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George Ledo
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I'm looking into possibly buying a small CNC machine next year to do some carving and bas-relief work in pine and maybe sign foam. Max size of the pieces would be about a foot square or so, and maybe half an inch deep. My biggest issue would be that the carvings are complex, so the software needs to be able to handle them. Obviously I don't want to have to mortgage the house to buy it. Anyone here have experience with these machines, and/or any suggestions? Thanks.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
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Magic Researcher
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Buy some ear plugs! How much is your house worth? Are your neighbors deaf? Can you do the 3D modelling? Have you priced the software? Do you have enough work to justify the investment?

You might want to research this beyond The Magic Café.
MR
Repeating a falsehood often and loudly does not make it true.
tabman
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Jay Leslie is experienced with and adept at this type work. Maybe he'll chime in. If I could help here I would but I do everything by hand still. Good luck with it. Ive looked at some of the lower priced machines myself but more window shopping and thinking "what if."
...Your professional woodworking and "tender" loving care in the products you make, make the wait worthwhile. Thanks for all you do...

http://Sefalaljia.com
wa-na-be
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You can use this unit for small projects, there are other of this type that are a bit cheaper but not by much. Hope this helps

Chris

http://www.woodcraft.com/Family/2020437/......tem.aspx
Magic Researcher
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Before buying a CarveWright, read the reviews and notice the lack of customer support. These units rely on a flex shaft drive which has been very problematic. The software is more of a paste design elements together rather than true design software. I would not waste $2000 on one of these.
MR
Repeating a falsehood often and loudly does not make it true.
wa-na-be
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I don't know anything about these machines as in quality I just know they exist. If you want you can go to google and type in Wood cutting CNC and than look at the images to see if that is what you are looking for. Than as above look at the pros and cons of each system.


http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=19441
Magic Researcher
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Here's a much better solution:

http://www.shopbottools.com/mProducts/desktop.htm

Good product, good service, and works with real design software.
MR
Repeating a falsehood often and loudly does not make it true.
Thomas Wayne
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The machine in my shop that I would do what you're talking about is one I built myself. Components alone ran about $14,000 - not counting the 50,0000 rpm high-frequency router head, which was another $5,000.

That's just the cost of parts to build the 3-axis machine itself. I built it in-house, but my labor has significant value, and I was able to build it because I also have a full machine shop at my disposal. At the time I built that machine the commercially available equivalent was around $40,000. These days you can buy a much inferior (but somewhat workable) stepper-drive machine for around $5,000. A visit to eBay will yield a plethora of machines for much less than those figures, but the saying "you get what you pay for" is no more true in any field than it is in CNC equipment.

So that the machine itself. The software I use to program that machine - and the other three in my shop - currently runs around $13,000. Again, you can buy much cheaper stuff, but you can't come close to the capabilities that real CAD-CAM software provides.

Can you buy (or build) a machine for less than the above numbers and program it with much cheaper software? Yes. Can you achieve results with your cheap-charlie setup that are even remotely comparable to what I do? No.

But you can throw away a little bit of money ($1000 -$2500) and buy some junky stuff from vendors on a popular online auction site. Then you'll almost be ready to crank out some mediocre work... after you actually learn to program and how to make it all function.

Oh, did I mention the learning curve? I've been working with CNC for more than 20 years, and I still learn something new with every project.

TW
(PS: By the way, you could save yourself a lot of time and money by just finding a job shop in your home town that will be happy to make parts to your specifications - and the best news is that part of your prop(s) will be made by an expert.)
MOST magicians: "Here's a quarter, it's gone, you're an idiot, it's back, you're a jerk, show's over." Jerry Seinfeld
George Ledo
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Wow! Did I open a can of worms by asking a simple question!

Obviously I'm not going to just go out and blow some money on a CNC machine, but I figured this would be as good a place to start asking questions as any. This, after spending a couple of hours online and looking at a bunch of sites and machines and reviews and prices. I almost feel like a kid who got his wrist slapped. Smile
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
www.georgefledo.net

Latest column: "Sorry about the photos in my posts here"
Magic Researcher
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BTW - ShopBot has an interesting project on their web site:

http://www.shopbottools.com/mPeople/cutinhalf.htm

And silly folk worry about "exposing" on The Magic Café!
MR
Repeating a falsehood often and loudly does not make it true.
Magic Researcher
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The above abomination is a perfect example of CNC abuse and why patent drawings should NOT be considered as plans. The illusion is not in the least bit deceptive. Hardware and paint job certainly help nothing. If you can not design, CAD will not do it for you.

The sad thing is that some amateur builder was so proud of this waste of wood that he had to post pictures on the web!

Check out Dante's refinements and paint job using the same principle to see how much more deceptive good design work can be.

If you want to invest in CNC, learn to design or pay to have it done.
MR
Repeating a falsehood often and loudly does not make it true.
abrell
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I have been working in an R&D department where we had our own CNC machine to manufacture testing samples. The amount of time to learn using such machinery properly is higher than estimated at the beginning. And you have to generate the data for the CNC machine. This can only be done with a 3D drawing software that is understood by the software of the CNC machine. The CNC machine did cost about 40,000 € and the 3D CAD software about 3,000 €.

If you already have access to a CNC machine and you can convince a colleague to do the 3D drawings, THEN producing props by CNC machinery is a good idea. If you have to buy CNC machinery, 3D CAD software and have to learn using it, it will only be reasonable if you start mass producing afterwards. A "make or buy" calculation should be done first. I am sure in most cases it will be cheaper and less time consuming to let some company do the job. Maybe they have some time with less work and can do the job in exchange for your magical show at their next fair booth/ christmas celebration/ ...

Of course I am in the favourite situation to live in an area where I am nearly surrounded by companies with such technology. For small production numbers it could be interesting to also check the possibilities of 3D printing. Digital fabricators or fabbers can produce certain items much cheaper than CNC machinery. Fabbers are used for items even like camera housings, the precision and the materials should fit most magical needs.
chill
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Hi george,
the shop-bot will certainly do what you asked in your first post. and your design skills are definitely up top the task. shop-bot used to have a referral program to see one of these work and to talk to someone who owns one. contact them and ask.
bob
I spent most of my money on magic and women, the rest i just wasted
wa-na-be
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The company I work at has a small board CNC ( for cutting out electronic circuit boards) I had to replace the spindle motor once, so far in about 4 years. This unit is used daily so I would think for what your original question regarding the small CNC's is that it would work for you.

Let us know which one you get if you get one.

Chris
jay leslie
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George, bottom line.

It will cost 10,000 to 25,000 for a small machine and decent software (more then one software package is usually needed). Forget that Carvething, you will be disappointed with the tolerance of the cut.

The learning curve on CNC is about the same as marrying someone for life without knowing how complicated they can be and... they throw you in the deep end the first day. Even the lessons that are taught by some companies take a week and usually cost over 1300 for the basics only. Unless you want to use CNC on a constant basis (as opposed to your Cutawl) , then farm it out.

I made these pages to show what's involved in an average project, I've had my machines several years.

http://www.miraclemagiccompany.com/pages......del.html
George Ledo
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Thanks, Chris. A couple of the guys here suggested going to a job shop, so now I have something else to think about. Smile What make/model is your machine?
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
www.georgefledo.net

Latest column: "Sorry about the photos in my posts here"
Ruldar
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Well, I am going to swim against the stream a bit here...
I have a Carvewright and I like it alot. I have had it for two and a half years and used it for maybe a hundred projects with no machine problems. I did replace a bit that I broke and upgraded the free software package that came with it (to improve the font options). I added a set of bits and have about $2200 invested total.
I have used it for making signs, inlaying carvings into furniture and making a piecrust table. I have used it for mostly hardwoods (cherry, walnut and mahogany). My most recent project was carving a 4" Celtic Knot into the top of a magic box made from spalted maple. I also used it to carve some small, very accurate wooden mechanisms for a secret drawer.
I have only done the recommended maintenance on the unit (occasionally blowing out the collet and one time lubricating the flex shaft. I have had no downtime due to problems and no issues on tolerances. I will agree the software is not the most optimum but it works fine for my needs - including downloading images off the internet and converting them to line drawings, then the carving file.
I have a lot of respect for the folks commenting on this board, so I would not argue with their perspective in any way. I'm only sharing my experience and I have found this unit to be a great match of cost versus meeting my needs.
Randy
George Ledo
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Thanks, Randy. I was looking at the reviews of the CarveWright yesterday, and it seems the machine works for some people and has major problems for others, which is about par for the course. I've seen samples of what it does at Woodcraft, and it seems fine for my purposes (assuming I go ahead with this project next year, which may or may not happen).

How do you deal with the dust? Do you just vac it out in between projects?
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
www.georgefledo.net

Latest column: "Sorry about the photos in my posts here"
Ruldar
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George,
For the most part, I vacuum it out good between projects. However, I also vacuum the project when I change bits. I feel like that keeps the detail work from getting marred by the dust and chips, though I've never seen that happen. Normally, you have to change bits a few times on any given project. I have a small shopvac nearby and it works great for that purpose.
There is a dust bag that comes with the unit (like the breather bag that comes on a handheld sander). However, I don't think it does much.
All-in-all, I don't find the dust to be a major deal. The noise, however, is another story. Keep some muffs around.
Randy
Thomas Wayne
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Quote:
On 2010-11-26 14:18, Ruldar wrote:
[...] Keep some muffs around.
Randy


Always a good idea. I care about my hearing, so I don't even turn on a manual metal lathe (one of the quieter machines in my shop) without first putting in industrial earplugs.

TW
MOST magicians: "Here's a quarter, it's gone, you're an idiot, it's back, you're a jerk, show's over." Jerry Seinfeld
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