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Forum topic by Mark Smith posted 06-25-2013 09:04 PM 1325 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mark Smith

498 posts in 758 days


06-25-2013 09:04 PM

I had a stupid idea while reading some other forums yesterday so I wanted to see if anybody else thought it was a good idea or stupid idea. :)

There are several places out there that sell CNC kits to build your own machine. I don’t think I’d have a problem building these machines. I haven’t done all the research yet, but it appears you can build your own machine at maybe half the price of buying a new factory built machine. I already have a woodshop with the space to build these machines, so I was wondering what kind of market there would be for building them from kit parts and then selling them. I contacted one manufacturer of the kits and they told me they have several people doing just that. They said they were also very willing to work with me, with the only requirement being that I give the machines my own brand name and then give them a footnote saying it was built from their parts.

There’s a lot of questions to be answered like insurance requirements and warranty issues, but it looks like it would be something fun to do and maybe profitable. I also have my own Legacy CNC so at least I know how to operate the CNC’s and the software so I could even provide some training to go along with machines. Everybody I talk to says they would love to have a CNC, but I just wonder how many would actually buy one if I could sell them for maybe 65% to 75% of the cost (maybe less) of one of the bigger brand names?

-- Mark Smith, Tracy, CA., http://www.markscustomwoodcrafts.com


15 replies so far

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Mark Smith

498 posts in 758 days


#1 posted 06-26-2013 04:17 PM

Well 160 people viewed my post and nobody replied. So I’ll take that to mean you guys all loved my idea so much that you have stolen it and are out making your own CNC’s for resale as we speak. Either than or you think it’s a stupid idea. :)

-- Mark Smith, Tracy, CA., http://www.markscustomwoodcrafts.com

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Loren

7808 posts in 2366 days


#2 posted 06-26-2013 05:11 PM

Who would you be selling to?

Cabinet shops have robust needs. Used industrial
cabinetmaking CNC machines are not difficult to
acquire at auction. I don’t see pros buying from
a guy putting together machines in his garage.

You may be able to sell plasma cutters.

Providing software and training/phone support
would be a plus I reckon. Dumb hobbiests could
drive you nuts with the support though.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

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RonInOhio

720 posts in 1582 days


#3 posted 06-26-2013 05:17 PM

There are other site forums devoted solely to CNC. That may be your best bet for getting
the type of info you want.

I have browsed a few of those, and those guys are hard-core and do a lot of
home-brews.

CNC is sort of a specialty all to itself and right now, kind of a niche market in
my opinion. Of course you spelled out all the reasons for that. Cost mainly.

I would be a little skeptical that your time and labor could be recovered. If you were to
develop a training program, a good web-site with memberships, etc.
That would likely be where your profits would be.

Just think it would be a ton of work and take a long time to get a following.

Of course, Jobs started Apple in his parents basement and a wooden
prototype, so its far from being impossible.

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Mosquito

5022 posts in 1010 days


#4 posted 06-26-2013 05:25 PM

I’m not sure that I agree with Loren if his statement is a general one for the “market” as a whole. Yes, I’m sure used cabinet making CNC machines are more accurate, more robust, and whatever else than a home made kit. However, there is also a very very significant difference in machine size, power requirement, and weight to consider. I would like to someday have a CNC, but I will certainly not want to dedicate a huge space to one just so I can have an old industrial CNC…

I think your interest level would be directly correlated with the cost. If you can get them out cheap enough, I’m sure there are a lot of people, such as myself, who would like to get into using a CNC, but haven’t yet due to cost.

Just my opinion.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN -- Stanley #45 Evangelist - www.youtube.com/MosquitoMods

View Mark Smith's profile

Mark Smith

498 posts in 758 days


#5 posted 06-26-2013 05:46 PM

Thanks guys, all things to consider. And although I do know that there are used machines out there many are very expensive and many are very very well used. I’ve looked at them. I’ve run into far more people that have told me they wish they could afford one than I have people who have them. I know many smaller cabinet shops that don’t have them.

At first I was actually thinking of making 8’ x 4’ models specifically to target the small woodworker like me, but I’m wondering if there wouldn’t be more of a market for the smaller machines and the hobbyist type woodworker. My Legacy can only handle 18” by 58” so it’s on the smaller side, but after I bought the machine and all the required software and accessories I’m into this machine for about $20k. My machine is heavy duty, but it’s really on the boarder line between a hobby machine and a commercial use machine. Who could afford to pay $20k for a hobby machine? Not too many of us. If I could make similar size machines and sell them for half that price, there may be a market in the hobbyist business.

I’m just thinking out loud about doing this anyway. I do think I’ll visit the factory that makes the kit and just take a look around, but I think in the end I’ll decide that the effort won’t be worth the money that can be made.

-- Mark Smith, Tracy, CA., http://www.markscustomwoodcrafts.com

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PurpLev

8476 posts in 2367 days


#6 posted 06-26-2013 06:00 PM

I personally don’t think there is a large market of people that want to spend $10K for a smaller foot-print CNC setup. at least not enough to start a business to market to those people.

sure , one off or a few … but I suspect that’s where it would end. the way I see it. those hobbyist that wants to try out CNC either want something real small, and real cheap (as in sub $2k and I’m being generous here) – or better off making it themselves to cut costs. OR you have people that actually will use this commercially (even as hobbyists) and those will require larger machines and more involved setup/software/support/etc. even these 2 groups of people I reckon are quite small, especially if you plan on doing anything local.

just my $0.02

obviously I could be way off… but that’s what I get from interacting with LJs, and other woodworkers around the country.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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Mark Smith

498 posts in 758 days


#7 posted 06-26-2013 07:09 PM

I think you’re right Purp, but what many of these people find out when they spend their $2k or less for a small machine is that they wasted their money. I shouldn’t say wasted completely, but those $2k machines are basically toys that are really limited in what they can do.

My plan (if I do this) would be to add this to my already existing business. Basically I’d get all the parts and build one in time between other jobs and then try and sell it once built. I’d like to avoid building to order and things like that. Just build one at a time and sell them off. So I’ll never be into for more than $5k to $10k at any given time. So it’s not like I could lose my shorts.

-- Mark Smith, Tracy, CA., http://www.markscustomwoodcrafts.com

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JAAune

926 posts in 1035 days


#8 posted 06-27-2013 01:56 AM

For perspective, I built one along with my business partner with coaching from an instructor in a class setting. It’s a 4’x8’ machine with industrial linear guides and materials ran over $7,000 for it. The two of us worked on it for approximately a combined 250 hours in three weeks before everything was tuned up perfectly. That’s not counting the time spent sourcing materials and planning the build.

I’d say that it’s got similar strength and capability to a mid-range Shopbot but it doesn’t come with the Shopbot’s customer support or warranties.

If you want to sell the machines you’ll have to provide excellent aftermarket support because from what I hear, Shopbot is selling to the low-priced sector of the CNC market and they do support their product well. That company would be your competitor.

-- See my work at http://remmertstudios.com and http://altaredesign.com

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

5189 posts in 1295 days


#9 posted 06-27-2013 02:00 AM

http://www.cnczone.com/

There’s a site for the CNC folks for those that are unaware of it.

View Mark Smith's profile

Mark Smith

498 posts in 758 days


#10 posted 06-27-2013 02:23 AM

JAAune, sounds like the machine you built was far more from scratch than what I’m talking about. The ones I’m looking at are in kit form so should be a lot easier to build. Based on some things I’ve seen they should be able to be assembled in a week or two by one person. A 4’ by 8’ would be about $7k for the kit. Of course this is just early info I’m getting and would have to confirm all this. A Legacy 4’ by 8’ machine is over $25k, buy it doesn’t have more features too. I think a similar size shopbot was in the over $20k range too. If I could make the thing in two weeks and make a $3000 k profit over materials cost, I’d be a happy camper.

-- Mark Smith, Tracy, CA., http://www.markscustomwoodcrafts.com

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JAAune

926 posts in 1035 days


#11 posted 06-27-2013 03:35 AM

Yes, our machine was pretty much built from scratch. I ordered most of the aluminum frame pre-cut and we used a router mount from CNC Router Parts but that’s about it.

I don’t know which kits you are contemplating using but I can tell you that the other students in the class built theirs from the standard CNC line of kits from CNC Router Parts. Our machine was a modified version of the Machine Tool Camp design. The modifications included beefing up the Z-axis components and completely changing the electrical schematics.

Between the two machine types, the other students were able to get their machine assembled quicker than we could. However, we started to catch up quickly once we finished assembly because the tuneup on our machine was much less fussy. Lineal guide rails and bearings are far, far easier to adjust than the homebrew system of roller bearings the other machines used.

If you decide to make this venture, I highly recommend spending the money on good guide rails and bearings. You’ll probably save yourself half a day of tuning work and have less callbacks from customers complaining about bearing issues. Most of your customers probably won’t have a clue about making fine adjustments.

-- See my work at http://remmertstudios.com and http://altaredesign.com

View Mark Smith's profile

Mark Smith

498 posts in 758 days


#12 posted 06-27-2013 03:21 PM

CNC Router Parts is the company I’m thinking about going and visiting. My hope would be to build and sell a couple of their kits and then when I learn more about it maybe I can customize them more like what you are talking about.

-- Mark Smith, Tracy, CA., http://www.markscustomwoodcrafts.com

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JAAune

926 posts in 1035 days


#13 posted 06-27-2013 11:45 PM

It looks like CNC Router Parts also offers a professional grade kit that would have the better guides I mentioned. That would probably be worth looking into.

-- See my work at http://remmertstudios.com and http://altaredesign.com

View Mark Smith's profile

Mark Smith

498 posts in 758 days


#14 posted 06-28-2013 01:37 AM

Thanks for the info. CNC Router parts is about 600 miles or so from me. Really what I’m looking for is an excuse to take a drive up to Seattle and make a business expense. :)

-- Mark Smith, Tracy, CA., http://www.markscustomwoodcrafts.com

View Jerry's profile

Jerry

2234 posts in 2265 days


#15 posted 06-28-2013 01:44 AM

CNC router parts looks very interesting. I will be in the market for a CNC next year at some point. Currently we have a 80*40 slab and columns on our land, next is the R panel and C purlin and then plumbing and electrical, then move in day! Then back to adding to our fun inventory of tools and machines to include a future CNC :)

As a pro myself, honestly I cannot say that I would invest money in someone else building me a homemade CNC kit, but looking at the link I see they have some neat looking CNC Pro level kits at affordable prices and might be a good way to get started in the world of CNC. My whole woodworking life has been about buying entry level and upgrading as I learn. I bought the 150.00 craftsman TS, now have three 3 hp cabinet saws, started with a router table, now have four 3 hp shapers and considering adding a Unique 250 or comparable, etc….

Anyway, very informative thread.

-- Jerry Nettrour, San Antonio, www.topqualitycabinets.net

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