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Author Topic: CNC Newbie - Looking for woodturning CNC info  (Read 3530 times)

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CNC Newbie - Looking for woodturning CNC info
« on: June 30, 2013, 07:30:24 PM »
Hi everyone,

I'm converting my handcrank ShopNotes Router Machine to CNC to turn Shaker furniture pieces.  I've already purchased all the electronics, motors, etc. and have just downloaded Mach 3 to begin learning how to use it on my modified system.

I know most CNC people here probably run on a table, and do not turn between centers -- except maybe for metal working lathes.

My needs right now are simple, but I do plan on building an open-ended 48"w x 60"L table CNC incorporating lathe turning plus dovetail capabilities.

I worked for GE for many years, then became a professional woodworker.  I've taken some 8 years off to run USTV.us to help Upstate NY college and university students find internships while they attend school.  The busted economy has wrecked that initiative and internships are drying up quickly.  Plus, many graduates cannot find employment in their chosen fields of study.

So, I'm going back to my woodworking, but would like to learn CNC and stay current with the technology.

If there are any others here that do CNC wood turning, I could you some help and suggestions as to how to set up Mach 3.  Plus, how do you approach G-code to turn between centers to rough out and round stock, and what are the most efficient approaches to completing a turning?

Thanks for your help in advance.

Joe DeBottis
The Canterbury Workshop
Re: CNC Newbie - Looking for woodturning CNC info
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2013, 02:06:55 AM »
Hi Joe,
I am no expert in CNC, but I can tell you a little about what I have been able to do which has worked for me. I initially built a 3 axis router table, using Mach3 as the control software. I later expanded the table's capabilities to include a 4th axis. After looking around the internet for software which would work on a 4th axis, I tried CNC Wrapper. Basically, it takes a 3 axis G-code file, and substitutes either the X axis, OR the Y axis movements into 4th axis movements (depending on your specifications when you initially setup the software). The CNC Wrapper program also has stand-alone capabilities, which will allow you to do basics similar to what you have described. (I.E. turn square stock into round stock). However, just as it would be done manually in preparing a piece of stock for turning on a wood lathe, it is best to cut miters along the length of the stock, thereby changing it's beginning shape from a rectangular, or square shape to an octagon using a table saw. I have since experimented with 3D G-code files which were created using MeshCAM Art, then converted using CNC Wrapper, to generate G-code which was then loaded into Mach3 and "Wrapped around" round stock pieces on the 4th axis of the machine.
Re: CNC Newbie - Looking for woodturning CNC info
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2013, 11:06:44 AM »

Thank you for the information.  I've taken a look at CNC Wrapper and it appears to something I should study a bit more.  The price is surely reasonable.

I'm just learning G-code, and wondering if G-coding for a CNC woodworking lathe might be different from regular flat-table CNC code.  Right now, my needs are simple -- turning centerposts and table legs, so I have several basic questions:

1) Should I set my x-axis on the centerline of the piece that I am turning, and run Y-Axis G-code simply along the X-Axis to cut the topline profile?  This way, the x-axis simply turns at a constant rate, while the Y-axis moves up and down to cut the profile?

2) I'm also trying to take my table leg drawings and convert them to DXF files and then convert them to G-code.  But, can I simply draw the top profile of the table leg, and not the whole table leg drawing?

3)  Would it be easier to simply hand-code G-code to cut the table leg profiles rather than spend all that time going from basic drawing to DXF to G-code convert?

Anyone have experience cutting a 4th axis (woodworking lathe) using simple topline profile G-code?

Thanks your help.  I'm off to learn more about CNC Wrapper.

Joe D