CNC routers are sometimes thought of as specialty tools used only to v-carve a sign or carve a box lid. In my workshop, a CNC router stands right alongside a planer, jointer, and table saw when it’s time to build. They can be a boon to productivity, creating high-quality wooden parts for furniture and projects of endless variety like the three Arts and Craft-style tables seen in this episode.
Productivity often has a bad rap amongst woodworkers and makers – selling out high ideals for profit, giving up on craftsmanship and embracing compromises. Sure, that can happen, but the flip side is that craftsmanship, no matter how good, can’t impact our lives without productivity.
Our work has meaning when it graces our homes, is given as gifts, or helps support our ambitions. Good craftsmanship, creativity and productivity can coexist comfortably in our workshops if we follow three simple rules: 1. Don’t design projects to fit your tooling, rather design great projects that please people, then work out the production details. 2. Structural integrity is never sacrificed for ease or speed. Choose or develop strong joints and use lasting materials. We always want to do out best work. 3. Be flexible and use the best approach in milling parts. That means being skilled and open minded to using hand tools, standard power tools or a CNC router.
Productivity without compromising craftsmanship and great design, is a very achievable goal for any workshop, with a little help from a CNC router.