The latest addition to our 2500sqft workshop in the Invermere business park is a 4′ x 8′ capacity CNC from Yeti Tools. For those unfamiliar with CNC routers (Computer Numerical Control) they have long been used for larger operations to machine parts out of plastic, aluminum, and of course various wood products such as plywood for cabinets. The Smart Bench is both affordable for a smaller operation as well as having 4’x8′ capacity for typical sheet goods (plywood, plexiglass, laminate, etc). Most of the competitors are not built with the same industrial quality or still cost significantly more. And one of the biggest benefits of the Smart Bench in the 2 months we have owned it so far is the learning curve … everything about it is super quick to pick up as it is highly intuitive.
From unpacking the 3 boxes to setting it all up & starting to machine our first test project was a mere 90 mins … and would have been faster had I not been filming the process at the same time. Although designed to be portable (it can be realistically dismantled and reassembled in under 10mins total) we opted for this solution because of the versatility it’s capability provides. We can use it to cut down cabinet parts from 4’x8′ sheets of plywood or we can carve a batch of soap dishes or create a very detailed 3D landscape carving. We can work on sheets of 5mm plexiglass or 6″ thick lumber due to the easily adjustable X-axis gantry.
As with any CNC; a very important consideration is how to secure workpieces so they do not move around when being machined. We have opted for a system of countersunk threaded inserts in an MDF spoilboard in conjunction with MDF clamps of various configurations … this setup has so far proven to work for all sizes of workpiece that we are typically utilizing.
Why CNC you may ask …
Essentially this allows for repeated accuracy for repetitive tasks in a production environment as well as creation of projects which would otherwise be cost prohibitive due to the time required to produce something similar totally with hand tools. It also means that output can be dramatically increased as it will work for many hours with minimal supervision while the “human element” focuses on either the creative design or other workshop tasks such as shaker door assembly, workpiece planing / prep, sanding, cabinet assembly, finishing, etc etc.