A few months after Four Corners LLC purchased a Multiax T115 5-axis CNC router in 2008, the economy went into a tailspin and Owner David Brigham saw a number of his competitors struggling.

But Four Corners did not, and by mid-year Brigham realized that the company’s 5-axis capabilities were actually carrying it through the hard times.

Today, the Millerton, NY-based firm’s sales volume is roughly twice what it was before getting heavily into 5-axis work, while the staffing of nine has not changed. In addition to components such as chair seats and furniture panels, Four Corners produces amorphous shapes, not only in wood, but also in materials like aluminum and plastic.

There are eight CNC machines: six 3-axis routers; a 5-axis mill for small, narrow items such as guitar necks and chair legs; and the 5-axis router. All are programmed using Mastercam X6 Router, 2.5D and 5-axis, from CNC Software Inc.

To create complex surfaces, Brigham imports a model, replicating a drawing or digitizing an artifact supplied by the customer using an arm-type measurement system or a laser scanner. Mastercam then automatically lays down toolpaths that allow the 5-axis system to cut it.

Brigham’s staff frequently loads one or more complex shapes onto the router and runs them overnight. But Four Corners’ 5-axis expertise also has given it access to smaller, amorphous fast-turn jobs that it produces on the 5-axis mill. As Brigham says, Four Corners will make “anything you need.”

One of its most interesting recent projects was handrails for an elliptical staircase spanning three decks of a 150-foot yacht. The close-fitting rails had smooth compound curves that mated precisely with the wall and matched the decline of the staircase. The inner lip of the rail was undercut using a ball mill and the rails attached via machined back surfaces that fit into slots in the wall.

Once the surfaces were established, Mastercam laid down parallel surface toolpaths for cutting the rails from solid cherry, with just a single set-up on the 5-axis router.

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