The Argument Within.... (Warning: May Be Lengthy) - Router Forums
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post #1 of 45 (permalink) Old 09-28-2020, 10:12 PM Thread Starter
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Wink The Argument Within.... (Warning: May Be Lengthy)

Oh My... *Deep Breath* this is gonna cause a stir - I just know it is...

Everyone who knows me, knows my views on CNC machines. I've always felt it was cheating, as the machine is doing the actual cutting. A CNC is run mechanically that won't be "thrown off" by the grains in the wood you're cutting like they can throw a router being held by hand.... takes true control to do free hand; with CNC, the programmer puts in a design, pushes a couple buttons, and the computer controls the machine doing the work, while you're on your deck sipping a cold beer.... I've held that router for every curve in every letter & line within my pattern driven by the power of my hand and gotten cramps in my hands from holding that router keeping within the design.... No, I can't get 3D, or the different depths that a CNC can do... and remember, I'm self taught, with refinement from many wonderful people who have guided me; anyway, y'all know my arguments; I'm sure many a post can be found about my feelings on CNC machines. I can, however, respect the effects a CNC can get, that I can't. I love the creating, and the cutting. What I don't love is repetition, sanding, staining, and spraying of poly. (This is usually where Ken comes in *giggle* He and I both do the painting of the lettering, but he usually does the rest... and he's good at it, to boot. If I poly? You're gonna have runs down the piece.)

So I'm blaming it all on a couple things: One: two projects I know were done by a machine, not by hand, and knowing there's no way I could do it by hand, and Two: these two projects were shown a mere couple of days before my Handsome One (Ken of course, the man I live for) comes to me telling me that he fears his days are numbered in the Working World. He's not ready to quit, it makes him mad, but truth is truth. His words: "I'm not ready to give up!" (His foot injury from 2016 is starting to catch up to him, and if he does end up having a fusion done, then he won't be able to work any longer.)

The Argument

Now, this is not in stone - I go Wednesday evening to investigate/witness a CNC machine that is up for sale (with the Aspire program) for $2400 (maybe as low as $1800; reason to be explained). It's owned by an older gentleman, who won't be able to use it any more. It's only been used a handful of times, (he made his own airplane model pieces, I guess) and had to stop due to his health. Well, his health has worsened, so he has it for sale. First and foremost, I still have the issue of finding the funds; secondly, and I say this light-heartedly, so don't get offended, CNCer's; do I "Go Over to the Dark Side" and set up a filthy, cheating CNC in my precious shop? The machine would definitely be a starter machine, as it's older, no longer in production, the bed is 2' by 2' and runs on a router, not a spindle. I had been talking to a couple of the guys on here about a machine, when I get a call from a friend that I've knows for well over 40 years, who I let in on my dilemma last week; at first, the recommendation was to pass on it; too small, I'll grow out of it in 6 months, the programming is probably the cheap stuff they come with, etc. etc.

I got a text this evening: It comes with Aspire, which we all know isn't cheap. I'm basically going to be buying the program, and getting a free machine, is one way to look at it. I've had lengthy conversations over this thing, and to explain why I may get it as low as $1800: At best, the machine has been in storage for two years; that means the program would have to be upgraded to the latest version. Cost: $400. Then I have to transfer ownership to even upgrade, another $50. My friend says he would probably reduce the price by what it would cost to transfer and upgrade, bringing it technically to $1950, but if I go in with $1800 in cash, he may take it.

In one of my conversations, a comment was made that if I get this machine, I would "have to go on the forums and confess." I started laughing. What am I confessing? That I've accepted the cheaters way of routing? Well, if it means that Ken will be able to cut the signs and do what we can't do right now with both of us working, then, I guess the answer would be "yes." Do I relish the thought? No. I lose the right to say that all my work is cut free hand, by my hands. The advantage would be that I don't have to repeat signs over and over, as the computer will do it, not caring. I hate repetition. Once I cut a couple, I'm ready to move on!

So there's my Argument Within... the jury is still out, and the biggest obstacle of course, is the funds. But, I guess if I have to go to the "Dark Side" I'll do it, because Ken loves this woodworking gig, too. His initial isn't in there for looks; Of course, it does look good in there, if I do say so myself...


Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
Mark Twain

There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.
Henry A. Kissinger

If you choose to poke at a bee hive, be prepared to get stung.

Last edited by OutoftheWoodwork; 09-28-2020 at 10:26 PM.
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post #2 of 45 (permalink) Old 09-28-2020, 11:16 PM
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I don't own, or have a desire to own, a CNC. But I do consider them just another tool, and we all use tools. They still take skill to create and finish a project, I don't think the fact that one was used diminishes the final product.
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post #3 of 45 (permalink) Old 09-28-2020, 11:30 PM
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Barb; it's not "cheating", it does however devalue the finished product. Isn't that in the cold harsh light of technology the whole point?
Can't the same be said of digital art, or photography (Photoshop)? I know that a lot of classical pianists frown on digital keyboards, never mind synthesizers. Well lah de dah; not everyone can afford or has the room for a grand piano.
If young kids can be successfully introduced to music of any genre via a $300 digital keyboard isn't that justification enough?
Do what you gotta do to make a living.
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post #4 of 45 (permalink) Old 09-28-2020, 11:57 PM
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There’s a few dilemmas there Barb.

Maybe the old way of two columns one headed Pro and the other Neg, and see what that brings up.

I’m sure that you will both come up with the right decision to suit your needs.

Best of luck.
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post #5 of 45 (permalink) Old 09-29-2020, 12:02 AM
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My thoughts are similar to yours, but money is money and if you can make money, theres no question.

The only difference is I dont like the "I made this" with a cnc. If you changed that sentence to "I produced this", then to me that sounds far more acceptable. Theres nothing to stop you continuing to make the one offs, and they can have the "hand made" sticker with pride.
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post #6 of 45 (permalink) Old 09-29-2020, 12:26 AM
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What a conundrum! Maybe it's about compromise. Ken can use the CNC, and you can continue freehand until you just can't take it any more. Meanwhile, together you can craft things on the CNC to complement your selections.
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post #7 of 45 (permalink) Old 09-29-2020, 06:36 AM
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Barb, I design and run a CNC router and laser at work. I could not hold a router, my hands would never go for it. Some of the designs are quick and easy but others I have been asked to do, from a picture, are not. It will be a challenge. You have to do what you have to do. Good luck
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post #8 of 45 (permalink) Old 09-29-2020, 06:49 AM
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I would think that to the dyed in the wool "hammer and chisel" folks would consider using a router as "cheating" also.

Advances in technology and techniques is often what allows one to enter into a hobby that they would otherwise not.

For the longest time I would use nothing but bamboo for flyfishing. And then I ran into a soft graphite rod...

Even your own technique of using a printed art and transferring to make your cuts would be considered taboo to a carver...

The want for continuous improvement ultimately leads to's a good thing.

Fortunately we continue to enjoy our abilities to choose the level of advancements. Miter boxes vs SCMS's, digital angle finders, tapes vs folding rules, scroll saws vs fret, lasers...and on and on...

You have a great opportunity to advance your craft, appeal to a different market and continue the enjoyment you and Ken get out of working together.

I framed a picture of my sailboat with the caption "You cannot explore new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore" a reminder...

Continued success in your new ocean...


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
GIVE A MAN A FISH and you feed him for a day.
TEACH HIM HOW TO FISH and you feed him for his life time.
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post #9 of 45 (permalink) Old 09-29-2020, 07:02 AM
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For the longest time I would use nothing but bamboo for flyfishing. And then I ran into a soft graphite rod...

This would have been the week that I'd have finished chewing thru the restraints...
If only new layers hadn't been added....

Forget the primal scream, just ROAR!!!
"SNORK Mountain Congressional Library and Taxidermy”
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post #10 of 45 (permalink) Old 09-29-2020, 07:42 AM
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I sat here in front of my computer and read all these comments of how you should follow your dream, do your thing, Go north young lady, then I hit on Stick's. "TRAITOR" Finally a voice of reason.

For me, personally, I can see the day that all wood work will be done by computer. The days of the hand made anything is on its way out. As on Star Trek, when we require some thing, we will simply go to the replicater and speak the words, "Computer" One hard wood end grain, cutting board with lots of saturnian red woods and a 1/4 inch deep juice slot. or , no, disregard that, make me a number 27 end grain cutting board. I'm in a bit of a hurry.
But, then, we no longer travel to California walking along side an ox cart.

This is all Honest John's fault.

Last edited by Bushwhacker; 09-29-2020 at 07:52 AM.
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