July 22-25 – Las Vegas, NV – It’s that time of year where woodworkers from across the globe gather in Las Vegas to grow as a community, learn, and exchange ideas within the backdrop of the AWFS Fair.
Every year at the AWFS Fair, ShopBot has a chance to showcase its product line, including any new products like our Desktop Max, which was the main attraction at this year’s gathering. The new tool was featured to showcase its versatility and larger size, piggybacking off of the successes of the ShopBot Desktop’s original design, which customers have enjoyed using for many years.
Cabinetmakers, general woodworkers, hobbyists, and students all descended into the desert to see what the industry has to offer, as the world of CNC, in particular, continues to expand.
One attraction at Shopbot’s booth was the addition of a jig which exhibited the tool’s ability to efficiently and affordably produce dovetails. Those interested in this specific woodworking specialty were amazed at the approach and design functions of both the jig and the Desktop Max’s dovetail cut. Many curious and intrigued parties could immediately see the benefits of not only a larger cutting area, but also the great versatility of the Desktop Max.
A second Desktop Max featured a more traditional project where wooden stools were being produced, demonstrating that the accessibility of such a functional tool would be a benefit to any woodworker, whether it be in small increments or across larger production volumes. This particular project also showcased a vacuum table hold down system, which allowed for quicker cutting and improved, consistent stability of the material.
As ShopBot continues to grow alongside an ever-evolving industry, there is never a need to “roll the dice” with the renowned reputation of ShopBot’s tools!
The ShopBot Handheld Keypad (KRS BumpBar) is a versatile tool for production shops and hobbyists alike. It is a 20 button customizable keypad that can be easily programmed so that each button executes a command or series of ShopBot commands.
Have you ever found yourself running between the tool and the control computer when trying to move to a specific location for zeroing? The BumpBar allows you to control the tool without standing at the computer; it comes pre-programmed with buttons that allow you to manually move the tool, set fixed move distances, and zero an axis. See the video below to see it in action.
The KRS BumpBar can also be used to streamline production in high throughput environments. Cut files can be assigned to specific buttons, along with common commands such as C3 (3 axis zero routine) and ZZ (zero z axis). By combining tool control into a simple push button interface, the keypad reduces complexity and the risk of operator error.
Here at ShopBot headquarters in Durham, NC, we use ShopBots to make many of the components that go into ShopBots. We use KRS BumpBars on these production tools to help our manufacturing staff work efficiently. For example, all the structural components for a Handibot (our portable CNC tool) are cut on a ShopBot Desktop that has a BumpBar connected with a button for each cut file. The operator just mounts the jig corresponding to the cut he wants to run, and presses the corresponding button on the BumpBar.
The keypad is highly customizable, with an easy-to-use programming interface that allows each button to be assigned up to 20 key commands at once. The default configuration is shown below.
Adam Buchwald is the owner and principal luthier of Circle Strings, a company he first opened in Brooklyn, NY, in 2005, and now operates in Burlington, VT, where he and his family relocated in 2008. Adam focuses on building guitars, mandolins, tenor guitars and double course tenors (ala octave mandolins). He also performs repair work. As Adam says, “My passion for instruments goes beyond building and repair work. As a working musician, who plays banjo, mandolin and guitar, I understand what a musician ultimately wants to get out of their instrument.”
It’s been an interesting path to Vermont and Circle Strings. Adam attended college at the nearby University of Vermont, and later went to work in his Dad’s business, Circle Metal Stamping, in Mt. Vernon, New York (Westchester County). The company focused on making special dies and tools, die sets, jigs and fixtures, and industrial molds. During his time at this business, Adam became aware of other companies using CNC processes to manufacture parts for Circle Metal. To incorporate CNC for metals was going to be very expensive, as well as difficult to compete with China. “I also wasn’t thrilled about having to depend on weapons contracts for my future,” notes Adam. So rather than continue the business, as his Dad looked to retirement the family opted to sell it.
Before making his move back up to Vermont, Adam learned his craft from masters. “After studying with Bob Jones in Brooklyn NY, one of the most respected and talented luthiers in the country, I felt confident enough to take on my own clients and start Circle Strings (named to honor the previous family business). I was very fortunate to have Bob right next to me while I worked on my early repairs.”
For over two years Adam was head repairman at Retrofret in Brooklyn, NY, with Steve Uhrik, Peter Kohman, and Jason Petty. “Working with them gave me the opportunity to repair and restore some of the world’s most valuable and rare instruments. It was there that I built some of my first guitars while having all of the vintage pieces, broken and playable, that I was able to study from.”
“Vermont was calling me,” says Adam. He was offered a position to teach guitar building (by hand without CNC) with George Morris at Vermont Instruments and moved up North in 2008. “I spent a few years teaching and building/repairing on the side.”
It was there that Adam met Michael Millard of Froggy Bottom Guitars. Adam “took the leap and started building with them full time.” Froggy Bottom hand-finishes its instruments, but looks to CNC for the production of certain parts. “It was an incredible experience and I learned so much about guitar building, dedication to a craft, hard work, and most importantly, myself,” notes Adam. During his time at Froggy Bottom, Adam says that he learned the value of adding CNC to the process of making a guitar, in terms of the precision and repeatability that it offers. Next, Adam opened up his own shop in Burlington.
When he first opened up Circle Strings in Vermont, Adam was primarily making the instruments by hand (with all “traditional” shop tools), and buying his guitar necks from a manufacturer who used CNC. “Though I had initially looked down a bit on CNC, believing that anything less than fully handmade wasn’t really ‘handmade,’ I came to understand the role that CNC can play within a wood shop. It’s just another tool at my disposal that adds efficiency to my work. Adding CNC to my shop is a decision that allows me to sustain and grow my business,” said Adam.
Adam serenades his ShopBot Desktop and ShopBot Buddy!
Adam first purchased a ShopBot Desktop in June of 2014. He chose the ShopBot Desktop because of its size and price, as well as the encouraging reviews that he read that noted the tool’s precision. “I also like that ShopBot makes its tools in the U.S.,” says Adam. With the assistance of Will Mosheim of Seeders Instruments, and architect/CAD technician Gabriel Stadecker (see Gabe’s bio here), Adam dove fully into using CAD/CAM in his process. “I went into this fully expecting a long learning curve, but fortunately it hasn’t been as steep as I was expecting,” says Adam. “I think the fact that I have some background in computers really helped.” Adam also notes that he was thrown a bit of a curve by the need to purchase a strong 3D modeling program (Rhino), in order to do the work he needs to accomplish. “That was an initial obstacle — the V-Carve Pro software that shipped with the Desktop didn’t come through for the 3D work.”
Overall, Adam has been impressed by the precision of the Desktop. “It almost seems surprising for a tool of this size,” says Adam. He uses the Desktop to make many parts of the guitars. “I would say that I can use CNC to make parts that are about 75% ‘there,’ and then hand-finishing comes into play.”
This video about Circle Strings brings the business, and the music, to life…
Circle Strings shares a building with Creston Guitars, where luthier Creston Lea builds electric guitars and basses in a classic American style. According to Creston’s website, “Creston Electric Instruments produces custom guitars, built one at a time by one person near the old barge canal in beautiful Burlington, Vermont. The guitars are finished to look like real instruments made by a real person, not poured out of a mold on the other side of the globe. All custom guitars are designed in collaboration with the players who use them – professionals and beginners and in between.” The site notes that he uses CNC’d necks to start with and then hand-shapes and finishes them. These neck pieces are made by Creston’s neighbor Adam, on the ShopBot Buddy that Adam purchased last year.”I decided to purchase the Buddy to fit larger parts such as guitar necks onto the bed of the CNC,” said Adam.
On the afternoon of Friday, June 26th, around 70 visitors in town for the Furniture Society 2015 Symposium journeyed over to the ShopBot Tools “World Headquarters.” Along with a scrumptious barbecue dinner, ShopBot staff organized multiple demo stations to highlight features of our growing variety of tools –from the Handibot Smart Power Tool to the Full-size 4’x8’ PRSalpha ATC gantry tool.
The tour through ShopBot’s 10,000 sq. foot manufacturing space started with the Desktop Max (slated to be released later this year). On the tool’s 24”x36” bed, Kevin Putvin cut a guitar body and a full 3D carved overlay, designed in Aspire. Nate Zellmer and Josh Thomas, also cutting out of foam, showed how to prototype using Rhino CAM software to maximize the versatility of the PRSalpha 5-Axis tool.
Groups then ventured into the ShopBot Training room for a real treat. TJ Christiansen had set up 3 ShopBot Desktop tools cutting a variety of projects: a v-carving of a wooden zodiac disk, an acrylic engraving/cutting of a plastic puzzle game, andinteresting CNC joinery from HDPE plastic. To top it off, the ShopBot Buddy® was set-up to etch a mirror, using the WidgetWorks Diamond Engraving Bit. The finished mirror was then donated as a silent auction item to the Furniture Society. TJ used VCarve Pro ShopBot Edition for his designs and toolpathing.
Not to be outdone, Matt Schmitz machined a very interesting newel post using the custom built Stand Alone Indexer. This project was originally designed in GeoMagic, but would be easily done in Rhino. Toolpathing and some design modifications were then done in Aspire.
The next station featured the Handibot v2.0 (available this fall). Two accessories were on display, the Handibot Rotary Axis and the Handibot Accessory Base, both examples of what promises to be a very interesting line of additional accessories that will be coming online in the next few months – be sure to check out the Handibot blog for updates. Matthew Hux demonstrated the full capability of the Handibot Crawler – an automated tiling accessory that’s currently in development and expands the Handibot cutting envelope to 24” in the Y, and starts with a 4’ travel in the X that can be expanded – look for more on this promising accessory over the next few months!
Last but not least, Ryan Patterson, lead of our Production Support team, created some unique chairs using the features of the PRSalpha 4’x8’ ATC gantry tool. VCarve Pro software allowed Ryan to easily modify his initial design to add more variety to the pattern he was cutting for the flexible plywood top, and change the size of the chair as the evening went on.
We love having people come to ShopBot for tool demonstrations, for training, or just to visit. Give us a shout out when you’re in the area. We’d love to show you around!
A special thank you to Alphagraphics for their continued partnership and very speedy turnaround times and to Tommy Murrah of Thinker Linkers for his donation of a Thinker Linker Craftsman Set. BTW- we’re happy to say that both of these businesses use ShopBot 4’x8’ gantry tools.
The weather was hot, and the buzzing of insects was matched by the whirring of machines at this year’s National Maker Faire in DC. Inventors, tinkerers, and innovators from across the nation came to showcase their wares and share their knowledge. ShopBot brought two Handibots and set them to work. While one churned out keychains for the kids, the other was mounted over a Handibot Rotary Axis, cutting out a lightsaber handle. This powerful accessory gives the Handibot a 4th rotary axis, allowing it to cut fully 3–dimensional objects. Shopbot’s Matt Schmitz, Al Nyonteh, and Sallye Coyle answered questions while the tools worked, including detailed technical inquiries such as “What kind of a 3d printer is this?” and “Can I have one?”
The Faire was set at the University of the District of Columbia in the heart of DC. Among the specialized areas, there was a kids’ section full of DIY toys and science demos. The rest of the Faire was a playground for adults and kids alike with demos and products of all kinds. Two Georgetown students demonstrated a novel way to put out fire: Using a modified subwoofer outputting a set frequency, they repeatedly lit and extinguished an oil fire in an iron skillet. The representatives from the self-declared “Cardboard Teck Instantute” showcased their modifiable pinball machines, made entirely of cardboard except for the rubber bands used to power the flipper bats and ball launch. A hacker showed off his Lego Rubik’s Cube machine. Oculus Rift showed off their latest iteration of VR goggles (spoiler: I wasn’t impressed). Various booths showcased unique applications they had developed for digital fabrication tools: laser etching family photos, pillows sewn with your dog’s portrait, 3d printed jewelry, and crowd-sourced sculptures.
The extraordinary Bill Young and the team at Shelter 2.0 had two of their latest ShopBot-cut quick-to-assemble shelters providing shade for weary Faire-goers. These spacious buildings make use of CNC enabled joinery and are sturdy enough to withstand heavy storms, yet they can be collapsed and reassembled in less than an hour. All the parts fit easily in the back of a pick-up. Learn more about these structures: Shelter 2.o.
Andrew Coholic is the owner of Joe Coholic Custom Furniture Ltd., a custom cabinetry and furniture business. The company operates out of a 6,000 square foot shop in Timmins, Canada. Andrew runs the business that was started by his father Joe back in the early 1970’s. Andrew said, “My family has worked with wood for generations. My grandfather was a carpenter, and my Dad a home builder and cabinetmaker.” He switched his focus to the cabinet work in the 1970’s when Andrew was a child.
Andrew came to his current career a bit circuitously. “After high school, I went to university for math and science, but began to realize that my true interests are in design and working with my hands.”
Andrew said that he learned CNC technology during a 3-year woodworking program in Ontario, which afforded him the opportunity to visit many different woodworking facilities. “My classmates and I all dreamed of buying a CNC tool like a ShopBot. But none of us could afford one then.” When Andrew started leading the business, he had a 4000-sq-ft facility with a couple of employees, and no space for a CNC tool. “I sold that shop in 2010, moved to a larger community, and got a larger shop.” In 2012, Andrew purchased a 48″ ShopBot Buddy with industrial spindle and 6-foot Powerstick. “In hindsight, a full-size tool might have been an even better choice, for working with larger cabinetry pieces, but I’ve been thrilled with the Buddy.”
Here’s some of Andrew’s custom furniture work
Dining table in the shop…
…and in the home environment
Surprising benefits of CNC
With his past knowledge of CNC and its capabilities, Andrew knew that the technology would bring greater efficiencies to his business, but the extent of this benefit continues to grow.
“The ShopBot has met and exceeded expectations. We’re able to perform repetitive tasks such as making the parts of tables, chairs, benches, and cabinetry much faster than before — so of course it saves us money. And there are some areas where CNC has afforded other benefits. For instance, I knew that we could do decorative carvings using the tool, but hadn’t really intended to do much of this work. Well, I’ve found that I’m doing more and more of it, because clients are really liking the work.”
“Also, the ShopBot allows me to create prototypes for my customers very quickly, and this is a huge benefit,” said Andrew. He gave as an example, a recent project involving designing an original idea for coffee tables and end tables. “If I were to draw these and cut full-scale mock-ups in plywood by hand for the client, would have been very time consuming. With the ShopBot, I can make the prototype and execute small tweaks to the design while the customer is sitting with me!”
Another benefit that Andrew has found, is that he can use the ShopBot Buddy to cut out templates for use on his traditional shop tools.
Here is some more of Andrew’s work:
The love of the work.
Asked what he enjoys most about his work, Andrew said, “I like having a business where I’m responsible for the product from end to end. With a custom shop, you get to experience all facets of the business, from design and engineering, to building, finishing and installing the work. It can be very satisfying to touch all aspects of a project, and at the end of the day, have made a solid object that’s both beautiful and functional.”
Andrew said that when it comes to incorporating CNC into woodworking, “you sort of have to take a leap of faith. You know intellectually that it can bring many benefits, but if you’ve been brought up with the traditional technologies as I was in this family business, you are partially going on faith. It’s been nothing but a great choice for us!”
June 6, 2015 – Windermere, Florida, just outside of Orlando, was host to the 2015 Ed Camp Magic with nearby Disney World as the backdrop for the weekend’s events held at Windermere Preparatory School.
One of ShopBot’s core focus areas remains in the realm of education, and we were happy to sponsor such a great event! It was a hot summer day in Florida, however a hearty turnout for this gathering made for an eventful day sharing the infinite possibilities of ShopBot Desktop tool and its far reaching capabilities in the world of digital fabrication.
Many folks stopped by to see the ShopBot Desktop in action. One of Florida State’s Theater Department grad students, Brandon Rada, was at the controls showcasing the tool’s creative and efficient production power. Teachers, Superintendents, and Teaching Coaches all visited the makeshift “makerspace” on-site, and everyone came away learning a bit more about the endless opportunities to grow alongside CNC tools.
A massive 150 foot long shop, partially filled with excavating equipment, set the stage for big things to happen at the ShopBot Camp in Mays Landing, NJ this past month. John Pucci Sr. and his son, John “JJ” Pucci Jr., hosted the camp, which drew roughly 30 participants. Pucci and Pucci have a 5’ x 12’ PRSalpha ShopBot which they use to cut signs and furniture under the name CNC Design Fabrication (formerly Tiki Art Studios). They also have a 12” indexer at their shop, which they were excited to get turning to make full-3D models. Randy Johnson and Matt Schmitz from ShopBot were there to answer questions and give tips. There was also a representative from Harbor Sales at the camp, who set up a table overflowing with samples of sign foams, laminates, and specialty materials for machining.
The morning started with Randy sharing his considerable knowledge of feeds and speeds, maintenance, tips, and tricks. Matt gave a presentation on the ShopBot Indexer, a ShopBot accessory that works like a controlled lathe and allows machining of full-3D parts.
With the smell of barbeque distracting all but the most steadfast of attendants, a break for lunch was called. The Pucci’s had ordered a full-sized wood fire smoker to cook up lunch for the camp crowd. As John Sr. put it: “We don’t do sandwiches here.”
The afternoon brought “show and tell” and more shared tips and tricks. The indexer was fired up to cut a tiki pole out of a 3’ long by 9” diameter maple round, with camp attendees taking breaks from the talks to check on its progress.
In addition to the information shared by Randy and Matt, Brady Watson, a former Shopbot employee and 3D scanning expert, shared some of his expertise in 3D scanning and presented some impressive examples of objects he had been 3D scanned and then cut on a ShopBot.
All in all a ton of fun for everyone, and a big thank you to the gracious hosts, John and JJ!
The 10th Annual Bay Area Maker Faire was extended to a 3-day event this year, May 15-17. With over 130,000 visitors, the Bay Area event is the largest of its kind. ShopBot’s 40’ circular tent was chock-full of CNC tools continuously cutting, carving, and sculpting, making everything from flat-pack stools to picture frames to stormtrooper ornaments.
We were excited to share the next step in the evolution of the Handibot open-source motion control system called FabMo that we’ve been developing (check out goFabMo.org for technical info). FabMo allows users to run digital fabrication tools wirelessly from any device. ShopBot’s Ryan Sturmer was interviewed by MakeZine and was invited to speak on a Beagle Bone Black panel at one of the MAKE stages during the faire.
ShopBot offered two tool sneak previews at Maker Faire. One of those being the Handibot 2.0, which brings together many features that have been requested on the Handibot.com community website and forum by early adopters of the tool. ShopBot’s Brian Owen talks about the enhancements underway in this short video. Visitors also got to see the Handibot’s new accessory base and rotary axis cutter making candle sticks out of acrylic cylinders. Read Brian’s summary post on the Handibot Blog.
The other sneak preview was of the Desktop MAX, a much anticipated 24″x36″ bed tool that is modeled after our very popular Desktop 24″x18” machine. Stay tuned for release dates and more information on this innovative new machine.
A special shout-out and thank you to Janet Lawson and Dan Swearington of Autistry Studios. This amazing duo cut out gear pieces, made a mini version of a playhouse, and shared their experiences with thousands of visitors and educators at the faire. We saw firsthand the successful work that Austistry Studios is doing with autistic teens and their families, and how they use the ShopBot as a featured tool in their programs. These kids start with simple projects that help them gain skills and confidence and move on to create and design complex projects that motivate and inspire them to keep learning. For more information on Autistry Studios, read this article on the ShopBot blog.
We were glad to have the Vectric team demo-ing the new VCarvePro ShopBot Edition v8.0. If you haven’t upgraded you may want to do so. It’s loaded with new features but still maintains its easy to understand interface and flexibility. If you’ve never tried VCarvePro, you can download a free trial version.
A thank you to John Coker of Hobby Rocketry who brought by some of his rocket components and to Russ Wood who helped out as he has for many years – and even designed a train themed table on the fly. ShopBot’s Bill Young introduced a new approach to custom fit plywood furniture, which proved quite popular to weary faire-goers and to potential ShopBotter’s alike. Quite a few people stopped by to show off what they’ve made at the California TechShops.
Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, CA made a portion of their booth with carved foam panels, had examples of ceramic slip molds, and a beautiful adirondack inspired chair made on the ShopBot. We’ll be keeping an eye out for what other inspiring work comes out of this group!
One of our favorite things about Maker Faire is the endless creativity and exploration of new technologies and products – there’s never a shortage of interesting things people create and share at Maker Faire.
Playmakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is a leading American regional theatre, and serves as the professional theatre in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where undergraduates and graduate students learn every aspect of the theatrical craft, and local audiences are treated to productions by “one of America’s leading theatre companies” (American Theatre). The Independent Weekly has recognized Playmakers Rep as the “Best Live Theater Company in the Triangle.”
Set for “Private Lives.” The theatre’s Shopbot CNC tool was used to cut: Ceiling profile, All Platforms, Floor inlay, Ribs for fluted columns and the Wall panels.
Adam Maxfield and Mike Rolleri in the Playmakers Rep scene shop
I sat down recently to tape a video interview with Playmakers’ Michael Rolleri (Production Manager) and Adam Maxfield (Technical Director), both of whom play dual roles: teaching undergrads and grad students, and overseeing the theatres’ professional productions. In the video, they spoke of their roles at Playmakers, what they enjoy about teaching, and how and why they’ve integrated a ShopBot CNC tool into Playmakers’ scene shop and costume shop:
Adam noted that every production brings its unique creative challenges, and the ShopBot enables the production team to respond to the vision of the various set designers who work with directors to bring the shows to life. Here are just a sample of Playmakers sets that have been built with the help of the theatre’s ShopBot 96 X 60 tool:
Set for “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Shopbot was used to cut: step treads, all flooring inlays, ribs for curved walls, the “WPRC” wall clock, scroll work above center doors, ceiling units, “ON AIR” sign, Sky Scraper light boxes in back and round platforms.
Set for “Vanya Sonia Masha and Spike.” Shopbot was used to cut: All rock work, Scroll work molding and cabinet door panels.
Set for “In The Next Room.” Shopbot was used to cut: Door and the Stencil for the back wall
Every Playbill provides a proper bio for the Staff. Here’s a bit more info about my video interviewees:
Michael Rolleri (Production Manager, PlayMakers Repertory Company) has been Technical Director and Lighting Designer for industrial shows in the Southeast region. He has been a lead carpenter for such feature films as The Program and Bedroom Window, for the U.S. Olympic Festival and for Adirondack Scenic Studios. He has also been a rigger for Secoa and Stage Systems and has served on the Executive Board and as President of IATSE Local 417. Mr. Rolleri received an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and is a specialist in machining and rigging.
Adam M. Maxfield (Technical Director, PlayMakers Repertory Company) is a Lecturer in the Technical Production Graduate Program. Prior to joining the faculty at UNC Adam worked as a Senior Project Manager for the Scenic Technologies division in the Las Vegas branch of Production Resource Group, a worldwide supplier of entertainment equipment and labor. He has managed the fabrication and installation of scenery for many nationally televised award shows such as Billboard Music Awards, Vh1’s Rock Honors, MTV’s Video Awards, NHL Awards, and the Video Game Awards (VGAs). He has also been in charge of scenery for many corporate events and automobile introductions for Ford, GM, Toyota, Chrysler, Mercedes Benz, Audi, Forest Managers, Prudential Insurance and IBM to name a few. Adam has a BA in Theatre and Communications from Idaho State University and an MFA in Technical Production from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He specializes in motion control, rigging and metal fabrication.