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Thread: Best wood for CNC machining?

  1. #1
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    Best wood for CNC machining?

    Can anyone recommend a good wood for CNC machining with a very small (dremel-for-an-endmill) CNC machine? Preferably something hard enough that any small details milled into it won't be lost under rough handling and cheap enough that a mill failure won't render me bankrupt.

  2. #2
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    I would go for maple. Osage Orange would be excellent but would/could dull your bit real quick.
    I think cherry will get a lot of votes from others here.
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  3. #3
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    What movement speeds are you getting out of your CNC and how deep are you planning to cut?

    Any should work for light engraving, but if you're wanting to cut deeper you're going to need a bigger router. I've had good luck using a roto-zip cutting oak and popular, but my dremel would burn the wood (even on soft wood) and the bit due to the high speeds and quality of the bits.

    A roto-zip is much lighter than a full size router, but still able to allow use of 1/4" router bits.
    Darren

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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darren Wright View Post
    What movement speeds are you getting out of your CNC and how deep are you planning to cut?

    Any should work for light engraving, but if you're wanting to cut deeper you're going to need a bigger router. I've had good luck using a roto-zip cutting oak and popular, but my dremel would burn the wood (even on soft wood) and the bit due to the high speeds and quality of the bits.

    A roto-zip is much lighter than a full size router, but still able to allow use of 1/4" router bits.
    My son calls my rotozip a dremel on steroids. He won't use it..
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darren Wright View Post
    What movement speeds are you getting out of your CNC and how deep are you planning to cut?
    I'm afraid I lack specifics, though I think I can safely say "very slow." The endmills being used are also extremely small - roughly 1mm in diameter. The mill is currently being used to cut things out of small pieces of birch ply, which it does extremely well.

    Edit: I should also specify that the mill in question is tiny. It's actually significantly smaller than the computer attached to it - and the computer isn't a large one. I think it has a travel of 4" or less in all three axes.

    Osage orange looks like a really nice option - it appears to be extremely dense, and should give a nice, smooth finish. Also, it's very cheap, which is, in my view, a major bonus.

    Has anyone here tried milling stabilized wood?
    Last edited by Joseph Shaul; 06-02-2010 at 09:53 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Shaul View Post
    Has anyone here tried milling stabilized wood?
    sure pen turner do it all the time.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Shaul View Post
    ...Has anyone here tried milling stabilized wood?
    I turned a lot of stabilized wood, but don't know how it would react to a high-speed rotating cutter. It's a whole different animal. If the wood has a lot of plastic resin in it, I suspect there might be some frayed edges/melting like you would see with some plastics. Dunno for sure, but a quick test on a stabilized pen blank would probably answer your question. If it cuts clean, you're golden. Finishing stabilized wood is a breeze. I don't use any finish at all. No muss, no fuss, just buff, and you're done.

    I've got various stabilized pen blank cutoffs that are around 3/4" x 3/4" x 1/2". Let me know if you'd like a few to play with.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Shaul View Post
    I'm afraid I lack specifics, though I think I can safely say "very slow." The endmills being used are also extremely small - roughly 1mm in diameter. The mill is currently being used to cut things out of small pieces of birch ply, which it does extremely well.

    Edit: I should also specify that the mill in question is tiny. It's actually significantly smaller than the computer attached to it - and the computer isn't a large one. I think it has a travel of 4" or less in all three axes.

    Osage orange looks like a really nice option - it appears to be extremely dense, and should give a nice, smooth finish. Also, it's very cheap, which is, in my view, a major bonus.

    Has anyone here tried milling stabilized wood?
    I could stable a couple pieces for you. No charge, just enough asked to pay for mailing back to you. PM me if interested.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  9. #9
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    Does anyone here know if there's a way to vacuum-impregnate cheapo polyester resin into MDF? The homogenous (and cheap) nature of the material makes it well suited to CNCing, but it has the twin problems of weakness and a predesposition towards warping and expansion. If I could fill the stuff full of nice cheap resin, it would solve most of my problems in one go.

  10. #10
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    Does it have to be wood?

    There are lots of cheap plastics that do machine very well.

    If you are using wood, the grain direction matters a lot, try the wood with the grain running front to back, then try it with the grain running right to left, you will see a big difference.
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

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