Though my CNC has worked out great for me, a custom solution is not for everyone. A machine like mine is not less expensive, it costs a bit more than the machines you’ll find at a woodworking store. But, I get a lot in return. It’s well suited for my particular needs and limited space, and it’s incredibly robust for a machine of its size. It’s really a small, industrial grade CNC that’s powerful and very fast. The large-scale 3D carvings I make take a lot of machine time. Two or three days are common. Sometimes even longer. On my custom CNC, I can fly along at 3-400 inches per minute when many machines top out at 1-200 IPM. For me, at least, speed and power really help.
Since 2014, a number of new CNCs have appeared that fit the needs of most digital woodworkers, so you may not need to consider a custom solution like mine. Bigger, faster and custom are not for everyone. But, no matter what direction you go when considering a CNC, I urge you to carefully evaluate your current and future needs before you purchase either a ready-made machine or consider custom. Don’t just settle for a tiny CNC today that can only machine small items like boxes and small carvings. Think about all the things you could eventually do with it. Like other fixed woodworking machines such as a table saw, a planer or a jointer, a CNC should be considered a long-term investment and if you select a well built one suited for the tasks you have in mind, it will be a long-lasting tool.
In the future, I’ll get into more details about my CNC and go over the many modifications I’ve made that make it easier to use, faster to set up and even more accurate. It’s a big list. If you already have a CNC, some of these ideas and tweaks may be applicable to your slab cutting machine and just might help you get even more out of it.