CNC Files For Wood. I designed my first clocks on paper, printed out the resultant parts and stuck them to the surface of the wood to be cut by hand using a bandsaw and finalised with a fine linishing belt. It was slow going and not really the most accurate way of doing it.
Life then decided to intervene for a long time, until I discovered CAD (Computer Aided Design) and its companion CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing). These two come under the umbrella of CNC (Computer Numerical Control) and a whole new era of manufacturing. The use of these two types of computer programmes in my professional life eventually led me to look at wooden clock design in a new light. It would make the process of clock design and prototyping easier and far more accurate. By creating CNC files for wood machining, the process allowed me to create and build prototypes of more complex designs and do it more quickly.
Making the parts of a wooden clock is all done in 2D because nearly all the parts involved are flat 2-dimensional parts that are cut out around a single plane, making programming the cutter path used by the CAM programme a little easier because it has nothing to do with the third dimension. The files needed for this are DXF files, and most CAD programs, both free and paid, can output their data in this format.
The next step is to load the file into the CAM program for its translation into cutter paths that your CNC Router will understand. The output from the CNC program will be ‘gcode’ This is the code that your CNC Router will understand. This is not entirely an automatic process as the program will need guidance on the many aspects of the job not included in the file itself. Things like Material thickness, inches or mm, direction of cut and many more factors it will need to plot the cutter path.
I have listed below some links to the internet sites that can supply the programs you will need for this process; some are Free and others are Paid for.