Challenge Accepted: Integrating technology and artisan craftsmanship.

Deep in our core there is a desire to continually learn and expand our capabilities so our clients receive the highest level of craftsmanship…always with obsessive attention to detail. Our fine woodworking group, NEWwoodworks, has some of the most woodcraft obsessed folks you’ll ever meet and they love a new challenge. Enter CNC technology. As this technology has evolved, the NEWwoodworks team has pushed the capabilities of their 3-axis CNC router to better meet their high expectations.

Stepping up NEWwoodworks already notable capabilities is “Thelma”, a Thermwood CNC MTR-30 5×10 3-axis router. Much of their work is done with reclaimed timbers and board stock so a raised z-axis to accommodates the larger timber stock, additional table reinforcement and stiffer axes to aid in cutting denser material and an upgraded vacuum table to make complex jigging and complicated hold-downs easier and faster are all incorporated into the CNC.

What does this integration mean? Some of the rough cutting work and sculpting work can be hogged out by the CNC, then finessed and finished by the artisan’s hand. It helps afford a level of speed and precision that while possible by hand, is difficult and time-consuming work. It can be the best way to get that fine detail after the rough-in, which really eliminates multiple shapings and sandings.

“The CNC allows us to be more productive, even with highly custom designs like our live edge cabinetry. It excels with, and really helps us on, the simple bulk work like plywood cab parts and solid wood parts and pieces, significantly reducing handling and touches,” shared Rob D’Alessandro, general manager of NEWwoodworks. “Complex joinery, carvings, curves, and even typical furniture parts can be created more quickly leaving our craftsmen free to focus their unique capabilities on details, fit, and finish.”

The stringers for this floating stair were cut using the CNC. Photo by Don Cochran Photography.

“Jigging and form fab geared more towards production facilitation is also a strength of the machine–and our operator. The accuracy and speed with which it can make parts for jigs and fixtures is another area where the machine proves that it is worth its salt. Matt [our CNC operator] has come far and has really surpassed our early learning-curve—making a niche for both the machine and his capabilities in our production environment.”

Form fabrication, in this case Oak door parts, is another strength of CNC integration.

The CNC technology allows repeated cutting of large or small quantities of parts with extreme accuracy. Put another way, the CNC can take the same operation, repeat it exactly the same way ad infinitum, and never get tired. This is especially helpful with creating cabinetry boxes and torsion box parts for doors. “It makes possible the inherently risky-and-difficult-to-reproduce high accuracy cutting, shaping, and carving duties we cannot easily or affordably achieve by hand,” Rob continued.

The CNC also expands possibilities of highly detailed 3-dimensional carvings and etchings, though each piece is still finessed and finished by the hands of our seasoned craftsmen:

To create this “tree door”, the CNC first hulled out and surfaced the majority of the door. Our door team, lead by Jay, worked the rough output by hand/hand-held machine back to what we see as the final product. As Jay told us, “Many hands, many touches, many hours. One of the most customized pieces to date.”

Thelma roughs out one side of the “tree door” set.

Intricate patterns, lettering, and graphics are accomplished first on the CNC, then detailed and completed by hand.

Lettering and lobsters were incorporated for this seafood restaurant in Florida.

Reclaimed hardwoods from Pioneer Millworks were pre-panelized and then carved on Thelma (the NEWwoodworks CNC) for the Florida eatery.

We want to create projects as efficiently and accurately as possible, but we’re also dedicated to custom, handcrafted products. The CNC allows us to do both: it is a balance of using technology to speed up processes while continuing to allow the details and overall artistry to shine through traditional craftsmanship.

Curved, carved, detailed furniture components can also be roughed out using the CNC, giving our craftsmen a head start on overall shape before adding the intricicies, artistry, and finish.

Have a woodworking project in mind, complicated or not, give us a call and let’s talk through the details.

Thelma carving timber end details for timber framing projects. Another capability of team and technology.