Friday, May 6, 2011

What I Learned with My CNC Machine Today

I'm in the second day of a one day project today. Hopefully I'll finish it on Day 3.

But, at each step I'm learning new and useful things.

Yesterday I learned:


  1. There's a point where you need to stop writing gcode by hand, and use CAD/CAM.

  2. Doing tool compensation by hand is a real bear.

  3. Don't think of designs that are too much more elaborate than what you've actually made before.


Today's Lessons:


  1. When your test piece is MDF and your work piece is real wood, there are going to be differences.

  2. Grain and cutting direction matter more when using a CNC than when you route by hand, where you make all sorts of little compensations that you don't even notice.

  3. Just because this piece looks like the last piece you cut doesn't mean that it really is, even if it's a piece off the same stock. This can be really important when you're clamping your work down.


Nonetheless, I managed to avoid anything worse than some minor marring of the surface of one work piece. It's still usable for the project.

So far, I've succeeded at using the CNC as a really complicated and finicky power planer. Unlike the first time I used a power planer, it did not throw a piece of wood across the shop at barely subsonic velocities. One piece came a bit loose in the clamp is all. I shut down the machine in time, re-clamped it, and picked up where I left off.

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