CNC or Conventional Equipment?

      Cabinetmakers discuss the value and usefulness of CNC equipment and other alternatives. December 14, 2005

I am considering buying a nesting router but am not very knowledgeable about them. I worked at a cabinet company that had a CNC router and beam saw for a few years, so I am somewhat aware of the capabilities of an automated shop. I am also very comfortable with computers, having run AutoCAD for years and just recently, Microvellum. I build custom cabinets now and can't build them fast enough for the demand. I have seen CDs of how these machines work and am attending the Las Vegas Woodworking Show at the end of this month, where they will be on display. Has anyone else taken this route or is anyone familiar with nesting based machinery? How much do they help productivity and what is the investment/return?

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor G:
Nesting routers are a great tool, but you might be able to get similar results with conventional tools. In my shop we have a beam saw, edgebander and 2 row boring machine setup. We can cut, bore and band 2 normal sized jobs in a day. We bought all of our equipment used for a total of less than $30,000 including delivery, installation, setup and repair. We had considered a CNC router, but our problem is that we use plywood for our euro boxes. When you cut with a router, the kerf is so large that too much material would be wasted.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the response. I am not familiar with nesting machines very much. You mention that you use plywood for your Euro boxes. Do nesting machines cut plywood okay? How much have these $30,000 worth of tools helped your production and profits?

From contributor G:
The machines that we are using now have increased our production by double. I could easily produce double what I am doing now with more people on the assembly and finishing end.

From contributor E:
You can go either route. A great deal will depend on employee prospects in your area, at least the way I look at it. In my area, skilled employees are about as common as compassionate tax auditors. Training isn't much of an option, as our unemployment rate is so low that good people for anything are hard to find. So we went the CNC route and it has worked well for us. You can cut up plywood all day and you don't need to spend 80 to 100,000 either. We can cut, bore and dado while I'm doing other things. There is a steep learning curve, but it's not so terrible if you're computer savvy.

On the other hand, if employees aren't so hard to find in your area, the above mentioned approach is very viable as well. If you do look at CNC, make the salesman show you the process from software design and drawing to tool pathing to cutting before you spend a dime. Talk is cheap and they can't always deliver, so shop wisely!

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?

Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Computerization

  • KnowledgeBase: Computerization: CNC Machinery and Techniques

    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.

    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2020 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB

  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers

      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article