Building a Hobby CNC

CNC, Creative Fuel
About six months ago I moved back to Cincinnati from Chicago, and one of my goals in coming back was to get my hands dirty and have a creative outlet that didn’t fall strictly into the architecture realm. I had just wrapped up my ARE’s and it felt like it was time for a bit of fun. Largely inspired by the amazing work showcased at the FRCH Maker’s Faire I decided to take a leap of faith and rent a small space at Essex Studios in East Walnut Hills. I have always wanted to combine my appreciation of technology and woodworking, and a CNC (that’s computer numeric control) seemed like the perfect place to start. For those who are uninitiated…a CNC is essentially a woodworking router attached to a frame that is controlled by a computer through coordinate code commands referred to as G-Code. Put another way, it is a cutting tool that can go in the X, Y, and Z direction using software that can generate directions. After a fair amount of research and a little time to save some money I landed on an order online, build-your-own kit and as soon as it arrived I got to work. I wanted to share the building process below.

As you can see the amount, and in some cases the size of the parts makes this not your average IKEA furniture build.

Each of the 16 stages of the build came with online step-by-step instructions and videos. I found it very helpful to have a large space and to keep my parts organized throughout the process. And while the kit came with most of the tools needed, it did not contain everything. In addition, I needed to do light electronic wiring including some soldering.

After the calibration and electronics set up, I ran a test carve. Then it was on to full on carving.

Over Labor Day weekend I was able to spend some solid time testing different designs and cutting techniques. I even got into some complexity by carving with multiple router bits on the same job.

While I am still very new to the process, I have learned quite a lot so far, mostly through understanding what failed and why …and trust me there were a few failures! On top of that I have gained a new appreciation for our millwork contractors who do this on a regular basis and on a much larger scale! If you want to know more about CNC’s and/or my experience (…or you want me to carve you something) don’t hesitate to come find me on the 4th Floor.

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