You’ve probably been to woodwork exhibits that showcase incredible project designs that a normal wood router couldn’t do. Projects with extra polished and complicated style have been produced with the help of the sophisticated CNC router.
Along the technological advancements, the woodworking industry also flourished with new tools that make crafting much easier. Today, there are different kinds of wood routers that help users work on their projects conveniently through the features that each one comes with; however, a new type of potential woodcraft queries have been catered to after the release of CNC routers.
Of course, CNC routers are the leading tools that result in successful and commendable wood projects. Still, it’s important to note that the fine operation of the router won’t be complete without the support of its CNC table. If you’re new to the concept of using a CNC wood router, you’re reading the right article.
Here, we’ll discuss what you need to know about CNC routers, it complementing table, and how the two works together to help you work on your wood materials. We’ll also talk about the factors you should consider if you’re planning to make your own table. Read on to find out more or check out some other posts to learn about CNC for Beginners.
What is a CNC Router?
CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control, and a CNC router uses computer technology to cut through materials of different sorts. While this kind of router can’t slice through a whole board of wood, it’s specialized to cut smaller parts of a given material and make decorative and strategic carvings for advanced wood projects. This machine can also work on rough surfaces to make it smooth, and vice versa, giving a rough texture on a smooth-surfaced medium.
Overall, a CNC router uses desktop programs like CAD, or Computer-Assisted Design, to gather the design you want to work on and manipulate the machine to cut just what you want on your wood material. This router can allows you to cut in three directions: X (from back to the end), Y (from left to right), and Z (vertical).
It’s evident how a CNC router can produce cuts that are almost impossible to achieve when you use an average wood router, but the CNC table router that comes with the unit plays a vital role of the machine’s cutting process and operation. In addition, when people buy a router, they often ignore the fact that they need to look out for their corresponding table as well. The CNC table top has different types, which you can choose from according to the applications that your workload needs.
The Upgrade Version CNC 3018 Pro GRBL Control DIY Mini CNC Machine is one of our favorites for this purpose. This nifty machine comes with a new control board that includes integrated driver chip, fixed heat sink, external fan, and sturdy casing to prevent damage. What’s more is this powerful device can cut through wood, plastic, acrylic, soft metals, aluminum, and other materials with precision and accuracy.
Table Top Types
While most CNC routers these days come with their own table top, it’s still important that you know your way around the types. The details below would also come handy if you’re going to build a CNC kit.
- T-Slot Table Top – This kind of table top is found on standard CNC machines. They are made of tooling steel, which makes it heavier than the other kinds.
- Vacuum Table Top – The top with this style is mostly found on higher-tier CNC routers. Its punctured holes on the surface allow the use to perform a wide variety of cutting applications.
- Perforated Table Top – This next type is like the vacuum kind because of its perforated surface. It comes on a cheaper price than the T-Slot style, but still provides you with excellent operation results.
- Disposable Table Top – This kind of table top is perfect if you’ve just started your CNC router in your workshop. As a novice, accidental cuts on the table are inevitable. When you buy a brand new table in the style of the previous kinds above, you’ll just do nothing but to take extra unnecessary careful measures to avoid scratches on the surface. While being careful is okay, that will limit you from being able to experience and learn how to use the CNC router as it is on your future projects.
Another product we recommend is the SainSmart Genmitsu CNC Router Machine 3018-MX3, with Mach3 Control and Safety-Driven Design. Not only is this the first 3018 CNC machine to be controlled by Mach3, but the Mach3 can also work with other programs and will even import DXF files and generate G-Code to make it fully customizable.
Things to Consider in CNC Router Table
If you’re looking to buy a table top for your CNC or you’re trying to build one, these are the factors you should look out for. Knowing these, you’ll be able to narrow down the best options for your purchase or have a certain checklist if you’re planning on crafting one.
Having a new CNC router table would definitely have you pay big bucks, but the question is: how much are you willing to spend? Some tables come as more costly than your average one, and others require special handling and accessories. Assess how much you can afford and from there, you can visualize how your table would turn out.
Types of Project
When buying a table, you have to remind yourself about where you’ll mostly use the router for. Would you work on wood materials more or aluminum? This factor counts because certain mediums need particular table specifications, so you won’t waste your money on the one that’s not designed to handle such tasks.
You have to consider this factor, especially if you want to build your own table. It’s true that some kits are easier to craft, while some require more skill. There are also specific features you may want to add, and that would add up to the difficulty you’ll face.
To save you time, we recommend buying the Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO Router Kit GRBL Control 3 Axis Plastic Acrylic PCB PVC Wood Carving Milling Engraving Machine with Offline Controller. This little machine comes with integrated mainboard and custom, high performance software that makes communication between software and hardware seamless. It also comes with an offline controller that you can manually adjust without connecting to a computer.
Pros and Cons of CNC Router and Table
Generally, the use of CNC machines is a good thing for woodworkers; however, there are also disadvantages in having this in the workshop. Here are some of those:
- A CNC router and table can be used all day for a year. Believe it or not, that’s true. You just have to turn it off for its maintenance, and it will be good for use again.
- Because CNC routers utilize the help of a computer software, you just need to improve the program you use to manipulate the machine to upgrade the router.
- You don’t need to have proficient skills in handling the machine, compared to using the manual and traditional units in the workshop.
- The CNC router can be left to work after you input the design you want.
- With the features it offers, a CNC kit is more expensive than manual workshop machines.
- The skills learned by engineers and woodcrafters for a long time are not applied when using CNC machines.
- The hire rate for workshop workers are reduced because an individual can do job of supervising the machines all at once.
A CNC router table is just as important as a CNC router, mainly because that’s where all high precision and accuracy cuts are made. Without a stable table, it’s impossible to get seamless results from the CNC machine, and that’s why it’s important that you need to pay attention on the table that your CNC router comes with.