That ain't wood working

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Forum topic by RussellAP posted 02-09-2013 03:18 AM 1164 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2950 posts in 939 days

02-09-2013 03:18 AM

I just saw a picture of a nice section of log, very white wood. I’d say it weighed in at 100+ lbs.
It was on a bench with a perfect oval being bored out with a router….on a mechanical arm.
A machine was doing this.
I wonder if the old handtool school guys look at the use of power tools the way I’m looking at this robot doing all the work for this guy.
And what pisses me off the most is that it looks great.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

21 replies so far

View redryder's profile


2158 posts in 1755 days

#1 posted 02-09-2013 08:12 AM

That’s what I think every time I see someone post a CNC routed project. Is that really wood working?????

-- mike...............

View Don W's profile

Don W

15029 posts in 1220 days

#2 posted 02-09-2013 01:10 PM

That’s like using a scanner and calling it painting.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View Tony_S's profile


427 posts in 1736 days

#3 posted 02-09-2013 03:42 PM

Utter heresy….or is it? It’s a topic that I still sometimes struggle with 5 years later.

Take your router back in time to 1660 and show ‘em what ya got….Not only would you burned at the stake for being a witch, but every joiner in the shire would first chase you down and beat you with their rabbet planes.

This could get pretty deep! LOL!

Step back 22 years…I walked into a shop that built custom staircases. It was a fairly young company, one year old with only three guys, including the owner, a few routers, skilsaws, and a shitkicked old delta contractor table saw. What I learned quickly is it was a ‘learn as you go’ process.
There was about 16-17 years of design struggles, and an even bigger mountain to climb, were the ‘execution struggles’. All while trying to maintain and mix of top quality, efficiency and a fearless hunger for challenge.
We climbed every single mountain that was put in front of us all due to the minds, hands and very humble pride of some extremely talented tradesmen and craftsman.

Roll forward 16 years, and it was suggested we should look into the world of CNC. It was a BIG scary world! As the foreman…I struggled quietly with the question, is that wood working? It was more of a deep personal struggle than anything…and I do mean deep!
But, I also had the well being and progression of a very…’close to my heart’ company to consider.
There were MANY sleepless nights! I was extremely proud of what we had accomplished in those 16 years and was afraid (terrified?) that a CNC would take away from the skill involved.
I knew what was best for the company it’s self….so, after about 6 months worth of research, in rolls (small cranes and forklifts lol!) a $200,000 Dollar Busellato! Uhhm about 15 grand for BASIC tooling Oh ya…and don’t forget the 20 grand worth of drafting and programing software! Oops…don’t forget the new employee we had to import to run the damn thing!
A fairly long process to get there (that I’ll spare you lol), but the first time we fired that baby up and cut and profiled a set of solid Maple 1 3/4” thick, convex circular stair treads…..I wanted to puke in my mouth. A real mix of…’That ain’t woodworking’...and Holy Christ, we’re all out of a job!

But….what Ive learned(an incredible amount) in the five years since, Is that isn’t always so.(I don’t operate, or draft, but am involved in all aspects of design and problem solving)
The design element hasn’t been harmed in any way shape or form. More improved than anything.
The woodworking element hasn’t changed a whole lot really. It doesn’t matter what your trying to execute on the CNC, you still need to know proper mill work procedures, tooling, feed rates, spindle speeds…the same mistakes can happen on a CNC as can in human hands. Right from design to execution.
The main benefit is (for us and most others) is on a production level. In that manner they can’t be beat.
On a custom, ‘one of’ level, not so much. It depends purely on the item, and how deep the customers pockets are. On the custom level, it’s quite often more economical to get one of the guys in the shop to make ‘one of’. Drafts people, custom tooling, and shutting down a production run can get pretty expensive for a ‘one of’ when I can pay one of my guys to do it in an hour….or maybe 4? It all depends for us what it is the customer wants(and how many).
Customer conversations can often go like this….
I need a price on one CNC’d ‘doohicky’...
Ok…2000 bucks.
long pause…but I can make one myself for 500?
Yes you can….but I can make you 50 for 4000.00
Most people don’t realize the sometimes very large cost BEFORE you hit the go button. Yes, the CNC can do a phenomenal job…but only because of the phenomenal people we pay to get us to the ‘go’ button.

Ive also come to realize over the years, that unless your willing to spend unlimited amounts of money on the CNC it’s self, software and tooling, CNC’s DO have limitations.
That’s really the one area that Ive always found…’peace’?aaannnd….solace? I guess you would call it…
When the limitations are reached, or when the machine has a brainfart and shuts down mechanically or software related(yes they do).

Me and my guys …are your CNC.
We can do anything that machine can and more…by hand.

All in all, it’s a pretty complex and deep question, and believe it or not…even with all my rambling above, personally, that’s only the tip if the iceberg! LOL!!

Sorry for the looong post….but, it’s not a question thats answered in three or four sentences.

The person behind that carving above, is no less an artist, and no less a woodworker than you or me….they’re just using a ‘sharper’ chisel….you still need to know how to ‘hold and finesse’ that chisel.

-- "The trouble with people idiot-proofing things, is the resulting evolution of the idiot."

View Don W's profile

Don W

15029 posts in 1220 days

#4 posted 02-09-2013 03:52 PM

I agree its about perspective but…...

Take a 12 year old who needs a calculator to tell you what 8 times 8 equals, should we say they know math, I mean we all have access to a calculator?

We’re going to advance, its our nature. But sometimes I think we associate easier with better way to fast.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View RussellAP's profile


2950 posts in 939 days

#5 posted 02-09-2013 04:09 PM

I have a lot of respect for anyone who can make that robot do what it does, but I respect the man who does it by hand or with those antiquated Grizzly tools even more.

You’d be superman if you could hold that router.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View a1Jim's profile


112083 posts in 2230 days

#6 posted 02-09-2013 04:22 PM

Russ I would guess that hunk of wood weighs 350lbs. Is it woodworking in the sense that it is wood and it’s being worked. Is it a artistic hands on piece that a person ends up with after a CNC cranks out the item it manufacturers ?
In a way it is. As Tony pointed CNC operations takes a great amount of skill and training too and special tooling to operate a CNC.
Think of the true Galoot(non power tool woodworkers) they may turn their nose up at routers,table saws and other power tools, so once they make a wooden stool verses the guy with power tools is it worth more? or is it better? Probably not. Does the Galoot get more enjoyment and a greater sense of accomplishment than the folks with power tools? As wood workers we tend to think of our selves as artist ,but art is subjective.All said and done if your in business of making a product from wood that is repeatable with a CNC it’s going to give you a huge edge over you competition. As for us guys working out of our small shops and garages it might irk the daylights out of us ,but being in business CNC makes a lot of sense in our 21st century . So in short “yes IMO CNC is wood working.

-- Custom furniture

View Sandra's profile


4432 posts in 728 days

#7 posted 02-09-2013 04:34 PM

I remember clearly having a conversation with my brother. He was telling me that soon we would all carry plastic cards in our wallets instead of cash but that they weren’t credit cards. These plastic cards would know how much money we had in the bank and would take out the amount we needed at the grocery store. I was in my teens if I remember correctly and I really couldn’t wrap my head around it.

Change is scary. Is a book written using a word processing program any less of a masterpiece than one written with a typewriter? Or does it need to be a fountain pen by lamplight? Regardless the tool, the vision and creativity resides in he or she using it.

My two cents worth. Which I’ll have to change to a nickel since Canada is no longer producing pennies…..

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View JoeinGa's profile


3237 posts in 660 days

#8 posted 02-09-2013 04:42 PM

@Tony S… ”the first time we fired that baby up and cut and profiled a set of solid Maple 1 3/4” thick, convex circular stair treads…..I wanted to puke in my mouth. A real mix of…’That ain’t woodworking’…and Holy Christ, we’re all out of a job!”

THAT got a hellofa laugh outta me! THANKS!

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View RussellAP's profile


2950 posts in 939 days

#9 posted 02-09-2013 04:44 PM

Sandra, it’s not so much the outcome as it is the process that I don’t like. And I’m not up in arms over it, just thought it would be a good subject for discussion.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View WoodenFrog's profile


2737 posts in 1566 days

#10 posted 02-09-2013 05:17 PM

Hi Guys and Gals, I just wanted to share my thoughts!
I make mostly small little wooden projects Rings/ Jewelry and things!
I get asked all the time what kinda lathe did I use? I do not have a lathe!
I make most of my stuff(it is little) by hand with very few tools at all, my favorite tool is my Sandpaper!
I use a lot of it in making my rings, I do use a Dremel tool a lot! I do most of my cutting with small hand saws!
My favorite way to cut the Rings is with and old hack saw blade wrapped with electrical tape, I am doing a blog on the Lamination style rings I make very soon, I have been reluctant to do a blog because I know as soon as everyone see’s it they will say: Why do it that way, I can do that faster or better with this tool or that tool!
I know there is plenty of other ways to do it! But not for me, I have a blood disorder that I have to be on high doses of Blood thinner and I am not to be around very sharp objects. I do somewhat! But does it make my rings any better? No I do not think so, This is how I do it! I do not think it makes my work any better than the guy that would use a slew of great power tools! I really enjoy making my little projects with the small amount of tools I have.
I really like seeing what all great woodworkers come up with, it does not really matter what tool they used to come up with as long as their was some form of human input in it ( CNC Operator)
This is just my input! I really don’t know a lot! But all in all I think it is woodworking!
I am a guy I like to see things like this in action, I like things that blow-up! I like big trucks! Why not a bad-ass CNC machine do awesome work on a huge piece of WOOD! Just my opinion!
Have a great day And Happy Woodworking!

-- Robert B. Sabina, Ohio.....

View dakremer's profile


2455 posts in 1744 days

#11 posted 02-09-2013 05:30 PM

not all people “do” woodworking for the fact of “doing” woodworking. I just like building/designing things….creating things. i could care less if my technique is considered “traditional” woodworking or not. If that were the case, then using a table saw technically isnt true woodworking, and anyone using one should be ashamed. How about using hand planes? All of these fancy handplanes didn’t exist when woodworking “began.” Not true woodworking. Its such a dumb discussion.

I would love to use a machine like that to create things. The joy for me isnt necessarily the process, but seeing my creative thought turn into an end product. If a CNC helped me to get from point A to point B….thats awesome. I would LOVE to have that machine pictured above!!

To each his own.

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View rance's profile


4132 posts in 1813 days

#12 posted 02-09-2013 11:54 PM

Tony & Jim pretty much sum up my feelings too. Nice line Tony:

“The person behind that carving above, is no less an artist, and no less a woodworker than you or me….they’re just using a ‘sharper’ chisel….you still need to know how to ‘hold and finesse’ that chisel.”

@Russell, where’d you get that picture?

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View RussellAP's profile


2950 posts in 939 days

#13 posted 02-09-2013 11:58 PM

Rance, I think it’s from a Facebook post by The SAW.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Sandra's profile


4432 posts in 728 days

#14 posted 02-10-2013 12:11 AM

Yup, some people are process people, some are result. Not sure where I stand. Depends on the day…..

Good topic.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View DLCW's profile


523 posts in 1307 days

#15 posted 02-11-2013 09:41 PM

A CNC is just another tool in the shop, like a tablesaw, bandsaw, planer, jointer, Japanese saw, block plane, etc. Is using a jointer woodworking if you have a hand plane to flatten and square a board? Is a tablesaw woodworking if you have a handsaw to rip or crosscut a board? Is using a planer to thickness a board considered woodworking when you have a bench hand plane you could use to flatten it?

I have found that I can now fulfill a lot of peoples dreams of nicely carved furniture and make it VERY affordable to them because I have a CNC machine. I can make templates for bent form lamination, much faster and more accurately by cutting those forms on a CNC then by using router template processes to do the same thing. This translates to being able to make more curved forms of furniture available to customers that they can afford. I don’t see anything wrong with trying to help people fulfill their dreams of really nice pieces of furniture or cabinetry that didn’t cost them 2 or 3 years of salary/wages, and will last a lifetime.

If I did this strictly as a hobby, for my family and a couple of friends, then of course I wouldn’t own a CNC machine. That would be cost prohibitive. But if I can do things now much faster, more accurately and safer, then I think the CNC is a good investment as are the other tools in my shop (automatic edgebander for example) I use to help build projects that people can enjoy for a lifetime and still have money left to go out to dinner and celebrate their new project.

-- Don, Diamond Lake Custom Woodworks - - "If you make something idiot proof, all they do is make a better idiot"

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