The invention of handheld router machines was a revelation in the woodcutting industry. This helped the carpenters to cut the wood in various delicate shapes that weren’t possible before. But one problem they faced using these hand-held routers is that they were very time-consuming and even the most adept carpenters had a difficult time mastering them.
CNC or Computer Numerical Control router machines have since come to the rescue of carpenters all over the world by being easier to operate and being extremely efficient.
Let’s take a look at how a CNC router machine works and its benefits as opposed to the handheld ones.
Working process of a CNC router
CNC routers like the Blue elephant CNC are composed of four parts. They are :
- Cutting Bed: This part supports the wood when it is being cut.
- Spindle: This is the part that is used to cut the wood.
- Drive system: This is basically an arm connected to the spindle enabling it to cut in three different directions.
- Controller: This directs the drive system to the direction it needs to cut.
There is a 3-step process that the CNC router follow. They are :
- Designing Vector Files: A vector file is a file with a .dxf extension that contains details such as the three directions, i.e: x,y, and z axes, and decides the rendering of the image. This file is designed by the user for those without a G-code. This can be done with CAD software.
- Converting the Vector: Using the CAM software, the user can then convert the vector into G-code
- Running the G-code: The G-code is then run by a CNC control software which makes the machine move in a certain direction.
CNC routers vs Handheld routers
CNC routers have revolutionized the woodworking industry like no other device has done before. It has removed all the limitations that the handheld routers had and some more. Let’s take a look at a comparative analysis of how CNC routers are better than handheld router machines.
Cutting in 3 directions
The spindle of the CNC routers is allowed by the drive system to cut into 3 axes. The x-axis, which cuts from right to left; the y axis, which cuts from left to right and the z-axis which cuts from top to bottom. This three-dimensional cutting was impossible using handheld routers.
Loading plans directly from drawing files
The controller can be easily run with the G-code software using 2D or 3D plans. They can either be embedded on the router itself or installed into a computer that is running the machine. Hand-held routers had no such feature.
The Final output is quick and flawless
As it is run by a computer code, the spindle cuts with pinpoint accuracy. The plan installed into the controller is then perfectly executed by the machine, leaving no room for error. This results in the final product being completed in a very quick time without sacrificing any of the quality.
Things to look for when buying a CNC router
When buying a CNC router for the first time, it is better to know what qualities to look for. Here are a few suggestions :
- Capacity: If you are an amateur or a beginner carpenter, it is better to use 4 x 8 sized routers. If you are an expert working on bigger projects, go for the bigger ones.
- Duty cycles: For commercial use, buy heavy-duty routers.
- Power: The CNC routers come in various kinds of motors and spindles. Use water-cooled spindles for regular use and liquid-cooled spindles for serious use.
- Durability: CNC routers are not always made for long usage periods. Choose wisely according to the work you are about to do.
- Value: For casual use, don’t buy the ones where you have to purchase everything separately. These will be way too expensive to use for a limited amount of time.
Some final words
Nowadays, CNC routers have become extremely popular among carpenters of varying experiences, from amateurs to experts. Because of how CNC router machines work, they are slowly becoming a part and parcel of every workshop. If you are thinking about undertaking a woodworking task, don’t waste time and get yourself a CNC router.