Been Lurking and reading, but....... I would like to see one in person

Hey all,
I came here almost a year ago and have been reading and researching. I have a bunch of things I really want to make with a CNC router. There are so MANY things to do with them!

Anyway, I have a history of getting into things and being really interested for a while then moving on. That being said, I have worked in the same field for the last 22 years, 5 with the latest employer and 17 with another one. I had a lot of jobs prior to that. Unfortunately, I am not in TECH.

I have worked with machines in the past: I was a skilled machinist (Manual only), welder, brazer, sheet metal worker, and iron worker.  Oh, and military.  Machines don't scare me or intimidate me, but I am having some problems convincing my wife that money spent on a CNC router will not be poorly spent.

I live in Northern Ohio, Lorain County, to be specific.   We have a FAB LAB at our local Community College, which is free for residents to use.   The problem is the equipment they have is not really useful to me.  They have 8 or ten 3D  Printers, but most of them are at. end of life cycle and are inoperable.  They have a couple of lasers, and apparently those are busy almost all the time.  They have at least 1 plot cutter type of thing, similar to a cricut but heavier duty.    There is a 4'x8' CNC router, but they primarily use that for sheet goods and have a prohibition against using small/fine bits in it.    There is a portable cart that has a benchtop or desktop sized SHOPBOT in it, but from what I gather, that is pretty reserved for traveling to sites and giving demonstrations, not for actual "use" in the space.

They DO have about 20 computers that they encourage people to use to do their designs on. They encourage the use of INKSCAPE for 2D designs and TINKERCAD online for 3D design work. So far, the FAB LAB has been less than helpful. I have seen the lasers working, and 1 of the 3D printers still works (as of my last visit there) so I have seen that in operation, but overall, there is no one doing the things I want to do whom I can talk to. I find myself rather disappointed with the progress I am making towards researching CNC routing and trying to SEE it in action before I buy one.

 Which brings me to my REAL QUESTION...  Is there anyone here from Lorain County Ohio, or one of the surrounding counties, that would be willing to let me come see them navigate whatever design program they (you) are using, and even let me watch the machine do it's thing for a while?

I have watched many youtube videos, but I would really like to see one in person to see if this is going to be the hobby that I pursue.  In my mid 50's, so this could potentially be the last "big" hobby choice I make and I would like to be confident in my choice, and be as realistic as I can be with it.

Anyway thanks for any consideration.  Please feel free to ask me questions, or send me a more direct message.


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@Mossberg152 First question are you a wood worker, my main use is crafts made out of wood or epoxy that started as Christmas gifts for the family, ie Lazy Susan’s, Serving trays, Charcuterie boards, Cutting boards, clocks etc. The CNC router will not make you a woodworker but will enhance wood worker skills, just another tool in the box. The CNC does achieve a level of accuracy and precision not attainable by my hand. All over YouTube are running machines carving away, seeing one in person will probably not assist in your decision. The machine you choose is just the beginning, Software, bits, dust extraction, clamping system all come after the purchase.

I use Vetric V Carve pro for most of my designs, then G Sender to put the design into G Code the Machine can understand.

Hope that helps.

Hello Bill!

Thanks for the reply. I am not what I would call a “fine woodworker” but I do work with wood. I have made more beehives than I would care to count… mostly when I was a lot younger and my time was more abundant than my dollars! Interestingly enough, it wasn’t the boxes that were the hard part, but the frames inside, that the attached the honeycomb to that were the complicated parts! I have made hundreds of those, then a few top-bar hives, also with complicated top-bars. No bees in a few years. I have made simple tables, and a “train table” for one of my sons, that had a nice tabletop with a 3 inch “wall” around the edges so his trains wouldn’t fall off. The real artistic work was done by my wife, who painted the table top for the track to sit on.

   I don't have fancy woodworking tools, just the basics: table saw, chop saw, drill press, hand drill, circular saw.     What I DO have, is a background as a manual machinist (many years ago, before CNC became such a powerful force).   I can take a vertical mill or a lathe and turn your blueprint from a block or bar of metal into something you want/need.   Or, at last I USED to be able to do that.   I got out of the shop in 1992 and moved on to other things, including welding/brazing, sheet metal work and iron work (I-Beams for buildings).   
So I guess I am looking at this from a machinist point of view: with the machine, I can turn my work material into whatever I want it to be.   I am not going into this with the intention of creating great works of art, but rather be creative in other ways.    I have a friend who owns a little storefront and he likes a lot of the same music I like.  I could make a bunch of plaques with a line of song lyrics (of course, attributed) on it, in artistic fonts for him to display and potentially sell in his store.  For myself, I would like to make organizers for my toolboxes.. boy are they a mess, but they COULD be straightened out.  
 My wife coordinates with our pastor's wife (and a small group of other ladies) and have a HUGE weekend women's retreat twice a year.  In addition to talks/presentations, they do a bunch of activities and artworking projects.  Some are religious based and others aren't but the organizers of the retreats always pay for the materials themselves, so depending on the art project, it can get complicated and costly when you are looking at doing it for 75+ women.  There are usually 3 or 4 of these activities per retreat, and my wife always things one up.   I would like to be able to assist and make parts or whatever, for her, for all of the women that come to it.  The beauty of repeatability.....   for example, a small "shingle" of wood with a specific Bible verse carved into it, so everyone would have a reminder of one of the lessons from the retreat, or something that they would need to paint or add string and beads to or.....  Again, I am not the artistic one, but I can problem solve and do the labor.   

Could I do more with it? Absolutely. I already have a handful of ideas of things I want to make for myself and potentially present on Etsy. What I WON’T do, is try to reinvent the wheel. I WON’T be making clocks or cutting boards. I WOULD like to make some display mounts for specific things, another example would be for some of the bigger LEGO items. My youngest (16 already) loves the largest Lego pieces and has quite a few, but they get moved or bumped or don’t sit well on whatever space they are sitting on, and I thing. some very specific display mounts would not only protect them, but possibly enhance them by displaying them at creative angles, or allowing some discreet battery powered LED lighting to focus attention on specific details of the model. I have another friend who makes knives as a hobby. I could see making handle pieces (Scales) for him, or display boxes once in a while.

Stuff like that.   I have a small notebook that I am keeping track of my ideas in, and I am going off the reservation in a bunch of ways..  I just don't want to compete in a race to the lowest prices on anything: I don't want to make the same thing someone else makes and undercut some other guy's price in order to sell some of them.   That doesn't sound like fun, or a good way to make friends!

Ultimately, I guess I am trying to convince my wife that this is a good idea, by doing my due diligence and  making the most well informed decision as I can make.  I few thousand dollars is more than she is comfortable with me just going out an spending on a tool without "looking into it" and seeing one in person.   The one Laser Burner company used to send out little sample packets of things they cut and burned with a laser (Epilog Laser), so you could have your hands on a couple little things that were made with a machine you could buy.   Good marketing campaign, and I almost bought one, but felt the need to do MORE than that.   I want to MAKE.   Oh, I want to take an older guitar amplifier (small and cheap) and cut the electronics part off and make a "HEAD", and build a cabinet with a couple of speakers so it would be a separate unit, like the old Marshall Stacks, but smaller and of a volume I could play in my house!

 Hey, thanks for the conversation and asking me a simple question that needed a complicated answer.   

I will have to look into V CARVE. I think there is a free version of it?

 Thanks Bill.   Catch you later.

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Not sure what I did to make all my paragraphs different. that looks strange. sorry if you cannot read it.

@Mossberg152 Welcome to the journey of what this machine can do! For me it is a frustration one day to absolute bliss the next, now limiting the frustration time and more of the bliss time is the goal. In short matter the machine familiarity will become short lived and automatic. Then you can concentrate more on the artsy side and less on maintaining the machine.

Free trial here: VCarve Pro Free Trial | Vectric

I tried to use the free software and there was always something missing. Bought v carve pro and both my wife use it from design to finish. I am familiar with adobe software and Vetric has done a great job on the user interface, great experience.

Thanks Bill.

I have not “gone dark” (I see my last communication was a while ago), I have been reading and absorbing and trying out different free softwares. Going to be honest, I was REALLY close to getting a $700 CNC router, to step into this world slowly and gingerly. Then if I got comfortable enough and productive enough, I could take a step up to the next size/capability, which would get us to the variety of CNC routers that the Longmill directly competes with. WELL, that thought has gone the way of the dodo birds! I placed my order for a Longmill on 5/23/23. Going to download and try the VCARVE PRO free trial after my machine arrives and I get it assembled. Pretty darned excited and thanks for the advice. $700 for software is a bit of a leap for me ( that was as much as I was planning to spend on my first machine, initially!) but looking over the capabilities and reading the reviews… It really sounds worth the price of admission.
Thanks again for the info, and I plan on being a more active part of the forum now that I will actually own a Longmill.



Hey, Mossberg,

Welcome to the CNC clan and its Longmill chapter!

Like you, the idea of shelling out a lot of money for a CAD program was daunting. However, a bit more than a year after having taken the plunge and buying Vectric VCarve Pro, I am convinced that it was a great investment. I’m nowhere close to having done more than scratch the surface of this powerful application, and know that I have so much more to learn before I’ll consider myself even marginally competent. I should also mention that I have friends who were skilled in designing with other CAD programs, and for them the transition was quick and easy.

And welcome as well to this forum.

Marty from Kingston, ON

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Maybe this is a little late get v carve desktop 1/2 the price basically the same just can only do a 2’ max size when ready to move up u only pay the difference for the upgrade