I was never a fan of CNC machines. Perhaps it was my traditional learning of hand techniques that turned me into a bit of a snob. There is romanticism about being in a quiet shop, just you, your hand tools and the shavings at your feet.
One day we all come to a point where after cutting six dovetail drawers by hand and still having a few left, we start to wonder why we don’t just use a dovetail jig to cut them all in a fraction of time. They come out perfect and do not compromise strength, often the opposite.
For the professional woodworker, we all know that time is money and although we would love to live the dream described above, the reality of bills comes to the forefront. A businessman needs to look at what is most efficient and profitable.
Efficiency and profitability are often found in shops that take advantage of both hand work and CNC work. While still keeping the “hands on” look and feel, one can also have the details of work performed on a CNC machine in no time.
One great example of the time I used a CNC machine was when I was commissioned to make signs for a school. The school was a prep school that wanted to keep a traditional look throughout the school. They requested solid wood signs for all faculty offices and classrooms – a pretty daunting task if done by hand. Instead, I was able to pick up CNC V Groove, Miter Fold & Signmaking Router Bits and use the basic CNC program to lay out each sign and the fonts.
At the end of the day, I was able to focus on the sign itself and have the hundreds of letters carved into the sign without any headaches, sweat, and best of all no errors.
So although we would all love to live the dream of working with our hands at our own pace, we have to keep in mind that we have a business to run.