Girish Nanda

Digital needs for woodworkers

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Hi, 

 

I am a student from the University of Pennsylvania and want to understand how woodworkers are currently using technology in their creation process.This can range from looking at videos tips on thewoodwhisperer.com, to 3D design using software such as sketchup. 

 

Are there other ideas / solutions for you as woodworkers would like to see. If not ideas just knowing what some of the key frustrations are during woodworking projects would be helpful.

 

This is for research for my innovation class

 

 

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Hi Girish, when you say creation process do you mean the idea and design phase or are you including the actual build aspect?

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I rely on sketch-up for nearly all of my projects.  I don't have any CNC machines in my shop, as I want to do everything by hand.   I do keep a computer permanently in the shop that gets used quite a bit during a project.

 

I don't normally advertise my blog in a forum post beyond my signature, but I think this series I wrote earlier this year would help you with your research.

http://sawdustnewbie.com/category/articles/technology-in-the-shop/?order=ASC

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sketchup!!!

Youtube and Google searches

Online instruction such as The Wood Whisperer, The Wood Whisperer Guild, The New Yankee Workshop

WoodTalkOnline

Shopping sites such as Amazon and Rockler (for purchases and also for ideas)

Marc also offers one-on-one consulting for Guild/Superfan members via email, phone, and skype

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CadStd for drawings. Google for design ideas, examples of dimensions for similar products etc...various online stores for tools, equipment...magnetic digital protractor to set saw blade angles :-) various woodworking forums. Spreadsheet to estimate material costs, although now using iphone app: soulver. Journal app to track projects and make notes for future reference.

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A unique option for tablets is IdeaRoom, an app (also available for PC users) at Sawtooth Ideas.com. The software is somewhat like a SketchUp viewer but has additional options like exploding the model of the project and even isolating specific components revealing dimensions. It is pretty cool. There are several Woodwhisperer plans available via IdeaRoom.

http://www.sawtoothideas.com

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One thing i really wish was out there was a cut list optimizer for mac. I use evernote for all of my measurements and pictures of client spaces. Take pics and notes on my phone, go home and open my computer and there are my notes ready to be interpreted into sketchup. I use sketchup for creating mock ups sometimes. With reclaimed wood its hard to make a model of something when certain features in the wood dictate how the piece turns out.

Another one i have used is photo measure. It allows you to take a picture of a space and then input measurements onto the image. I wish that could sync with evernote too, like skitch.

Also id like to see a program that takes your sketchup model and makes a cut list for you or even creates basic "plans"

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I like to save plans for jigs and other shop fixtures on my iphone, it takes up a lot less room than paper plans, and I can keep them with me and I don't have to worry about digging through a bunch of plans to find the one I want.

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Guess I'm the lone hold-out...

 

 

Pencil, paper, graph paper, and straightedge.

 

(Sure, I look at images and video online, but I still reach for the pencil to draft my own copies.)

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I start most of my ideas with a rough sketch on pencil and paper.  If I anticipate any challenges during construction or feel I need to see what the finished product will look like, I'll do a rendering in SketchUp.  When I use SketchUp I include all the joinery and parts so that I can anticipate issues during the creative process.

 

Beyond that, I don't use much more technology than is built into the tools that I use.

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Hi guys,

 

I appreciate the responses thus far and please keep the ideas coming.

 

Darren66 I am including both the design / conception phase as well as the build process. I see several of you use Sketchup. Are there any other plugins that you wish were available for Sketchup to make your projects easier to execute. How could the experience be improved. 

 

What about a portable CNC machine. I was researching a new product that is on Kickstarter called the handibot. 

 

It allows for precision cutting in wood or aluminum. It can be used to cut variable size holes, custom patterns in glass or metal, it can also make beveled cuts and be used for engraving. It is also portable and work over larger work areas using jigs. Basically you set the type of material / cutting design / dimensions required on the phone / tablet and it loads on the to the machine. Then you press the start button on the machine. 

 

You can check it out at the following link.

http://www.handibot.com/

 

Is there an interest for such a product. It would be great to hear your thoughts on this new concept. I came across it while reading the wall street journal so thought I would share it. 

 

 

 

Thanks,

Girish

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I'm not certain about anybody else, but my wood working journey (so far) is not headed towards CNC.  That is not to say I will not consider it, but the path I'm on is not aligning itself to that field just yet.

 

But that's like trying to fit all auto manufacturing into the category of "personal transportation."  In a broad sense, it works... but it's when you get down to the specifics that the differences are truly noticable.  A semi is not the same thing as a compact car, yet they both fit into the same category of manufacturing.  Targeting one particular segment is easier for CNC machines, as they get into that "repeatability" category.  My path as a woodworker has not lent itself to repeating anything I've done.  (Including success right now...)

 

However, I cannot deny usefulness in the future, as I do foresee needing consistent and repeatable processes on products in the not-too-far-off future.  With my smaller shop size, portability becomes the norm for tool purchases, as their smaller size means I can store them easier.  Yes, i will likely be sacrificing capacity for size, but that is a decision I will need to make once that time rolls around.  For now, i need to focus on the basics: (food, sleep, and homework - er...) layout, skills, process, design, and assembuhlee.

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In this type of forum, you will ask 20 people how they will use CNC, and you will get 20 different responses.  As we are largely a hobbyist community it isn't always about getting a project done as fast as possible.  Do I see some sort of CNC in my shop at some point.  Sure.  However, I do not see it necessarily replacing how I build my projects currently.  I do not do carvings.  I have some people tell me it can be as easy as drawing a picture on a piece of paper.  If they saw how I drew on paper, they would understand wood carving is not for me.  :)  So, where I see a CNC in my future is a way to enhance my projects with carvings that I will likely rarely do by hand.

 

For joinery, I think if I started doing that by CNC it would start to take away from why I enjoy woodworking as a hobby, as sometimes its not about the end product, but the process of creating that product.

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Guess I'm the lone hold-out...

 

 

Pencil, paper, graph paper, and straightedge.

 

(Sure, I look at images and video online, but I still reach for the pencil to draft my own copies.)

You're not the last hold-out.  I don't even have a smart phone, but I do use a drawing board with drafting machine for the design of something that's too complicated to keep in my head.  I built houses for 40 years and never used a blueprint, except for one I built for a Architect who supplied the prints.  Most of the time working on old houses, I'm solving a puzzle while I'm doing something without any kind of plan.

 

I am looking for a good way to cut 240 8x10 window panes out of hand blown sheets of glass that are all irregular sizes approximately 2 x 3 feet.

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A lot of cnc machines come with Vectric's Vcarve Pro software.  They have a "Gadget" extension API that isn't publicly available yet, but it's going to be fertile ground for development.  For example, the fluting toolpath is something that often gets abused for things it was never intended for, since it's the only toolpath that can make a non-flat bottom cut.  So you can use it to do something like carve the inside of a bowl.  But it can only make concave shapes, it can't do anything convex.

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On the one hand I'm fascinated by CNC.  On the other hand I don't see myself getting to the point where I want a machine to "carve" my joinery for me or where I do any carving type embellishments where I need repeatability on the scale that I would find a CNC, or the size of the investment in one, as necessary.  I like to carve a little bit and there's a certain amount of pleasure I get out of the ability to say. "I did that!" rather than, "I programmed that."

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I could see getting a "pocket cnc" if I wanted to create a semi-intricate logo for myself that would stand out somewhat, and be in a location that was not exactly hidden but not a showpiece.  That repeatable feature would be nice to put some stock in for, say, a leg or a brace, swipe out a 2" by 2" logo while I'm squaring the other legs, and pick the piece up so I can square it off.

 

Maybe if it came with a package of styles already programmed, like the 1800 fans (sorry, Adam Cherubini...) or small string inlay patterns...

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I think most of us could imagine a use for a CNC machine, but they are pretty cost prohibitive at the moment.  Personally, a smaller one isn't as appealing as a cheaper one.  If anything, I would argue most on the market now are too small.  

 

My very basic understanding of CNC is that the machine/material isn't terribly expensive, but the software is outrageous.  Bigger is actually better IMHO.  A small one would just lead to a lot of resetting and and restarting the machine and adding more human error to the equation.  I would forsee it being used for carving, and inlays more than cutting joinery etc.  I don't think it would be used to replace current woodworking techniques, but instead adding to the arsenal.  

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I dont think that people realize that operating a cnc is not as simple as drawing a photo and cutting it out. These carvers you see for hobby use are not "real" cnc machines. You really need to be well versed in Cad , cam, tooling and machine G code to run a cnc at any decent rate.

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I don't think the cost is that prohibitive.  A low end machine like the Shark is about the same cost as a high end cabinet saw.  That's in reach of a serious hobbyist.  Even 12-20K for a Shopbot isn't completely unreasonable compared to how much money some people throw into Festool and 20" planers and whatnot.  The space for a 4'x8' machine is more of a problem for me than the cost. 

 

Once you have one then you find all sorts of uses for it.  It's nice to be able to work out a curve that you like on the computer and then not have to fuss around getting your template just right.  If you're going to end up using a flush trim bit in your router on a template it's a heck of a lot easier to just cut out the middleman and leave the template in the computer. 

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If I had to hazard a guess, most woodworkers look to high-tech as marketing and communication tools, rather than shop tools.

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