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cnc router, almost

2020 Views 13 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  sunnybob
Just want to run this idea past all you experts.

I am trying to find a way of flattening smallish pieces of wood, quickly.
I dont want a cnc router as such, but would a very basic version of one act as a mini planer?

I have a sled mounter router, but it is packed away normally, so at the moment I have to assemble the sled and router, then spend a lot of time standing there trying to flatten a piece of wood that might only be a few inches by a few inches Pieces that are far too small to use a plane on. Lots of my time wasted.

So, would it be feasible to have a bench top cnc machine running all by itself while I got on with other stuff? not even interested in 3 d shaping at this stage, just to make it flat.
One other thought is to be able to flatten a larger piece by feeding a small plank through in stages. i'm not talking perfect finished surfaces here, just flat enough to able to glue the pieces into a sandwich.

No, I dont have room for any normal planer.
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How about sanding?
Most desktop CNC machines will take up as much room as a planer.
Remember if you get a CNC you need a computer to run it.
If you get the planer you could save yourself around $1,000 or more.

You could also build your own CNC and save a few dollars but still need a computer, you can use free software.

You could also buy a dedicated router for the sled so it is always ready to use.
Bob, How about a hand plane?
Hand plane requires skill which I dont have. What I DO have is arthritic thumbs making most hand tools painful to use.

Sanding I can do as there isnt any jolts to the hands, but Its very time consuming and I am not good enough to get the surfaces parallel and square. This is the really big issue, I need square in both directions.

I have a dedicated router sled. It takes time, its extremely noisy and even messier, and every time I set it up i just think there has to be a a better way.

Cost IS important, but ease of use and convenience is also a high priority.

I think a drum sander would be the answer, but they are almost as much as a basic cnc router and as I havent actually used either, i'm looking for your advice. Theres no way I'm going to build my own drum sander, i just cant be arsed with all of that, too many times I have bought machines before thinking they would be the answer to my prayers, and have mostly been disappointed.

Is it not possible to just set up a small cnc to cut a flat surface without all the thousand dollar programmes?
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Rather than the elaborate sled as demonstrated by HarrySin which requires that the router be mounted to it, why not something as simple as shown in the photo - it could be made out of wood rather than aluminum. As you are only working on smallish pieces, sitting the sled across two pieces of wood would be sufficient, and the router only has to be dropped in the sled, no "mounting" required. If the piece was badly warped/twisted, it would still require shimming underneath to stabilize it for machining - but the same would be required if you were trying to do the job on a CNC.


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Tom, my sled is an mdf slab with the router mounted in the middle. As router sleds go, its accurate and infinitly adjustable, sliding over a home made adjustable tile base. It works, but I am really hoping for an improvement that will speed the process.
How about a jig to hold A belt sander belt side up and sand the pieces on the belt?

For small parts I use a Delta 31-450C belt/disk sander. Bought this years ago for $100 and still going strong. Or if you have a regular belt sander you could look at Jay Bates design at this link:


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I have a 4" belt sander, its connected to my extraction and it is used a lot. Trouble is although it does make smooth sides I cant keep the wood square. Any serious sanding can result in wedge shapes.

Having done a lot more research today I think a drum sander would be what I want, but its way out of my price bracket.
I'm going to have to make up a sled for the lunchbox planer I have, so that small pieces can go through without any snipe.
No matter which machine you choose, getting both sides parallel will be your biggest challenge. Assuming you can get one side flat (perhaps by sanding against a disk sander or belt sander) then a small CNC will cost far more than a handheld router held up on sled rails to run over the rough side with the flat side held down (perhaps by hot melt glue or double sided tape or in a vise).

The smallest ready-to-run version I can think of would be $1600 or more after adding the router: CNC PIRANHA FX BASE UNIT®
Although if you could afford the Piranha something like this low profile bed vise might be a good solution to hold the parts while the CNC flattens the top: 4D Furniture Thoughts: Low Profile CNC Table Vise. You could cut out the parts for the vise on the CNC too.

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No, the price is getting way out of hand.

I dont need engineering tolerance flat, just enough so I can glue stuff up neatly.
A pass through sled for the thicknesser is going to be the way forward. thanks all for talking me out of spending money.
OK, just found this. Sure won't cost you a lot of money, and I'm thinking it would work.
THICKNESS SANDER ATTACHMENT FOR MY BELT SANDER - by kiefer @ ~ woodworking community
And was looking for something else when I ran across this.
no good for my little pieces of wood, they wood fly back out at me with nothing to hold them.
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