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Greetings everybody, and please allow me to ask a question about CNC machines, and while I do not currently own one, I am eager to know much about the CNC art.
I searched much over the internet and YouTube and never found any project that involved feeding a wood piece with edges worked on by a regular table router first, and I do not understand why, because I think this will ease the time and cost of the expensive CNC machine, while using the full capacity of the cheaper router (For example, I would use the router that is available in the shop, then go to a CNC service center to do the rest of the carving).
Is this possible? Do CNC machine 'see' the piece or just rely on the G code to go left and right? In case the CNC is blind, then one should draw the 3D piece of wood as coming out of the router, right? But still, how to tell the CAM software that this 'edge void' is not a relief to be made, but the real wood?
This question is driving me like crazy.
 

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David - Machinist in wood
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Welcome to the forum, Ziad! You just don't select the edge in your CAM software. Define the area you want 3D carved and let the CNC do its thing in that area. I regularly do edge and shaping work with other tools in the shop and save the CNC for pockets, slots, engraving, etc.
 

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The big issue for you will be aligning the workpiece on the CNC machine. I think it is easier to do the CNC detail first. I will often do edge treatment (round over, for example) after using the CNC machine.
 

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agree with david...

typically, i cnc first, then do the router table work after. but this is only because it is what suits my projects. my projects are almost entirely hardwoods, which i am machining then cutting our of a larger wood blank. i leave tabs (small slivers of wood placed around the item to be cut out) which keeps the piece from moving as it is being machined. after breaking those tabs, the router table puts either a small 1/8" roundover or a flush cutting downcut to remove the remaining burrs.

but yes, you will find yourself using many woodworking tools, in a support manner, of your cnc work. either before or after the cnc machining process.
 

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Mike
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I also agree that most times I do any edge treatments after the CNC work is finished. It will also depend on what type of edge treatment you want and if there is still enough flat area left to do the treatment. Sometimes edges can be done on the CNC depending on the availability of bits.
 

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If you do the router work first, you need to be able to define a reference point for the CNC "workarea" from which machine moves to its coordinates. Normally this would be a corner, or the centre of the work, but if you have removed this area with the router you will have to use a "dead reckoning " approach to mark some suitable point. Also, if you do the routing first, you will need to fix the workpiece exactly square on the table, or the CNC work will not align with the router work. Also if the edges are machined you may have difficulty clamping the piece to the bed of the CNC machine.

All things to consider. Personally I would do the CNC work first, and run a V-groove lightly around to mark where the true edges are, then use a saw/router to finish.
 

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David - Machinist in wood
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the centre of the work
I use the center about 99% of the time and if I need to do my other shop work prior to the CNC, I mark the center before cutting away anything that would inhibit finding it later.
 

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I do all my designing and carving with the cnc. Usually I let the cnc cut out the profile. Then I may cut the tabs with my scroll saw, then if the piece requires a decorative edge, I clamp it down and run a plunge router along the edge. I used to have a router table, but I lost it in a fire, and never replaced it. I sure do miss that router table. I will hopefully be getting a new one within the next several months.
 
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