CNC router

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Forum topic by yellowtruck75 posted 11-18-2013 02:59 AM 1683 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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469 posts in 3064 days

11-18-2013 02:59 AM

I need some advice on a CNC router. I am thinking about getting a CNC router to carve my chair seats. The bed needs to be roughly 24” x 24” and be able to carve 8/4 hardwoods.

9 replies so far

View lab7654's profile


266 posts in 2244 days

#1 posted 11-18-2013 03:09 AM

I don’t have much experience with CNC, but we have a CNC Shark Pro at my high school and it’s pretty easy to use. Only takes an hour or so to train someone on it. Pretty user friendly, too.

-- Tristin King -- When in doubt, sand it.

View bullhead1's profile


228 posts in 2246 days

#2 posted 11-18-2013 03:20 AM

I have a Shark that I bought through Rockler. The most economical hobby cnc with a 24 by 24 cutting area ( the bed is actually larger) that I found. It comes with Vectrics V-carve software, but for what your doing you may need to upgrade the software to Aspire. The machine has worked very well, but there are times that I day dream thinking what I could do with a larger cutting area. You may want to look at Shopbot they have some hobby cncs also. Check out both Shark Talk Forum and Shopbot Forum as sometimes there are used machines for sale.

View hydro's profile


208 posts in 1749 days

#3 posted 11-18-2013 02:26 PM

Check out Laguna Tools, they have some nice smaller CNC stuff. If you have “how to” questions give them a call and ask for “Router Bob”. He knows his stuff and can point you to the right machine for the job and the software to run it.

-- Minnesota Woodworkers Guild, Past President, Lifetime member.

View helluvawreck's profile


31071 posts in 2864 days

#4 posted 11-18-2013 02:32 PM

Take a look at Camaster.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8043 posts in 2326 days

#5 posted 11-18-2013 02:49 PM

The sky is the limit with CNC routers….

You need to define your budget and required work envelope to identify the right machine.

Also, if you have the aptitude, you can get more machine for your dollar by kit building your own.

( has a very popular 48”x48” kit that you can get into for ~$4K)

-- It’s the knowledge in your head, skill in your hands and motivation to create in you heart that makes you a woodworker. - Mainiac Matt

View brtech's profile


1029 posts in 2920 days

#6 posted 11-18-2013 04:11 PM

The smaller CNCs use a smaller spindle motor. You can always trade time for depth of cut, but that may not work for you. The larger ones use a regular router, and the really nice ones use water cooled high speed spindles that cut through steel if you need to.

A chair seat seems like a really simple task for a basic 3D CNC. You need some nice curves, so you may indeed have to use better software than what comes with the machine. Shopbot is pretty good in the low end. The Camaster stuff is a significant upgrade. Lots of other suppliers around. I am a fan of the approach, but it’s pretty big, and you need to put the kit together.

You start with the dimensions of cut area. More is always better, but of course you pay for it. Worry about the actual size of the blank and how it attaches to the bed. The cut area is not all there is to worry about.

Then you worry about the bearing mechanism. There are lots of different ways vendors do this. V groove, Hiwin or other commercial linear bearings, and the cncrouterparts bearings on steel plate approach. There are advantages and drawbacks to each of these. Worry about how the bearings are protected from swarf and dust.

Then you look at the drive. The basic choices are acme threaded shafts and rack-and-pinion. For smaller axis lengths, the acme shaft is probably better, but for larger axis (48” and up), rack and pinion is better. For 48” and longer, you want both sides driven.

Most lower cost systems use stepper motor drives, but you can ask about the torque, voltage and power supply issues. Bigger motors on heavier systems or axis of course.

Then you get to ask about the electronics. There are a lot of cheapo motor drives out there. Geckodrives is usually considered to be the best, but there are other quality choices out there.

Then there is the software. There are three pieces of software to be concerned about:
The software you use to create your design: some sort of CAD program. I like Sketchup, and it’s free, although you need a way to get the design out to your CAM program, and that is most easily done with the pro version

The software that decides how to get the machine to move the way it needs to realize your design. This is CAM software. The Vetrics suite is often what you get, but you will need something more than the Cut2D that is the low end. I don’t know if Cut3D will be enough or whether you have to go to Aspire. I use Cambam, but I’ve never tried to do something like a chair seat with it. Sometimes you get the idea that this is pushbutton – put the design, the CAM system figures out how to make the cuts. It’s not, you have to do a lot of the thinking for it.

The third piece is the software that actually drives the machine. For hobby use, the standard, can’t-be-beat answer is Mach3, but there are others that are okay. Usually, if you buy a complete system, this is included, and you don’t get a choice. WinCNC is a good commercial one, probably better than Mach3.

View tinnman65's profile


1357 posts in 3411 days

#7 posted 11-19-2013 03:49 PM

Marc Adams School of Woodworking is offering a class June 14-22 ””Make Your Own 3-Axis CNC Router with Knight”.Last year I was there taking another class at the time this class was going on and it was amazing what that class did while I was there. I don’t know what your budget is but its another option. The guys taking the class said it they were building machines for far less then than the cost to buy one with the added benefit of knowing your machine inside and out. There was small to very large machines being built depending on budget or needs.The software and its usage is also covered. There is photos of the class on his website if your interested. I see you have got some very good info from people who know about this type of thing I just thought I would throw that out there. Good Luck

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. — Scott Adams

View RockyTopScott's profile


1186 posts in 3476 days

#8 posted 11-19-2013 03:53 PM

What helluvawreck said.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

View JAAune's profile


1798 posts in 2314 days

#9 posted 11-19-2013 11:46 PM

I was in that CNC class Tinnman is talking about. The machine was a 4’x8’ unit based on the Machine Tool Camp design with linear bearings. It was definitely several thousand cheaper than purchasing an equivalent ShopBot. It did take myself and my business partner about a month to get it together after taking into account research, purchasing, the class and final adjustments and modifications but it was highly educational and plenty of fun.

The software packages we’re using are Mach3 and BobCad. BobCad isn’t known to be the best CadCam package out there but with the student bundle we got through the class it was far cheaper than anything with similar features that I am aware about.

If you are considering the build-your-own route, I’d definitely recommend giving John Knight’s class at Marc Adams a good look. Class and travel fees will add a fair bit to the cost of the machine but you’ll get the benefit of a superior machine since the instructor has the skill and knowledge to make improvements to the controls of the machine. This is especially true if you want a Machine Tool Camp router. The version I was working on has a much improved z-axis assembly, re-designed controls and a beefed up x-axis drive.

Be forewarned that building a Machine Tool Camp CNC in one week is an ambitious task even with an instructor’s help. Between myself and my business partner, we had basic knowledge of machining and electronics and we needed every bit of that. In order to get the machine operational by the end of the week, we basically stayed in the shop every waking hour.

Final tweaking and tuning was done after we brought it home.

-- See my work at and

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