The History of CNC Machining

With the invention of CNC machining, the world of construction was forever changed. There haven’t been many tools throughout history that have been able to cause radical changes to what could and couldn’t be done, but many would argue that these fall into that category. As CNC routers (and the software that runs them) steadily improve, more and more people are coming into contact with them.

But, how much do you know about the history of these machines?


Turning Ordinary People into Master Craftsmen

One of the reasons that these machines are so great is because they essentially allow anyone with the proper machine and computer program to become a master craftsman. There’s no need to spend a lifetime practicing and perfecting and art. The basics can all be learned in no time at all. To make it even more impressive, these are powered by computers, so they’re far more precise than humans are even capable of being. And mistakes? Well, they’re basically a thing of the past.

Basic Overview of CNC Machines

In case you’re not familiar with this tool, the letters CNC stand for computer numerical control, and this is because that’s how these machines operate. At a basic level, they have tools arranged on three different axes, and this allows them to carve out materials from all different sides. The designs are made within a software program and are then converted into instructions for the computer to follow. In a relatively short amount of time, pieces of all sizes can be put through these machines, and incredibly elaborate creations come out matching the exact specifications. They’re able to manipulate wood, metal, glass, plastic, and other types of materials.

The Early Days

Humans have been training artisans to carve things since the beginning of recorded history, and they’ve constantly been looking for ways to do it better. They made quite a few impressive advancements fairly early on when they started with contraptions like mills. They could process certain materials at a basic level, but they required a lot of human interaction for not very impressive results. Fortunately, that would eventually change.

 Born Before Computers

This whole concept may sound like something that was only developed recently as our computer technology has skyrocketed in quality. Surprisingly, that’s not the case. These machines actually got their start back in the 1950s, but they used a much simpler method of controlling them. The first C wasn’t yet in the name, and they were just referred to as NC machines. In place of computer brains, they had solutions like punched tape to give the instructions. They were still far behind what we’re able to do today, but they were incredibly advanced at the time.


We Didn’t Speak the Same Language

After a lot of early skepticism, the machines finally began to take off as manufacturers realized they could save so much time and money. The systems slowly became more advanced as early computers started coming on to the scene, and a lot of bright minds were hard at work with the programming. However, an unexpected problem eventually showed up. Each company (or school) working with the machines was creating their own language to tell the CNC machines what to do, so it was impossible for them to work together and use each other’s advancements.

Fortunately, the Air Force stepped in. This branch of the military had been an early proponent of CNC machines after predicting how valuable they would be, and they wanted to put a stop to this problem before it grew out of control. They made a push for a universal language in 1956, and that led to the creation of the APT programming language. After some more developments over the following decades, the industry eventually ended up with the CAD tools that we use today.


One for Everyone!

The trend continued for many years with schools, government organizations, and companies all pursuing advances in the technology. Slowly but surely, this led to where we are today. The machines can be made in massive sizes to help with major construction projects, or they can be small enough to fit in the home and contribute to DIY projects. They’ve come so far, and the developments only seem to be speeding up.

We’re Here to Help You Make History

One of the problems with CNC machines is that many people are intimidated by them. The impression they give is that you need to have an advanced degree in multiple fields of engineering to get started, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! Using solutions like EnRoute software, you could be making progress on your project later today. Now, the responsibility is on you to create something noteworthy enough to carve you into the historical timeline of CNC routers!


Beautiful Cabinets of Instagram

The combination of a CNC Router and powerful CAD/CAM software enables people to create some pretty amazing things! Woodworking is a common application using this type of technology and some of the most beautiful pieces we’ve seen come in the form of cabinets. We’ve scoured Instagram for some of our favorite examples of kitchen designs using sleek looking cabinets and compiled them to inspire your next CNC cabinet making session.

#marincounty #realestatephotography #home #design #kitchen #cabinets #midcenturymodern #eichler #moderndesign #interior4all

A photo posted by Welcome Home Photography (@welcomehomephotography) on

We love the texture of the wood and the modern design in the example above.

The color of the wood used in these cabinets is beautiful and they utilize a nice combination of traditional and modern styles.

New cabinet style with bold colors inside an old world style building.

Great colors and a beautiful textured finish on these bright cabinets.

Traditional and Elegant.

A bold and black lacquered kitchen.

Minty fresh with a great choice of handles.

Never fear the clean and traditional look.

Very creative and colorful.

A bit different and unique.

S U M M E R S T Y L E Enjoy your weekend everyone! Sean Anderson Design -2014

A photo posted by Sean Anderson Design (@seanandersondesign) on

Classic country kitchen.

Have you used a CNC Router to do some cabinet making that makes you proud? We would love to check out what you’ve done. Send us your photos on Facebook or Twitter and we will repost our favorites!

What is a CNC Router?

CNC routers are machines that are really growing in popularity, and there are many reasons for that.  But, they’re kind of a mystery to many people.  How much do you know about them?  We’ll cover the basics here to help you get up to speed, and then creating the masterpieces is your job!

Background of CNC Routers

The letters CNC stand for computer numerical control, and this quite obviously means that it’s a mathematical computer program.  When teamed up with a router, this is basically a tool that can use a computer program to carve patterns and designs into materials – most commonly wood.  They can carve designs, drill holes, create edges, and make tons of other modifications to a blank canvas.

CNC Router WoodworkingHow They Work

These routers function by making cuts based on three different axes.  They’re defined as the X, Y, and Z directions, and they’re all based on a flat piece of wood (or other material) being put through the machine.  First, the X-axis is basically the wood sliding back and forth.  Then, the Y-axis would be moving left to right (perpendicular to the X-axis).  Finally, the Z-axis is moving up and down on top of the material.  This combination allows for the possibility to carve all shapes and angles into the material.

Major Components

There are a few common pieces that make up one of these machines.  Not surprisingly, they can vary significantly in quality, function, and price, but here we’re just going to cover the basics.  The foundation is a cutting bed which has the task of holding the material.  In one way or another, it will keep the piece steady throughout the process.  Next, there is a spindle.  This part will hang up above, and it is really just the router that does all of the actual carving.  Since it’s suspended over the material being worked on, it can move around on the three axes mentioned in the previous section and make all of the necessary cuts.  However, the spindle does the carving, but it needs a little bit of help moving around.  This means that the third major part of a CNC router is the drive system to maneuver that spindle while it makes the cuts.  But, these three main components are absolutely useless without the final piece of the machine:  the brain.

Powered by CAD Software

As we mentioned, these routers are powered by computers, and it’s this brain that allows the magic to happen.  In the past, this was one of the major barriers of entry for anyone trying to start using a CNC router because they were expensive and difficult to use.  Fortunately, that’s where we come in!

We’ve developed CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software and CAM (Computer-Aided Machining) solutions that are effective, easy to learn, and affordable.  Using templates or original designs, this allows you to quickly and efficiently make carvings.  It’s great for making a single product, and it also is capable of producing multiple pieces with identical carvings.  Our software is ready and able to power projects at all levels.

CNC Router WoodworkingMajor Benefits of CNC Routers

There are many reasons why people choose to use CNC routers when building something.  However, the biggest is that they’re capable of creating amazingly intricate carvings in dense materials.  They can do it quite quickly, and in many cases it will be significantly faster than a skilled craftsman could do it.  Also, they allow for elaborate carving to be done without needing the assistance of a master craftsman.  Plus, no matter how skilled a human is, there is always a significant risk of making mistakes.  CNC routers are controlled by computers, so they’re far less likely to make any little errors.

Industrial vs. Hobby

When these first came into use, they were massive and expensive machines that were only practical for industrial use.  They were used to make cabinets, signs, and other things that needed fancy but slight carving done.  They’re still popular in high-end shops like that, but now there are also smaller versions that can be used in the home for hobbyists wanting to make their own creations.

CNC Router MachineWant to Learn More?

They say the luckiest people in the world are those who get paid to do what they love.  Well, that’s us.  We’re truly passionate about carving amazing works of art with CNC routers – whether those pieces are for practical building uses, or just something really, really cool!

If you want to learn more about this, discuss any ideas, get help with something you’re working on, or just show off your skills, please get in touch.  We can talk about this all day long!

Using CAD Software to Make Skis

Anyone with a big enough wallet can buy cool skis, but it takes a true craftsman to make them.  However, ski construction technology has changed drastically over the years and the skills needed to build skis has shifted. Nowadays, ski manufacturers can use a combination of CAD Software and a CNC router to create custom ski designs.

Ski TechnologyHistory of Skis

Skis have been around for a very long time.  In fact, there’s archeological evidence showing that people have been using some variation of them for at least 5,000 years.  But, we’ve come a long way from what cavemen were using, and the more modern skis came, not surprisingly, mostly out of Scandinavia.

Are you familiar with Telemark skiing?  Well, that name comes from the province in Norway where they were invented in the 1800s.  Then, many of these Scandinavian skiers immigrated to the US where there were a lot of hickory trees, and they discovered that the wood was perfect for making skis.

Eventually, someone realized that using two layers would be better than one.  Hickory would make it strong, but the other wood would keep it lighter.  In the early 20th century, European armies started producing skis more seriously for their Alpine soldiers, and an Austrian inventor figured out that pieces of steel could make the ski stronger.  Unfortunately, the gaps between the steel often broke, so some people started working on skis from solid aluminum.

In the 1930s, another Norwegian used the new advances in glue to make a laminated ski with three layers, and people couldn’t get enough of them.  This trend continued with mixtures of wood, metal, fiberglass, and any other materials that made skis stronger and lighter.  Finally, they evolved into the complex recipes used today.

Evolution of Ski Shape

But, if you think skis are all about the material, you’re not quite ready to carve your own pair.  The changes in size and shape has just as complex of a history.  The curvy shape of skis has really only become noticeably visible in the past few decades, but it’s been slightly there pretty much since the start.

Those craftsmen in Scandinavia at the beginning of the modern ski era figured out that some curve helped with turning and other performance issues.  There were different styles for various needs, but most involved some kind of shape other than straight and flat.  However, this slowly started to become harder to do as ski makers moved away from wood and headed to metal and other materials that were harder to carve.

That’s where CNC routers came in and changed the game, yet again.

CNC Router SkisThe Process with a CNC Router

There’s one big problem with crafting the elaborate skis that we use today, and that is that the complex designs are extremely difficult to create by hand.  Even if you only want a pair out of a soft material like wood, you still have to be extremely talented to carve the exact dimensions and curves that you want.  But, a CNC router can work with many materials, and your job is to manage the machine while it works its magic.  It’ll be able to make sure that your two skis are completely symmetrical and identical to each other.  You’ll know that they’re strong and sturdy, and they can even be up to such a quality that will help you win the most intense mountain competitions.

CAD Software SkisCAD Software Makes Life Easier

Are you intimidated by having to use a CNC router?  Many assume that it’s a tricky machine that’s only for genius engineers to manipulate.  Fortunately, CAD software makes sure that’s not the case.  There are plenty of templates and measurements already created by ski lovers, and you can plug those into your project to get you on the slopes as soon as possible.

Ski Companies That Use This Method

But, don’t take our word for it, quite a few ski manufacturers use this whole process already.  It’s a great way to get more affordable skis that are custom made for the buyer.  Some smaller companies like Folsom Custom Skis and Mortal Ski Company are really using this strategy to make big names for themselves.

If you have any questions about CAD Software please contact EnRoute for more information today.