Router Forums banner

New Guy looking to learn and network ( CNC)

1611 Views 11 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  DesertRatTom
Hello everyone, Scott here. My wife Megan and I live in the beautiful foot hills of North Carolina. My full time work is in the production furniture industry.
In Our free time we spend a lot of time on home renovation projects. We are currently Considering adding a CNC Router to our little shop.
We look forward to networking with everyone here and learning as much as we can.
For our router the initial goal will be to make cabinets, doors and trim for an old farm house we recently purchased and are living in. In the future we look forward to a hobby that will be fun and profitable, doors, cabinets, signs, 3D images etc.
We will be looking for a full size set up and want to make sure we evaluate all aspects before investing in a machine and software.
Environment- Our shop is not heated or cooled, will this cause any problems?
Table- is extruded aluminum the only answer? Are the concerns making a table from 2x4s?
Components- Motors, Spindle, Rails.....
Build from scratch or order a Kit?
Hold downs- we want to be able to do cut out pieces and lots of contouring. Will a Vacuum Table eliminate the needs for clamping?
Other stuff- What do we need to plan for that may not be obvious? (Compressor)
Software- We see so many options, but no great side by side comparison. In a perfect world we would like to be able to import and download images and patterns then be able to cut them without needing to trace or redraw them. I see self-learning software as our biggest obstacle. We would find value in a quality software package that will bypass the coding steps.
Does anyone's know of a YouTube channel where someone's walks through their process from Novice to......?
I know this is a lot at once any advice is appreciated.
1 - 12 of 12 Posts
Hello Scott welcome to the router forum.
We have a lot of people here that work with CNC equipment I'm sure they'll be able to help you.
Welcome to the forum, Scott!

There are tons of options but here are a few questions before you get responses that are relevant - what's your budget, how much room do you have, what size machine are you considering, what sort of power do you have available for the CNC, if you're building a kit or from scratch how much time do you want to invest as opposed to buying a ready made machine, etc.?

  • Like
Reactions: 1
Welcome to the forum, Scott.
Welcome to the Router Forums Scott. You might look at this build that David did and see if you would be interested in going this far building your machine.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Welcome to the forum Scott. I'm wanting to buy or build a CNC this coming winter , and will be following your ideas with interest .
I'm looking at going with a 4'x4' model from cncrouterparts, but Dave is having great success with his CNC from FLA.
I'm swaying towards CNCrouterparts,because I can always upgrade it to a larger size in the future if I find it's to small .
I also joined Joes CNC , as they build them there . There's a membership fee though .
  • Like
Reactions: 1
If you are planning to make money from a CNC, you will have to become very good at marketing your services. Translated, that means being very good at identifying and effectively contacting people and businesses that are likely to make good use of your services. Everyone and their uncle Tom is making occasional signs, or signs with clever sayings or even images they hope to sell in consignment shops or weekend craft gatherings. But to really make any money, you have to identify markets that need lots of what you have to sell, but not so many that they go to a completely automated shop, or one that markets and jobs out the work to Mexico or Asia.

One example would be a small chain of regional hotels with a homey feel where signs, plaques and things of that sort , in script or with logos or other identity setting features are needed in fair numbers.

As machines go, that means something pretty fast with easy setup and software that makes such things as using special fonts or logo images easy to set up and produce in limited runs. In marketing, you'd probably have to locate, contact and work with art directors, architects and interior designers -- the real buyers.

With really good software, you could locate individual property owners for inns or mountain cabin owners, whose orders would be small, but beyond hand made sign quantities. Entrance, exit, mens, family and womens' bathrooms, room number, breakfast, meeting room and other signs with logos and unique fonts are all possible products.

I teach marketing to eye doctors, and know how important it is to any business. The internet and social media are good places to search, and 150 to 300 searches will turn up a good number of customers. You don't want to just have one big customer, they apply intense pressure to cut prices and profits. A good mix of lots of medium sized repeat customers is essential.

Deliver as fast as you can. Get all art approved by several people. If you see something odd or off in the design, check it with the customer before you make it and try to provide a proof run before you produce in quantity. Learn to proof read. Check the spelling of every word and if any problem shows up, check with the customer before starting design or production. These kinds of projects seldom get full attention and you backing up the person who orders this way will save their fanny if you catch a problem before their boss does.

Check out all kinds of materials to use for projects. See if you can find sources of cutoffs that are consistently available. For example, my son in law gets large quantities of 2x6 asian hardwood from pallets used for forklifts.

Make your laptop the center of your business rather than the CNC. Being able to sit in your car on vacation while handling a design shows up as exceptional service, and pays for the vacation at the same time. Plan for rush orders. Designers are notorious for pushing deadlines and giving the producer precious little time to finish. That is a formula for a designer who makes an error to blame the producer for errors and delays, and to cut you off. Make this attention to detail and possible "inconsistencies" a feature of your service. You've got your customer's back. If necessary, run everything by a skilled proof reader before submitting the final design to the customer for approval. It's no fun eating a $2,000 order because of a missed comma or wrong font.

Do not make the mistake of competing on price. Start as high as you can stand it, then go up another 10 percent. If you slash prices to below market rates, you can be dismissed by competitors merely by their saying, "you get what you pay for."

I know free advice is easily dismised, but I've been doing and teaching marketing for 35 years, and charge a lot for my recommendations. If I were in your situation, what I suggested is what I'd do, and I'd have a list of 30-50 high potential 50-signs-or-more customers in hand before I put a penny down on a machine.

And, I really like that entrepreneural spirit and a couple working together as well.
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
One more thing, although I focused on signs in the previous post, I know that there many more uses for a CNC, such as making prototypes, 3D carvings, etc. Gaffboat recently produced a plaque with deep 3D imagery, but what made it stand out was use of gold paint on some fancy scroll work. He has also used silver on unique plaques. Outstanding in appearance, and far more elegant (pricy looking) than the vast majority of CNC signs I've seen so far. Anything you can invent, copy or develop that gives you a distinctive edge will put money in your pocket.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Thank you all for the responses and the warm welcome.
Difalkner- We are looking for a 4x8 ( or larger), I have yet to see one person who has said, I started with too much table and need to downgrade.
For the size of shop and power, We are currently tearing our little workshop and will be rebuilding soon. We have 4,000 sq ft to work with and have not yet spaced the electrical.
I will lot mind investing time if we will save a lot.
Webcwd- thank you for sharing the link.
Do you have a link for JoesCNC, I'm not sure what it is or what the fee is for.
DRTom- Thank you for all of the insight and advice. I'm not sure where to start, but I have re-read your post 3 times.
The Laptop advice is great!
Do you mind if I send you a PM, I am curious about the software you use and would look forward to collaborating with you. I have some ideas on distinctive offerings I would like to run by you.
  • Like
Reactions: 1

There's a one time fee of $75 for joining , which includes plans and help .
Welcome to the forum Scott.
DRTom- Thank you for all of the insight and advice. I'm not sure where to start, but I have re-read your post 3 times.
The Laptop advice is great!
Do you mind if I send you a PM, I am curious about the software you use and would look forward to collaborating with you. I have some ideas on distinctive offerings I would like to run by you.
Not at all, I'm an old guy and only work a little these days, so we can exchange emails or I can give you a cell number and we can all three talk..

I use only conventional software, in fact my office is 2003, the best of all the office versions in my experience. We use Firefox for social media and Constant Contact for email newsletters (a great tool). We are consistently in the top 10 percent of open rates on our emails. There is a great little book on the topic, intended for self published authors, but it translates to any business that wants consistent customers and growth. The book is "Your First 1000 copies," $10 on Amazon. Slim book that's filled with a ton of practical information.

Write, I look forward to a conversation. No charge, just my time to give back.:laugh2:
1 - 12 of 12 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.