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Old 01-12-2018, 01:47 AM
Mike Fuson Mike Fuson is offline
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Default Options for cabinet making

Question for those of you who build cabinets. Iíve been going back and forth on options, mainly whether to get the ATC. I realize it can be done with a stinger 3 with the X3 option but Iíve got probably 20 routers laying around with dedicated bits in them and they are all loud. From my understanding the spindles are much quieter. Plus from the research Iíve done I can see me needing four bits. I was really considering the less expensive option and going with the stinger but thereís nothing like two years down the road being dissatisfied. So Iíve pretty much decided to get a panther with the ATC even though it will probably mean waiting until summer or longer. Now the questions.

Am I thinking right with the ATC vs. the X3 option?

The 5x8 is only about 1k more than the 4x8 if Iím understanding it correct, but is the 5x8 necessarily a good thing? I can see it being a good option for 5x5 sheets but does that extra foot of width make it more cumbersome in taking parts off when youíre doing regular 4x8 sheets? Any other pros and cons that Iíve not thought about?

On a vacuum system, what table and how many cfm is needed to adequately hold plywood secure?

The panther has a rotary carousel ATC, how does it operate? Iím asking because all others Iíve seen have the bits lined up at the head of the machine like the cobra. I canít find any info or videos on that much.

Lastly, at this point I hate to call CAMaster and lolli-gag around with a bunch of questions, I know that will come later but for right now Iím just trying to come up with a dollar amount that I need to save. I want to finance about 20k so trying to get an approximate figure on saving. I know round about what the other options would run except for the ATC. Anyone have a ball park price on what that would be for the panther? I do know on a ShopBot itís about 15k, is it comparable to that?

One more thing I just thought about, the pop up pins look like they would be really handy? Any thoughts on that, Iím not even really sure they are available on the panther.

Thanks in advance, no better source of info than cabinet builders who have been there and done that.
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Old 01-12-2018, 08:59 AM
Ger21 Ger21 is offline
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Noise is the last thing you should be thinking about.
Cutting noise, vacuum pumps, and dust collection will drown out any spindle noise, even if the spindle is a router.
A CNC Router in a production environment is loud. No way around it.

I don't have any experience with a Camaster, but have over 20 years running "big iron" machines in high volume custom cabinet shops.

Pop up pins are indispensable, imo.

As for 4ft vs 5 ft.

If you locate your 4ft sheets towards the side you are standing at, then it's no more difficult to unload than a 5ft machine.
And if you go with a 4ft machine, you'll wish you'd hav gone with the 5ft the first time you really need 5ft.

Regarding vacuum. You can never have too much vacuum. Especially with plywood, which is typically one of the most diffuclt materials to use with vacuum, as it doesn't stay flat, and with vacuum, the flatter the sheet, the better.
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Old 01-12-2018, 04:28 PM
Mike Fuson Mike Fuson is offline
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Thanks Gerry, good points.
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Old 01-12-2018, 06:16 PM
Scott12 Scott12 is offline
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ATC if you can afford it. I wouldn't be as happy with an X3.
I am thinking it had been about a 10k upgrade several years ago.

5 foot was worth it to me. It gives me more options even though I don't need it that often.

I have a 20hp regen and it works fine but not sure that I would want to have less.

I don't have pop up pins but it's on my list to add. It would be nice to have.
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  #5  
Old 01-12-2018, 06:19 PM
carasel carasel is offline
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I debated the 5ft verses 4ft. Went with the 5ft. I'm glad I did.
Some sheet goods are only stocked 5' wide. Material yield is better sometimes with wider sheets.
For on going projects. I have left hold down jigs (for solid wood small parts) screwed to the table. In that extra foot. While still being able to cut 4x sheets.
Go with the carousel or straight row atc. 5ft machine has a 10 tool changer.
You will want more tool holders, once you get going.
Get as much vac as you can afford. Learn about onion skinning. A router is just another adventure in life.
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Old 01-12-2018, 07:13 PM
rcrawford rcrawford is offline
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If you are primarily making cabinets, I'd get the ATC and I'd go for the 5' width.

I'm sitting here frustrated right now with my 408 because I need to cut a bunch of drawer parts from 5x5 baltic birch ply and I have to cut the sheets down on my panelsaw to fit them on my cnc. Would be so much quicker and easier to fit 5x5 sheets on the cobra. I'm almost just tempted to cut the parts to size and dado them on my panelsaw and tablesaw. . . Wish I could get decent 4x8 plywood.
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  #7  
Old 01-12-2018, 07:43 PM
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Mick Martin Mick Martin is offline
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I agree with Russell ...... I went with the 508 Cobra ATC
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Old 01-13-2018, 09:58 AM
srhardwoods srhardwoods is offline
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5' machine! you'll find you can do baltic birch drawer boxes. 5x8 sheets better yield and a little cheaper per square foot than 4x8. Pay to have the tools put on the side that way you can load full sheets from the end. I had them add 5 extra tools as well. I've filled them and wish I had 5 more. Once you have your tooling for sheet goods, then MDF door sets then dovetailed drawer box set, tooling it is full.
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  #9  
Old 01-13-2018, 10:31 AM
kenrbass kenrbass is offline
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For atc it depends on if you want to build a few cabinet jobs a year or make a living at it. I use 3 bits per sheet and atc is nice. Let it do it's thing while I do other things in the shop.

I have a machine that fits 5 ft material and I changed my vac table to 4x8 because that is what I use. I used to deal with baltic 5x5, but I switched to prefinished material. Having to spray and sand drawers just wasn't worth it for me.

I also load on one end and offload on the other so I would not want end tool holders. Rotary or side holders should be fine.

Ken
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  #10  
Old 01-13-2018, 10:43 AM
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Gary Campbell Gary Campbell is offline
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Mike...
I started out with a non-ATC machine and then moved into one. The difference is much greater than you will imagine unless you own one. No one that has actually owned and operated both an ATC and non-ATC will recommend anything but the ATC.

The X-3 expands capability beyond a single tool, but the loads that can be put on the routers, the rpm range and limited collet sizes do not provide a production increase anywhere near that of an ATC.

You asked for recommendations, here are mine if you are seriously going to cut cabinets for a living: (minimums)

5 ft wide table, 8 or 10 ft long
15 hp regen, 20 for 10 ft table
pins are a must
Servos (or high end closed loop steppers for <3 man shop)
5hp ATC (more if >5 man shop)
Dust collector hp => spindle HP
ROOM! for load and off load tables

Don't forget software. If given the choice, I will choose $20k in software and $10k machine over $20k machine and sub $5k software every time! The machine produces the parts, the software produces the money!
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