Bathroom Cabinets

Some recycled and gifted walnut is reluctantly cooperating with me as I attempt to conjure up some chunky medicine cabinets. Some of it was in the cutoff bin at a local workshop. The wild grain and knots may have been better suited for an art piece than straight lines and right angles. The rest was a gift from my father in law. Most of that is light brown/red heart wood.

We have been remodeling our bathroom for the last month. We’ve set a deadline for ourselves and its gonna be tight.

The cabinets are simple boxes. I’m reusing the ex-bathroom cabinet’s mirrored doors. I decided to install an outlet inside both of them so we can hide our beauty machines. I chose to go with adjustable shelf pegs spaced 1″ apart. When I realized how much easier laying them out and drilling them with the ShopBot would be, my mind was set.

I quickly laid out my peg holes and outlet box openings and within 20 minutes I had 4 perfectly symmetrical cabinets sides. No single use jigs. No single-tasking drill bit. No human error or slip of the drill. Next year when I need four or 40 more, I’m 10 minutes away from production.


An intro to 5-axis CNC machining – part 1

I had the opportunity to tag along on a road trip with some members of the ShopBot team. They were headed to a shop in Wisconsin to help a customer with two ShopBot machines, a monster 16×5 3-axis machine and a brand new 5-axis machine. I have to admit I was there for the 5-axis. I had not seen their machine in action and I was excited to see it run.

shopbot buddy

3-axis: A machine that can move a tool (commonly a spinning cutter bit) along a horizontal plane (X-axis and Y-axis) such as a piece of plywood, as well as move vertically (Z-axis) to adjust the depth of cut and carve things such as a topographical map. The adage goes that a 3-axis machine can cut valleys and carve “mountains” but is not capable of creating “caves”. You could cut parts for plywood furniture or create 3D carved signs.

5-axis: A five axis machine starts with the same 3-axis movement as above. It adds two rotational axis by adding a “shoulder” and “wrist” or by allowing the actual workpiece to move in 2 axis. A 5-axis machine can carve a complete 3-dimensional object from a block of material. You could use a 5-axis machine to carve a bust of Beethoven for your piano.

One of the most important aspects to any cnc machining work is figuring out how to hold your material in place while the machine makes it’s cuts. Material holding even more critical with 5 axis machining especially when you consider you may be cutting away the bottom of your block of material. Material stiffness is also a concern since any flex in your material will degrade your cut quality. You can find out about Sliger Machineworks and learn all about this type of machining.¬†In addition, one of the most essential things you can do to preserve your expensive equipment is to lubricate it properly. You will be rewarded with longer living and better performing equipment if you choose the right lubricant like Altemp¬†and apply it properly. If you need an additional cnc machining equipment, purchasing¬†used cnc machinery equipment is worth considering.

Many people employ jigs, screws, or adhesive to secure their material.

There are 2 flavors of 5-axis machining. “3+2” and full 5-axis.

During “3+2” machining, 2 of the axis are locked while the other 3 move to do the machining.

During 5-axis machining, all 5 axis are in motion while the cutting bit is in contact with the material.

This video shows an object being carved using both methods.

Woodcut and linocut stamps


The list of potential uses for cnc machinery in the home and small business shop is limited only by creativity. Furniture and carved signs are obvious choices. How about custom stamps? Why not?

My friend Ben has designed a few business cards for me. We got the idea that it might be fun to make stamps out of them instead of having them printed. So with the vector art and a cheap 45 degree v-bit we employed a Shopbot buddy to do the carving.


We were happy with the results in both linoleum and wood. The 7pt font may have been a stretch and a better engraving bit will help with the detail as well. All in all a successful proof of concept.


Wicked Awesome Movies from Tom Sachs

Always be knolling!

Tom Sachs has worked with Frank Gehry in his LA furniture shop. In 1990 he found studio space in the evaporating machinery district in downtown New York and named it Allied Cultural Prosthetics.

Among many other things, he has a knack for creating entertaining and dry videos that he uses as instruction for his shop employees and interns.

I highly recommend Love Letter to Plywood and Ten Bullets. Enjoy.

You can find his videos at his website, Tom Sachs: Movies.
or high res versions on Vimeo

Love Letter to Plywood. By Tom Sachs from Tom Sachs on Vimeo.