CNC Or Vertical Panel Saw


From original questioner:

I original was thinking a vertical panel saw but now kinda looking for a CNC. Any thoughts on a 4 x 8 cnc for brands? I am a one man shop looking to increase production. I would rather not have a foreign made machine.

From contributor al

Try the Therwood cut ready cut center. Great machine,

From contributor Ma

We pulled the plug on a ShopSabre 408PRO a couple years ago and have been nothing but happy with it. We ask our customers to support local business so we didnt want an import machine either. Practice what we preach.

Nice, heavy steel machine. Built like a tank. Great support before, during, and after, the sale (salesman are salesman). Any question we ask to this day is answered within minutes or an hour or so at most.

There are a lot of good options but that was ours.

From contributor du

I too have a Shop Sabre Pro 408 that I've had for almost a year. It's been a solid performer for me, especially considering my total lack of cnc experience prior to buying it. Their technical support has been very good.

The issues I've had have been mostly software related, due to my lack knowledge and understanding. However, I'm figuring it out. I've made some cool things, and more importantly made some money.

My only regret is that I didn't get into cnc sooner.

From contributor Br

I suggest you re-read your thread in the context that you know nothing of your business. I am not trying to be rude, but your question is tantamount to walking into a car dealer and asking them to sell you a car without any other information. If you would like useful advice you need to supply some more input like your general product lines, expansion ideas, stock types...

The best anyone can suggest is below the $80k mark you have a few entry level suppliers. Shop Sabre, CamMaster, Laguna, TechnoCNC... There are tons of examples of people doing very well with those. Above $80k you get into the industrial machines and you have tons of options. SCM, CR Onsrud, Biesse, Morbelli (sp I know), Weeke, and on and on.

From contributor ry

We just bought an SCM but we are a production shop who can keep it running. With that being said we looked hard at Cam Master but we wanted a sweep table and they did not offer it. One big selling point for them is there is a PC controller at the machine just like the industrial machines. This way you can do work in your office but also make changes at the machine or do all of the work right there. If I were a one man shop I wouldn't look at any other brand. They are all made and serviced in Georgia while a lot of the other brands are sold in the US but not completely made here if thats what you are looking for.

A one man shop with a CNC and an automatic edge bander (like a $10,000-15,000 cantek) who outsourced all doors and drawer boxes could set out a lot of euro stye cabinets.

From contributor ja

I have a CAMaster ATC 508, this one since 2012 and cuts sheets daily for commercial casework. check my website for the chess and carving pages, just some ways to make 10 k on a weekend. CAMaster provides 2 years of warranty and no cost tech support for life, make sure you ask that question !!,, GO VISIT PLANTS AND SHOPS, this will be the smartest due diligence you do !,, A trip to the CAMaster plant will be a wise use of time when searching for a first time cnc, oh And join the camheads forum, If you cannot see photos check for a approval email or let me know !! feel free to visit the shop as well ! one more small thingy, CAMasters hold 75 to 80 % of original value for 3-4 years , should you grow and move up ! reason is most move to larger camasters

From contributor G

I do everything from commercial casework to solid wood furniture. I stay busy but not nearly what I can potentially do. I don't have a product line or anything close. I get people that bring ideas and I build the projects. All word of mouth and a website. I just don't want to buy a new Holz Her panel saw then 2 months later say shit I should have bought a cnc. Like this month I haven't order a sheet of plywood, its all been solid wood projects. I love the variety of projects I do. I don't want to put out the same cabinet every day. I am currently looking at the shop sabre and the camaster. I did upgrade last fall to a used Holz-Her edgebander. It has been a great upgrade. Thanks for the advice

From contributor ja

A CNC will far out weigh a Verticle saw for a custom and creative shop, we are 8-10 times the size and talent we were in 2008 and we learned this in the recession.

From contributor Br

The comment from Ryan says all you need to know as far as cabinet boxes are concerned. That is provided you are okay with the new step that is CAD/CAM time. The days of hand sketches beyond the preliminary stage will be gone. These machines are borderline useless without gcode, and there is time/planning in that step. Some of the industrial machines have more options on board to do more on the fly, but others do not. This is an industry where you get what you pay for so make sure you consider the features in detail how they might fit your work.

Some in machine sales tend to gloss over the CAD/CAM aspect. Companies like Biesse or others that have this built into their machine lines talk more about this aspect than those that just toss in VCarve and leave it up to you to figure out. Don't get me wrong, people are doing many many things with VCarve, but there is time and learning to that. The key to this being efficient is parts come off the table ready to assemble. All those little steps you might do on a daily basis in your shop now must be converted into gcode so the machine grabs the right tool and puts holes, pockets or whatever where you need them. I know that seems obvious, but it is easy to get bamboozled with machine specs.

I am curious what you might think this might do to help with solid stock? Unless you are working with large parts that can be help down with your vacuum, fixture time can be something that slows you down.

The sign James shows is a great example of what you can do, but that is a time consuming project. I bet if you were to poll 3 axis CNC users you would find people produce something like that on average 0 - 1 time per year. Why? Finding/creating the artwork can be time consuming, and then there is the machine time. I would not be shocked if that sign took in excess of 12hrs to cut (few leave machines unattended). After roughing, one uses a very small ball nose bit that moves across the pieces in 1/64" to 1/32" movements. If you don't, you end up with clean up time by hand. An industrial machine with a faster z axis acceleration will do it a bit faster, but I am not sure how much. James has built up a great business and seems to be in a market where there is more demand for this type of thing.

From contributor ja

Actually the EGA is at Cherry point USMC NAS NC, I have work in the pentagon, and federal courthouses all over, Amazon distribution facilities in several states and some Yachts around the globe. The Bronze inlay was done flat on .25" walnut veneer using Vectric Vcarve pro (Aspire) and We still cut all our boxes using a 250.00 $ program called Cabinetpartspro. We outsource large facility drawings and use cabnetware (No longer supported) and Moziak here and there, My goal was to stay small and do great work, Time consuming sometimes yes but the payoff is in $$$$$$

From contributor G

I do all my drawings in Autocad now so hopefully there is something out there thats close. As for the solid stock. The machine would probably sit there. Yes the cnc would open up the door for lots of different types of projects but on the other hand I dont want it just siting there. Maybe a used panel saw would be the way to go for the short term and see where I stand in a year.

From contributor Br

If you are already skilled in CAD this is not a difficult transition. I was thinking you might be more of an old school woodworker.

In one or two man shops these things sit idle a lot. James and others mentioned cranking our 40 - 50 sheets per day. James has multiple machines, but even in my wee shop I can crank out 8 - 15sheets in a good day if I start with a plan. To keep them busy you need a sales team, techs in a room, operators, and assembly staff. I am pretty sure you only have two hands.

You can find lots of used machines 5 - 10years old with maybe 500- 1000hrs or so. If you have the space and the power there was a few Biesse Skils pop up not long ago on machinery max from 2014. There are always machines coming up for sale here.

I do agree with James there are lots of low cost CAD/CAM options. My point was to make sure to consider that part. I did not do a particularly good job. I think that part is pay now or pay later, others have a different take.

I think you need to plan to go to the IWF. Touch, feel, talk, and think how this might help you with your goals.

From contributor An

I am also a one man shop and the CNC allows me to do everything that much larger shops can and I can typically undercut them on price given the lower labor costs. I would suggest finding a software you like first and then look at a machine whose manufacturer plays well with the software maker. My two cents!

From contributor Ma

Late to add my $0.02 but I would disagree with Ryan's post saying that looking at one brand is all you need to do. There are a lot of domestic CNC's and I would agree completely to stick with a domestic as opposed to a rebrander/importer. We are all expecting our customers to support us for being local we should do the same.

That said, my Shopsabre is completely made in the US and is phenomenally supported prior to sale (while shopping), during the sale, and after the sale (long after the check has been cashed I receive answers to email questions in minutes to an hour and I can have someone on the end of the phone answering phone questions in less than five minutes).

There are many good suppliers out there, dont let me, or anyone else on this or any other forum, tell you that the machine they tout is the end all be all.

With regards to the other comments about coding and "tossing in Vcarve pro" as a CAD solution... I was doing completely in-depth, and highly detailed, cad drawings with completely detail cutlist exports for 15 years or more prior to pulling the plug on a CNC. If you are doing hand sketch paper drawings, and are computer averse, your not going to be asking this question on a CNC forum unless you have the budget for a full time draftsman and the time to get them on-line.

If your comfortable in most any CAD software and are computer savvy (Im not sure how you can be a growing business today and not be), you should be able to transition to CNC relatively easily. There are simple subscription based box programs out there that allow you to process panels for a month or two, and then suspend your account when your not doing panel work, and pick it right back up when you get your next sheetgoods job. We use Cabinetsense coupled with Sketchup this way though we do panel processing and cab drawing consistently enough to just keep it running all year.

With regards to solid stock processing there are miles of labor savers with regards to solid stock. Its not as difficult as its made out to be. Smaller parts are harder, if you need .003 accuracy it gets harder, but there are miles of labor saving CNC operations to be done in a lot of solid wood shops.

Agreed if your not really cranking you may have days where the machine sits but none the less its like having an extra 2 or three bodies in the shop at times.

If you cant float a decent machine cash and have to finance, and pulling the plug on the cnc and full bore ancillary equipment, you may be in for 700-800 a month. Your not going to put two bodies on the floor for 200 a week.

Do your math, write and read your business plan a thousand times, do your homework, and make your own decision.