CNC machines. Have to get this off my chest.

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  • 07 Jan 2018 10:21 AM
    Message # 5665625
    Anonymous

    I take most of the woodworking mags that are out there. I like to read the reviews and have built some of the projects in them. There is one thing that is really starting to bother me though. Its all the coverage they are giving to CNC carving machines. I don't care how you present this but its NOT woodworking. If you can turn the damn thing on and enter the program and push start you are now a master carver. I would like to have more actual woodworking covered in the pages of the magazine. 

    Tom Rounds

    Orlando, Fl.

  • 08 Jan 2018 8:51 PM
    Reply # 5668181 on 5665625

    Well, technically if the material being worked is wood it is woodworking. It is a different skill set and it appeals to some. It is a natural progression that has occurred many times in history, much of the work done to mill lumber has moved from hand saws and hand planes to powered saws, jointers and planers. The powered devices have not completely eliminated the hand powered equivalents but they provide alternatives and reduce the labor needed to get to flat, strait, square board. Likewise the brace and bit has largely been supplanted by corded and cordless drill motors. If the material being worked is wood all those tools are still considered under the umbrella of woodworking. The fact that CNC is now available to the average hobbiest and that it can perform work that was once done by people that were as much artists as they were skilled craftspeople is similar to evolution from painting to photography. Initially photography was very much looked down on by the painters of the day, especially so when it became more widely available average people but people still paint and people still appreciate paintings but they can also appreciate photographs as well. Likewise CNC won't kill carving as skill for those that are interested and it deserves a place in woodworking magazines in the same way that articles about other tools for working with wood do.


  • 09 Jan 2018 1:14 AM
    Reply # 5668433 on 5665625
    Anonymous wrote:

    I take most of the woodworking mags that are out there. I like to read the reviews and have built some of the projects in them. There is one thing that is really starting to bother me though. Its all the coverage they are giving to CNC carving machines. I don't care how you present this but its NOT woodworking. If you can turn the damn thing on and enter the program and push start you are now a master carver. I would like to have more actual woodworking covered in the pages of the magazine. 

    Tom Rounds

    Orlando, Fl.

    Tom
    I hate to play devils advocate but; and I say this with all respect to your opinion however; I would like you to consider that opinion in view of how innovation has had its effect on woodworking. Using your line of thinking if someone goes to the table saw and presses start that must make them a master sawyer then. A person can't be a real woodworker unless they can use and sharpen their own hand saws? At one time the table saw was as new as CNC is now. 

    Ed

  • 09 Jan 2018 7:49 AM
    Reply # 5668735 on 5665625

    What is new is the lack of knowledge or skill required.  I also suspect that there is a lack of that feeling of accomplishment after you watch a smart machine do your woodworking for you.

    Machines are great for production runs but not so much for a hobby that calms you and feeds your soul.

    Larry

  • 09 Jan 2018 2:54 PM
    Reply # 5669445 on 5665625

    I wouldn't categorically say there is lack of skill or knowledge but rather the skills and knowledge required are different. Having been a manual machinist, a CNC operator and a CNC programmer at one point in my career I can say there was a sense of accomplishment in each of those jobs. I don't own a CNC for woodwork but if I did I would be able to find satisfaction in a well created and executed program just as I currently find satisfaction with the work I currently perform with table saw, band saw, jointer, planer, drill press, hand plane, chisels, hand saws, marking guages, clamps etc. They are all just tools that help create a vision and if a CNC is one of those tools that facilitates that vision for someone it is certainly a worthwhile tool for them.

    Last modified: 09 Jan 2018 2:58 PM | Anonymous member
  • 10 Jan 2018 10:22 AM
    Reply # 5674672 on 5668735
    Larry wrote:

    What is new is the lack of knowledge or skill required.  I also suspect that there is a lack of that feeling of accomplishment after you watch a smart machine do your woodworking for you.

    Machines are great for production runs but not so much for a hobby that calms you and feeds your soul.

    Larry

    Hi Larry

    There is a misconception about so called smart machines. Computer controlled machines like CNC, are not smart, however they are obedient. They are incapable of thought they can only execute. 

    CNC machines do exactly what they are told to do by a human who has the knowledge and skill required to program and operate them. 

    As a CNC machinist I can assure you there is a feeling of accomplishment when you watch a program you have written take a relatively inexpensive chunk of metal and turn it into a something complex that is worth thousands.

    I don't want to take anything away from the satisfaction of accurately using hand tools either. Using hand tools has rewarded me with the same sense of accomplishment for a job well done many times. 

     I would propose that the woodworking community recognize skill and knowledge for what it is, without regard to the method the woodworker chose to achieve their creative enjoyment. As hobbyists it is all about satisfaction and accomplishment. None of us are getting rich off of this are we? 


    Ed

  • 10 Jan 2018 11:02 AM
    Reply # 5674723 on 5665625

    OK Ed and Rick, you guys are experienced CNC operators (I grudgingly admit to using a CNC router as well).  These machines are useful to someone such as yourselves who can conceive of a project, draw it up in digital form and generate the code required to cut the components with CNC.

    Most woodworkers do not have this ability and it is a long learning curve.  Most will simply use cutter path files available from the manufacturer of the hardware or the software provider.  The design will not be their's, the code will not be of their making and cutting the finished product is not even dependent on their being in attendance.  Woodworking is much more than the operation of the tool.  As you know wood, unlike metal, is not a homogeneous material, nor is it stable and must be taken into account.  A CNC carver can make thousands of MDF coasters with nifty sport team logos and with absolutely no knowledge of woodworking required or learned.  Eventually the novelty of making nifty coasters wears off and the great improvement to modern woodworking becomes a dust collector, and the owner takes up knitting or something that actually involves personal attendance.

    Part of my college furniture course involved drawing, coding and cutting a decorative pattern used in my final project using the mentioned CNC router.  I admit that at the time it seemed cool but since moving on and actually developing through use the skills to create using hand tools I've never been tempted to go back.  I do use drawing programs (AutoCAD and Sketchup) to work out design and joinery problems before attacking the wood.

    In recent years I facilitated a con-ed Saturday morning college class in woodworking to attempt to introduce hand tool use to avid hobbiests.  To my surprise, some of the recent graduates of the 2 year day courses in woodworking were signing up for my hobby class.  To make a long story short, the day program had switched it's focus to CNC machinery and man made sheet goods.  These students could certainly make nifty coasters and wall placks but they know precious little about woodworking (what the heck is grain direction?).  Sorry but I am not impressed with the contribution CNC has been to modern woodworking.

    Call me a dinosaur.  Carry on

    Larry

    Last modified: 10 Jan 2018 11:24 AM | Anonymous member
  • 11 Jan 2018 9:11 AM
    Reply # 5676211 on 5665625

    Hello all,

    I've seen these types of complaints in the past and to be honest I don't understand them.  Each person has to draw their own lines on what woodworking means to them.  

    • To a full power tool woodworker, CNC might be "cheating."  
    • To a hand tool woodworker, power tool woodworkers are "cheating."  
    • To someone who makes their own tools, hand tool woodworkers who buy tools are "cheating."
    • To some, if you don't heat treat your own tool steel you are cheating.  
    • If you don't mine your own iron ore and make your own steel you are "cheating."
    • Etc...

    Ok, I might have went a bit far but the point is that everyone has to draw their own lines on what they enjoy.  CNC owners don't poke a button that says "make furniture," there is skill involved.

    All of this is woodworking, but different types.  Overall, the more people who work wood in any way is a good thing.

    Michael

    Last modified: 11 Jan 2018 9:17 AM | Michael
  • 11 Jan 2018 10:08 AM
    Reply # 5676242 on 5676211
    Anonymous wrote:

    Hello all,

    I've seen these types of complaints in the past and to be honest I don't understand them.  Each person has to draw their own lines on what woodworking means to them.  

    • To a full power tool woodworker, CNC might be "cheating."  
    • To a hand tool woodworker, power tool woodworkers are "cheating."  
    • To someone who makes their own tools, hand tool woodworkers who buy tools are "cheating."
    • To some, if you don't heat treat your own tool steel you are cheating.  
    • If you don't mine your own iron ore and make your own steel you are "cheating."
    • Etc...

    Ok, I might have went a bit far but the point is that everyone has to draw their own lines on what they enjoy.  CNC owners don't poke a button that says "make furniture," there is skill involved.

    All of this is woodworking, but different types.  Overall, the more people who work wood in any way is a good thing.

    Michael


    Michael, nobody mentioned "cheating".  The concern is the loss of primary skills and knowledge.


    Larry

  • 12 Jan 2018 12:17 PM
    Reply # 5678747 on 5665625

    Hello Larry,

    The original poster was talking about CNC woodworking as not "real" woodworking and that was what I was attempting to provide my view.

    My overall point is that it is real woodworking, albeit quite different that I or many of us here do.  We all draw the line somewhere.  Some people only use hand tools.  Some people use machine and hand tools.  Others use CNC.  If it's what interests them then it's good.  It's all woodworking.  The more people who work wood in any way is good for all of IMHO.

    Michael


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