Woodworking Journey #1: Thoughts about CNC routers and the essence of woodworking

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Blog entry by CueballRosendaul posted 02-19-2015 01:32 AM 1503 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Last weekend, I joined a couple other sawdust junkies on a trip to the Wood Expo (aka the Peachtree tool sale). Among the displays and demonstrations, there were 4 companies selling CNC routers, and one selling a laser engraver. I think these things are totally cool and the work they can do is pretty amazing. One of the guys with me actually owns a Shark machine and I’ve used it a few times to engrave letters into special projects, but I really don’t have any desire to get one for myself.

As I walked by those displays at the show, I never even had the desire to stop and watch them working because I spend a lot of time on a computer in the course of my daily work and even my blogs and YouTube videos. For me, woodworking is an escape from technology, a chance to engage in with something physical. I know there’s skill involved in getting the machine set up properly, and a lot of other woodworking involved in building a project because the CNC machine is just one more tool like a sander or router. Personally I need to feel either the tool or the wood in my hands or it just doesn’t feel like woodworking.

To satisfy my want to carve and engrave things, I bought a Rockler State Park Font Interlock lettering kit (both 2 1/4” and 3 3/8”) and the Milescraft Panotgraph jig. I had thought about building a panto-router anyway, but for $45 including a set of three carbide bits I couldn’t go wrong. Those tools still allow me to feel the vibration of the tool in my hand and give me a sense of doing the work myself. I’m not a Luddite purist going back to working with hand saws and hatchets like Roy Underhill, but tell me I’m not the only one who really doesn’t want one of these gizmos because it doesn’t feel like woodworking.

-- Matt CueBall Rosendaul. I don't think I've ever had a cup of coffee that didn't have cat hair or sawdust in it.

2 comments so far

View Musiclogic's profile


31 posts in 1496 days

#1 posted 02-19-2015 02:05 AM

Many times I think I would love to have a cnc, just for radiusing and slotting fretboards, but have never considered one for any other reason. In my business, most have cnc’s these days or buy time on cnc’s to do bulk work for them. I prefer to cut, shape and rout my work rather than rely on a machine that takes away the creativity in my eyes. Many people have become lazy or are not trained in woodworking and see the cnc as a way to gain kudos from other woodworkers, friends and family for creativity they don’t have. I know 2 guys personally in my business who do everything by cnc and openly admit they have no ability to do any of the woodwork. Like anything else it’s a tool and should be considered as such. Programming tool paths is a talent too, one I don t have.

-- a man never fails, he just quits trying.

View DIYaholic's profile


19135 posts in 2093 days

#2 posted 02-19-2015 02:16 AM

I think the whole “CNC” question….
as utilized for woodworking….
Is a matter of opinion and everyone has their own.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

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