Wood work using a metal cutting machine?


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Thread: Wood work using a metal cutting machine?

  1. #1
    Member Micah's Avatar
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    Default Wood work using a metal cutting machine?

    I've been thinking about buying a used mill and lathe for my basement. I work for a major manufacturer of metal cutting machines and would love to use / tinker with them in my spare time. One thing I've tried to search for / look into on youtube & elsewhere is cutting wood using a metal cutting cnc like a Haas or Makino. I find hardly an info on it. There must be a reason, no?

    Is it because of price? Most of my "wood cnc" search results come up with routers that appear to cut mostly flat items. Nothing very 3d.

    With some of the medium size horizontal cnc's I deal with, you could take a giant 3' diameter 4' high log and cut out a life size bust of Trump if you wanted to. It might not have any practical use but it could be a real attention getter.

    If someone wanted to do that with like an A51 Makino ( ) I think it would be capable in theory, but why are people not using wood as a material in big machines like this?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Wood work using a metal cutting machine?

    Hello.

    While I might be proven wrong I believe one of the major constraints in using a metal cutting machine to work on wood would be the speed of the tools and their shape. A too fast turning tool would indeed burn the wood and the wrong shape would shatter it.

    Just as in any other subtractive technique the speeds, feeds and tools have to be carefully selected to accomodate for the particular wood workpiece you could be machining. As well as there are differences in machining steel to machining aluminum there are differences in machining solid wood, triplay, MDF or whatever material you are using.

    Depending upon the process you can be making the manufacturing procedures can be different. Take for example a simple drilled hole. If you are using solid wood you could make it with the final diameter in one single pass. If you are machining MDF or any other aglomerate you normally have to do it in two passes. One in a diameter smaller than your final and then your final.

    There are even procedures used in furniture manufacture that require the workpiece to be drilled to about half its thickness then turn the workpiece upside down and then complete the drill. If not done that way the exit side of the edge of the drill gets chipped.

    Taking those comments into account there should be no problem in using a metal router to work on wood. Just make sure you add some suction to keep the work area clean and use respiratory protection if working with aglomerates. While the risk nowadays is a lot less than years ago due to the nature of the aglomerants there are still some other risks like the size of the particules. In any case the "better safe than sorry" rule applies.

    I hope this gives you an idea.

    Regards.



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    Community Moderator Jim Dawson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wood work using a metal cutting machine?

    I have a customer who uses nothing but Haas VFs in his cabinet shop. Has about a dozen of them. No routers at all.

    You can cut wood just fine on a metalworking machine. You just have to match the feed speed to the spindle speed because you are not able to turn at router spindle speeds so the feed needs to be slower. I cut wood on my mill whenever needed. Sometimes I use router bits, other times I just use sharp HSS or carbide endmills.

    I recommend a suction system to get rid of the sawdust, especially when cutting MDF.

    Here is the one I whipped up for my mill, connects to my shop vac.
    Wood work using a metal cutting machine?-img_0261-jpg

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Wood work using a metal cutting machine?-img_0261-jpg  
    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA


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    Default Re: Wood work using a metal cutting machine?

    Congratulations on providing a new experience.I have read hundreds,possibly thousands,of posts on this forum from people who wanted to cut metal with a woodworking machine.This enquiry is exactly the opposite way round and similarly there are are few of the usual caveats save for the mention above that the spindle speed and feed rate will be slower than the optimum rates used on a dedicated woodworking machine.No problems with rigidity either.If the machine has been run with coolant there is a very real risk that the dust will stick to all sorts of things and a really thorough cleaning before using wood will help.Similarly wood will absorb any liquid and that may spoil your chances of getting a good finish.The other major plus point of a metalworking machine is that it will have enough power to take serious cuts and you won't be suffering like some of the buyers of cheap routers made from extrusions who have to make lots of very light cuts to get anywhere near the finished shape.



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Wood work using a metal cutting machine?

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Wood work using a metal cutting machine?