CNC Beginner, looking for info

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Forum topic by Dabcan posted 10-18-2014 07:46 PM 2112 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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255 posts in 4006 days

10-18-2014 07:46 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cnc info beginner machine

I’m looking for good websites, forums, blogs, etc. to learn more about CNC. I’m interested in adding one to my shop but I’d like to learn more about what it entails, what software I need, what’s the best model, etc. I’ve read some of the shopbot which is helpful but I wouldn’t mind other perspectives too.



-- @craftcollectif ,,

11 replies so far

View ScottM1's profile


135 posts in 2918 days

#1 posted 10-18-2014 09:13 PM

Hi Dave. Could you elaborate a little on exactly what you wish to use the machine for?

-- Scott Marshburn,, FaceBook,, Twitter,

View ChuckC's profile


847 posts in 4270 days

#2 posted 10-18-2014 09:48 PM

I spent a lot of time on before I made my own. If you are up for it they aren’t that hard to make and are still very precise.
What kind of stuff do you want to make? A common software setup is VCarvePro to generate G code and Mach3 to mill. You can do a fair amount of CAD work in VCarvePro too.

View Dabcan's profile


255 posts in 4006 days

#3 posted 10-18-2014 10:05 PM

No interest in making signs or carvings, more making furniture pieces, mostly out of plywood so that they can slot together. Flat pack type stuff. I’ve been making most with the bandsaw and sanding down to the line but once I have the design figured out I’d like to make many of the same with exact precision.


-- @craftcollectif ,,

View JAAune's profile


2088 posts in 3652 days

#4 posted 10-18-2014 11:28 PM

I ended up in a CNC class where we built one for our business. The thinking was that we would learn something about how they operate in the process which would help us maintain such a machine in the future.

It payed off since recently, a mistake in the programming caused the router to take an excessive cut (7/”8×1/2” in hard maple) which damaged the router speed control system which allows the rpms to be changed by Mach3. Since I was in the class, I knew how to take a multi-tester and trace the problem back to the source.

It turned out to be a $4 TRIAC on the SuperPID board so it’s a cheap fix.

We’re using a modified Machine Tool Camp router, Mach3 and BobCad. I hope to upgrade out of BobCad someday as it lacks nesting features and is meant more for metalworking than woodworking. It cost less than $500 though since I qualified for a student discount due to the CNC class. I don’t draw in BobCad though but export DXF files out of Sketchup instead.

-- See my work at

View dannelson's profile


197 posts in 3706 days

#5 posted 10-19-2014 01:26 AM

Vetric forum, camaster forum, shopbot forum, here , sawmill creek. I love the knock down stuff and do quite a bit of it . Shoot me a email sometime [email protected] and we can talk more and I can show you some files we’ve been working on.

-- nelson woodcrafters

View Ger21's profile


1100 posts in 4466 days

#6 posted 10-19-2014 12:42 PM

Do you want to buy or build one? What’s your budget?

CNC Zone is the place for DIY machines. If you want to build a kit, look at CNC Router Parts.
Shopbot and Camaster are probably the best lower priced machines.

Vectric software is by far the most popular software for hobbiests and smaller shops. Quite powerful, and very easy to use.
If you’ll only be cutting flat parts, SheetCAM is also a very good option.

Don’t get talked into BobCAD, regardless of how cheap you can get it for.

Before buying (or building) a machine, it’s a very good idea to learn the software you’ll be using, so that you can use the new machine as soon as you get it.
You can download demos of most of the software packages out there.

-- Gerry,

View Ger21's profile


1100 posts in 4466 days

#7 posted 10-19-2014 01:29 PM

Check out the Mechmate forum as well.

-- Gerry,

View dannelson's profile


197 posts in 3706 days

#8 posted 10-19-2014 05:29 PM

Although I own a camaster and couldn’t be happier if I was to start out green would look at legacy, not so much for the machine but the tutorials and projects. I think the lead the pack as far as that goes.

-- nelson woodcrafters

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 3536 days

#9 posted 10-20-2014 12:09 AM

I myself looked at a Legacy and decided on the Camaster just because Legacy track record on customer service sucks. I sent them a email numerous times and one just a week ago and have not gotten an answer yet except for a automated response that they would be getting back with me. Granted be nice of Camaster had some more tutitorials but the software companys they have supporting the machines have them.

Waiting for delivery of a 512 ATC/Lathe/Vacuum/Mister/indexing pins ect ect. Hopefully in 2 weeks….
Software I got was the Vectric. and Cut3D

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View Dark_Lightning's profile


5008 posts in 4444 days

#10 posted 10-20-2014 01:00 AM

I’m not sure who Legacy serves, but they are still in business, so they must be selling something. I ended up buying reduction gears for my 900 elsewhere, since I couldn’t get a response from them other than “Do you want to upgrade?”.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View Dabcan's profile


255 posts in 4006 days

#11 posted 10-20-2014 01:07 AM

Thanks for all the replies. I appreciate the help, camaster website seems great, same with vectric (great intro page). I also like the idea of learning the software first so that I can use it straight out of the box (as I will want to do).

Someone mentioned building my own, I’m capable but simply don’t have the time, too many other projects on the go (or not even going yet).

I had an offer from a local company selling a Jinan machine, but it seems like it might be no name Chinese machine of dubious quality and no support, I’ve bought enough crappy tools in my life, I now save and buy something that will last.

-- @craftcollectif ,,

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