As I promised over 8 months ago, the next installment in my CNC search is going to focus on the discoveries made from seeing the actual machines while at IWF in 2014 and subsequently at AWFS this year.

The list of CNC machines available to the cabinet shop is quite overwhelming, and more companies seem to be coming into the industry all the time.  Spending time on the front end, defining what I needed out of the machine, and setting a budget, allowed me to narrow the field of candidates and focus on fewer machines.

While at IWF last year, I investigated 9 CNC machine companies: Felder, SCM, SNX Technologies, FMT, CR Onsrud, Weeke, Laguna, Multi Cam, and Busellato. As you can see, this is not an exhaustive list. Most notably, I did not look at the offerings from Komo, Biesse, Omitech, or Thermwood. Why? I’m not really sure. I just didn’t. Maybe I decided that, in order to keep some amount of sanity throughgout this process, I would have to artificially narrow the list of candidates, and those were four that didn’t make the list.

After the show, I compiled all the specs from each machine into an Excel spreadsheet so I could compare each machine, side by side, so to speak. This was really helpful because it allowed me to empty my head of the hundreds of specs and numbers that I ingested over the 3 days of the show. The list then allowed me to compare specs, weigh cost versus features, and eliminated a few more candidates. From the starting list of 9, I eliminated Busellato and MultiCam. The MultiCam was just to expensive for my budget, and the Busellato was the exact same machine as the SCM Pratix, so it lost out. Once again, not overly scientific at this point. That left me with a field of 7 machines to investigate further.

Over the next few months, I spoke to reps from Onsrud, Felder, SCM, SNX, and Weeke, and was able to narrow the playing field even a bit more. The CR Onsrud Mate was a beautiful machine, but it ended up coming in quite a bit over my $70K-$100K budget. I have no doubt that it is worth every penny, but I had to institute some parameters, both in terms of budget and features, in order to limit “machine creep” and to help make a final decision. The FMT Patriot was a surprising machine to me, in terms of how many features came on a relatively inexpensive machine. In the end, the lack of a drill block eliminated it from my list, but for a smaller shop that is willing to skip that feature, this machine could be a diamond in the rough. The Laguna Smart Shop and the SCM Pratix both dropped off my list shortly before AWFS this year for no truly discernable reason, except they just didn’t stand out from the final three candidates.

The final three machines, that I would be investigating more in-depth at AWFS, are the Felder Profit H08, the SNX Technologies nVentor, and the Weeke Vantech. Soon, I will be sharing my final decision, and why I can to that conclusion.

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