Ten years ago, when I first decided to take woodworking seriously and was first falling in love with hand cut joinery and with the traditional tools used to create it, one of my mentors, a furniture maker who I respected and looked to for advice told me that I should really be learning about computers because in a few years it would all be CNCs. At the time I was quite upset by the idea and swore I would never go down that road. Fast forward a decade of struggling to compete in a crowded marketplace, for a limited number of clients who truly care about high quality craftsmanship, and suddenly the idea of a machine with the capability to streamline my manufacturing process seemed like a much better idea.
And so recently, when a great deal on a used machine came to my attention, I took the leap into the world of Twenty-First century digital fabrication technology and bought it. O.H.Harris Cabinetmaker is now the proud owner of an 8’ x 4’ Shopbot CNC router!
Of course with new technology there comes the inevitable period of learning new skills. In this case, not just the ability to run the machine, but also learning the software used to create the tool-paths and draw the parts that will be cut by the machine. I have always enjoyed working with computers though, so I look forward to the next few months as I try to wrap my head around it all.
I have already used it for one full cabinetry project, taking advantage of it’s capabilities to design a piece with more curves than I typically would use, and I am very much looking forward to seeing where I can incorporate it into other aspects of my furniture making process. The next step will be learning how to model 3-D parts.
It’s a brave new world! Be sure to follow me on Instagram where I will continue to post pictures as I continue my CNC journey. Also stay tuned for a more in depth blog post as I discuss the dichotomy between technology and craftsmanship.