In roughly around august of this year, I bought myself a CNC from a wonderful Melbourne based chap with a Facebook business called Bluecarve CNC. For all those wondering what is a CNC? Also, what do the three letters CNC stand for? Let me explain. The term CNC is an abbreviation for computer navigated cutting, so you can see why everyone uses the term CNC. Ok, so we know what the letters stand for but, what is it. Well, it’s a machine that uses motors( stepper motors) to move a router so it can cut parts or carve things or engrave things on to all different types of material. How the router is moved is through a machining program that sends coded instructions to the brain (controller box) to move in vectors and eventually the “something” is formed. A CNC is used in most forms of production these days however there is growing popularity with home users using them to create all sorts of things, from wooden signs to furniture parts carved pictures and more!
So, I bought one in hopes of getting into making things and selling them at craft markets and online and so on to help make an income stream from home. Well. Let me tell you, what a learning curve it has been so far. I have broken bits and messed up a collet and had to change routers and turned more wood to sawdust with no result other than a lot of cut scribbles on the wood and nothing to show for my efforts. However with persistence and asking a lot and I mean A LOT!! Of pretty basic questions of the guy at blue carve CNC and then going through a set up with him looking at my bad photograph of each step ( where I found out I had my router turned on 3x the amount needed) I have carved some candle tea light holders and a sign that I was able to commission for 50 dollars.
However, I still have a heap to learn and discover about this machine and I have enjoyed every bump in the road and I have had a few giggles along the way and I hope to keep doing so as coming up with a product or design and then watching it come out of the machine only needing a sand and coat of paint or varnish to make a plank into a “thing” has been very inspiring and the possibilities are endless as to what I want to create.
The main things I have learned go as follows
Make sure everything is tightened !!! This is vital for several reasons, the main one is to make sure the machine moves as expected with no jarring or jerking or causing misalignments. Also keeping things clean, this stops jams in the wheels and jumping while the machine is running causing one to have heart failure. Pay attention to what you are doing!!! When you jog the machines to its home position just pay attention to the settings you have set up for the amount of movement the machine will do as a slip up can be disastrous (don’t ask how I know).
However, all in all, I am still having fun while I am learning and I learn something new every time I use it, for instance, always ask the manufacturer of the machine what setting the router should be on for speed. Please don’t assume as I did or you could end up setting the router 3x higher than it should be causing you to break massive amounts of bits.
Finally, if you would like to see my build video on it please take a look on my youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCyArOdjmL0OZMqKDAkpP9g