Community Project - Requesting Help

I have been trying to figure out a way to bridge the gap between us (CNC users) and woodworkers who think that a CNC project isn’t “real” woodworking. You know, the guys that think it’s all plug and play with no effort. I’ve been chatting with Zach and trying to attract their attention using things like Inventables gift cards, but I think we have hit on a much better idea.

We are thinking about having a non-CNC user project that isn’t so much a contest as it is a way to get them to realize that something like Easel still takes some time to learn and work with. The thing is, they have no real reason to load Easel and play around with designs because they don’t have a CNC.

One thing they generally have in common is table saws, and every table saw should have a push stick. We were thinking that if the woodworkers went to the effort of creating a push stick design in Easel, we could find a way to make and send them back. That way, every time they use the table saw they’ll hopefully realize that just designing something simple can be difficult.

I don’t know how much time Zach and his guys have to make something like that, but I was thinking that this could be more of a community project. I can’t afford to make and send a dozen push sticks around the country/world, but I could do a couple.

Is there anyone else that would be willing to make a push stick, send me some pictures (video would be even better) of the cutting and final project, and ship them off?

I don’t anticipate a lot of participation, maybe a dozen people if I’m lucky, but it might help with some of the friction between the groups. Plus, it may give some of you a chance to make a push stick for a woodworker whose videos you love to watch. It would only apply to woodworkers who don’t have and haven’t previously had a CNC though, although I would gladly promote everyone’s push sticks in a video.

If there’s enough interest in this, I’ll put together a quickie video challenge and call out the dinosaurs… :japanese_ogre:


I’m in! Love the idea.

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Sounds like an interesting project. I feel the common perception is coming around though, saying a CNC isn’t “real” wood working is just the same as saying using power tools isn’t “real” wood working. I feel what lost is it’s not the tools that you use but what you make, that’s wood working. A CNC is just another tool that can help aid your project.

That all being said, anything that can be done to educate people on new technologies and methods is a definite plus! I’ll keep an eye on this thread, I’m currently pretty backed up with orders, but I would like to help if I start to slow up!


Somewhere, a man with a coping saw is looking down at all the scroll saw users in disgust.

A man in a cave with a flint knife is laughing at them all.


push stick .svg

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I’m a bit confused on the goal of your project.

You want try and convince people that a CNC is difficult to use, and that will… what? Convince them to buy one? If they already believe that a CNC is super easy to use, then the only thing stopping them from using it is pride. I doubt that when they learn that some software difficult to use, that experience will give them pride when they receive a completed item in the mail.

Their pride probably doesn’t come from the design of the object, it comes from the physical labor in its creation. I doubt futzing with some software is going to make them appreciate the work you do in setting up the machine and doing the finishing touches on a push stick they designed.

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My overall goal is to convince them that it takes more than 2 minutes of drag and drop to make something to be proud of. I have no hopes of them becoming CNC users, but the level of vitriol I see and receive from some of them is beyond ridiculous. They may not proudly use or display their design, but I feel this is a good first step toward calming them down and starting to close a growing rift in the woodworking community.

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CNC isn’t “real” woodworking?
Ask them when’s the last time they gnawed down a tree with their teeth?
Good work is good work, no matter what tools you use, period. They’re all just tools to make it easier to get from point a to point b, right?


I dunno, my feeling is this primarily serves to prove something I don’t believe most of us need to prove. My pride isn’t hurt by anyone feeling that a CNC isn’t “real wood working”, so I don’t feel the need to convince people otherwise… Not any more than I would feel weird if Paul Sellers said power tool users as “not real wood workers”.

IMO, the reality is, it is an additional step away from hands-on-wood-working, more into the realm of design and engineering. I don’t have a problem with that. There is a whole secondary process of finishing the work after it’s cut/carved, but I think if we’re all being honest a lot of the up front work with CNC stuff is done in the planning/design phase, and much of the work in achieving accuracy/precision etc. is taken on by the machine - which I’m okay with!

Frequently woodworkers struggle with precision, accuracy, repeatability, and have to engineer complex jigs anyways to meet those needs. Maybe it’s not a CNC machine, but they aren’t all that far off, whether it’s a box joint jig, a pantorouter/pantograph, hole drilling jigs, angle cutting jigs, and so on.

Consider Matthias Wandel when he wanted to take a crack at a complex design such as a violin scroll. Look a the many, many steps required to do just half of one, not least of all requiring the use of a highly specialized jig (pantograph).

And this process continued for each variation of a joint, slot, etc - all requiring custom built, highly complicated jigs to achieve reasonable results with. They are engineering feats to be certain. Are they “real wood working”? If we built a CNC machine that operated off of hand cranks would it be “real wood working”?

People want validation for the work they put into things. For many wood workers, that’s what gives value to a piece - the uniqueness and human labor that went into achieving “perfection”. A lot of that is removed in a CNC machine - it’s repeatable, mass produce-able, and a robot does a significant portion of the work. But as we all know, both high and low quality results are really still about the materials you use and the care, planning, and design that goes into it.

You can buy really shitty stuff from china. Or you can get an sophisticated marvel of human achievement in an iPhone that was made in China. Clearly there is more to making something “good” than just elbow grease, and more to something being “shit” than one specific factor.

The wood workers will come around. There are still many things that are quicker to do on a band saw that I choose to do on a CNC, because I enjoy the process, precision, and flexibility to design even when I’m away from my shop. There will always be things that are more suitable to a CNC machine than by hand, such as intricate inlays or carvings.

Each technique and process tickles the mind of a different personality. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no reason to homogenize the entire community. Likewise it’s wrong to put people down for approaching problems with a different kind of solution. You don’t have to make your own dowels. It’s okay to buy them. You don’t have to mill your own lumber. All wood working is personal and nobody can take that away. If they look down on you or insult you they are just being assholes with a superiority complex.

I like the idea of expanding the world of CNC hobbiests, but I don’t care to prove the value of my work to anyone who looks down their nose at me.


@DylanSquires You’ve got some great points and you phrased them very well. If you don’t mind, I’d like to use some of them in the video if I make it.

It’s not necessarily about proving anybody right or wrong, it’s about showing that the CNC is just another tool requiring a different skill set instead of being a replacement for people. I think that’s the biggest fear, that their “handmade” work can be easily replaced with something fancier that a keyboard jockey drew up by dragging and dropping squares and circles on a virtual chalkboard. That’s why I’ve always tried to include woodworking tools in my CNC project videos.

To be honest, I never really thought there would be a way to help with the arguing until I read a forum thread on here a few weeks ago by @DarrylKegg, The machine does all the work. By letting his friend try and fail numerous times on his machine, his friend was able to convince himself that the CNC wasn’t a simple replacement for woodworking. Obviously we can’t invite all the “haters” into our workshops, but getting them to take the first step while we take the second step would be a great start.

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Just thought of another point, I’m a draftsman (draftsperson?) and have been for about 10 years. I’ve never “manually drafted” professionally ie pencil and paper, does that make me not a real draftsman?

Being able to draw something out with a pen/pencil is a good skill to have, especially when trying to explain something or hash out some details, but not required to be a draftsman.

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I have seen many many people change their views on the CNC as a new woodworking tool that many would love to own kind of like a sawstop… a push stick is one of the things that does makes it look like a click and point toy. I can knock one out in a few minutes and do a ton of them on assembly line production… I devised an L section with hold down clamps I slide a piece in lower the bit cut replace the blank and repeat. The CNC excels more in the extraordinary area of inlays, 3d and complex designs that can not be easily made with even the most skilled carver. The other concept of a CNC is you design a push stick in your shop post a file and all people around the world can make that or slightly modify that push stick and cut it out with a few clicks… making their thoughts more divided. I am all in doing a community project per say just do not see what is going to be taught from this.

I’m a very visual learner and most people are.

I would love to see more on how to use Easel Properly. I get by in it but I’m far from great. Would also be great to see how some people utilize inkscape and then import it into Easel for completion. I signed up for a Inkscape class on Udemy because I feel that will help me with Easel design. Playing around with Easel helps but when you see a knowledgeable person demonstrate the more complex items.

I would also love to see videos on how some engineers/woodworkers are measuring and carve their various projects and what goes on in their heads when they are doing it. Just like how people make a table using various tools I want to see more project videos of people assuming their CNC is another tool in their shop. I see some great projects here what I would love to see is some of them from conception to final product going through design in Easel and why they made certain decisions. Was it to save time? Cutting a bowl out or meat from a sign I imagine making a template on my CNC then using my plunge router to eat out the meet is faster than cutting a bowl on the CNC but someone might swap bits and use a larger one to bowl out material. I see some signs and cringe at what the meat removal would be but using scrap to make a template to router the meat seems like a logical solution for speed.