spindle
I order the vacuum table
fast change and laser light option
I added the option to be able to add a lathe turner down the road (think it is called recoil)
I also got the X3 option as that was special in March.

I will reach out to you again once it is set up and working. I am excited and nervous to get this in my shop.
Good luck with your journey.
Greg

-- Greg, Easley SC

View OldBull's profile

OldBull

557 posts in 628 days


#6 posted 08-13-2021 11:58 AM

@gwdwoodworks please forgive me for asking a question on your thread ? Does the vacuum table just hold the workpiece or does it play a role in dust collection, thanks.
Donny

View gwdwoodworks's profile

gwdwoodworks

5 posts in 407 days


#7 posted 08-13-2021 12:15 PM

@oldbull – it is only to hold down the work piece – DC is a separate system

-- Greg, Easley SC

View paulLumberJock's profile

paulLumberJock

77 posts in 531 days


#8 posted 08-17-2021 04:38 PM

This is an old thread, but let me answer, in case the OP is still wondering.

Spindle: do I need the 3k upgrade to a spindle (4hp) or will the router do me just fine.
Let me expand upon “it depends on what you do”.
I started off with a big porter cable router, it worked fine. I ended up getting a chineese spindle off ebay for a few reasons.
1. I was able to get a bunch of left handed router bits cheaply.. A spindle will run in reverse and allow you to use these
2.. I got a square air cooled spindle with threaded holes. This allowed me to mount the spindle directly to the Z axis aluminum plate without having to put one of those circular router holders to grab the router.. As a result, the spindle cantalievers less, which is better for the CNC. Does it make a huge difference? I wont’ say that it does or doesn’t, but it is an advantage.
3. Spindle is controlled by a VFD. Very easy to change the spindle speed with a knob on the VFD, even in the middle of a cut.
4. Spindle is able to cut a heavier load.. In theory it lasts longer too (I have no proof, but I know people that have used a basic Hitachi router on a CNC, and they will wear out and need serviced more frequently as they are not built for continuous use)
5. Disadvantage: Spindles are more expensive, the VFD is a pain to set up.
6. If the spindle is water cooled, I probably would not get it.. That’s another PITA to deal with, hoses to get in the way, etc.

Spindle part 2 – if I do get a spindle, do I need 4hp, or is 1hp better than the default 3.5 hp router
I think the spindle is not measured in HP.. Mine is rated 4kW.. I don’t know how to convert that.

Table: do I need to upgrade to a Phenolic table or is MDF fine (about 1k difference)
My spoilboard is 3/4 exterior plywood. I like that better than MDF because it holds screws better and I do not like breathing MDF dust, it really irriates me. But most people use MDF. I think that is fine.

Vacuum: do I need to 3k upgrade
Are you going to be using this for a business, where the time to clamp down the material for your job matters? If so, this would be worth getting (and the spindle too).. If you are just a hobbiest, then T-track is fine.. Hobbyist means you can spend 5 minutes clamping things down by hand, IMO.

Starter kit: buy it with the machine or buy it on my own
If you mean the basic router bits, etc then I Would buy what you need as you need it, unless the starter pack is a huge bargain. I probably have bought more router bits than I will use in my lifetime. If I had to do it over, I would have shown more restraint.

Good luck, post an update if you see this thread.

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