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For several years I have been intrigued by CNC routing, particularly when comparing my scroll saw Christmas ornaments with those done with CNC. A son-in-law and grandson just bought a large table CNC for their welding business which renewed my interest. I started doing craft work (nothing bigger than a dollhouse) after I retired but I still consider myself a novice in most woodworking areas. I have read quite a bit about desktop routers kits and finished machines: some seemed to be considered junk and a waste of money, others too complicated for the uneducated. I have no CAD training, and my mechanical skills are suspect as documented by the Navy OCS qualifying exam. I have an Apple iMac but not a PC. I do have a Bosch router. My budget is $1500. I will still be making small stuff. Is there anything out there that would meet my limitations?
 

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The work flow on most CNCs is very similar. You need to create/find your artwork, create tool paths based on the artwork, post process into a g-code file, learn to open the file in your sender/controller, zero the machine on your stock (corresponding to the zero point in your design file) and then start carving. Any machine will require the exact same steps. There is some difference in the different software you use to create toolpaths and operate the machine, but the overall process is the same for every machine. Nothing is just Find a file, click a button and go. There is a learning curve (it is quite a bit more involved than a laser or 3D printer). No shortcuts, but certainly no insurmountable hurdles either. Having a rigid, reliable machine makes things much easier, because you are not fighting mechanical issues. Determine your requirements (size, materials you want to cut, special feature like being able to clamp stock vertically for joinery cuts, etc.) and then buy the best machine (NOT cheapest) you can afford that meets your requirements. If possible, stay away from GRBL controllers, machines with belts or plastic structure. Rigid and fast is good. A $1500 budget will not quite get you past the GRBL based, belt drive machines, unless perhaps you are willing to go quite small (12’ x 24” or so). There is cad/cam software available for Mac, but although I do all my design work on my MacBook Pro, I do use Bootcamp to run some windows based software.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The work flow on most CNCs is very similar. You need to create/find your artwork, create tool paths based on the artwork, post process into a g-code file, learn to open the file in your sender/controller, zero the machine on your stock (corresponding to the zero point in your design file) and then start carving. Any machine will require the exact same steps. There is some difference in the different software you use to create toolpaths and operate the machine, but the overall process is the same for every machine. Nothing is just Find a file, click a button and go. There is a learning curve (it is quite a bit more involved than a laser or 3D printer). No shortcuts, but certainly no insurmountable hurdles either. Having a rigid, reliable machine makes things much easier, because you are not fighting mechanical issues. Determine your requirements (size, materials you want to cut, special feature like being able to clamp stock vertically for joinery cuts, etc.) and then buy the best machine (NOT cheapest) you can afford that meets your requirements. If possible, stay away from GRBL controllers, machines with belts or plastic structure. Rigid and fast is good. A $1500 budget will not quite get you past the GRBL based, belt drive machines, unless perhaps you are willing to go quite small (12’ x 24” or so). There is cad/cam software available for Mac, but although I do all my design work on my MacBook Pro, I do use Bootcamp to run some windows based software.
Thanks for taking time to spell out the learning curve for CNC machines. With the virus I am pretty isolated and have no idea what I can learn online. I plan on going small: 12x24 would handle any of the work I have been doing or contemplate. I would appreciate your input on which small machines to consider.
 

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John
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Here is a utube video showing a shark 100 woodcraft and rockler both sell this machine as long you understand this is small and is not a production machine but would let you play with small projects. and it sells for around 1000
Yes it is some what of a toy but you can also go bigger , resale on all cnc machines sell for half what you pay for them
if you are buying new not building your own probably next step 4000 and from there the sky the limit
If i was you I would go woodcraft or rockler let show it to you ( I honestly believe most guys would tell you that CNC machining can be a lot of fun ) good luck
 
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I was also interested into an option like this and I'm about to buy one but I'm not sure if I can use them with an RDP connection as I'm working remotely a lot.To be fairly honest I never even bothered with remote desktop specifications as I have never needed to use one before in my life. Remember the times that we used to go in the office and open our computers and work with no issue? Well, sadly these times have come to an end and with more companies agreeing that working from home is much more productive and cheap for them for sure we will not see enterprises not willing to use
cheap rdp .
 

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I have the Shapeoko from Carbide 3D bought through Matter Hackers. For the Money as an entry level you can't do better, and has an excellent forum and customer support.
The Carbide Create software that comes with it is good for learning and is a free download The only draw back with it is you need to use something like Inkscape , another free download to convert to vector files. It is modeled very much like Vectric so what you learn in the Carbide Create will carry over to Vectric .
I started with it to find out if I wanted to pursue the CNC avenue, and then spent the $ 350 for Vectric V-Carve Desktop.
There are several excellent vidieo producers on U-Tube for the Vectric And Also a couple For Carbide Create. Spent alot of time on U-Tube and still do, but when you are not Cad and computer savvy you have to learn somewhere.
 
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