CNC Fun at Ocean State Maker Mill

I attended an “Intro to CNC” class at the Ocean State Maker Mill on Saturday January 20th.

The class provided an overview of the CNC (Computer Numerical Control) process. The entire workflow: design, CAD, CAM, CNC set up, and finishing.  Many small CNC machines use the Dewalt 611 Router. So if you have experience using a router you are off to a good start. I used a router for some small home projects, but never really gave much thought to router bits other than the shape. There is more to router bits and end mills than I ever imagined: up cut, down cut, compression. Tomes have been written on the subject. Why? Because it turns out to be really important when you want to reliably produce a quality result. If you are yearning to learn more about bits, um, I mean, end mills, you can check out this article in Popular Woodworking.

When you have a robot doing the work for you it can’t always compensate when things go astray the way a human can. Attention to detail is a must: measure the thickness of your material, make sure it is fastened down securely, check clearances, calibrations. Safety first: ear and eye protection, dust mask, NO gloves !

After covering the general principles we got down to the specifics using a small sign as a sample project targeting the Inventables X-Carve CNC. The project was designed in the Inventables Easel free design system.

Matt setting up the project on the CNC:

Time to relax while the CNC does the work:

Almost done:

The final product:

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