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  #1  
Old 01-12-2011, 11:16 AM
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Default Cnc carving

Im not to sure if this is the spot for this but here goes. Im looking in to getting a cnc router. Im 27 years old and been laid off for a year, My wife and I are thinking that its time to try to start my own business for extra cash. I want to venture in to sign making and custom panels. Does any one do this for a living? Any one know what a good CNC would be? Im looking to spend about $4000. Realisticly Can one make a halfway decent living doing this. For now I would be a internet only business until things were set in place to open a store front. Any help and input would be great!

Last edited by Mitchv10; 01-12-2011 at 11:43 AM.
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  #2  
Old 01-12-2011, 12:09 PM
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Default Re: Cnc carving

I am sure you are most welcome to post this here but I doubt you will get a lot of information here. You may be a lot better off looking in the SawMill Creek CNC Forum. It is also a lot of good people over there.
Look at the new Stingers. They sure have my eye. There seems to be a lot of new CNC's on the market lately. And a lot of those guys seem to have found some pretty good niche markets.
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  #3  
Old 01-12-2011, 12:56 PM
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Default Re: Cnc carving

I would suggest you do some research before you start writing checks, as I think it would be quite some time before you earned the $4000 back. People do indeed make signs for a living, but most make them from a variety of materials (vinyl, magnetic, billboard, poster,etc.) in order to attract a wide range of customers and these established companies may be your competition also. I believe CNC machines are priced based on the size of the material they will handle. so you might check and see what signs and panels in those sizes are being sold for. Materials, equipment, labor, insurance, utilities, taxes, shipping, and other things are all part of what it costs you to make something, and the difference between that cost and what you can get someone to pay is your profit. And finding the customers or rather them finding you among all the others and having them pick you because of that magic combination of artistry and price is really the whole trick. You have to be able to market and sell what you make, not just be really good at making signs. You have to be really good at selling your signs and very efficient at producing them. Most people want to pay mass-produced prices for custom made work. You can find people willing to pay $250 for a hand-carved Santa, but most are just as happy with $30 cast resin Santa from the local gift store. So you have to decide who you are going to market to and produce and price your work accordingly. Check out the forum here on this website regarding selling your work and you might also like at this site Sweating for Bucks Through Woodworking @ LumberJocks.com ~ woodworking community . Good Luck!
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  #4  
Old 01-12-2011, 12:57 PM
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Default Re: Cnc carving

You are welcome to this post,however as a suggestion only,you might venture a
look at finewoodworking,com this web has a great forum regarding wood working and sign making members.
Oscar
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  #5  
Old 01-12-2011, 02:10 PM
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Default Re: Cnc carving

Good info guys. Im by no means ready to just spend the cash and get things rolling at this point. Im just starting to look in to it. My main goal would be to make the personal cedar signs. This adventure would not be our only income either, more or less a "side job" for lack of better words. Its something im kicking around. Thanks all for the info and referrals.
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Old 01-12-2011, 04:30 PM
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Default Re: Cnc carving

I think you should do some research on sign carving. I can do a sign with just chisels or a good knife. Believe it or not, I've done signs with modified putty knives. I'm not saying you should do this, but there are a number of different ways to carve signs. Check with the libraries and see if they have any books on sign carving. Search here and Google up on "sign carving" and you'll find quite a bit on it. Bottom line, there are a lot of ways to do things. And being in business means doing more with less--and a handful--maybe six of 40 dollar chisels/gouges--can probably give you a lot more versatility in sign carving than a CNC router. And the difference between a hand carved sign and a machine carved sign shows. Customers appreciate a good product. A business man appreciates a good product with a low overhead.

Bob L
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Old 01-12-2011, 07:34 PM
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Default Re: Cnc carving

I have a cnc that I am in the midst of rebuilding electrially. A basic cnc wont make you much money, too many out there! Lazers have taken over the wood end of cnc. There is still a lot that a spindle & cutter machine can do that a lazer wont. I would opt for a good used machine like a ShopBot than buy something that you only replace shortly. I have seen a few guys buy a low end machine to get started and never put it into production as they ruined it learning how to use it. My instructor when I was learning Gcode made us put a sharp pencil in place of the cutter bit. When we could draw the assigned shape without breaking the lead he would let us put a tool in the router and actually cut something. A cnc can hurt you quick be sure you really understand what your doing before you venture to far into it.
The next Issue is Software. A lot of packages say they can do everything but they make you buy seperate packages for the most rudimentary routines. If you rely on what comes with it then you are doing what everybody else does. To make money at it you have to be able to do what they can't. The best I have seen for the money for woodworking is Aspire from Vectric.com. Great guys, and you can download a trial copy. Another great bunch of guys and a good forum is CNCzone.com I would spend at least a month doing research before I spent any money
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Old 01-12-2011, 09:06 PM
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Default Re: Cnc carving

I myself have the milescraft signcrafter pro set up. I am still playing with it. I am not good at it yet. But I am getting thee
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  #9  
Old 01-13-2011, 11:01 AM
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Default Re: Cnc carving

Hey Mitch, I did sandblasted wood signs for a number of years. The sandblasting has kinda run it's course but still very viable. You can get into that for the cost of a blaster (paid $125 for mine) and a good compressor....takes a lot of volume.
My sell was the blasted background and hand carved elements, touches that I could not get with the blaster.

Regardless of your methods, you will need a sign blank. I was just starting to experiment with the high density foam. The foam lends itself nicely to machining and hand carving, blaster doesn't do a decent job at all, just leaves it lumpy.
Wood was what I used most, and mostly redwood. Price of redwood and quality available forced me to look at other species....cypress was a quality 2nd choice, both woods being weather resistant.

IF your signs will be outside??? you need to let customers know UP FRONT...the sun will destroy everything. Wood signs, viable life (unattended) is about 10 years. Foam signs?? if any paint turns loose, the sun will degrade the foam and deterioration will start there. Weather behind the paint will cause some very undesirable effects.

Something to think about....getting started, 4k will buy a lot of foam and a decent, quality selection of carving chisels. You can get the same effect with hand tools as CNC, it will just take longer. Your hand carving can go to the garage, to the back yard, beside the fireplace, beside the firepit.....you get the idea. Think about the size of your CNC setup to handle a 4'x8' sign??? . Not trying to discourage your CNC....I have a small setup that I am trying to convert to flat panel work...I just see you getting much quicker payback with hand tools.....my .02
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  #10  
Old 01-13-2011, 12:03 PM
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Default Re: Cnc carving

Wow so much to learn. I have a lot of thinking to do. I may hold off a while and start off by hand. It sure is a plunge to jump in to it. Thanks for all the input an reality check!
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