cnc router to replace sliding table saw

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Forum topic by squazo posted 05-24-2014 07:04 PM 5057 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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62 posts in 1643 days

05-24-2014 07:04 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I am in the process of planning my dream shop which hopefully will become a real shop about 2 years from now. So I am looking at sliding table saws of course, but then I got to thinking why not use a cnc router table to break down panels, They cut perfectly straight chip free with the right bit. plus you can do all the cool stuff like make spirals and all sorts of goofy shapes. Im starting to look into pricing and have asked a few companies, but i imagine its not much more than a slider, some sliders can go for 30 grand.

ok so i must admit I dont know what the term nesting means please explain

10 replies so far

View JonHitThingWithRock's profile


97 posts in 1720 days

#1 posted 05-24-2014 07:25 PM

One thing to consider is how long it’d take to set up the cnc to make the cuts vs how long it’d take with a slider table saw, I would imagine it’d be more time spent with the cnc, but I also don’t know anything about cnc. I will say this, if I had the space and $ for a 4’ x 8’ cnc machine, I’d totally get one for that same reason, breaking down sheet goods is among my least favorite things to do

View JAAune's profile


1798 posts in 2315 days

#2 posted 05-24-2014 07:38 PM

I prefer a CNC myself too but not all of them are equally well-suited for sheet good work. You’ll also need decent nesting software to efficiently transfer your cuts to the CNC. It can take awhile to layout the cutting paths if you do each piece manually.

-- See my work at and

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3545 days

#3 posted 05-24-2014 08:00 PM

We are looking to upgrade to a CNC. I don’t think a CNC will completely take the place of a table saw. We have 3 table saws in our shop and plan to keep all 3 when we get the CNC.

It seems there are a lot of advantages a CNC will have over a table saw. We are getting excited about our near future upgrade to a CNC. We are looking at nesting and cutting out cabinets on a very regular basis.

-- .

View MrRon's profile


4769 posts in 3241 days

#4 posted 05-24-2014 08:27 PM

I think a CNC will cost a whole lot more than a saw. Router bits will get dull much faster than a good saw blade. You would need 1/4 bits as a minimum for stiffness for cutting 3/4 sheet goods; a lot of waste.

View JAAune's profile


1798 posts in 2315 days

#5 posted 05-24-2014 08:47 PM

That depends upon whether he’s cutting mostly square panels or not. By the time nesting is figured in, there’s usually less waste in CNC routing. If all the cuts are straight and aligned with each other then the saw starts to make more sense.

The OP is specifically referring to sliding table saws and not cabinet saws. I assume he’ll keep a cabinet saw in the shop and just replace the cabinet saw with a CNC router.

-- See my work at and

View Loren's profile


10390 posts in 3646 days

#6 posted 05-24-2014 09:37 PM

With CNC panel processing you’ll also need to consider the
power requirements of the vacuum pumps used to hold
panels down.

A sliding table saw is useful in ways other than everyday
panel cutting.

View DS's profile


2917 posts in 2418 days

#7 posted 05-27-2014 01:28 AM

A decent CNC is no good without decent software. A good nesting program can cost almost as much as the machine. (Things to consider)

Cabinetvision is proven to manage fairly large production of nested parts with a high degree of automation. It does require, however, that you spend some time defining your construction methods and materials. Once set up, though, I’ve seen no faster way to output nested parts to the CNC. Cabinetvision solid with screen to machine can cost upwards of $15k to $30k depending on options.

So, keep the software costs in mind, (initial purchase and setup time) when comparing against a sliding table saw.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View Underdog's profile


1095 posts in 2033 days

#8 posted 05-27-2014 01:38 AM

DS and I both use Cabinet Vision and can attest to it’s effectiveness in nesting a sheet of parts for use on a CNC Router. The time spent setting up the construction methods is well worth it if you have a CNC machine (with ATC- automatic tool change) that will do the lineboring, rabbets, dados, and part cutout (shaped and square).

It used to take me 20 minutes just to optimize, rip and crosscut one sheet of 4×8 plywood on our sliding table saw. And then I had to do the rabbets, dados and lineboring.

Now, for our standard faceframe construction, all of that is done in less than 5 minutes on our router.

Our production jumped quite a bit after we purchased the router. We can make a lot more cabinets in a shorter amount of time. We can also do things we could never do before…

If you have the clients, then it’s well worth it.

-- "woodworker with an asterisk"

View Puzzleman's profile


417 posts in 2942 days

#9 posted 05-27-2014 07:12 PM

No one has answered his question of what does nesting mean.

Nesting means putting the parts close together to maximize the use of the wood. For example, if you are cutting panels that all measure the same it is easy to figure out the optimum way to get the most out of each sheet. However, if you have many different sizes coming from the same panel, it gets a little more complicated. Nesting software can do that part of the job for you.

I got rid of my table saw after getting going with my cnc. Some things might be a tad quicker on the table saw but I now have more room for other things.

-- Jim Beachler, Chief Puzzler,

View DLCW's profile


530 posts in 2652 days

#10 posted 06-01-2014 05:15 PM

I’ve turned over most of my sheet processing to my Shopbot CNC (excellent user community support). A number of reasons for this:

1. When the sheet is held down well (vacuum), cuts are perfect.
2. Really weird shapes can be nested very easily.
3. I can include all joinery (dado’s, M&T joints, wood screw pre-drill, etc. and whatever hardware holes (shelf pin holes, hinge holes, drawer slide holes, etc. I need to mill and the CNC does them all well
4. I put the sheet on the CNC table and let the CNC do the rest. No more manhandling heavy sheets anymore. I sheet of 3/4” melamine can way as much as 100 lbs. A high density sheet of 3/4” MDF can weight in at 110 lbs.
5. When I process large numbers of sheets, the nesting software does a really good job of minimizing waste, much more then being able to cut just strait lines on the TS

Don’t get me wrong, I use my Delta cabinet saw (I’ve had since 1996) daily. I couldn’t run my business without it. The CNC is just another tool in the shop. A big feature of the CNC is that I can turn it loose processing sheet goods, while I’m working on solid wood parts (faceframes, doors, drawer faces, etc.). I’s like having another employee, but they don’t show up late, go home early, complain, take long lunchs, get sick, etc. They can have an occasional brain fart but it is a computer after all and what computers don’t have occasional brain farts… :-)

As far as software, it all depends on what you are going to use the machine for. I use eCabinets (free from Thermwood – great user community support) and a program called Shopbot Link ($1200 new). eCabinets is great for designing layouts, and cabinets and showing them in 3D to customers. It has a steep learning curve but once you learn to use it, it is great. I use Vectric Aspire for all my other vector (and 3D) designing and machining needs. Great piece of software and excellent user community support.

So, remember that a CNC is just another tool in the shop. Figure out in your work processes if it is going to be an asset or a liability.

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

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