What I Do with a CNC in My Shop

Right here’s a glued up leg and apron meeting for a settee desk
being milled with a CNC router.

Right here’s the large image: A CNC is a digitally managed router
that cuts from its highest to its lowest level in three
dimensions over all the space of its mattress. What would any
woodworker do with that functionality? It seems you are able to do
rather a lot. Under are a few of the issues I exploit a CNC for in my
woodworking store. Clearly, these are easy examples and
they’re additionally potential matters for future articles and weblog
posts. There’s quite a bit to cowl.

Sample Reducing

As talked about earlier than, I’ve been utilizing a CNC to chop patterns for
a very long time utilizing an out of doors CNC companies to do the work. It
works nice. In the event you’re prepared to do the wanted 2D CAD and even
Adobe Illustrator drawings, I can’t suggest it sufficient.
Excellent patterns.

Materials Preparation

I flatten and floor boards that might be too awkward or giant
for a jointer. I thickness aircraft boards that may’t
match via my planer. CNCs have been an awesome device
for engaged on giant slabs of wooden.

Use the Constructed-in Precision

I make the most of CNCs excessive stage of precision for sure
wants. Even easy duties typically want precision. For instance,
if I would like a collection of holes that should be exactly laid out
and sized, the CNC typically does this higher than different

Half Making

Half making might be one of the best use of a CNC in a woodworking
store. And it’s a simple course of when you learn to
do it. I often use a CNC to chop wooden elements, besides for
the rectilinear elements — if in case you have the instruments, it’s
simply simpler and quicker to make use of a desk noticed and miter noticed
for elements with straight traces. The outcomes from slicing CNC
elements are much more correct then I’ve gotten with
patterns and shaping. And, as a result of the device is machining a
rigidly held board, I can lower even essentially the most delicate of particulars
with out breaking the wooden. Bonus: typically the CNC is a superb
assistant. Whereas the CNC is slicing elements I will be engaged on
one thing else.


The CNC has been nice for including particulars to woodwork. I exploit
what’s known as engraving routines so as to add cove cuts,
bevels, grooves or different precision element that usually would possibly
must be carved into elements. Actually hand instruments can do that
however there are some conditions the place the added precision and
management is an actual benefit. It’s additionally an awesome device for including
lettering, figures to panels and different carving particulars.


I exploit a CNC for some sorts of joinery that might be troublesome
to do precisely in different methods. I often use two
methods/instruments for mortise-and-tenon joinery (Leigh FMT or
Domino) and typically a mortiser. As nice as these instruments are,
typically they’ll’t precisely put a mortise proper the place you
want it. On the perimeters or ends of a board is normally not a
downside. However, in the course of a bigger floor is difficult.
The CNC places a joint anyplace you want. That’s very useful.

One other instance of how I exploit a CNC as a joint making device is a
form of a twofer. In the event you’re already utilizing the CNC to chop elements
that finally want mortises, why not simply lower the mortises at
the identical time?

Lastly, a CNC router affords the potential for sorts of joinery
we’ve by no means seen earlier than. Irrespective of the device or technique, we’ve
been doing joinery just about the identical manner for 1000’s of
years efficiently. The worth of millennia of expertise
is that we all know precisely why and the way joints work and why they
can fail. The purpose is we perceive the engineering. So let’s
apply what we all know and perhaps rethink all the of concept of
joinery. The probabilities are thrilling and it’s one thing I’m
severely exploring.

Jigs and Fixture Making

I often use a CNC for making jig and fixture elements. It’s
notably useful in the event you want devoted clamp cauls for an
unusually formed undertaking or different task-specific instruments.

Plywood Reducing

I do know it’s a wierd matter to deliver up on a woodworking
weblog however typically plywood is a really helpful materials.
Cupboards are apparent, however there’s a number of different issues you possibly can
make out of sheet items, notably if in case you have a CNC useful.
I’ve made, chairs, stools, tables, device packing containers and every kind of
issues with plywood. Elements are joined along with
a entire vary of joints developed for the duty that fairly
a lot snap into place. And, there are nice plans on the market for
CNC homeowners. Many are free and properly designed.

Reducing Supplies Different Than Wooden

I had by no means lower aluminum or plastics earlier than I received a CNC. Now I
use it to machine aluminum for jigs that want steel elements. Identical
with polycarbonates and plastics. Relying on the machine’s
rigidity, many machines can lower mushy metals. I’ve pals
with CNCs that use them to chop brass or aluminum elements for
furnishings. As you possibly can think about slicing steel is just not the identical as
wooden. You  use completely different procedures, tooling and


I often use a CNC so as to add options that might usually be
carved by hand or carried out with elaborate jigs or router setups.
It’s nice for duties like carving a seat for a stool or a
chair, tapering a bevel or a progressive spherical over the size
of a desk leg, for instance. Many issues are doable in the event you
can work in 3D in CAD software program and have CAM applications that
help 3D operations and learn to carve with a CNC.

Subsequent I’ll clarify how I achieved sure woodworking duties
earlier than I had a CNC and what’s modified since.

— Tim

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