With a few mouse clicks, a little know-how, and some specialized equipment, the humble computer becomes a formidable workshop assistant capable of cutting wood, fabric, plastics, and even non-ferrous metals. Digital fabrication is poised to become the next big thing for makers of all stripes. Come spend a day exploring the possibilities. We’ll have both a CNC (Computer Numeric Control) router and a laser engraver on hand to put through their paces. We’ll spend some time looking at the computer end of things and learn how to generate the files necessary to make these machines cut. Then we’ll turn to the machines themselves to see how they go about their business. By the end of the day, all participants will have had the chance to design and fabricate a small item using this cutting-edge digital technology.

Course start time:  9am
Course end time:  5pm


  • Competency Level: Intermediate

Course Objectives:

By the end of the day, students will have had a taste of what CNC has to offer. They will have made some simple drawings with the appropriate design software and turned those drawings into toolpaths and cutting files. Then they will take those files and cut them on either the router or the laser and assemble the resulting parts into a finished product.


Tools/Materials to Bring

Safety goggles and hearing protection.

Comfortable, closed-toe shoes.

Tape Measure


Draft Schedule/Outline:

This is a one day workshop designed to give participants a quick intro to CNC equipment and technology.  As such, there will be a fair amount of “Show and Tell” in the morning.  The afternoon then becomes time to put theory into practice with some hands-on activities.


Topics covered:

          Tool Types



                   Other Cutters

          File types

                   Vector vs Raster


          G Code

          Cartesian Coordinates (X, Y, and Z axis)


          Hold Downs


          Safety Considerations

          Clean Up

          Class Evaluations


If you want more of an opportunity to play with this equipment, consider taking either Lighting Fixture Design/Build (July 22-July 27) or the Boxmaking Bonanza (July 29-Aug 3).   While CNC isn't the focus of either of these classes, it will be presented as a means of making both lamps and boxes.

I conduct all my classes in an informal, but structured manner. Please feel free to ask plenty of questions as we go—I tend to do better when there is a dialog going on, rather than me just standing up front yakking away. Expect some really bad jokes, a lot of laughter, and a little time to work. Don’t be hesitant about taking your turn when it comes time to cut something. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to ask for help when there is something you don’t understand or if there is a procedure you’re nervous about.