Woodworking Techniques and Advice
The term CNC first started out as just “NC” for numeric control. The concept was developed in the 1950s using punched paper tape to convey instructions to motors that controlled the movement of a metal milling machine. When computers became more readily available, they were wired directly to the motors and CNC was born.
Most of us learned to make a cabinet with a tape measure and a table saw. We measure, cut and repeat, over and over, until the job’s done.
After building two CNC machines, I’ve developed some ideas about how a woodshop owner should approach entering the digital fabrication age while preserving their wallet and sanity.
Router bits, shaper cutters, molder/planer knives and saw blades are constantly being asked to cut, mill or shape new products in new ways. From plastics and resins to manufactured sheet cores, the tooling that we use is continually facing new challenges as material technology advances. Most of the tools we use in woodshops are carbide-tipped, carbide inserts or milled from solid carbide. Knowing something about the way that carbide is produced and graded might help a shop owner make more informed choices when buying bits and blades.
The following is a starting point for shop owners thinking of making the leap into CNC machinery. It might also be useful for shops that are already up and running as they can use it to introduce new employees to the process.
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