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Thread: Help Buying a Large CNC

  1. #1

    Help Buying a Large CNC

    Hey guys so I've been considering pulling the trigger on a 4x8 CNC. It seems like Avid is the way to go in the under $15k price range. Can anyone look at this price sheet they sent and tell me if any of it is unnecessary or anything I should consider adding? I'll mostly be using the CNC to flatten slabs, break down sheet goods, wood craft stuff, making templates, etc.

    To be honest I thought it was going to be more like $10k, but doesn't look like that's going to happen. Anyway thanks in advance for the advice. I'm also open to other brands if you have any suggestions that would be better/cheaper.
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  2. #2
    I've also looked for used ones around me and this guy is selling his Shopbot.
    https://washingtondc.craigslist.org/...390502571.html
    Any thoughts on how this stacks up to a brand new Avid?

  3. #3
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    58,277
    The AVID looks like a very nice machine for the money, honestly, and would likely run rings around the used, older ShopBot. AVID is also extensible over time, so you can modify, enlarge, improve it easily.

    I can't vette your parts list, but I'm sure there are others who will respond and be helpful toward that end. It looks good to me, but I'm not familiar enough to know for sure if the list is complete.
    --

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

  4. #4
    That looks like a pretty good start! The only thing I wonder about is the bit set. I might not get that and instead order more specific bits at ToolsToday. One thin I do suggest is a spoil board planing bit. That might also be what you will use for your slabs? Also, I have ended up ordering t slot nuts and bolts over the years for mounting various things to the machine.

    I have had an Avid Standard machine (24x48, Bosch Router, home built stand, etc.) for several years now. I have been very happy with it and Avid. Haven't had a but a few minor issues and they were quick to help.

    Also, be patient when assembling. It takes a little time and making everything right to start with pays off. I'm not patient....

    I just upgrade to the latest Mach4 release from Avid. I'm working on adding my custom touches to the new Avid screenset. I programmed several buttons for things that I find help my particular work style. No biggie, but it takes a little time.

    That's a real nice machine you are considering. You will enjoy it I'm sure. Oh, don't forget dust collection! By the time I finished, I spent a lot on "other" stuff to get the whole affair setup. I bought a real nice power strip that has fancy filtering and very good protection. A new laptop. etc.

    I am still amazed with the versatility of these things. I've done wood, plastic, brass, glass, aluminum, slate, circuit boards, cardboard, vinyl, veneer, marble, etc. Just a couple of days ago, I needed to drill holes in the sides of a cabinet for adjustable shelves. I had a Rockler template, but I wanted tighter hole spacing. In about thirty minutes, I knocked one out that worked great. Its one of those things you find more and more things to do with once you have it. Made some French curves for my wife for her pattern drafting projects recently. And so on....

    Tony

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    The AVID looks like a very nice machine for the money, honestly, and would likely run rings around the used, older ShopBot. AVID is also extensible over time, so you can modify, enlarge, improve it easily.

    I can't vette your parts list, but I'm sure there are others who will respond and be helpful toward that end. It looks good to me, but I'm not familiar enough to know for sure if the list is complete.
    Good to know about the Shopbot. I was kind of thinking that even though it probably cost $25k when it was new that technology has probably moved well past that all these years later (assuming it's 10 or so years old). Just curious as someone who's decent at photoshop, fusion, etc, how long do you think it will take to get a handle on the CNC software? Am I looking at an hour or so a day for like 2 months to get decent? Thanks as always Jim

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Leonard View Post
    That looks like a pretty good start! The only thing I wonder about is the bit set. I might not get that and instead order more specific bits at ToolsToday. One thin I do suggest is a spoil board planing bit. That might also be what you will use for your slabs? Also, I have ended up ordering t slot nuts and bolts over the years for mounting various things to the machine.

    I have had an Avid Standard machine (24x48, Bosch Router, home built stand, etc.) for several years now. I have been very happy with it and Avid. Haven't had a but a few minor issues and they were quick to help.

    Also, be patient when assembling. It takes a little time and making everything right to start with pays off. I'm not patient....

    I just upgrade to the latest Mach4 release from Avid. I'm working on adding my custom touches to the new Avid screenset. I programmed several buttons for things that I find help my particular work style. No biggie, but it takes a little time.

    That's a real nice machine you are considering. You will enjoy it I'm sure. Oh, don't forget dust collection! By the time I finished, I spent a lot on "other" stuff to get the whole affair setup. I bought a real nice power strip that has fancy filtering and very good protection. A new laptop. etc.

    I am still amazed with the versatility of these things. I've done wood, plastic, brass, glass, aluminum, slate, circuit boards, cardboard, vinyl, veneer, marble, etc. Just a couple of days ago, I needed to drill holes in the sides of a cabinet for adjustable shelves. I had a Rockler template, but I wanted tighter hole spacing. In about thirty minutes, I knocked one out that worked great. Its one of those things you find more and more things to do with once you have it. Made some French curves for my wife for her pattern drafting projects recently. And so on....

    Tony
    Hey Tony thanks for all the feedback! I'm definitely getting a nice surfacing bit. There are so many though, I'll have to do some serious research to choose one. I was planning on the whiteside one with the astro coating from bitsbits, but I wonder if the Amana bits are worth the extra price.

    Do you happen to have a link to that power strip?

    I'll ask you the same question I asked Jim if you don't mind. Just curious as someone who's decent at photoshop, fusion, etc, how long do you think it will take to get a handle on the CNC software? Am I looking at an hour or so a day for like 2 months to get decent? I'm a little nervous as I've never used any CNC or cad software.

  7. #7
    I don't have anything to offer on the AVID shopping list except to say that it is rather light in weight for that size machine and a bolted together machine is probably inherently less stout than a welded frame. Considering the price tag and the amount of labor that will be required to assemble the parts I would be looking at a used machine of recent vintage like a Camaster or Shopsabre. One thing I don't like about Shopbots (besides the bolted construction) is the raised side rails. It is far easier to load and unload material with an unobstructed deck.

    The tooling package is reasonably priced and you will probably wind up using all the bits, but I prefer to buy as needed. I would definitely recommend an insert surfacing bit over a brazed one as that bit will be used frequently and the sharpening costs will eventually make up the cost difference. With a 4 hp spindle I would be looking at a 3/8" compression bit for cutting sheet goods. I have been happy with the bits from Centurion tools.

    If you plan on using sheet goods much a vacuum system, even a low power one like the Hurricane, is invaluable. I cobbled one together using central vacuum motors from Lighthouse. Otherwise, t-track is a less efficient but versatile option.

    Once you have watched some of the basic Vectric videos you will be able to make a start, but it took me scores of hours before I began to get comfortable with the process and several hundred before I felt at all proficient (Dunning-Kreuger effect applies here). There is so wide a capability for such a machine that you will probably never exhaust all the possibilities. Watch all the V-Carve videos, peruse and ask questions on the Vectric user forum, and prepare a nice soft wall area to beat your head regularly.

    Pay attention to the simulations including start points and feed directions, and review all the parameters to make sure you have z-zero correct, the right bit in place, the material located correctly on the table and held down firmly, sufficient clearance when traversing to avoid any clamping devices, and I can't remember what else, before hitting the run button. You will make errors- stay close to the panic button. Some things like rpm's/feed speed can be calculated but will be modified by experience.

    Be aware that the Vectric cad package is different from most others. I have found that I can do what I need to do, and as a new cad user it may not be an issue, but I will say that node editing is key to success.

    Have fun!
    Last edited by Kevin Jenness; 10-13-2021 at 9:33 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Marquette, MI USA
    Posts
    478
    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Baldwin View Post
    I've also looked for used ones around me and this guy is selling his Shopbot.
    https://washingtondc.craigslist.org/...390502571.html
    Any thoughts on how this stacks up to a brand new Avid?
    The last year for that style of SB frame was 2006, so it is at least 15 years old and cost no where near $25k when new. For me, and I am not a lover of bolted together extrusion machines, there is no comparison between v-rollers running on angle iron and linear rails. AVID wins 10 to 1. And if you notice the current asking price for similar models on their (SB) forum and assume the selling price is substantially less, that Craigslist unit is probably worth about $3500 if cleaned up. But as P.T. Barnum used to say........
    Gary Campbell
    FabMaster ATC-40 Bridgemill
    CNC Consulting & Custom Machines

  9. #9
    Your list is pretty much what I got except I added the Emergency stop and excluded the Aluminum end mill set. If you can make a solid stand yourself, you could exclude the leg kit.

  10. #10
    No input on the machine(s) but +1 on the comment to ditch all forms of bit "sets". Just order what you need. They are a small line item in your list but likely may have tooling in them that you will just have to find a use for. Keep that money in your pocket to order the specific tooling for what you need to do when you need to do it. You can typically have most any needed tooling in-hand in a day or two that is specific to what your doing.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Jenness View Post
    I don't have anything to offer on the AVID shopping list except to say that it is rather light in weight for that size machine and a bolted together machine is probably inherently less stout than a welded frame. Considering the price tag and the amount of labor that will be required to assemble the parts I would be looking at a used machine of recent vintage like a Camaster or Shopsabre. One thing I don't like about Shopbots (besides the bolted construction) is the raised side rails. It is far easier to load and unload material with an unobstructed deck.

    The tooling package is reasonably priced and you will probably wind up using all the bits, but I prefer to buy as needed. I would definitely recommend an insert surfacing bit over a brazed one as that bit will be used frequently and the sharpening costs will eventually make up the cost difference. With a 4 hp spindle I would be looking at a 3/8" compression bit for cutting sheet goods. I have been happy with the bits from Centurion tools.

    If you plan on using sheet goods much a vacuum system, even a low power one like the Hurricane, is invaluable. I cobbled one together using central vacuum motors from Lighthouse. Otherwise, t-track is a less efficient but versatile option.

    Once you have watched some of the basic Vectric videos you will be able to make a start, but it took me scores of hours before I began to get comfortable with the process and several hundred before I felt at all proficient (Dunning-Kreuger effect applies here). There is so wide a capability for such a machine that you will probably never exhaust all the possibilities. Watch all the V-Carve videos, peruse and ask questions on the Vectric user forum, and prepare a nice soft wall area to beat your head regularly.

    Pay attention to the simulations including start points and feed directions, and review all the parameters to make sure you have z-zero correct, the right bit in place, the material located correctly on the table and held down firmly, sufficient clearance when traversing to avoid any clamping devices, and I can't remember what else, before hitting the run button. You will make errors- stay close to the panic button. Some things like rpm's/feed speed can be calculated but will be modified by experience.

    Be aware that the Vectric cad package is different from most others. I have found that I can do what I need to do, and as a new cad user it may not be an issue, but I will say that node editing is key to success.

    Have fun!
    Hey Kevin thanks for all the info. Yea I might look around for a used Camaster or similar. The only thing that worries me about buying used is that because I'm new to CNCs I might not realize something is defective/broken, etc. You know everyone out there always tries to act like they're selling you a perfect tool and on a circular saw or something who cares if it breaks in a few months, but on a $20k CNC that scares the hell out of me.

    Yea I definitely want to get the vacuum system. Appreciate the honest reply about how much work will have to go into the software, definitely intimidating, but I know I can figure it out eventually.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Runde View Post
    Your list is pretty much what I got except I added the Emergency stop and excluded the Aluminum end mill set. If you can make a solid stand yourself, you could exclude the leg kit.
    Yea unfortunately I have no experience metal working, so I can't make the table. How long have you had your setup? All good so far?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona
    Posts
    970
    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Baldwin View Post
    Hey guys so I've been considering pulling the trigger on a 4x8 CNC. It seems like Avid is the way to go in the under $15k price range. Can anyone look at this price sheet they sent and tell me if any of it is unnecessary or anything I should consider adding? I'll mostly be using the CNC to flatten slabs, break down sheet goods, wood craft stuff, making templates, etc.

    To be honest I thought it was going to be more like $10k, but doesn't look like that's going to happen. Anyway thanks in advance for the advice. I'm also open to other brands if you have any suggestions that would be better/cheaper.
    I see they have included VCarve Pro which is really not part of the machine and can be purchased later. All the other prices look in-line with the pricing at their website. They didn't include the shipping cost, so unless they are offering a special -then figure that in as well. You can use the shopping cart at the Avid site and select the items you want and it will calculate the shipping cost to your location. I think I paid around $12k for my Pro4848 about 4 years ago. I ordered the largest spindle (air cooled) they had at the time. Now they also offer a much larger spindle as well.

    David


    PS - Frank Howarth has some great videos showing his assembly, mods, and use of his Avid Pro series table.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygND7TFziF8
    Last edited by David Buchhauser; 10-15-2021 at 8:10 AM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    268
    Just a question to the OP. If you are in the market for a 4 x 8 machine, I assume you are anticipating cutting full sheets of material for cabinets, etc. otherwise you wouldn't be in the market for a machine that size. Some sort of flow through vacuum hold down system is very advantageous if you are going to be doing that rather than using a million hold downs and tabs, etc. I have a 48 x 48 machine and went the route of building a vacuum system for it (very modest cost and pretty easy to do) which really eased panel processing (and I'm only processing 4' panels). Not sure if the Avid would allow you to retrofit a vacuum table after the fact but if not you should at least consider it in your initial decision. You might also want to check out the camheads.org forum as there are a fair number of 4x8 Stinger III machines posted there (although those are going to be above your budget). Mine is also for sale for a lot less but, as I mentioned, its only a 48x48.
    Richard Link

    **********************

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Link View Post
    Just a question to the OP. If you are in the market for a 4 x 8 machine, I assume you are anticipating cutting full sheets of material for cabinets, etc. otherwise you wouldn't be in the market for a machine that size. Some sort of flow through vacuum hold down system is very advantageous if you are going to be doing that rather than using a million hold downs and tabs, etc. I have a 48 x 48 machine and went the route of building a vacuum system for it (very modest cost and pretty easy to do) which really eased panel processing (and I'm only processing 4' panels). Not sure if the Avid would allow you to retrofit a vacuum table after the fact but if not you should at least consider it in your initial decision. You might also want to check out the camheads.org forum as there are a fair number of 4x8 Stinger III machines posted there (although those are going to be above your budget). Mine is also for sale for a lot less but, as I mentioned, its only a 48x48.
    Hey Richard I would definitely love to have a vacuum setup on the cnc. I've actually been talking to ShopSabre and I'm really torn on what to do. Their setup with spindle is $26k basically. Quite a lot for me, but I'm trying to think about the long term cost, ease of use, accuracy, etc. I think the vacuum can be added to the Avid for a few grand based on others I've seen. With ShopSabre it's a $4000 or more add on.

    Any thoughts on ShopSabre vs Camaster?

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