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  1. #1
    Around 6 months ago, i started my own business selling my handmade items, i am fortunate that my other half works on a very large CNC (he makes firedoors) and has been making my letters at work for me.

    Unfortuantely it is a bit too risky when he should really be working, and eventually we would like to get one for our outdoor workshop. I have however, no idea what to look for, and was hoping if i tell you what it would be used for, others could help suggest something suitable? and the type of programme needed

    MDF wooden letters roughly 6" high 1cm deep.
    MDF wooden shapes - eg hearts, stars, plaques ect

    would also like to do thicker freestanding letters, cubes and other thicker shapes.
    possibly engraving into stone, this is just an idea however i am not sure the same machine can be used?

    I hope this is enough info, the only thing i havnt included is a budget, becauaw dont really know how much we are talking, obviously the cheaper the better, but does the job i need it too.

    Thanks a million guys

  2. #2
    What size sheet material do you want to start with.? Larger the size the more the machine will cost.

    Forget cutting stone with the same machine it's a completely different machine and cutting spindle which requires lots of water which doesn't go well with MDF.!!

    The budget makes a massive difference and if your looking to buy a decent size machine say 1250 x 1250mm which is half sheet of MDF then expect 4-5K for a decent machine with software.

    If you or the other half have the skills and tools to build then you can cut this down to 1500 -2K ish.?

    It's not difficult if you have the time and desire along with some help from here with design and component advice then you'll make a very good machine easily capable of what you want for a fraction of the price.!

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  4. #3
    Hi..thankyou for your reply...Im not needing to make 100s of letters a day probably 10th0 a week perhaps..I ideally wanted to start both something small and upgrade at a later date..its only a small business run by myself alone. unfortunately I wouldntt have a clue where to start making one, did think about it, but spending all that money on building something have no clue about is too worrying.

  5. Quote Originally Posted by kemo_2002 View Post
    ...probably 10th0 a week perhaps..
    Was that 10 a week or 100 a week?

    If the letters are 6"/150mm high on 11mm MDF and you are talking abut low run rates then if you started with a small blank precut say 170mm x 170mm you'd get 98 letters out of a sheet of MDF with <5% wastage. You could get B&Q or whoever to precut these blanks for a small sum about 10. In that case you could get away with a much smaller/lighter/cheaper machine around 500 - 600 new or even less if you picked up an ebay used bargain. You could even build a suitable machine for that sort of work from MDF for 300 or so, to an existing established design, which for someone with your evident hand-working skillls should be relatively straightforward.

    While obviously cutting from a full or half sheet of MDF is preferable from a speed/materials cost/job run perspective (especially if you were doing a 100 a day!) its something you could then aspire to as the business develops, by which time you'd have the knowledge/skill to make the more complex decisions about specifications and whether to buy/build.

    Heres an example of what you could buy (not suggesting you get this one, before Jazz leaps in lol) http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Sable-2015...item3a791045f0

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  7. #5
    100 week :-) hthankyou, I was just trying to get ideas really, the one thing I don't want to do is get a too basic one only to find I want expand quicker..

  8. Quote Originally Posted by kemo_2002 View Post
    100 week :-) hthankyou, I was just trying to get ideas really, the one thing I don't want to do is get a too basic one only to find I want expand quicker..
    My take on that would be that if the business takes off it'll quickly justify the bigger machine in its own right. That doesn't mean the smaller machine is redundant, far from it; anyone here that runs a machine shop (Jazz, JohnS, etc) knows that having more than one machine allows for multiple jobs at once...or backup in an emergency.

    At a 100/week, thats 20 a day... I dont know the complexity but I'm guessing 15min or so per job, thats 5 hours run time a day. That's not insubstantial and you need to consider that in the size/performance of the machine. If you weren't CNCing them what's your plan B?

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  10. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by irving2008 View Post
    My take on that would be that if the business takes off it'll quickly justify the bigger machine in its own right. That doesn't mean the smaller machine is redundant, far from it; anyone here that runs a machine shop (Jazz, JohnS, etc) knows that having more than one machine allows for multiple jobs at once...or backup in an emergency.

    At a 100/week, thats 20 a day... I dont know the complexity but I'm guessing 15min or so per job, thats 5 hours run time a day. That's not insubstantial and you need to consider that in the size/performance of the machine. If you weren't CNCing them what's your plan B?
    100 a week may be slightly ambitious! i think a more realistic figure would be 5-10 a day. my plan B is to buy in the letter, which i really dont want to do, so its plan A or plan A really, its something i have wanted from the beginiging but have been fortunate to get up and running and accumalatea nice profit by getting them 'for free' only i am restricted to how many as he is meant to be working!

    at the moment i am using the letters for keepsake boxes, so every box is one letter, i am currently doing 10-20 boxes a week, but with a cnc i would do more letters as i could expand with the things i could do, eg decroative letters, wooden bunting, ect ect....i hope this makes sense :)

  11. Perfect sense... and a good application of CNC. Sounds like you have a good fledgling (or maybe even more so) business there and doing OK seemingly even with the recession. Clearly with more capability and therefore more product options at a lower works cost (time = money), a CNC machine of some description would make good sense and a smallish one to start would seem to fit the bill. I know others will always say buy the biggest you can because you don't want to limit yourself, and I tend to agree, but one has to cut one's cloth so to speak. My advice would be to look at how many letters you would buy in and what the delta between what it would cost you to make them (not forgetting your time is a cost) over the cost of buying in... what would the ROI on a 1500 investment be assuming that the equiment has a 4y life span and a resale asset value.

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  13. #9
    wow -im not really sure about that, each letters costs roughly 1 to buy, its hard as im not sure what else and how much i will be selling when i expand, i had thought about selling blanks too, as i know that i have purchased them in the past so other people may also, i know a lot already do on here, but at the moment in only sell on ebay andthere are less sellers on there.

    My main problem is I dont know what im looking for, i know what i want it to do, but not exactly the machine i need, and also the programme, my other half uses a program called 'xilog' but says its quite comfusing (and in italian!) and he thinks i would benefit in something easier to use, but something i can change fonts and size ect...

  14. ok, simple trial ROI test... I know nothing about your business or your profit margins etc so this is just some crude back of envelope working... but it serves to show that the CNC is a viable profit generator IMHO...

    Each letter costs 1, and 100/week so outlay = 100/week

    MDF board from B&Q (and its a lot cheaper from ebay bought in bulk) 9mm = 13.78, 12mm = 16.48 and you get at least 98 letters a board (more if you used full sheets) Cutting is 10/sheet (50p/cut)

    Therefore the letters for the week cost, worst case 26.48 + collection from supplier, say 35/week

    Leaving out electricity costs for running router, there's only your time for collection and set up. Lets say initially you don't cost your time, then the savings to be made are crudely 65/week so a 1000 router will pay for itself in 16 weeks and still have a value of 700 at the end of year 1 (3yr straight depreciation).

    Now lets allow for your time, say and hour to collect and 2min per letter to set up = 4.5hours @ 20/hour = 90/week.
    If the router cost 1000 to buy, paid off over a year @12% interest (on a CC) then its costing about 100/month, or 25/week.
    Therefore the CNC route is now costing 150/week... or 50 more than buying in the letters. Seemingly a negative ROI, but you then have to factor in the opportunity value of what else you could be doing with it.

    If you can use it to generate other sources of income, selling blanks or other goods made with it then you only have to clear another 50/week for it to start paying for itself.

    To me that sounds perfectly doable...

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