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Thread: CNC Build

  1. #1
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    Default CNC Build

    Just wondering if anyone on the forum has built a CNC machine for their own personal use for boat building, or just general shop use? Any of the "home" build plans or kits. If there are any links to threads that anyone knows about that would be great. I did a search on the forum and not one result came back - I can't believe that there are not any threads on something relating to one.

    Also if so are there CAD/CNC files for any of the bigger boat designers that if you purchased their plans you can get files to run on your CNC?

    Thanks,
    Ed
    "Men go back to the mountains, as they go back to sailing ships at sea, because in the mountains and on the sea they must face up. by Henry David Thoreau

  2. #2
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    Default Re: CNC Build

    I rent a workspace from a guy who owns one he uses to cut boat parts and kits. I spoke with him about it recently and the issues with having one for more DIY usage are firstly the tolerances are lower on the cheaper versions, and the software required to transform 2d plans into toolpaths is quite a steep learning curve, and requiring training from someone experienced in using it. In addition the price for one like his, which is able to cut ply sheets, is as much as a fairly decent workshop setup.
    If you have a look on the Kickstarter website, you should be able to see some lower cost solutions that people have attempted to sell.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: CNC Build

    There's a build being documented here of a CNC-based kit boat construction -- daysailer size -- but I couldn't find the thread. It's in prototype build now, but I believe the designer was moving toward CNC file distribution as an option.

    A 4x8 ShopBot is probably a fixture in nearly every MakerSpace/community shop in the country. Cabinet and stair shops also hame them, but getting access will cost more. That's usually big enough to do frames, but not long enough for full planks unless you scarf them or somehow re-clamp or re-register the stock for additional cuts.

    Chip

  4. #4
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    Default Re: CNC Build

    ... not to mention the shop space it takes.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: CNC Build

    You might wish to contact Forum member Tim Marchetti, he does CNC, though he has not been very active of late.

    http://forum.woodenboat.com/member.p...-Tim-Marchetti

    Perhaps Clint Chase, too.

    Edit to add: the search function of the Forum really stinks, you are way better off using google within the forum.woodenboat.com domain.
    Last edited by SMARTINSEN; 01-03-2018 at 10:48 PM.
    Steve Martinsen

  6. #6
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    Default Re: CNC Build

    I have a laser that I have been considering cutting out stations and parts for kayaks. My machine won't cut thick lumber but other lasers do easily.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: CNC Build

    I was also interested in the build for my part time cabinet / furniture shop, so it wouldn't be just for boat building, but maybe do dual duty. I know they take up an enormous amount of space and know they have them in a variety of smaller sizes and footprints. I'm sure the boat shops that are doing this on a daily basis are purchasing large dedicated expensive machines from cnc machine companies such as Laguna, etc. That is not really what I want, and I'm not convinced I will even need or use it enough to spend the 20+K on a ShopBot machine. Just like hobby boat building, I was hoping someone could maybe recommend a plan / kit version they have had good luck with and it does a nice job for them and it's crazy difficult to build or run. I have researched the Joe's CNC Hybrid or Evolution plans and also the Kronos Robotics ones and it looks like they are both in the ball park of what I'm interested in building. I've also heard the software packages they use are not terrible to use or run. I do have a background/degree in computers and graphic programs (just not CAD) so I hope that helps.

    And I did look at some of the Kickstarter CNC's - I even almost pulled the trigger on purchasing a Maslow CNC - very interesting vertical CNC type machine. Jumped on the wait list and decided to almost order one but then started thinking if I put that much effort into building that one I should just build a larger more usable one since most of the Maslow users said the Maslow couldn't handle production work - just not fast enough. And the plan versions I listed above could in reality be built for in the 4-6k range - might be worth it.

    Thanks everyone for the input so far.
    "Men go back to the mountains, as they go back to sailing ships at sea, because in the mountains and on the sea they must face up. by Henry David Thoreau

  8. #8
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    Default Re: CNC Build

    Here is a start: http://www.svseeker.com/wp/sv-seeker...-build-or-buy/

    He is building a (huge) steel boat while producing pretty decent YouTube videos and has a strong DIY ethos running through the project.

    My guess is that for most of us building the boat is enough, spending a big chunk of money and time creating a CNC for a one-off boat project just doesn't pencil out. Unless what you really want is to build the CNC machine. It is the same question that gets asked of almost every newbie who comes rolling through here "Do you want to build a boat or sail one?" You have to figure out which side of the equation you want to be on. All that before getting into the programming end of the business! (Definitely not my cup of tea, inserting pictures on the forum is about as technical as I get)

    If you think your custom boat design is going to be the next hot-ticket kit and you want to mass-produce kits out of your garage then maybe the initial cost can be justified as part of starting up, but I'd chat with a few kit suppliers about that first and see how they do it. On the up-side, when I was building the KDI the supplied foredeck just wasn't going to fit, Clint (in Maine) was able to figure out where his programming was off, find a shop with a CNC router (in Port Townsend) send them the updated shape and I just had to pick up the new deck. All of which was a pretty neat way to fix the problem.
    Steve

    Boats, like whiskey, are all good.
    R.D Culler

  9. #9
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    Default Re: CNC Build

    Quote Originally Posted by stromborg View Post
    Thanks for the link, I will check it out and read through it today, looks like some really good information and a good place to start or continue to do my research. And I'm not really interested in building the CNC for just boat building - actually the boat building part is secondary. I'm interested in a CNC for my part time cabinet / furniture shop and if I can get CAD files for one of the plans I already have for a Welsford, Oughtred or Storer boat then all the better. But the cabinet building is my main concern. I cannot justify the huge expense just yet and thought the plan or kit CNC build would be a great place to start and decide if maybe later down the road a full fledged huge CNC would be in order.

    I also thought that since this is such a great group of forum members with such a wide knowledge base that maybe someone can relate and point me in a couple directions for my research. But this is not just to have a CNC for doing boat building. Sorry if I didn't explain myself well enough from the beginning.
    "Men go back to the mountains, as they go back to sailing ships at sea, because in the mountains and on the sea they must face up. by Henry David Thoreau

  10. #10
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    Default Re: CNC Build

    If you go on the shopbot forum (talkshopbot.com) and look in the for sale/wanted section you will find used machines for sale on a regular basis. Since you can buy a pretty decent shop bot brand new for around $25k, you will find used ones for less than half that being sold by guys who bought them with the idea of starting a cnc business, then giving up after a few years. I don't know if that's in your budget or not.
    I bought a four year old machine 10 years ago and use it to cut boat kits, for sign carving, cabinets and custom jobs for a few commercial/industrial customers. If I were to look at it from a business perspective, I would be better off just buying the software and designing whatever I wanted to cut, then going to a local cnc shop to get the cutting done. But I'm not a good businessman, I have the space, and I was looking for an exit strategy from the home building and remodeling business. And I was extremely lucky when one of my first customers had me cut all the forms for a Farrier F-22, then asked me to build the whole boat for him. The whole boat was designed on a computer, and Ian Farrier included all the vector files with the plans. This one job paid for the machine, but I think that if you are thinking of buying a cnc and going into business, you have the cart before the horse. You need a product you are already making and selling but can't produce fast enough to justify buying a machine to produce it for you.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: CNC Build

    I have a small cabinet and furniture shop and try as I might I could never justify owning a CNC. The increase in the volume of jobs needed to make it viable would be daunting. A local CNC owner I use says he spends more time looking for work than doing any cabinet making and without a full time salesmen he’d be out of business. Whenever I do a large job, large for me that is, I send him a cut list and pick up the parts a few days later. That being said I’d love to have a CNC to play with, and I’ve looked into building one but, I don’t need another hobby.
    A CNC introduced into a small shop could quickly be the first step down the slippery slope of industrial woodworking, dust collection towers, scrap grinders, edge banders, loading docks and of course salesmen. A hard decision, I wish you well.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: CNC Build

    Without knowing how much of a background the OP has in CAD use it may be difficult to give precise advice.Whether programming your own machine or sending the work to an existing business with a router,you need the ability to generate outlines with no discontinuities or breaks for your CAM system to work with.There may still be diehards sitting at keyboards typing G-code,but I cannot imagine why anybody would waste such a lot of time when you can generate a toolpath,post-process and send the file to the machine in seconds with free or inexpensive software.

    Before committing to a machine,why not try finding a reasonably local business willing to do your cutting and then if or when the volume of business justifies it buy your own machine.I would doubt that you would need more than three hours of machine time a week to keep a team of three or four busy.

    As it happens I am part way through building a tiny CNC router for my own use and look forward to finally getting it running.I'm not looking for work for it as it is just for model making projects and similar.I also know that I need to learn a lot about control systems and writing routines for homing axes or measuring tool length.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: CNC Build

    Wow, lots of great things to think about. Not sure if this changes my mind about building one, but it sure makes me re-think a few things. I don't think I was planning or wanting to build one to try and save time or speed things up as much as allow me to try and experiment on certain things - and I would be lying if I didn't say it would be neat to play with one in the dead of winter in Ohio. Most of my cabinet or furniture making is custom stuff so I doubt any of that would even be part of the equation, it was things I wanted to try and experiment with that I thought the CNC would allow me to do much easier. But I do understand everything everyone has said and really do appreciate the input and concerns. I might have to do a lot more research before jumping in and doing anything.

    I do know that some of my "wanted" reasons for having a CNC would be because my wife and I build primitive craft style pieces and the idea of being able to do some sign type engraving or carving on her pieces to be able to customize things for sales would be attractive. Not sure if it dictates owning a 12-25k machine, but it would be fun.

    Thanks again for all the great advice and concerns, I might have to scan some of the used boards for awhile to see if I can come up with a good deal before deciding to try and build one. I was even thinking about something slightly smaller, a machine that would allow even just single pieces of a cabinet build to be placed on the machine for work - maybe a 24 x 24 inch machine - or just slightly bigger than than in the 30 x 48 range.
    "Men go back to the mountains, as they go back to sailing ships at sea, because in the mountains and on the sea they must face up. by Henry David Thoreau

  14. #14
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    Default Re: CNC Build

    We just got rid of one.An old point to point.
    Bought cheap and sold cheaper.
    We spent more time pissing around with it than we should have,when we could have just been doing the work with other tools.
    If we made larger volumes of standard cabinet parts,it would have been alright,but it's all custom and I'm sure that we re-invented the wheel several times.
    R
    Sleep with one eye open.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: CNC Build

    I have a ShopSabre 4-axis simultaneous CNC router (VFD spindle 5hp). I'd not hesitate to build one(CNC) if it made sense. Software CAD/CAM is real important . Skill wise CAD modeling 3D is important as well . I use Solidworks,Fusion 360 and a couple of other packages.
    Building a machine. Might be the long route. Convert a conventional bench top mill to CNC. Use that converted mill to help make your CNC router parts. LinuxCNC(free) for the CNC controller is very capable. A good free package (initially) to get you started in CAD/CAM and FEA is Fusion 360. Not a great package for lofting hulls etc but you could import modeled components for CAM (tool path generation).
    Last edited by raycon; 01-05-2018 at 05:07 PM.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: CNC Build

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Williamson View Post
    We just got rid of one.An old point to point.
    Bought cheap and sold cheaper.
    We spent more time pissing around with it than we should have,when we could have just been doing the work with other tools.
    If we made larger volumes of standard cabinet parts,it would have been alright,but it's all custom and I'm sure that we re-invented the wheel several times.
    R
    I have attempted to understand the distinction between point to point machines and nested based machines as to me they are all machines that ought to carry out the instructions conveyed by the G-code.I am also not surprised to learn of a machine being discarded as I know of several variations of the story.I really can't over-emhasise the importance of gaining the ability to create a sound file in a CAD system of your choice.If you can do this and can get the machine to understand where the part datum is,the other stuff is not too hard.To confound the doubters-I know of a boatbuilding company where they use a Faro arm to extract the shapes of bulkheads and shelves in their glass boats and the outlline is sent over the network to the sawmill where it is cut out at the earliest opportunity.It has been known for the part to be ready just before somebody arrives to collect it.a heavy investment that has been justified.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: CNC Build

    I have built many CNC machines - several routers. The biggest was 4x10. You can build one completely by scratch, but you need to be well versed in metal working (machining mostly, but some welding is helpful), electrical, and software development, PLUS be equipped with all of the tools for these disciplines. It is doable but it is a journey of its own. You can order all the electronics off Alibaba for a 4 axis machine for a 1/4 of the cost of the DIY websites. BUT, you have to put it all together and diagnose the inevitable issues all on your own - that is the difference in the cost. How do you really want to spend your time? Playing with wood or learning electrical wiring troubleshooting, software integration, CAD/CAM programming etc.

    If you don’t have those skills, buy a kit or used machine. Auctions are an excellent opportunity to get a bargain, but you will need to use the aforementioned skills but not quite as in-depth.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: CNC Build

    That Maslow on the other CNC thread would be a reasonable option for those wanting some capabilities but not as many of the previous headaches discussed. Definitely not professional but might be good enough for most ply work.

    That is top-shelf DIY ingenuity!!!

  19. #19
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    Default Re: CNC Build

    Quote Originally Posted by John Meachen View Post
    I have attempted to understand the distinction between point to point machines and nested based machines as to me they are all machines that ought to carry out the instructions conveyed by the G-code.I am also not surprised to learn of a machine being discarded as I know of several variations of the story.I really can't over-emhasise the importance of gaining the ability to create a sound file in a CAD system of your choice.If you can do this and can get the machine to understand where the part datum is,the other stuff is not too hard.To confound the doubters-I know of a boatbuilding company where they use a Faro arm to extract the shapes of bulkheads and shelves in their glass boats and the outlline is sent over the network to the sawmill where it is cut out at the earliest opportunity.It has been known for the part to be ready just before somebody arrives to collect it.a heavy investment that has been justified.
    We aren't computer guys and the manual was poorly translated from Italian. Besides that,there were frequent,irritating problems with the safeties and the vacuum hold down system,and little indication of the source.

    We managed for a few years, but when an Amish guy offered to buy it, we got rid of it.
    R
    Sleep with one eye open.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: CNC Build

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Williamson View Post
    We aren't computer guys and the manual was poorly translated from Italian. Besides that,there were frequent,irritating problems with the safeties and the vacuum hold down system,and little indication of the source.

    We managed for a few years, but when an Amish guy offered to buy it, we got rid of it.
    R
    I can sympathise with the poorly translated manual.I read one that referred to using the machine's tool length sensor as "qualifying the tool".There were other linguistic oddities,but that one stuck in my mind.On a different note-how does an Amish accept the use of such a lot of technology?

  21. #21
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    Default Re: CNC Build

    CNC is a very general term. I presume the OP is wanting to cut out plywood panels. To be of any use it would be 8’ x 4’ and would seriously fill most average amateur boat builders working area and empty his/her pocket. There are many companies what will cut out sheets of plywood but at a cost. Last time I requested a quote it was over 200 for 2 sheets, well over double the cost of top quality ply. I got full size patterns printed out for 15 glued cheap ply (10) to create a template. Using a large homemade router table I then used a router and template bit to finish the final panels in no time at all.

    I think that this kind of tech depends of which side of the time rich / cash rich line you lie.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: CNC Build

    Quote Originally Posted by John Meachen View Post
    I can sympathise with the poorly translated manual.I read one that referred to using the machine's tool length sensor as "qualifying the tool".There were other linguistic oddities,but that one stuck in my mind.On a different note-how does an Amish accept the use of such a lot of technology?
    Work is seperate from home,and the tech has to be approved by elders(probably not the right term).
    This machine in particular has the keyboard attached to the tower,which is the size of a small,full height fridge.
    It wouldn't have been okay with a seperate keyboard.
    R
    Sleep with one eye open.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: CNC Build

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Williamson View Post
    Work is seperate from home,and the tech has to be approved by elders(probably not the right term).
    This machine in particular has the keyboard attached to the tower,which is the size of a small,full height fridge.
    It wouldn't have been okay with a seperate keyboard.
    R
    The computer and drives could have been removed and replaced with new software and drives - motors can also be swapped out for easier integration. This is an excellent way to get professional equipment at a budget cost. Without the skills and tools already in-hand, then back to the long journey of gaining experience.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: CNC Build

    No doubt,but for us it was like cleaning the snow from your car and driveway,warming up the car,then driving two blocks to the cafe and then home again,instead of walking.
    As a point-to-point,it wouldn't nest pieces from a full sheet. We had to cut to size and it would drill or cut or rout.
    It would edge drill though,unlike a nesting setup.

    R
    Sleep with one eye open.

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