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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know I can search the forum for some of this but I am trying to get a real idea from you users. I have not mastered free hand routing yet and think of CNC as “kinda” cheating (I know fighting words here) but one thing I can’t do free hand is a 3d object.

I would like your opinions on the cost and what I need. I see ads for the table, software, and then some show using a rotor motor. Others call it a spindle, I think. Then any number of accessories. CNC seems like it could be a “money pit.”

All I would like to do is create small 3d objects to then glue on boxes or plaques. I could buy figurines at places like Hobby Lobby but it would be nice to do my own designs.

Shark seems to be one of the cheaper brands for beginners to start out. The bottom end tables cost ~$2k but software is all over the place in cost.

Thanks for your help and hopefully I have not really offended any of you. I want to master freehand routing but to put a raised bird, butterfly or name on a box would be really cool.

After re-reading this, to explain what I think I can do with a CNC, is place my work piece on top of a sacrificial board on the table. I would program the CNC to cut out my figurines. I would then glue the figurines to whatever. I do not want to carve the figurine directly into the box or plaque.

Thanks again
 
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Theo
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Or you could get plans and make a copy carver. There are free plans and pay plans out there. These look like they are 3d to me, and I've seen a lot smaller.
 

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Theo
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And a few more. The machine is called various names, copy carver, dupli carver, and I don't know what all else.
 

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Mike
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Charlie, you are using the term figurines. Are you talking about silhouettes are are you talking about 3D relief carving?

If you are talking about silhouettes you could get by with a smaller entry model CNC machine and use free software to design your project, output gcode files, and run the machine. You could also consider a scrollsaw.

If you want to make 3D relief carvings then I would recommend a better CNC, still in that hobby level but better and tighter build. You mentioned the Shark and that would be one of those machines. The Shark comes with Vectric design software (VCarve will come with some free 3D relief models) so that is part of their cost. If you are interested in a CNC Shark 510, their 24x24 machine, it is selling right now with the $799.99, 2HP spindle for free.

As you noticed some of the small CNC machines use routers, spindles are usually an option. Some of the super small Chinese machines come with a spindle but it is really under-powered but the CNC itself is too small to use even a small trim router.

One thing to remember is a CNC machine is just another tool in your shop to help you produce a project. It should be used when the task calls for it, just like you would not use a handheld router to rip a board, you would use your table saw.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Sorry I am not doing a good job of explaining this. I don't want to copy an existing item. I want to start with a picture and turn that into a carved "half piece".
I only need one side shaped and the other side flat so I can attach it to a box.

I have used my scroll saw and cut out shapes for boxes. The shape has 3 dimensions but I can't change those dimensions across the piece.

What I have done, for example, is find a side view picture of a bird on the internet, print the picture, transfer that to a piece of wood, and cut it out with my scroll saw but The bird shape will be the same thickness across the entire piece of wood.

I want to be able to have his belly or bill etc. be thinner or thicker than the rest of the shape. I want to produce what Theo has in his last picture of the eagle but not copied from another piece.

Mike, on the Vcarve software, can I import my own designs into it, or do I have buy them from Shark? AND bigger question is can I get by with just the Shark and Vcarve or do I need more accessories? (not counting bits of course)

As to my comment about the "money pit", if you ask my wife, she considers all of my wood working "a money pit" so maybe we should skip that part of the question lol.:smile:
 

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Theo
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Sorry I am not doing a good job of explaining this. I don't want to copy an existing item. I want to start with a picture and turn that into a carved "half piece".
I only need one side shaped and the other side flat so I can attach it to a box.

I have used my scroll saw and cut out shapes for boxes. The shape has 3 dimensions but I can't change those dimensions across the piece.

What I have done, for example, is find a side view picture of a bird on the internet, print the picture, transfer that to a piece of wood, and cut it out with my scroll saw but The bird shape will be the same thickness across the entire piece of wood.

I want to be able to have his belly or bill etc. be thinner or thicker than the rest of the shape. I want to produce what Theo has in his last picture of the eagle but not copied from another piece.
Ah. I think that is one reason sandpaper was invented. I have an iggle above the door of my corporate headquarters. It is flat, mainly because I wanted it flat. But I would have no problem with shaping it with sandpaper, and whatever else I needed to shape it. If I screwed it up, I'd just make another, and start over. Then I could say that "I" did it.

My Tikis tho are a bit too large for that, but still turned into 3d images using precision tools. Chainsaw to start. I would post a picture, but something happened to it.
 

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Yes any CNC can do what you ask. You need both the machine and design software to create the instructions (g-code) for the machine. There are many machines (some somewhat more capable than the nextwave machines) in that $2k and under price range. The software to design “3D” items can cost more than the machine. Doing 2D (cutouts) or “2.5D” (VCarving. Pockets, fluting, etc.) can be designed in free or lower cost software. Software such as VCarve or Carveco Maker can create toolpaths and generate gcode for “canned” 3D shapes you buy or download, but not create original 3D forms yourself. More expensive software like Aspire ($2k) and Carveco Maker ($50/mo or $1200) can both create 3D and create the toolpaths.

Others use software not designed just for 3D routing like blender (free) or zbrush (free limited versions - $$$ full version) to design their models and bring them to the lower cost VCarve or Carveco Maker to create toolpaths. And of course people have been hand carving or shaping wood for centuries using carving chisels, files, rasps, etc. All are available options, and all will require training and practice to become proficient.

Depends on what you want to spend your time and energy on learning.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank God my wife does not read this. Her response would be " You want to spend HOW MUCH!!! Look at what Joat said. Do what he said and get off your lazy butt and use sand paper." :lazy::smile:

As one of you have said the CNC is just one tool and I have a lot of tools I want to get yet. As CNC becomes more and more popular people will upgrade and maybe I will slide a used unit in the shop when Mama is not looking.

There are threads on the forum of people looking to make money with CNC so contracting to have the shapes made is another possibility.
Yes I know it is not the same as doing all of the project myself but I would have the satisfaction of the knowing I made the rest of the project
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Charlie - look up some Intarsia patterns for your scroll saw. You cut out the component pieces and shape them individually before recombining as you glue them to a substrate. They are not as hard to do as you might think, and can be very effective.
Thanks I will do that.
 

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Mike
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As CNC becomes more and more popular people will upgrade and maybe I will slide a used unit in the shop when Mama is not looking.
You can check on Facebook Marketplace, and Craig's List to see if any used ones are for sale in your local area. There are a few around here right now and I'm sure there are other ones available elsewhere.
 
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As others have said, many hobbyist machines are capable of doing what you want. I suspect that your biggest expense will be software. I am only familiar with Vectric software. Vectric makes good stuff - pricey, but very good. However, the only product that they make that will let you take a picture or a drawing and model it into a 3D model is Aspire. Their other products will do 3D carving but you cannot create the model in them. Once created, almost any machine will allow you to carve it, leaving a flat back/bottom to attach to your piece.
 

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The most important thing, which few people realize, is that going from your picture to a 3D object is not easy, even with a $2000 software package.
It takes a lot of skill and artistic talent to create good 3D models for carving. Not to mention a lot of time.
The vast majority of quality carvings you see are likely models that were purchased, rather than created by the user.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The most important thing, which few people realize, is that going from your picture to a 3D object is not easy, even with a $2000 software package.
It takes a lot of skill and artistic talent to create good 3D models for carving. Not to mention a lot of time.
The vast majority of quality carvings you see are likely models that were purchased, rather than created by the user.
I think you are right. I am afraid I have spent too much time watching Youtube sales videos that make CNC look easy. I need to get out to the shop and work on what I do know how to do.


Thanks again everyone for your help.

Take care.
 

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If you create an original 3D object by your self it is yours, it is a lot of work and I don't care what anyone says it maybe even harder then carving it by hand because you never know how it will cut on a CNC but if you are carving by hand you can see as you go. Just my thoughts. I have done it both ways and I think it was quicker by hand lol
 

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Charlie, hopefully not completely dissuaded. I find the process of doing CNC patterns and integrating them into my projects a ton of fun. But it will depend on what your expectations are and the willingness to spend time on the software and hardware. A hobby machine is a hobby machine. I have a ~2K hobby machine made mostly of plastic. I do not expect it to run like a 10K or 5K machine but at the end of the day it provides me with the 3d (2.5d actually) carved piece that I programmed into the machine. Early on I used other peoples patterns but now I make all my patterns from scratch.

It taken me about 6 years to get at this stage of pattern making and I will call myself an advanced beginner. It is not easy making 3d objects from 2d images most times (sometimes you do get lucky).

I use Blender 3d (free) and Zbrush (not free) to make my 3d models and then export as STL to my cnc software to create the patterns. I also use grey scale depth map images sometimes for different reasons. Not all 3d models make good cnc patterns. The learning curve is steep but not insurmountable since I am an example a monkey can learn with enough time.
 

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Charlie, hopefully not completely dissuaded. I find the process of doing CNC patterns and integrating them into my projects a ton of fun. But it will depend on what your expectations are and the willingness to spend time on the software and hardware. A hobby machine is a hobby machine. I have a ~2K hobby machine made mostly of plastic. I do not expect it to run like a 10K or 5K machine but at the end of the day it provides me with the 3d (2.5d actually) carved piece that I programmed into the machine. Early on I used other peoples patterns but now I make all my patterns from scratch.

It taken me about 6 years to get at this stage of pattern making and I will call myself an advanced beginner. It is not easy making 3d objects from 2d images most times (sometimes you do get lucky).

I use Blender 3d (free) and Zbrush (not free) to make my 3d models and then export as STL to my cnc software to create the patterns. I also use grey scale depth map images sometimes for different reasons. Not all 3d models make good cnc patterns. The learning curve is steep but not insurmountable since I am an example a monkey can learn with enough time.
Very nice work..
 

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David - Machinist in wood
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I find the process of doing CNC patterns and integrating them into my projects a ton of fun.
Nice work, Oscar!!

David
 

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The important thing to remember about creating 3D models on the computer is to learn your software and use it often. Play with it as often as possible and when you don't have a model to work on try different techniques to see if you can build your skills and find short cuts when working on models.
 

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I'm a bit late to this discussion but there are options that cost significantly less than 2K. They come with some limitations - mostly in terms of speed - but are still quite capable. Take a look at Jim B's Workbee 1010 from Bulkman. It's at the end of this list. The frame, screw drive and motors are less than $500. With a simple router, modest drivers and grbl or grblHAL controller you can come in well less than $1000.
 
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