Author Topic: Is CNC woodworking?  (Read 5106 times)

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Offline HowardH

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Is CNC woodworking?
« on: December 28, 2017, 07:25 PM »
I couldn't find a thread on this but Laguna sent me an email today extolling the virtues of their $45,000 CNC.  That got me to thinking...Is CNC woodworking?  Sure, you have to come up with a design and probably have to get the wood prepped, unless you are doing plywood, and then probably do some assembly but with technology, the hand skills that defined woodworkers have been eroded I think.  I'm sure the woodworkers of the 19th century probably asked the same question when electric equipment began to be introduced.  I wonder where the line will be drawn or does it even matter?  I would love to get a CNC some day when I have the shop room.  The cutting boards that Andrei (MTMwood) has been making when he introduced a CNC into his shop have really been over the top and probably never would be possible without the tech.  Another example would be the Domino.  Floating tenons have been around forever but for the first time, after it was introduced, the mortices could be cut perfectly in a fraction of the time.  Again, does this detract from the artistry of woodworking?  Maybe, maybe not.  Just some ruminations while killing time...
Howard H
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Offline RobBob

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2017, 08:47 PM »
I lost interest in photography when it became all digital.  The last thing I want to do is spend more time driving a computer and I feel the same way about CNCs.  It would be different if I was doing it for a living.

Offline HowardH

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2017, 08:50 PM »
I still have quite a bit of Portra 400 in the fridge to go with my Nikon F100.  Just have to make the effort to use it. 
Howard H
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Offline RobBob

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2017, 08:57 PM »
I still have quite a bit of Portra 400 in the fridge to go with my Nikon F100.  Just have to make the effort to use it.

Me too, only its Provia and Velvia.

Offline Wooden Skye

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2017, 09:11 PM »
This is a never going to agree argument.  I see the merits in CNC if making a living, but as a hobby, I'm really on the fence.
Bryan

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Offline Cheese

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2017, 09:30 PM »
I lost interest in photography when it became all digital.  The last thing I want to do is spend more time driving a computer and I feel the same way about CNCs.

I always embraced digital photography, however, at the same time, I made a pact with myself to not alter the photos through software but through the camera settings, the exact same method used for film photography. I’ve also never been a fan of dark room manipulation even though Ansel Adams was a genius in that regard and he is still one of my favorites. 

The Nikon F, Nikon F5, Nikonos IV and the D500 all get shot the same way...vary the shutter speed, vary the aperture...don’t futz with the software.

I’d love to have a CNC as long as I wasn’t a slave to the software. [eek]

Offline estley

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2017, 09:33 PM »
i imagine at some point similar discussions were held about routers, table saws, dominoes.....


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Offline WastedP

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2017, 10:20 PM »
I feel that I am a wood machinist most of the time.  I don't use a CNC very often, usually contracted.  There's still a lot of creativity involved in designing projects and choosing materials.  The problem-solving component of woodworking is going to happen whether the tools are stone age of space age.

Offline Alex

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2017, 02:57 AM »
If you work with wood, it's woodworking.

Times change, tools change, results stay.

Offline Peter Parfitt

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2017, 03:16 AM »
The majority of woodworking tools (perhaps all) require the user to either be holding the wood, holding the tool or both. The CNC just requires the operator to position the wood and press a button or two - sounds simple really.

However, the creative thought, the experience and knowledge of wood, of joints and glues are required for both. Plans need to be sketched or drawn, wood prepared and work flow established. The CNC side can be argued to be far more complex as it does require knowledge of software and machining best practice.

My view is, as Alex says, it is all woodwork.

Offline Rob-GB

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2017, 06:45 AM »
Is CNC woodworking? 

Yes...... but, for me, it lacks soul and so do the products made this way.
It also gives a false idea to many that everything has to be perfectly the same even if it is hand wrought.
What makes a craftsman is the aspiration of perfection and the continuing challenge that creates.

I already design in CAD rather than on paper and work from a laptop rather than printed plans, I have written programs for CAD to speed up design on some basic stair designs and produced a form in Excel to work out cutting lists including sash weights for Box Sash Windows so I am not adverse to change.
I just would not get any satisfaction in having the CNC do all the work and turn me from craftsman to assembler.

Rob.
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Offline Peter Parfitt

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2017, 07:30 AM »
I agree with Rob about woodwork done on a CNC lacking soul. I also agree about craftsmanship but it still leaves CNC work in one region of the vast space that we call woodwork.

Peter

Offline Sparktrician

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2017, 08:38 AM »
I always embraced digital photography, however, at the same time, I made a pact with myself to not alter the photos through software but through the camera settings, the exact same method used for film photography. I’ve also never been a fan of dark room manipulation even though Ansel Adams was a genius in that regard and he is still one of my favorites. 

The Nikon F, Nikon F5, Nikonos IV and the D500 all get shot the same way...vary the shutter speed, vary the aperture...don’t futz with the software.

I’d love to have a CNC as long as I wasn’t a slave to the software. [eek]

Like The Cheesie One, I've loved digital photography almost from the start.  In contrast, I've really enjoyed the use of digital techniques to clarify certain scenes.  I really don't like over-processed HDR photographs, but subtly-enhanced shots are pretty good.  Finding appropriately competent software has been quite a challenge, though.  I abhor Adobe's processes and especially their business model.  Finding Darktable has been a terrific advantage, although it has run only on Linux or Mac until recently.  While it's a VERY complex package, there's tremendous power in that complexity.  That said, I really miss Kodachrome 25 and Cibachrome.  I don't miss having to change film rolls after 36 shots, though, and I love being able to see the image immediately.

Then again, when it comes to woodworking, I prefer to not use CNC-cut parts.  My jobs are all one-offs, so there's really no advantage.  And when I consider the $45K price mentioned, I could buy quite a suite of Festool goodies and digital cameras with that, and not need to hire a rigger to move them. 
« Last Edit: December 29, 2017, 08:42 AM by Sparktrician »
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Offline bobfog

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2017, 08:44 AM »
No it's not.

It's machine operation, and is no more woodwork than putting a ready-made meal in a microwave is cooking.

Offline HarveyWildes

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2017, 10:12 AM »
Is CNC woodworking? 
Yes...... but, for me, it lacks soul and so do the products made this way.

CNC is just another tool.  In my mind, it makes it easy to do precise work to digital models.  The craftsmanship is in the creation of the models rather than use of the tools.  I think it puts another layer of abstraction, between the craftsman and the wood.

For me, the soul of a woodworking project is the wood.  My primary goal is to bring out the natural beauty of the wood I'm using.  The next is to make something useful, so that the beauty of the wood will be appreciated as the piece is used.  Next are objectives around my engagement in the process - the satisfaction that comes from using tools effectively to accomplish the primary goals, from feeling the wood, and from applying creativity to the process.

The closer a tool brings me to those goals, the more "soul" is in the process and the result.  In theory, the choice of tools is irrelevant to the primary goal of bringing out the natural beauty of the wood.  In that sense, CNC is just another tool that can be brought to bear on the primary objective.  In practice, I've learned things about wood from using hand tools that I never would have learned from a CNC machine.  But for the attentive craftsman, maybe the reverse is true as well.

If CNC is just used for it's own sake, then the craft of creating CNC models is the focus.  At that point the material loses its significance.  The implication is that you might as well do all of your CNC work with MDF.  But in fact people want to do CNC work with wood (maybe plywood for the big stuff), so clearly the material has not lost its significance, which begs the question why - because we appreciate the beauty of the wood.  Which kind of leads back to the primary goal.

There is a startup curve for CNC where you are learning the technology, and hopefully the people using CNC find a creative outlet in the creation of the digital models - clearly the opportunity is there for the right people.  I'm not sure that this is any different in principle than learning how to hand cut dovetails.   But after a person has learned the process of creating the models, then I would hope that they come back around to the larger goals of creating beautiful, useful things with one of the most wonderful materials around.

Offline greg mann

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #15 on: December 29, 2017, 01:35 PM »
I’ve been machining metal with CNC since 1976, but it was after 10,000 hours of manual work; lathe, mill, grinders, files, emory cloth. When I first realized I could program a toolpath, push a button, and close the door I was sold. No more dodging hot chips off the lathe and dealing with the ones I couldn’t that found their way under my collar. Getting the most out of any machine, including CNC is more art than is commonly realized but it is different than hand work for sure. It is a great part of why I started down the woodworking path, to get back to using my hands to guide the instruments at hand.

That said,I use a track saw and a Domino in my work, and I certainly don’t mind the bumper guards on my Rotex. I don’t think I have 10,000 hours left to devote to mastering the truly hand-crafted skills. I love my hand planes but they won’t keep me from using my jointer or planer. It’s all relative. My most talented apprentice ever, who has embraced the digital world like no other, still has asked me to teach him how to cut threads on an engine lathe. One can live in both worlds nicely.
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Offline ChuckM

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #16 on: December 29, 2017, 01:44 PM »
I wouldn't consider CNC per se as woodworking as I wouldn't the use of a hammer as woodworking. But CNC can be part of a tool in woodworking, like any other machines or hand tools. If nothing else  is used other than a CNC machine and lumber in creating a build, I would call it automated woodworking. People can then tell no woodworking skills in the traditional sense are involved in making that piece.

Offline egmiii

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #17 on: December 29, 2017, 01:57 PM »
I think the short answer is, it depends.

We are all here because we share the joy of woodworking. But how woodworking brings us joy, is highly personal and unique to the individual. For some the calming nature of quietly running a hand plane along a board might relieve the stress from an otherwise loud and fast paced lifestyle. Others may enjoy the engineering challenge of screw, nail, and glue free joinery. Some might enjoy the limitless customization and design opportunities. And lets not forget many use the trade to put food on the table and a roof over their head. Is a CNC woodworking? Well, that depends upon what woodworking means to you.

Offline grbmds

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #18 on: December 29, 2017, 03:45 PM »
The short answer for me is “No.”
Randy

Offline Peter Halle

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #19 on: December 29, 2017, 06:41 PM »
My answer would be "It depends."  My opinion is that if all the work is done via CNC then it is "Manufacturing."  If it is used as a tool and then there are other operations done via other non automated machines then it is only a part of the process of "Woodworking."

By example:  Ikea manufacturers.  John Smith who only uses his CNC for part of his furniture business is woodworking.

Peter

Offline Naildrivingman

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #20 on: December 29, 2017, 09:04 PM »
If Stephen Hawking makes a piece of furniture without using his hands (because he cannot), does that make him a non-woodworker?

I would argue that the best tool any of us have is our brain.  Some of us are extra blessed in that our hands can listen to our brains.
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Offline tallgrass

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #21 on: December 30, 2017, 12:01 AM »
i think it is at what level we are talking about. I don't think we would call the guy buys a wood dinosaur kit and simply glues it together a wood worker and or a craftsman? I think the real question is what is a craftsman, and what roll does the machine play? What is the nature of the work we respect and gives value to the object created. An original Ansel Adams print by the  man himself is  different to the lithograph you purchase in the museum store. the same but different. the nature of the tools changes but does the work? there was a time when photography was simply documentary, but not always. it on occasion it transcends. I think that may be part of this conversation.

Offline Timtool

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #22 on: December 30, 2017, 04:47 AM »
yes it's woodworking, and perhaps having CNC directly in our shops is the end of a certain hypocrisy.

You may not be using CNC in your shop or projects, but CNC or automated machines almost certainly came into play when processing the lumber, panels, hardware etc... you use.

So we're somehow already all using it, it's pretty much adapt or die business-wise.
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Offline McNally Family

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #23 on: December 30, 2017, 07:46 AM »
I couldn't find a thread on this but Laguna sent me an email today extolling the virtues of their $45,000 CNC.  That got me to thinking...Is CNC woodworking?  Sure, you have to come up with a design and probably have to get the wood prepped, unless you are doing plywood, and then probably do some assembly but with technology, the hand skills that defined woodworkers have been eroded I think.  I'm sure the woodworkers of the 19th century probably asked the same question when electric equipment began to be introduced.  I wonder where the line will be drawn or does it even matter?  I would love to get a CNC some day when I have the shop room.  The cutting boards that Andrei (MTMwood) has been making when he introduced a CNC into his shop have really been over the top and probably never would be possible without the tech.  Another example would be the Domino.  Floating tenons have been around forever but for the first time, after it was introduced, the mortices could be cut perfectly in a fraction of the time.  Again, does this detract from the artistry of woodworking?  Maybe, maybe not.  Just some ruminations while killing time...


Well, since I can't afford $45,000 for the Laguna CNC, I feel quite comfortable NOT offering my opinion on this subject.

Having said that, if I could afford the machine, i would be all over it (much like I am all over my iPhone, which represents a huge technological leap over the Samsung flip phone I started with years ago).
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Offline tony_sheehan

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #24 on: December 30, 2017, 10:22 AM »
I'm amazed the conversation has remained this civil..... so far ☺
Had thought it might follow a trajectory similar to a thread about sharpening.

Anyhow, I'm in the no camp- I think there's a certain confusion with some around here between design and craft (but then I'm mostly a hand tools guy so I would say that, wouldn't I? )

Offline HarveyWildes

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #25 on: December 30, 2017, 10:23 AM »
Having said that, if I could afford the machine, i would be all over it (much like I am all over my iPhone, which represents a huge technological leap over the Samsung flip phone I started with years ago).

Got me thinking about whether I would or not.  I have an electrical engineer friend who has spent the last two years trying to get his CNC machine set up.  It's a full 4x8 flatbed that requires 3-phase, and more amps than his shop was set up for.  He's been fighting utilities for a good part of that time, and since he has limited time, hasn't got it running yet.  Given his experience and my utilities, I wouldn't go for a CNC machine that large.

Even with a smaller machine, though I might learn the basics in 3 months, it would take me at least two years to learn the tool well enough to tightly integrate into my creative process.  I'd have to learn how to do sophisticated things with the software, and would want to work from models that I created as well as being able to digitize existing shapes.  I have enough experience with programming to know that I can't do exacting work without a significant time investment.  I don't want to spend my woodworking time doing that right now - I do enough instrument automation at work.

That said, I don't see why someone who had the time, interest, and money to put into it wouldn't have a boatload of fun and get some great results.

Offline Timtool

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #26 on: December 30, 2017, 12:02 PM »
The danger would be to become slave of the tool, I met a woodworker who started making and installing cabinets, after a while he invested 180k in a CNC center (being pushed by the accountant to keep investing), had to hire personnel to install the mountain of cabinets this was cranking out. With this many jobs and personnel comes a mountain of problems, following up on the jobs, complaints, bad payers etc... In the end he had become a problem manager and hardly did any woodworking at all and just got sick of it.
I met him when he was selling nearly all his tools, he had fired everybody and was planning on working back from his garage. The rhythm the CNC imposed was devastating for his health and family.
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Offline fshanno

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #27 on: December 30, 2017, 12:26 PM »

Well, since I can't afford $45,000 for the Laguna CNC, I feel quite comfortable NOT offering my opinion on this subject.

Having said that, if I could afford the machine, i would be all over it (much like I am all over my iPhone, which represents a huge technological leap over the Samsung flip phone I started with years ago).

You still have your flip phone.  It's inside that small computer you carry around.

I say that a CNC is totally legitimate.  They used sophisticated technology to build the pyramids.  They used super sophisticated technology to build the palace at Versailles.  And every single one of us uses super sophisticated technology to build stuff with wood.  Even if you have no electricity in your shop you are still using sophisticated technology.  A pencil is technology.  A plane iron is high technology.   

And what's more, everybody reading this is a computerized woodworker.
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Offline demographic

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #28 on: December 30, 2017, 01:36 PM »
Are you making something out of wood? Yes?

Then its woodworking.  Its not rocket surgery is it.

IMO like.

Offline deepcreek

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #29 on: December 30, 2017, 06:28 PM »
CNC is a legitimate tool for woodworking be it with a laser or carbide cutters.

I have used both when appropriate for elements of the furniture I design and build.

I once heard the former editor of a premier woodworking magazine say that using Festool dominoes was cheating because then anyone could do it.

I beg to differ as there is a lot more that goes into this craft than cutting mortise and tenons.

It was also suggested that using a CNC to carve lettering somehow devalued its inherent worth compared to hand carving.

Ironically, nothing was said about the legitimacy of a colleague's piece of furniture that has thousands of pieces of marquetry and every single one was CNC laser cut.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2017, 06:31 PM by deepcreek »
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Offline ChuckM

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #30 on: December 30, 2017, 10:09 PM »


I once heard the former editor of a premier woodworking magazine say that using Festool dominoes was cheating because then anyone could do it.



I know whom you are referring to. Probably a tongue-in-cheek comment. If not, that's because he hasn't done any project with a three-way miter joint made possible by the dominoes (I have).

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Offline Cheese

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #31 on: December 31, 2017, 10:00 AM »
There is a similar discussion in the watchmaking industry with one HUGE exception.

PS: Feel free to substitute the word WOODWORKER for the word WATCHMAKER in the discussion below. [big grin]

Way back when, in the field of watchmaking, each individual wheel, dial, axle, screw, plate, mainspring, gear, watch case or hand was sculpted out of metal, one piece at a time by an individual.

The watch manufacturer would order the parts they needed from each supply house/person and a single individual would assemble, fit, and finesse all the parts into a functional watch movement. The person assembling and fitting all the parts to produce a watch movement was called a WATCHMAKER.

Nowadays, all the individual watch parts are produced using CNC & EDM machines. And the person assembling, fitting and finessing all the parts to produce a watch movement is still called a WATCHMAKER.

So, the Swiss watch manufacturers recognize that with the advent of CNC manufacturing equipment, the job of a WATCHMAKER didn't significantly change, only the method by which the individual parts were manufactured significantly changed.

The WATCHMAKER is still needed to assemble, fit, finish, lap and finesse the 250+ individual parts into a functional watch movement.

Maybe Her/His job has been made a bit easier with CNC manufactured parts, however their job still exists and they're still totally responsible for the final product.

Offline tallgrass

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #32 on: December 31, 2017, 04:28 PM »
i don't fell a tree with an axe that i i did not make. i have not rendered the tree into rough planks with the various hand tools that i did not make by hand. Nor have i finished the rough timber into a finished product with the various hand tools required. I do not use adhesive rendered from rice, fish bladders and other animal proteins that I grown or raised. on and on and on. how close you have to get to napping flint and boiling tendons is up to you. what i hope is happening is that you are enjoying working with wood , how every you do it and what ever skills you posses and that those skill continue to grow. i am off to get the steam boiler up to pressure so i can get to work in my shop.:)

Offline estley

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #33 on: December 31, 2017, 09:11 PM »
is a dado cut with a cnc less valid than one that was cut with a hand router, which is in turn less valid than one cut with hand tools?.... what is more important? how the dado was cut, or the desicion to cut that dado, of those dimensions, in that piece of the project?


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Offline ben_r_

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Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #34 on: January 03, 2018, 04:33 PM »
If there is wood dust its woodworking to me.

And whats are all this $45K CNC talk? A ShopBot doesnt cost that much! In fact not even HALF that. Forget Laguna!
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Offline Sparktrician

  • Posts: 3525
Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #35 on: January 03, 2018, 04:48 PM »
If there is wood dust its woodworking to me.

And whats are all this $45K CNC talk? A ShopBot doesnt cost that much! In fact not even HALF that. Forget Laguna!


What are YOU making, matchboxes???   [poke]   Seriously, some friends have a CNC that ran close to $60K.  It will handle 4' x 10' sheet goods. 
- Willy -

 "Remember, a chip on the shoulder is a sure sign of wood higher up." - Brigham Young

Offline ben_r_

  • Posts: 1031
Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #36 on: January 03, 2018, 06:23 PM »
If there is wood dust its woodworking to me.

And whats are all this $45K CNC talk? A ShopBot doesnt cost that much! In fact not even HALF that. Forget Laguna!


What are YOU making, matchboxes???   [poke]   Seriously, some friends have a CNC that ran close to $60K.  It will handle 4' x 10' sheet goods. 
Yep, so will a ShopBot. If youve never looked into them, check it out (LINK). They have been a top of the line option for home-gamers for years. Sure you can spend $100K on a CNC router, but if you arent doing serious day in and day out commercial work there is hardly a reason for such a machine.
If at first you don't succeed, redefine success!

Offline Oldwood

  • Posts: 321
  • Alberta, Canada
Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #37 on: January 03, 2018, 07:01 PM »
Camaster has some options that are quite affordable also.

http://www.camaster.com/
Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance.
Confucius

Offline estley

  • Posts: 109
Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #38 on: January 05, 2018, 07:39 AM »
this guy is far more than a woodworker, but i think it illustrates the point that there's a valid argument for saying that the use of a cnc IS woodworking...




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Offline HarveyWildes

  • Posts: 725
Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #39 on: January 05, 2018, 01:20 PM »
this guy is far more than a woodworker, but i think it illustrates the point that there's a valid argument for saying that the use of a cnc IS woodworking...
...

That is an awesome bit of woodworking.

Offline HMR

  • Posts: 75
Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #40 on: January 05, 2018, 10:08 PM »
Besides being the tool that produces the most income in my shop, the CNC is the best way to use up scraps.  Here’s some leftover oak and lacewood from earlier this week:




I mean, come on, can you ever have enough pen holders for your desk?  [big grin]

Offline jmbfestool

  • Posts: 6604
Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #41 on: January 06, 2018, 03:34 AM »
this guy is far more than a woodworker, but i think it illustrates the point that there's a valid argument for saying that the use of a cnc IS woodworking...




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This guy is amazing.

I feel so crap now 😂
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Offline glass1

  • Posts: 374
Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #42 on: January 06, 2018, 09:18 AM »
Cnc. Just another step in the direction that the only thing of value is the idea. Ie the design is the only thing that matters or gets the $. The craftsman doing the work are just tools who get valued less and less and paid less thru time. Our society values those who do the work less and less.  Designed by...  that’s all that matters. Listen to tithe reasoning here if Stephen Hawkins designed it he is a woodworker. Poppy caulk. Let’s drop the devils argument crap.

Offline ali

  • Posts: 143
Re: Is CNC woodworking?
« Reply #43 on: January 06, 2018, 10:19 AM »
this guy is far more than a woodworker, but i think it illustrates the point that there's a valid argument for saying that the use of a cnc IS woodworking...




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Wow, thanks for posting this. This is definitely on the bucket list to do!