Project #1 ShopBot CNC Router: Real Kitchen Chair at TechShop Pittsburgh (Part #1)


A few weeks ago I came across this website with some great woodworking projects on it. So I decided that it would be really cool to make a chair.  However, I wouldn’t settle for just any old chair, this chair needed to be done (at least in part) on the ShopBot CNC router.  I’m not a fan of the blocky plywood CNC chairs that have plans freely available around the Internet, so I decided to try the classic design on the Shopbot.
The first step was printing out the plans from and then drawing them in real size in Adobe Illustrator, on an artboard that was the size of my real board.  This wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be and I don’t think I’ll use Illustrator again for future projects, I’ll probably use Fusion 360 by AutoCAD.
Once the Illustrator file was set, I put the .ai file into a toolpath setting app called Vcarve, which lets you set how each line will be cut by the router bits.


You can see some erroneous lines in the middle that needed to be cleaned up in this image.
I did two toolpaths, one “pocket cut” for the mortise cuts of the legs and an outline cut to actually shape the legs.


I printed out the Illustrator file in real size, so that I could plan out where I could properly and safely place my work holding boards and plastic brad nails.

ShopBot Control Software

Once my work was secured to the table, I needed to setup the machine to make the cuts.  This is done by placing the router bit precisely over two axes (X and Y) and making that position the “Zero” point.  The ShopBot software crashes A LOT, one little trick that was taught to me was to make the router go to “Machine Home” first.  The machine’s home should be consistently the same exact spot no matter what, even between sessions and crashes.  When you move the bit over to your board’s position you then note the X and Y coordinates, so that you can just type them WHEN, not IF, the software crashes.

Then, I used the Z-zero plate to set the bit for the correct thickness of my piece. And then sent the job to the router.

I cut out the mortise pockets in the first pass, then the outlines in the second.

Mortise Pockets 1

Mortise Pockets 2

Now here are some of the leg outlines being cut:

ShopBot CNC router kitchen chair legs
ShopBot CNC router kitchen chair legs

Completed Front and Back legs for the CNC Kitchen Chair

Finished Front Kitchen Chair Leg, still connected with tabs

ShopBot CNC router kitchen chair legs
ShopBot CNC router kitchen chair legs


The Finished Pieces!!

Four CNC Kitchen Chair Legs Removed from Board


Stay Tuned for the rest of the chair, coming soon!!

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