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CNC machine or not?

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warman1

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Firstly hello!

I am a complete noob and in research phase.

I think what I need is a CNC machine. I want to make fitted bedroom furniture. ie wardrobes.

I really want a machine that will work with some software to turn drawings into product. As automated as possible.

Can anybody shed some light on this or advice for me please.
 

Sgian Dubh

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Oh, wow! Massive ambition from an admitted novice.

Some requirements to consider:
1. Skills in a CAD programme, such as AutoCAD, Rhino, FreeCAD, TurboCAD, or alternatives, some of which are expensive, and others either free or relatively inexpensive.
2. Knowledge of woodworking techniques and processes.
3. Knowledge of the different board materials and solid wood, and their properties.
4. Knowledge and skills in prepping and polishing of wood and wood products.

4. You might need a fairly deep wallet for an appropriate CNC machine able to handle large panels and solid wood. I'd set a minimum budget at perhaps £8,000 - £10,000 for something second-hand capable of handling stuff up to 2440 X 1220 mm. If you went for machines with smaller platens (beds) you'd probably need additional machinery or hand tools to cut standard size panels (mostly 2440 X 1220, and bigger) into smaller parts that would then fit on your smaller platen or bed. You could start your research here: https://www.scosarg.com/
5. Add to the CNC machine a need for handling the extraction of dust, chips and the like so you'd probably need an extractor and trunking, plus various CNC suited router cutters with different profiles.
6. A workshop of some sort to house the necessary kit.

If all the above seems a bit daunting (it would daunt me, and I've been around this sort of stuff a fair amount) and you're primarily wanting to build maybe a wardrobe or three, perhaps to fit in your house, I think I'd forget about the CNC machinery for now, and build up skills and knowledge by putting something workable together from some board material and maybe some solid wood using a mixture of hand tools, some power tools and may some smaller floor standing machinery. Slainte.
 

worn thumbs

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As you have probably worked out,it is the way to get parts produced fairly quickly and with consistency.You may get a nasty surprise when you price up the hardware and software.First question;do you have any experience of CAD drawing?You really need to be quite adept as the old days of an operator sitting in from of a machine and typing in Gcode combined with spindle speeds and feed rates are long gone.Once you have your part(s) drawn you need the software to generate the toolpaths,it will need to know which of the lines on the drawing relate to each particular operation and which tools you need to carry out each part of the process.Once you have told the system how deep each of the features needs to be cut,the software will calculate the toolpath and compensate for the tool diameter(s).If you are lucky enough to have a machine with an automatic toolchanger you will only have to post process the entire operation once and save it as an .nc file.If you have to change the tool manually you will have to post process each tool's operations separately.You then load the cutting files into the machine's memory and place the material on the table and work through them.

Once the programs have been proved to work you just lay another piece on the machine in the same position and press the green button.
 

MikeG.

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Welcome.

You aren't the first woodworker who wants a magic machine which spits out perfectly formed parts without any human contact. You just need a magic gluing machine and you can be a woodworker par excellance without looking up from your laptop.

I hope one day you learn to love the process of woodworking as well as the results.
 

Trevanion

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I hate to be negative to people but to be honest, if you plan on starting this as a business with a CNC machine and doing as little actual work yourself as possible there's literally no point in even thinking about it as there are hundreds of similar companies already set up which will do what you're proposing to get into probably far cheaper than you could, and that's who'd you would be pricing against since you won't really be offering anything more.

Sorry.
 

sploo

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Adding to other (similar comments)... CNC machines are great at churning out many copies of the same part. If you're trying to produce the same item in a degree of volume then they have their place.

However, I'm not convinced that would be the best tool for fitted bedroom furniture; certainly the "fitted" aspect indicates to me "not all the same". As soon as you get into that cycle with a CNC system you're going back to your CAD software, through CAM again, then having to check that your output program won't cause any collisions with holddowns or clamps (and that you have sufficient clamping and/or tabs to ensure pieces don't move). Whenever I cut a "new" part on the CNC machine the actual cutting time is usually a fraction of the whole process.

If you're thinking of producing in sheet materials (e.g. MDF) then probably a panel saw would be a better bet. If you're wanting to go down a solid wood route (carcass/frame construction) then a good table saw would be my choice. For this sort of application (even though I have a CNC) I'd be using a track saw, table saw, router and Festool Domino (or hand saws/chisels/planes if you like your ears rather than dust).
 

worn thumbs

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sploo":3fxldl0y said:
Adding to other (similar comments)... CNC machines are great at churning out many copies of the same part. If you're trying to produce the same item in a degree of volume then they have their place.

However, I'm not convinced that would be the best tool for fitted bedroom furniture; certainly the "fitted" aspect indicates to me "not all the same". As soon as you get into that cycle with a CNC system you're going back to your CAD software, through CAM again, then having to check that your output program won't cause any collisions with holddowns or clamps (and that you have sufficient clamping and/or tabs to ensure pieces don't move). Whenever I cut a "new" part on the CNC machine the actual cutting time is usually a fraction of the whole process.

If you're thinking of producing in sheet materials (e.g. MDF) then probably a panel saw would be a better bet. If you're wanting to go down a solid wood route (carcass/frame construction) then a good table saw would be my choice. For this sort of application (even though I have a CNC) I'd be using a track saw, table saw, router and Festool Domino (or hand saws/chisels/planes if you like your ears rather than dust).
Is it safe to assume your CNC doesn't have a vacuum clamping system?I tend to agree with the other comments but would still encourage people to learn what the strengths and weaknesses of CNC machining are.If for no other reason than making it easier to send sensible information out if seeking quotes for getting work done.If there is a clear and persistent need for the benefits of the process,that is probably the time to bring in a machine of one's own.
 

sploo

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worn thumbs":s9yt1dko said:
Is it safe to assume your CNC doesn't have a vacuum clamping system?I tend to agree with the other comments but would still encourage people to learn what the strengths and weaknesses of CNC machining are.If for no other reason than making it easier to send sensible information out if seeking quotes for getting work done.If there is a clear and persistent need for the benefits of the process,that is probably the time to bring in a machine of one's own.
Yes and no :wink:

I have all the components I'd need to install a vacuum clamping system but I've never got round to putting one together. The main reason is that it's not a panacea; it's great for certain types of parts, and great if you have a shape that's being cut often (with the vacuum table configured appropriately).

I tend to cut a lot of varied small/medium parts. That could work with onion skinning the perimeter of the shape (vs cutting through and leaving tabs) but often the parts need through holes. Holes in parts + vacuum = not so great!

Going back to the OP's question: on a really large CNC system I guess you could use vacuum clamping to hold the middle of large (but slightly varied) panels (as large area = lots of clamping force), but unless you had a monster machine and were knocking out a huge number of parts a day I'd suspect it might still be faster to use a panel saw.
 

Keith 66

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Well if you are a complete noob, best thing to do is get some tools & learn some skills.
But CNC gear was always expensive, then yesterday i saw this on fb, https://www.maslowcnc.com/,
A large format 8x4 CNC router that cab hang on your workshop wall, where the hell was this 30 years ago when i was boatbuilding! Would have come right in handy.
 

worn thumbs

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Keith 66":2rtnc0fv said:
Well if you are a complete noob, best thing to do is get some tools & learn some skills.
But CNC gear was always expensive, then yesterday i saw this on fb, https://www.maslowcnc.com/,
A large format 8x4 CNC router that cab hang on your workshop wall, where the hell was this 30 years ago when i was boatbuilding! Would have come right in handy.
I have seen at least one youtube video featuring the gadget.I wish they would make one showing the whole process of creating the object and then the toolpath,before placing the sheet of material on the machine and then cutting the part.I am particularly interested in seeing the cutter plunge into the job and then having the part checked for fidelity to the intended shape.

I have a feeling that the more traditional machine anatomy would be more dependable.
 

sploo

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worn thumbs":1p3sjkt3 said:
Keith 66":1p3sjkt3 said:
Well if you are a complete noob, best thing to do is get some tools & learn some skills.
But CNC gear was always expensive, then yesterday i saw this on fb, https://www.maslowcnc.com/,
A large format 8x4 CNC router that cab hang on your workshop wall, where the hell was this 30 years ago when i was boatbuilding! Would have come right in handy.
I have seen at least one youtube video featuring the gadget.I wish they would make one showing the whole process of creating the object and then the toolpath,before placing the sheet of material on the machine and then cutting the part.I am particularly interested in seeing the cutter plunge into the job and then having the part checked for fidelity to the intended shape.

I have a feeling that the more traditional machine anatomy would be more dependable.
The Maslow design is quite clever, and the CAD/CAM process shouldn't be any different to a traditional 3 axis machine (it's just that the post processor would ultimately have to create gcode that varies the two "chain" lengths, instead of moving x and y axes).

Accuracy and speed is not really comparable to traditional machines; I've seen claims of 20-35 inches per minute, and accuracy in the 1/64" to 1/16" range.
 

DBT85

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For the cost of the cnc machine you could buy a complete collection of the actual tools needed to make fitted wardrobes.
 

worn thumbs

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DBT85":2zy4ahe1 said:
For the cost of the cnc machine you could buy a complete collection of the actual tools needed to make fitted wardrobes.
Nor an uncommon point of view. I don't know of any other class of machine that will be getting on with the job while you press on with something else.In addition,I would suspect that spending a bit more on a Proliner or similar digitiser would allow the parts to be cut to a level of accuracy that would allow them to slot straight in to any room that wasn't perfect geometrically.For simply cutting rectangular shapes a panel saw is the clear winner.
 

DBT85

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worn thumbs":1de1ynh7 said:
DBT85":1de1ynh7 said:
For the cost of the cnc machine you could buy a complete collection of the actual tools needed to make fitted wardrobes.
Nor an uncommon point of view. I don't know of any other class of machine that will be getting on with the job while you press on with something else.In addition,I would suspect that spending a bit more on a Proliner or similar digitiser would allow the parts to be cut to a level of accuracy that would allow them to slot straight in to any room that wasn't perfect geometrically.For simply cutting rectangular shapes a panel saw is the clear winner.
Oh cnc is great, and for the exact reasons already mentioned. It works while you sleep it's repeatable and reliable.

To carve panels for a wardrobes would need an enormous machine and I would suggest far larger than anyone just getting into cnc would buy.

I wonder how many panels I could do on a measly titan tracksaw in the time it took to do one?
 

sploo

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worn thumbs":3850pg2l said:
DBT85":3850pg2l said:
For the cost of the cnc machine you could buy a complete collection of the actual tools needed to make fitted wardrobes.
Nor an uncommon point of view. I don't know of any other class of machine that will be getting on with the job while you press on with something else.In addition,I would suspect that spending a bit more on a Proliner or similar digitiser would allow the parts to be cut to a level of accuracy that would allow them to slot straight in to any room that wasn't perfect geometrically.For simply cutting rectangular shapes a panel saw is the clear winner.
Having seen some of the depth sensing capabilities of modern phones and tablets I do suspect it is only a matter of time before you can just scan a room and have some software calculate cabinet sizes. CNC cut the panels, and the human input is then purely manual. Cool tech, but I'm not totally sure it's a "good" thing.
 

sploo

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DBT85":14zi23yr said:
I wonder how many panels I could do on a measly titan tracksaw in the time it took to do one?
Indeed. These days I try to avoid using the CNC unless it really is the best tool for the job. The total CAD + CAM + setup + cut + cleanup time is often longer that it takes to do a job manually; even if the cutting stage would be quicker on the CNC.
 

DBT85

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sploo":3gsjoozd said:
DBT85":3gsjoozd said:
I wonder how many panels I could do on a measly titan tracksaw in the time it took to do one?
Indeed. These days I try to avoid using the CNC unless it really is the best tool for the job. The total CAD + CAM + setup + cut + cleanup time is often longer that it takes to do a job manually; even if the cutting stage would be quicker on the CNC.
Indeed. I guess if you have multiple of a thing to do then sure it makes complete sense. I totally want one and will probably print most of it with the 3d printer lol.

But there are better computer controlled systems for cutting panels down. I think DIY Kitchens have a huge warehouse where the damned thing just does everything short of putting the units together. You insert the order and out the other end pops every panel in the correct colour and edge banding etc.

Good units too I might say!
 

sploo

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DBT85":2d1l6l17 said:
sploo":2d1l6l17 said:
DBT85":2d1l6l17 said:
I wonder how many panels I could do on a measly titan tracksaw in the time it took to do one?
Indeed. These days I try to avoid using the CNC unless it really is the best tool for the job. The total CAD + CAM + setup + cut + cleanup time is often longer that it takes to do a job manually; even if the cutting stage would be quicker on the CNC.
Indeed. I guess if you have multiple of a thing to do then sure it makes complete sense. I totally want one and will probably print most of it with the 3d printer lol.

But there are better computer controlled systems for cutting panels down. I think DIY Kitchens have a huge warehouse where the damned thing just does everything short of putting the units together. You insert the order and out the other end pops every panel in the correct colour and edge banding etc.

Good units too I might say!
There are CNC panel saw systems (quite frightening to watch TBH)!

If you're at the scale of IKEA it does make sense to tip wood chippings in at one end and lift finished panels out of the other. You just need a few million £ of investment in machinery first :mrgreen:

That sort of low skilled mass production doesn't greatly appeal to me though. If I were to make cabinets I'd rather be doing the sort of stuff this forum's "doctor Bob" does (see https://armstrongjordan.co.uk/)
 

worn thumbs

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sploo":140hicv9 said:
worn thumbs":140hicv9 said:
DBT85":140hicv9 said:
For the cost of the cnc machine you could buy a complete collection of the actual tools needed to make fitted wardrobes.
Nor an uncommon point of view. I don't know of any other class of machine that will be getting on with the job while you press on with something else.In addition,I would suspect that spending a bit more on a Proliner or similar digitiser would allow the parts to be cut to a level of accuracy that would allow them to slot straight in to any room that wasn't perfect geometrically.For simply cutting rectangular shapes a panel saw is the clear winner.
Having seen some of the depth sensing capabilities of modern phones and tablets I do suspect it is only a matter of time before you can just scan a room and have some software calculate cabinet sizes. CNC cut the panels, and the human input is then purely manual. Cool tech, but I'm not totally sure it's a "good" thing.
The technology exists now but it isn't cheap.It is likely to get cheaper as these things do and then you will be able to stand a scanner in the room and create a surface model in a few seconds.Insert your panels and shelves into the room and trim the edges to suit in the CAD software and then take the panel layout through the nesting process and cut them.The track saw will definitely cut quickly but will it cut the angle of an old,lumpy floor?I know it won't drill for the hinge backplates or drawer runner screw holes.

The big problem for the advocates of track saws and traditional ways of working only begins to hit your business when the opposition gears up to use technology.Then as one of the pioneers in the American car business said"If the competition buys a new machine and you don't,you'll pay for it anyway".It might not have the satisfaction of pushing a well sharpened plane but there are two conflicting groups of people in this situation;those who like making things for a living and those who pay for the products.
 
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