View Full Version : Advice Needed CNC

john lawson
03-31-2009, 8:01 PM
I have been doing woodworking for 25+ years, the last 4-5 years professionally. I have built many different kinds of furniture, beds, tables, etc, and some cabinets; all of it fairly high end. Over time the work type varies.

I am now working on a very large conference table with a mix of granite and two veneers. Again, fairly high end. I am finding that I can save a lot of time by having my templates all cut on a cnc router, and some of the veneer on a laser. I would then vacuum veneer it, and cut the pieces to fit the templates. The granite surround would be cut with a waterjet. The other option is to have the center veneer section cnc router cut as well.

With the quotes I am getting to do some of this work, laser, cnc router, etc, I am feeling the need for a CNC router to do this myself.

I have been thinking about buying a used CNC with moderate to good capabilities. I have single phase and I don't see myself needing a high end machine, but I don't want an expensive hobby machine either. My thinking is to find a lightly used, low middle of the road, single phase machine, hopefully with software 5' x 10' with vacuum. (I guess I am looking for the TOYOTA CAMRY OR COROLLA of CNC routers.) I have to do this on a tight budget and have it start making money quickly. One other thing, with the economy the way it is I believe very good deals should be available somewhere, but I am not as familiar with this type of equipment, (not trying to take advantage of someone else's disaster but someone will buy the good stuff, it might as well be me).

Now the question (sorry for the long intro). If you were buying used today, and considering my wants, where would you look, which dealers, what brands and models would you have on your list, and what software would you look for. And, how much should I budget?

Thanks for your advice.


Zachery Thomas
04-01-2009, 11:25 AM

As far as brands, I would suggest Multicam or Gerber. They are both very solid machines and have excellent support.

I would also recommend you buy used directly from them, it isn't the cheapest route but you will get value in their installation, setup and after-sales support.

To use your analogy, you'd be buying your Camry (well actually more of a Mercedes) from the dealers used car lot rather than a private seller.

If you want to go a cheaper route you could contact a local rep for one of these companies as they often know of systems for sale and then they can provide some assistance which would make the startup smoother.


Keith Outten
04-01-2009, 12:32 PM

It would be helpful if you had a price range in mind you could share with us. Even in the used market prices for high-end machines can be many times what you might pay for a new ShopBot or CamMaster which are good machines for a one man shop.

I expect any of the commercial machines will perform well in your case. I also feel that the high production routers are almost always overkill in a small shop because you can't keep them busy. I can't even begin to keep my ShopBot busy but maybe thats because the older I get the slower I go :)

Angus Hines
04-01-2009, 12:33 PM
ShopBot has a forum of Bot's for sale.

I also, know of a 5 x 8 Bot that may be for sale soon it was used to run one really big job and now it merely takes up space. I'll keep you informed when I know more about this opportunity

james mcgrew
04-01-2009, 10:29 PM
i came real close to selling my 1999 machine today and decided to just alter it for what i need from it, i have two camasters and at this point i would order another before selling one! going to cnc was the best move i ever made and i regret not doing it much sooner, i saw a great digital on woodweb for 2000.00 two heads all the goodies, man they were great machines and many of our midsize machines are based on them, i bought my first big machine used but at that point i was aware of the cost of retrofiting it as it had an older controller. i can appreciate a good muticam but the gerbers are still to propietary in their controller and software systems. you can get a new x3 camaster for 26 before vacuum and the newer ones can do dovetail drawers and 4rth axis can be added later.


john lawson
04-01-2009, 10:44 PM
Thanks for the replies. Keith, I left out a price range on purpose, I did not want to prejudice the replies.

Having given it some thought, I am thinking $10-20K including set up.

And I wanted to follow the advice that many people have given me about price, that is bearing the pain once instead of everyday by buying too cheap.

This just seems the best time in the world to get into this, when people are discouraged and getting out.

thanks again for the advice.


Neal Schlee
04-02-2009, 1:26 PM

There's lots of good used machines out there and with the economy in the crapper there's bound to be more! But it's gonna be hard for a newbie to navigate the mine field with limited knowledge. Check with lease companies and do a Google search for used CNC routers.

3 years ago I picked up a used Multicam Pro 60" x 120" with 20 hp Vac pump and 2 independent Z's with 7.5 hp Colombo's for $19K. I had to replace one of the fans on a spindle and one Z bearing other than that it's been running great and is used daily. I had it paid for in 6 months.

I also have a '95 vintage Multicam 44 Plus with 2 Z's that I purchased new. It too has been a good machine, recently had to rewire the gantry tho, as the wiring was breaking down from having too many wires and cables in the carrier.

I'd recommend trying to find a servo driven system with a vac bed and pump.
I find the high volume pump to be the best setup. I can do sheets and also smaller parts too.

Happy Hunting!