CNC for you and me

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Small, basic CNC machines are becoming so inexpensive I admit I’m tempted. Not serious, but tempted. How about you?

The fact is I have no real use for a CNC other than the Cool Factor of owning one (which, admittedly, is extremely high). But with them becoming more accessible to professional woodworkers of even modest means, I’m curious as to how tempted you may have become.

Smaller CNCs have been around for a number of years, but in just the last few some really small ones that could be added to the benchtop category have appeared. You can’t turn out a set of cabinets with these, but for those of you producing smaller goods (or those producing larger pieces that have smaller areas of carved details), I can imagine one being quite a boon to your shop.

A basic machine – mostly hobbyist oriented – can be had for under $1,000. If I were to ever get one, that’s what I’d be looking at. But jump up another $500 to $1,000 and you start to find a number of machines that, albeit small, are ready for some workhorse output.

With that in mind, how many of you have considered adding one of these to your shop, and what are your reasons for doing so? And for those of you reading this who already have CNC machines chugging away (even those of you with one of those room-sized behemoths) what practical advice do you have to offer the smaller shops thinking of taking the plunge for one of these smaller versions?

I don’t plan on joining the growing ranks of CNC owners any time soon, but I’m willing to bet that a good many of you just might be.

A.J.

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