This blog post chronicles the steps taken by a piano builder to purchase and operate a CNC machine.
This post will be LONG when it's done. I will continue to add to it until all the details I can remember are included.
In the spring of 2020, at the onset of the COVID nightmare, I purchased my first CNC machine. This was the first time I had owned anything of the sort. I started with no software experience. The method I used to build the pianos I sold was to trace from a template, rough cut with a jig saw and flush-cut rout out all the parts. A very cumbersome, tedious task. I needed a solution that could create consistent parts in short order.
5'x5' PRO CNC kit from Avid CNC.
Once placing the order for the machine I spent some time learning the software. IMO learning the software (CAD/CAM) is 85% of the intellectual effort required in operating a CNC.
The first step is deciding which software to learn and use. The machine kit I bought included trials of both Vcarve and Fusion 360. I highly recommend you install any available trial software and begin to use it. I had previous experience with using SketchUp for making basic blueprints, but after trying both Vcarve and Fusion 360, I decided on Fusion 360 for modeling/CAD.
Modeling is the process of using modeling software to create an item in digital 3D. I prefer using 3D software over a 2D CAD offering. This is because creating my products in 3D space also gives me the ability to send rendered photos to a customer as proofs and for displaying modeled products in advertising.
Since I use the machine mostly for cutting cabinet grade birch plywood my CAM needs are simple. Instead of using a more dedicated CAM such as Aspire or Vcarve, I finally decided on using Fusion for all of my tasks from design (CAD) to cut (CAM).