Precision Woodworking

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As a custom furnituremaker, integrating CNC (Computer Numeric Control) technology into my shop has allowed me to become far more profitable without compromising quality. During the last few decades, there have been many technological advances that have provided even the smallest of shops with powerful recourses that have helped level the playing field. These innovations together, represent a new way of doing things that I like to call “precision woodworking.”

Precision woodworking is much larger than can be covered in a single article. My purpose here is a brief introduction, while highlighting some of the basic principles and capabilities.

It is not easy for the independent woodworker to compete against the likes of big industry. Low price and high volume are not our realms – we will never win against those with enormous resources. Highly custom pieces, made with the utmost quality and attention to detail, is an arena in which we can compete. To earn a living wage, we must be efficient.


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11 thoughts on “Precision Woodworking

  1. As a hobbyist it’s fascinating to see what it takes to work at a professional level of quality and efficiency. Very informative thanks for sharing.

  2. While CNC and CAD are not in my near future, I can see that precision can be now. I appreciate the pointing out of where precision matters and where relaxing is permissible. A lot of good take aways. Many thanks to Darrell Peart for this great article.

  3. Would love to see more on this topic!

  4. Dave,
    I have been proposing an article such as this to the magazines for years – and was told there is not enough interest.
    Hopefully I will do some follow ups for 360WW.

  5. I am very pleased to see the CNC woodworking covered here. Yes, please more articles about this topic, especially cnc joinery.

  6. I used a CNC router that I built from a kit (primarily designed to cut balsa and foam for RC airplanes) to cut templates from 1/4″ MDF, for a bed rail arch that would have been very difficult to do precisely without. Even with the little cutter motor it did not take tool long, and I was amazed at the level of repeatability the machine displayed, since it had to make several passes to cut all the way through the MDF. It tracked true on every pass, following precisely the programmed curve. Sketchup was used to draw the template, and SketchUCam was used to tanslate the drawing to GCode.
    I am planning on building a more powerful machine, using a Bosch Colt for the router. I would like to make some wooden geared clocks eventually.

  7. For years we have seen articles about CNC in the woodshop that seemed to fall into two subject areas – crafts and plywood cabinetry. I am so very pleased to see some information how how your are integrating CNC into the production of fine furniture. Thos Moser has been doing it for years but on a much larger scale. I would love to see more article on incorporating this technology in a more traditionally focused hobbyist shop making fine furniture. Keep up the great work Darrell!

  8. Jon & Mark,
    Yes there is a lot to learn about CNC and it is not being covered in the WW magazines. I hope we can change that here.

    I did not know that Thos Moser had incorporated CNC into their operations. It makes perfect sense though.

  9. Put this into a special magazine– maybe Called–Computer woodworking or CNC woodworking.Using the CNC and computer is not true fine woodworking.I know a lot will disagree,but that is just how I feel.I do not want to read about a computer cutting out furniture parts or carving a furniture part.Including a computer carved part in a fine furniture build is especially disheartening to me!! Next– in the future the build/assembly process will be included as in industry.You disagree–Well the same was said about the computer in industry years ago. And what happened? Where did the craftsmanship go in fine woodworking.A special magazine like the scroll saw publications Called..maybe..CNC WOODWORKING.A SPECIAL AREA AT WOODWORKING SHOWS FOR DISPLAY OF WORK THAT INCLUDES ANY — “ANY” — CNC WOODWORK IN THE FURNITURE PIECE.I do not care to walk through a show looking at furniture made using an assembly line procedure or technique.Sorry if I offend some,but if I want to see furniture or carvings made using computer or cnc,I will go to my local furniture store.

  10. about time – we do live in a modern world and about time we learn to keep up with the new.
    Glad to see some one be on the cutting edge and put it all together.

  11. Gary – Yes there is a lot of stuff that is not being covered in other woodworking magazines. I am not out to advance technology at the expense of traditional woodworking. For that matter where do you draw the line when it comes to machines? When I first started woodworking back in the 70’s – a letter to the editor was bemoaning the use of power tools and machinery and suggested the only skill required in modern woodworking was the ability to avoid a gory accident.
    Quality of work is an attitude. It is not limited to our choice of tools. Hand work and technology need not be at odds with one another- I believe both have a place at the table.

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