Woodworking Techniques and Advice
When woodworkers take a rough plank or a 4’ x 8’ sheet of plywood and turn them into useful items, we do so through a process of subtraction. Like a stone sculpture, we start with a block and remove stock until we have the part we need. A machine shop does much the same. This is generally referred to as subtractive manufacturing. Conversely, 3-D printing is additive manufacturing, the process of building up a part from raw materials and not adding the unwanted bits.
Though the software side of CNC is the brains of digital fabrication, the muscle side is the drive motors and the related hardware that provide electronic signals and electrical power to the drive motors.
The term CNC first started out as just “NC” for numeric control. The concept was developed in the 1950s using punched paper tape to convey instructions to motors that controlled the movement of a metal milling machine. When computers became more readily available, they were wired directly to the motors and CNC was born.
Most of us learned to make a cabinet with a tape measure and a table saw. We measure, cut and repeat, over and over, until the job’s done.
After building two CNC machines, I’ve developed some ideas about how a woodshop owner should approach entering the digital fabrication age while preserving their wallet and sanity.
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