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shopbot-cnc-1 ShopBot Desktop: My First CNC Machine!

ShopBot Desktop: My First CNC Machine!

Just about everybody I know who is in the manufacturing industry remembers their very first machine that opened their eyes to the possibilities that it offered to them. For me, it was ShopBot Tools’ ShopBot Desktop, the best “small” CNC router in the marketplace!

As I was on my way, for the first time to pickup my awesome ShopBot Desktop, I decided to take a short video of my experience driving there (12 hours from here!) and a bit about the training weekend I was also given.

I was then lucky enough to be trained how to properly use and design for the ShopBot Desktop by Bill Young and Angus Hines whose lessons have proven invaluable to me even when it comes to using CNC lasers and beyond!

This was the first model I ever cut designed for the ShopBot Desktop, thanks to Ted Hall and the ShopBot crew for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime!

shopbot-cnc-1 ShopBot Desktop: My First CNC Machine!

My goal was quite simple after returning with my awesome new toy from ShopBot Tools, design and test as many models as I could while I had time!

You see, back then, I had just arrived from teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) in Asia for the past 5 years while running one of the biggest design sites on the internet (you’ll see the branding in all these videos).

shopbot-cnc-1 ShopBot Desktop: My First CNC Machine!

The rush was on as I was awaiting a working VISA for Australia to go to and learn about CNC lasers while working there, it could be a week later or, as it ended-up being, almost a year of processing! Hence the beard getting longer and longer as these videos proceeded!

I had promised my wife I wouldn’t shave until we met again in Australia after I left China, I was true to my word, I thought it would be a month, not almost a year!

It was a wonderful time, I’d spend all my time designing and animating for my website and when I had a bunch of projects ready to go, spend all day in the garage making the model kits and showing people what I had accomplished with such a “small” CNC machine.

shopbot-cnc-1 ShopBot Desktop: My First CNC Machine!

It was a wonderful time, my eyes were wide open to the possibilities that a CNC router and my design capabilities could bring to the market and for the first time, I learned how in the real world, my models would function as up to that point, I was a totally virtual business where all the modeling to assembly and resultant books were all done without the need for physical testing.

What surprised me was how accurate my designs actually were!

There were extremely minor design errors on only a few models but overall, everything I had cut with my ShopBot Desktop worked perfectly! The link between virtual to physical was thus firmly established in my mind and I applied those lessons to hundreds of projects since then!

shopbot-cnc-1 ShopBot Desktop: My First CNC Machine!

Ironically, all these YEARS of virtual model production totally prepared me for the design challenges that come about when making a kit for a CNC router and once I “moved” to the land down under at, the laser was EASY by comparison!

My focus back then was just getting as many design lessons as I could, sanding my models after production was the least of my worries or concerns, as you can tell!

It’s amazing how much I learned in a very short period of time thanks to my ShopBot Desktop and “waiting around” for a VISA to work in Australia!

If you want to learn how to do something well, it requires a lot of practice, and I was given the opportunity of basically a year of intensive design and fabrication experience that has paid huge dividends here at since.

When I tell people I can design and fabricate just about anything, this is where I cut my teeth and gained the knowledge and experience necessary to pull it all off.

The above model is what I’d so in the garage, the below is the 3D animation I’d do while not in the garage learning CNC design and fabrication techniques.

Once I moved to Australia, I learned about Trotec Lasers and lasers in general, again, I had been designing for CNC lasers and routers for YEARS without actually ever touching or seeing one in real life!

Not only that, I had published books about my designs for years and talking to other CNC shops by extension during this time as well!

shopbot-cnc-1 ShopBot Desktop: My First CNC Machine!

After staying in Adelaide for a few months, I then moved to Perth, about the furthest spot on Earth from where I cut my design skills with my ShopBot Desktop. Of course, the ShopBot came with me as I had ShopBot convert it from 120 to 240 for me.

After months at sea, I powered-up the ShopBot Desktop and it came right on like nothing ever happened!

So, you guessed it, during the day, I’d be surrounded by Trotec Lasers, helping out at demos and learned everything I could and after work, ShopBottting away on my ShopBot Desktop!

After doing a bunch of little models, I progressed in confidence and began doing BIGGER things, things I wished I had when I was a kid and plan to build now that I’m an adult.

I’m tired of all the same boring stuff you find in stores, even back then, I’d prefer to be in my shop designing and fabricating then going into a store to look at yet another boring piece of furniture that has had any creative spirit taken out of it.

shopbot-cnc-1 ShopBot Desktop: My First CNC Machine!

While I was in Perth, Australia, I decided I wanted to have my own Big Wheels like I did when I was a kid, so I used my ShopBot Desktop to build one after I had designed the files for it!

Of course, being at the perfect place at the best time, I began to see CNC lasers and CNC routers, and by extension, CNC plasmas and other equipment, as essentially all being the same. So, I began having fun with mixing the capabilities of one with the other.

It’s incredible looking back at how much luck and chance, along with hard work, all played out to allow me to have now.

I didn’t go to design schools, I just wrote the books many schools use now to teach CNC design. I’m a graduate of a Biology and Geography University degree!

I never went to fabrication school, to learn materials like metal, lamacoids, woods and the sort, everything I know is self-taught through trial and error.

I also take the opportunity to share some of this knowledge with videos showing people and customers examples of what’s possible and what isn’t.

shopbot-cnc-1 ShopBot Desktop: My First CNC Machine!

My ShopBot Desktop has followed me around the world, it’s a fantastic CNC router and I look forward to purchasing a full sheet CNC router from ShopBot to make even bigger and more expansive projects for my customers around the world.

I hope this helps you gain a bit more understand of how came into being, our origins are relatively straight forward yet at the same time, endlessly spontaneous.

A lot of wonderful people and companies have played their role towards our continued and growing success and I could never thank them enough for what I’ve achieved thus far.