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Decision about CNC

Nick Cook Member



We're a 6 person shop. 2 in finish, 3 in production, 1 in design. KCD software. Currently use an old SCM slide saw, Double Line bore and Castle Pocket Machine to make and assemble boxes, parts, we are a custom cabinet shop by the way. I have an opportunity to buy a used Holz Her panel saw (2006) or a Weeke (2008) CNC Router. Also looked at new Slide Saw. I have goals to grow and am taking steps to pursue more business. The shop selling the equipment is retiring which will lead to more business for us, in addition to us getting our name out (right now we're unknown but have solid work booked ahead). Do I go to the CNC, the Weeke or some other CNC? Or go with the Panel saw for now?
Here's the question. What's the best test for transitioning to a CNC machine?

11/5/15       #2: Decision about CNC ...

If the Weeke is a flat table router, that will be your most productive and versatile machine. For a small custom shop, I would pass on the panel saw in favor of a flat table router. If the Weeke is a pod and rail point to point, I'd pass and wait for a good deal on a nesting machine. I am also in a small custom shop cutting lots of panels and solids on our router.

11/5/15       #3: Decision about CNC ...
Nick Cook Member


Thanks Mike,

Yes this is a flat table machine and it has pods that can be attached to hold small parts also. My estimation is that it's a good move to get it. But I'm listening to advice from guys who've already made the transition.

11/5/15       #4: Decision about CNC ...

If you have the workload to justify the payments, it is very hard for a small shop to improve on a nesting router with vacuum table with regards to efficiency.

You mention the Weeke having a flat table with option to add pods. Does this mean the entire flat table is a vacuum table utilizing a spoilboard? Or do you mean that the table is physically flat and has pods?

Reason for clarification, is you really want a nested based machine. This will be a machine that is at least 4'x8' utilizing a vacuum through an MDF spoilboard. This will allow an entire sheet to be sucked down to the table for machining. You will want a spindle with and ATC so you are not manually changing tools for the various drilling and cutting operations.

You will have 1 operator cutting parts, edgebanding parts, and doing other various things all at the same time. Our 1 employee cuts and bands one kitchen while he is assembling the kitchen cut previously. The machine requires very little labour to keep it running......maybe 2 minutes per sheet (very generous) to clear the table of cut parts, blow off the dust, load another sheet and hit the start button.

11/5/15       #5: Decision about CNC ...
Nick Cook Member


Yes this has a flat table and you put a full sheet on it. 4x8. I have KCD software but of course would purchase or rent the CNC software.

11/6/15       #6: Decision about CNC ...
james mcgrew Member

CNC is the next step. You will not regret the change,

11/6/15       #7: Decision about CNC ...


You need a good support for the cnc, it will change the way the shop works. You need tech support to make sure it keeps running. Good luck!

11/8/15       #8: Decision about CNC ...

Hands down cnc. Most efficient way to turn panels into dollars. You need yout software dialed in and properly set up. Be open to changing the way you do things not trying to get software and machine to do it how you do it.
I switched to full nested base 4 years ago and immediately increased profitability and have only gotten better since.

11/8/15       #9: Decision about CNC ...

I 10th the CNC nested router solution. Far more productive and it will increase your speed of assembly also. Load full sheets, 6 or 8 minutes later unload all the parts for about 1 1/4 cabinets fully detailed. Get good software, not cheap. Machine must have a tool changer and boring block.

11/9/15       #10: Decision about CNC ...
Nick Cook Member


I'm convinced on the CNC machine so I'm going forward with it. So now the question is software. I currently use KCD for the needs I have pre CNC. Is KCD CNC software a good choice?

11/9/15       #11: Decision about CNC ...

I work as a programmer on many cnc brands including homag and weeke, biesse, fanuc etc.... If you want complete screen to machine integration then get the Cut Center from Thermwood.

11/11/15       #12: Decision about CNC ...
Jay  Member



Are you getting good cutlist from KCD doing what you are doing now? If so you will be best served keeping KCD, at least for now. You will spend the bulk of your time dialing in KCD to give you just the parts you want, just like you did to get a good cutlist now, but with more detail. I have a cnc shop about your size it sounds, with KCD. KCD is the fastest drawing platform period. It's weak spot, as you likely know is that manually placing internal cabinet components is limited. If that is tremendously important to you you may want to look elsewhere for your software. Keep in mind all software packages have strengths and weaknesses and you have to evaluate that in light of your specific product. I ran CV some years ago, and switched to KCD, never looked back. I know others who have gone the other direction.

Think through and work out your systems (they will need to change some from what you currently do to be optimized for how the router works).
Make sure you have very good tech support or know your way around a cnc very well, especially in the beginning here with a 10 year old machine. Pay for it, it is worth it! Ideally they will be good both with the machine & the software (KCD) plus a post processor if you don't use 'one button machining'.

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