Making furniture-sized pieces on the flatbed CNC router

The tool

This is the machine we’re working on. It’s got a 1m x 1m cutting bed. As with other machines, we collaboratively made some instructions on how to use the machine and software.

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We made a test comb to figure out what slot thickness would work with our 18mm plywood.

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Designing my table

I used Fusion 360 to design the flat parts, so I could used the parametric tools to make changes on the fly. In this way, I could adjust the sizes of the parts so they would all fit on my limited sheet size

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Then I exported the sketches as DXFs and opened them in Illustrator to tidy up the paths and check my design.

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Setting up the file for cutting

I made a couple of customisations (and checks) while setting up the file in VCarve.

I checked that my slot cut paths were on the inside of the slots, so the holes would end up the right size.

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I added tabs around all the parts to keep them secured in the sheet while cutting – more on this later.

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We didn’t have time to change te bit for an upcut tool, but as a test, I did try doing one final pass at a very shallow 1.5mm to try and minimise tear-out on the lower face of the sheet.

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## Cutting and finishing

The parts cut fine, but I did find that my tabs were too thin to hold the parts in place once cut.

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Although the tear-out was acceptable for this quality of plywood, there wasn’t much difference between my cuts and those done on our test pieces with just 3 regular passes. If I was using nice plywood, I would like to try the upcut tool.

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After cutting, I noticed that I had forgotten to add t-bones to my tabs, so I had to use a chisel to square out the corners.

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The finished product

It works! The parts are a good fit, though if I was going to use this in anger, I’d assemble with some glue.

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