The challenges of installing a new CNC router

Photo By Jared Patchin

The CNC arrived from Austria to our shop on January 27th, bright and early. We do not own a forklift, much to the chagrin of my employees, but across the street is an industrial steel plant, and they have been kind enough over the years to unload any machines that we have delivered. Thankfully, the unloading process was uneventful, and within an hour or so we had the machine safely nestled in its final resting place.

BTW, the CNC came bolted to a pallet constructed from some very nice 8′ long 4×4’s and 4×6’s, and four 16′ 6×6’s. I was almost as excited about using the large timbers to build a proper Rubo-style woodworkers bench as I was about the CNC machine itself! It’s good to know that I haven’t lost the joy that brought me to this industry in the first place.

The machine sat idle for a few weeks while we furiously worked on the infrastructure upgrades necessary for the machine, which I will discuss in another entry, and an employee’s vacation schedule (I’m looking at you Kyle!). Finally, the big day arrived, and Sumeet, the tech from Felder, showed up to begin the 1.5-2 days of set-up and 3+ days of training. My original plan was to be along side Sumeet and my employee during all the training, but alas, the hectic and demanding schedule of a business owner won out, and I pretty much watched the unfolding events as I breezed in and out of the shop.

Sumeet, the tech, was a great guy, and a pleasure to work with, which is a good thing, since you are spending 40-50 hours together during this process! During the set-up he connected all the computer hardware and software, leveled the machine (using a level accurate to the 1/10th of a mm), installed the dust collector shroud, laid down the gaskets into the phenolic top, connected the vacuum pump, and installed the light fence, among other things.

During the second half of Tuesday, Sumeet and Kyle (my employee) began the training process by installing and programming all the cutterheads into the tool changer and installing and milling the spoil board. We were now officially in business! The next three days were pretty much entirely devoted to learning the software that came with the machine, TPA CAD, and how to export .dxf files from Mozaik to the machine. I will explain why we are having to use .dxf files instead of G-code in a future entry.

At the end of the week, the machine was fully operational and we were like a teenage drivers…inexperienced as could be, excited to jump right in, and dangerous as ever!

Working with the various people at Felder has been a joy from the very beginning. Our salesman, Fergus Cooke, has been great and was always available to answer my questions. I met Ruan du Toit, the CEO of the America division of Felder, four years ago at IWF 2012, and have seen him every year since, and his kindness and professionalism towards me, years before I was even in the market for a CNC machine, was one of the deciding factors that pushed me towards buying this machine. Finally, Sumeet was incredibly knowledgeable about the machine and the software, was a great teacher, and an all around great guy to hang out with for 5 days.

In my next post, find out how we almost broke our new CNC!


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About the author
Jared Patchin

Jared Patchin started woodworking professionally in 2008 when he set-up J. Alexander Fine Woodworking in Boise, ID, where he builds custom crafted furniture and cabinetry. He started building furniture at the age of seven when his father bought Shutter Crafts. He has developed his craft since then, moving from making wooden swords for himself and his friends to building some of the finest furniture and cabinetry available. He lives in Boise, Idaho with his wife and two young sons, who have taken over the sword making side of things.