Originally Posted by Sorrowful Jones
CNC's are here to stay, but I have mixed feelings. Some REALLY cool stuff can be made on a CNC, but craftsmanship goes out the window in favor of simply knowing how to program a computer.
Don't worry. Just having a CNC machine (and hopefully knowing how to use it) does not make you a master woodworker. You can build horrible crap with a CNC machine just as well as by hand. For me it is just another step up from mechanized woodworkig tools like jointers, band saws or router jigs. For that matter, since I have the CNC I get much more use out of my planer, band saw and other standard tools.
The major advantages I see are:
- a method to take a design directly from the drawing to the lumber. A normal user does not have to know anything about programming but should know or learn about design and CAM software. There is sure a learning curve.
- a method of machining precision features that I personally could never do myself by hand. That part of the craftsmanship and skill may actually go away but I would compare it with sewing a high quality dress. Nobody would do that nowadays by hand but use a sewing machine which is still difficult enough and considered craftmanship.
- for the professionals there is also the aspect of productivity as precision production tool for repetitive work. A cabinet maker will have a hard time to be competitive in the future without a cnc machine.
- for me it is also a fabulous tinker toy. I built the machine myself and that was fun.
As for the cost, it depends. Some people have built usable mid-size CNC machines for under $2000 (not easy, though). Finished machines go from $3000 up to unlimited. I have a very sturdy machine with 34"x31"x8" work space and spent maybe $4000 building it.