Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 32

Thread: Educate me on woodworking CNC machines in 2019

  1. #1

    Educate me on woodworking CNC machines in 2019

    Iíve been intrigued by the idea of a CNC machine for years now and have been holding a spot in my garage for a 4í x 4í (ish) system. I think this will be my big tool purschase in 2019.

    Taking some time to do some research over the Christmas break, Iím having a hard time seeing what machines (both DIY/home brew designs and commercial) are presently a good idea. So far about the only characteristic that Iíve figured out is that Iíd like a cutting surface of at least 36Ēx48Ēx6Ē. After that itís all a bit confusing. Some of the links that Iím coming up with are pretty old so itís hard to tell what information is current vs what is evolving.

    Are there any guides to machines, current for 2019, giving an overview of relevant systems? Iíd be up for a home brew design if the cost difference make it worthwhile.

    So far it looks like the easiest turn-key solution is the (upcoming?) Laguna IQ or PowerMatic system. The most versatile is the CNC routerparts.com 4x4 system and I canít really figure out if there are any decent DIY designs that I could realistically use.

  2. #2
    As far as the Laguna, it is just a Chinese machine that they import and re-label. IMO over priced for a machine that you could order and import yourself. There are a lot of DIYers out there who have built many styles. I just went thru researching for months and it is hard. There are no real standards as far as their information that they give so unless you are very knowledgeable it is difficult to make an informed decision. I ended up going with a Chinese machine myself.

    What do you want to use it for and what kind of budget, router or spindle?

  3. #3
    Bobby,

    I keep reading about all these Chinese options that you can buy, but then canít really figure out what they are.

    Uses:

    Iím a hobbyist, I rarely build the same thing twice. This is entirely a Ďfor funí purchases. Iím also an engineer by trade and can see a million projects. Being a bit more grounded, Iíd like to cut up sheet stock, hardwoods and maybe even aluminum or mild steel. Iíd probably use this for small craft projects up to odd-ball furniture joinery and making gears.

    Modularity/expansion is important to me depending on price point. The more I spend, the more Iíd like it to be able to do in the future (laser cutting, foam knife).

    Price point:

    It really depends on what the capabilities are. 10k would be the absolute top of the top limit but I really need to do a value/usage comparison. If itís not doing a lot (and taking up a good chunk of shop space) then even 1k would be too much.

    Spindle vs Router:

    What did you do? My understanding is that routers arenít meant to run a 4 hour straight job. Iíd rather not buy a tool thatís destined to die. Noise is also important to me, so much that I was even looking at water cooled vs air cooled - I just donít know what the actual differences are.

    Iíd have to say Iím leaning spindle.

  4. #4
    I have a diy machine and will comment on that.
    * I really enjoy building things and had the skills to do a decent job on it.
    * If you would not get satisfaction from building one, don't build it to save money. You would save money but not much per hour worked.
    * The CNC machine adds capabilities to do things that I could not do otherwise in my shop.
    * It sits there taking up space most of the time.
    * If you are not sure what you would do with it, don't buy one.
    _______________________________________
    When failure is not an option
    Mediocre is assured.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    47,779
    There are many choices available, for sure. But don't just look at the physical machines, also consider the support community as well as how/what you intend to use your machine for. For personal enjoyment you can be more flexible. For business use, even if part time, you have to give much greater consideration to both the machine and the support you can/will get. I started out thinking pure hobby but gradually evolved into making my CNC investment into a major part of a part time business. Accordingly, I started out looking at the kits, and then looked at some of the smaller turnkey systems from a variety of names including Axiom. Through the sage advice of some folks I have known for a long time and trust, I became more interested in a US-manufactured machine made largely from US-manufactured parts outside of the few things that necessarily must be sourced elsewhere. I just found that very appealing even though I have a shop filled with Italian and German made machinery already. There are a few choices there but I ultimately chose to go with Camaster for both the domestic aspect and the incredible support community. ShopSabre was also in the running, but I decided I liked yellow better. I had zero interest in building a machine of larger size, even though I briefly considered it with the small, hobby kit systems at the beginning.

    My machine is a "4x4" machine. It takes up a space about 5' wide by about 8' long. Consider that regardless of what size/format you decide on, the cutting bed is a minor measurement compared to the real space you need for the tool plus access to load/unload material and deal with hold-down. In most cases, you'll also be using space for a computer system of some sort for control and/or design. Some machines require compressed air hookup (usually just static pressure for a counterbalance of the router/spindle on the vertical axis) and dust collection is a "really good idea".

    I will tell you this: CNC can be very rewarding in so many ways. I find it mentally stimulating to design and work through the cutting process in a methodical way. I don't think it takes away from any aspect of craftsmanship and it actually adds capability to do things that would be a lot more difficult otherwise. It's an extra helper in my shop, too...it works on something while I'm working on something else at the same time quite often. I can also see that should I eventually be unable to deal with certain physical aspects of woodworking in general, I'll be able to continue to create things with the CNC.

    Now Dennis wrote above, "If you are not sure what you would do with it, don't buy one." I'm not sure I absolutely agree with this for the simple reason that I find something new to make with mine nearly daily. There's never been an issue with "what to do with it" from day one. If anything, it's the most versatile tool I've ever used. I even used it this week to do a couple of things that historically I would have pulled out a drill and some chisels...just for fun. That said, if you make the investment...make sure you understand that the investment isn't just money and space. It's also time. There is a learning curve that never ends. Each time you master something, there is another thing waiting for you to learn. That's both a positive and a negative, but to me it's 99% positive because I love the learning aspect!
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #6
    I wouldn’t agree to not buy one if you don’t already know what you would make with it. I had no idea what they were capable of with the first one that I thought. I thought it was a cool toy and the more I learned about using it the more that I found to do with it. If you were looking as a business then I would agree.

    As as far as noise, yes a spindle is quiet UNTIL it start cutting wood then the bit will also be loud but in reality, you will be running a dust collector which will make more noise anyway. Routers aren’t made for running long hours but they are much cheaper both to purchase and to rebuild. The spindle will give you more accuracy and the Chinese ones are pretty inexpensive and are definitely good for a hobbyist. I would have liked an air cooled but it came with a water cooled. I am fine with it but if it ever needs to be replaced I will go air cooled.

    Your budget would put put you in range for a camaster tabletop or a little larger used machine possibly. In the DIY models you would be fine. To give you a comparison, I bought a Chinese 4x8 with a spindle and a 4th axis rotary for $6800 out the door. That’s about a 1/3 of what the main American machines were going to cost.

    The only person who can decide whether it would take up too much property and not be used is you. My last one I used all of the time. Remember that even a smaller table will be able to make larger items by tiling them and generally most machines can do one axis indefinitely by passing thru the machine. After having a table top, I found that it could do most everything that I wanted. I wanted a 4x8 just so I could do full sheets of plywood for some cabinets and other large items. I could still make do with a tabletop if I had to. Really look at your shop and figure out how it would fit and how you could organize it to maximize your room

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    47,779
    I neglected the spindle vs router question and Bobby''s response reminded me to address it. I am SO happy I opted to go with the spindle. Yes, it added cost, but it's smooth, smooth, smooth, has variable speed that can be controlled by the machining software and is almost silent when not cutting wood. In some materials it remains almost silent. It's important to understand that with the spindle, the noise you get is from the cutter engaging the material. With a router...you have the router screaming PLUS the noise of the cutter engaging the material. My DC is in a sound reduced closet so it doesn't materially contribute to the sound level of the CNC, so when I'm cutting something that does present higher noise levels, I don my hearing protection just like I would with any other tool.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  8. #8
    I have a 5' x 8' x 12" chinese manufactured machine that I bought from an American company that imports, rebrands, etc. I was able to order the exact machine I wanted. I didn't know then what I know now.. I retrofitted the Mach3 controls with Centroid Acorn and have been very happy with the machine. I don't think you need to know what you are going to make before you buy it. In my opinion, it adds more to the hybrid aspect of things. I also bought a 150 watt CO2 laser around the same time. I often use the laser to quickly check the size of something I'm making by cutting the 2d shape in 1/8 or 1/4 mdf. I didn't know that's how I would use them when I bought, as an example. There's no way I would want a router on the cnc.. spindle all the way. The Chinese spindles are fine in my experience. As Jim said, the ability for the control system to run the spindle speed is very nice. And, they are made for the task. I am very happy with my machine. When Centroid comes out with an I/O expansion for Acorn, I will make a tool rack and buy a new ATC spindle. I'm happy I've learned how to work on the machine, but I realize that isn't for everyone.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    In the foothills of the Sandia Mountains
    Posts
    14,762
    I like to point people to Gary Campbell’s excellent Camheads post on buying a CNC router - cut & paste into your browser: camheads.org/showthread.php?t=3904 Gary is extremely knowledgeable on all things CNC.
    Buying a CNC is not a light decision, I spent 2 years trying to figure out what I wanted. I went with a Camaster table top with a 1.7kw spindle. That was back in 2013 and I still have no regrets with my choice. As stated above, you really don’t know all of what a CNC is capable of until you have one.
    They do take up real estate, even a table top like I have. I had to sell a couple machines to make room for it in my 2-car garage shop.
    I bought mine as a retirement gift to myself. I have done several paying jobs with it and could do more but primarily I just play and make things for family & friends.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Please help support the Creek.

    My mechanic told me, "I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder."

    - Steven Wright

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Medina Ohio
    Posts
    3,579
    Buy the biggest that will fit and it will still be to small

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Richmond, TX
    Posts
    397
    Axiom Precision CNC is a turn key machine. Another DIY CNC would be a Fine Line Automation.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    47,779
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerome Stanek View Post
    Buy the biggest that will fit and it will still be to small
    Amen to that! I ultimately chose a 4x4, but in hindsight I really should have found a way to fit something that would take a full piece of sheet goods, if only for convenience. "You can cut small things on a big machine, but you cannot (easily) cut big things on a small machine." Most of what I cut is pretty small, but I use the whole table with a half-sheet for my tack trunks. I probably waste more material that way for the trunks because splitting things up into half-sheets isn't as efficient. Fortunately, it's not something I do in large quantities, so no big deal...but I can dream. LOL
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  13. #13
    Where are you guys buying these import (Chinese mainly) machines from? Is there a storefront/website that I should be looking for?

    Iím partial to supporting a local manufacturer, so CNCrouterparts seems to keep popping up in my research. It doesnít hurt that theyíre only 20 miles away from me.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Iowa USA
    Posts
    3,243
    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Grefe View Post
    Where are you guys buying these import (Chinese mainly) machines from? Is there a storefront/website that I should be looking for?

    Iím partial to supporting a local manufacturer, so CNCrouterparts seems to keep popping up in my research. It doesnít hurt that theyíre only 20 miles away from me.
    I have a Fine Line Automation machine, a made in USA steel welded frame 4x4 like Jim's but FLA has taken a turn down in quality since I purchased mine in June 2018. I am hoping they get back on track. No its not a Camaster running WinCNC on a dedicated Windows 10 computer but it was perhaps 4k cheaper. But the CNCRP people sell good machines and the support is great. I have their control system on my machine and its very good. But its not WinCNC, it uses Mach3 control software.
    Last edited by Bill George; 01-01-2019 at 6:06 PM.
    Retired Guy- Central Iowa. , LightObject 40w CO2 Laser and Chiller, MakerGear M2 3D Printer. Qe60+ Vinyl cutter. Fine Line Automation 4x4 CNC Router- Mach3

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Deep South
    Posts
    3,687
    I bought a Camaster machine rather than a CNC Router Parts kit because I wanted to start carving right away. The Camaster is pretty nice but I sometimes think I made a mistake. I could have gotten a bigger machine for the same price if I had built it myself. I will revisit that issue when I upgrade.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •