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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2002


    As a newcomer to turning metal (machining)is my lathe with what I considered to be a bit above the norm NORTON GEARBOX FITTED AS STANDARD soon to be obsolete ? are we heading even amatures like myself to be considered a laughing stock soon without C.N.C equipment say in the next decade or so? I consider this a must have for say very large businesses but average and small guys like myself.are we going to be left behind?
    Please excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2001


    I expect if you have an inclination to do commerical work, CNC will be pretty much required to be economically competitive for lots of jobs.

    For home shop use, however...who cares? After all, there are home shop types beating out ornamental metalwork with forge and anvil using techniques that haven't changed much since the Middle Ages. The main idea is to have fun. If you can have fun with your hand-cranked lathe and milling machine, what other consideration is there? You don't have to please anybody except yourself.

    Even for a commercial shop, it's not absolute (yet). There's a small one-man shop a few miles from me. He doesn't even have DROs. He manages to make a living doing an assortment of jobs, doing niche work that he can still do cheaper than a CNC shop that has a greater overhead.
    Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
    Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
    Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
    There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
    Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Nottingham, England


    It is changing slowly.
    Where I think it's making inroads is that older CNC machines especially here in the UK are dirt cheap. NO way a Series 1 Bridgeport will make more than 800 UKP and at that it's all got to be working. One with a dead control is only worth 300 to 400 UKP.
    Added to this we are nearly at the point where a PC based CNC control will be less than 100 UKP. EMC and Master5, soon to be Mach1, spring to mind here.
    The new controls even being low end will be far infront of what these machines were originally built with and so be very user friendy.
    Mills tend to lend themselves more to this than lathes. Lathes tend to be simpler and less complex programs but more quantity.
    Mills OTOH tend to be more one off's and length programs. Some engraving files can be 30,000 lines long.
    With mills I also bundle routers as these are very similar.
    I run two CNC mills but I got rid of a CNC lathe as not being suitable for one off type work. I spent more time setting it up, programing it, than doing the part by hand. The mills I couldn't do without.

    John S.

    Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.

  4. #4


    I agree with most of the comments. It is envitable and is only a matter of time. I have the feeling more people will do CNC machining than manual just because they have the impression computers are easy to use. Right now, home CNC is dilated 4cm and that puppy ain't ready to squirt out just yet - just wait a while.

  5. #5


    I recently helped a friend convert a nice CNC machine- actually, it was an old NC (paper tape) machine. It is an old bridgeport, where the machine was in quite nice mechanical shape, but the controller was dark ages. My friend was given the machine for the effort of getting it out of the shops way for some new machine.

    He bought an old PC for about $200, 3 Gecko drives for $140 each, and Master5 for $100. He qwas able to use the old power supply with a bit of hacking. Total cost under $800 and he has a fine Bridgeport CNC mill with ball screws and serious capability.

    There will always be some home shops with an old shaper still at work, but a lot more home shops will be using CNC.
    ron ginger

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Nottingham, England


    He got robbed with the PC {grin }

    John S.

    Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2001


    CNC is only as good as the machinist telling it what to do. The computer cannot see hear or smell like the man and will never be
    effcient at solving problems that require senses and experience. I have CNC machines in my shop (thats how we make money) but I learned under a master tool and die maker how to use the old machines before I ever touched a CNC control. Everyone should have to learn on the conventionals first it gives you an insight that no computer geek will ever have. CNC will never completely replace the conventional machines there are to many times that you need to do one or two pieces and the CNC is not the fastest way for simple tasks.

    Pushing a button does not make a person a machinist it makes them a button pusher. If you cannot take a piece of stock and walk up to a manual machine and make what you need then you are no machinist. Woops tripped up and found myself on a soapbox, I will yield the floor.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2002


    AMEN, brother Tate.

  9. #9


    C. Tate:

    I agree completely. But who said the home market wants to do it the way it "used" to be done just because "we" learned that way? It will happen because CNC will let a person do something they could never do otherwise.

    Anyone with half a brain can be trained to run a job for production runs. Being a good a machinist should make you a better CNC operator. Knowing how to program it and being a machinist will set you apart from both groups. A superior toolmaker that can program and optimize shop machines is going to be the master machinist of the future. It is evolution - they will bring forth the next generation of the art.

    Just imagine what Bach or Beethoven could do today with a sequencer and synth! It boggles the imagination...

    [This message has been edited by Thrud (edited 05-08-2002).]

  10. #10


    Cnc has wonderful possibilities for the home shop.
    The way computer prices have dropped in the last year, cnc prices (for the homie) are bound to fall.
    It will require the same basic machining knowlege requirements, plus cad, or at least trig to calculate your points now done with dividers and a scale.
    At this point mastercam, and other computer programing systems are not economically possible for me.
    If you do this be ready to "Hit your head against the wall", at least in the beginning until you learn basic programing and operation of the system.
    A cnc will do EXACTLY what you tell it, right or wrong, and FAST.
    The error codes on a new system drive me nuts.
    I have and operate a Bridgeport boss 6 that is a great timesaver for some quantity and complex parts I do.
    This machine is truely a relic these days.
    Cutter comp allows you to program the part boundry on complex components. Mirror image and rotation allow programming a quadrent of a part only.
    I'd like to know more about that retrofit
    Ron talks about.
    Bridgeport no longer services those older machines, and electronics repairman are like plummers but worse.

    I don't think lack of cnc in the home shop will ever cause you to be "left behind".

    It's the craftsman not the machine that will be admired always.


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