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Craftsman introduced the CompuCarve last year to great fanfare, but we have yet to try one out — or hear much from reliable sources who have.  We’re hoping some of you Toolmongers may have first-hand experience with one.

If you own (or have owned) one, let us know about your experiences in comments.  Is this as powerful a tool as it seems?  How difficult is it to use, and what are its realistic limitations?

Craftsman CompuCarve [Sears]


22 Responses to Hot or Not? Craftsman’s CompuCarve

  1. T says:

    Y’know, at this point I’ll settle for an easier question. Has anyone actually seen one? Sears keeps touting them in the ads, but I have yet to see one at my local Sears or Sears Hardware.

  2. Buck says:

    I saw one at the Sears in Vallco mall in Cupertino, CA.

    The store employees weren’t really that impressed by it. They said that when they had it demoed to them, it took about 45 minutes to carve out a smallish Craftsman logo on a piece of pine.

    I have no idea how accurate their time estimate was, though. Based on my experiences with the length of time they tell me it will take to get something out of the stockroom and the actual time elapsed, I don’t think they work on the same time scale as the rest of us.

  3. nrChris says:

    I haven’t seen this yet, but from everything I read, it needs bigtime refinement; software, interface, and some mechanicals. Reviews on Sears.com don’t look so great either.

  4. Weldo says:

    My local Sears had one on Display. Well, parts of one anyway. Either they require a lot of assembly out of the box or it’d been vandelized.

  5. Craig says:

    I saw one at my local Sears, but it was tucked away in a corner with the other large tools (table saws, drill presses, etc.). My main concern with it is that it looks like it needs a pretty thin piece of wood to cut on. All the demo pictures on the sign showed things like jewelry box or cigar box lids.

    That may be fine if you do a lot of small scale work, but I can see so many other uses for it if it accepted larger form factors.

    Of course, anyone can feel free to correct me if I’m wrong on my size assumptions.

  6. Eric says:

    I’m gonna say not.

    One could build a more capible cnc router for less money.

    Rockcliff Machine offers plan for such a device for 20 dollars.

    Here’s a link to them: http://www.rockcliffmachine.com/cnchome.htm

    There’s a youtube video of one at work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uI70AjVbKbQ

  7. jeremiah says:

    with some knowledge (or a geek friend) one of these can be built for far less money than sears charges, and with much larger work areas. I’ve seen homebuilt 3-axis wood carving machines like this that can take anything up to 4ft wide, any length, and up to 8″ deep. that would create quite a relief if you were inclined to do so.

  8. Ivan says:

    My local Sears at the Oakland Mall, Troy, MI has one on the shelf and are even demonstrating the thing. Though it was just before closing time that I ended up in the store looking for a hardwood floor nailer.
    Anyway, I’m in the IT business and always wanted to create a similar tool for airbrushing from a scanned picture. That’s why I’m very interested in this one.

    However, another company is also selling a laser version which works on a different principle but in my mind much more versatile as it can even cut paper or edge glass, etc. Just googled it and they are http://www.versalasers.net/default.htm.

  9. Ray says:

    I don’t know about the quality of this machine, but I find the concept very exciting! This kind of inexpensive, mass market “wood cnc” machine could be pretty revolutionary. I’m not talking just carving, assuming some reasonable capacity and a good user interface a machine like this could do some interesting things.

    Imagine programing it with the details of a drawer for that cabinet you are building. Load in your board, it could rip it to width, rout in the dados, cut precise matching dovetails for the front, sides and back, depositing the four pieces done and ready to assemble! Or load in a piece of crown molding, input the wall corner angle and the length and have the thing knock out the correct miter (and or cope) every time!

    Wow, I am getting ever heated I need to lie down 🙂

  10. Justin says:

    Forget the dremel tool CNC routers. This one is more capable.


  11. Bryan Brown says:

    I like the idea. All the forums make them seem like a nightmare to own. So I say NOT.

    I’d spend the money on a http://www.shopbottools.com/ shop bot

  12. Craig says:

    And on the subject of building one at home, Make just recently posted a roundup of different home made cnc machines. (Note, most of them are far too small for the serious Toolmonger, but the idea is there).


  13. Brau says:

    I suppose I *could* build one of these for less, but that would hold true for most any appliance. The problem is, who’s going to design the software to make it work? Not me! I would be interested in this CNC for its ability to make multiple exact cutouts. For the home hobbyist/inventor I see this machine as the first true home production CNC, and perfect for starting up a small manufacturing business. Although it would be nice if it did larger items, better models will surely follow, so I say HOT, very Hot! The manufacturer is backdated a long way, so many others must feel the same way.

  14. Hey, Ivan! I’ve seen the demo unit at the Troy Sears, but no chips or dust that would indicate it’d been used. I’ll check it out next time I’m up there! Come to think of it, I need some multimeter fuses, that’s a good excuse to stop in…

    When you say airbrushing from a scanned picture, have you looked into direct-to-garment injket printers? There are some DIY efforts out there, though commercial machines are quite expensive.

    I’d like to build a generic three-axis table, to which I could affix a milling head, printer head, scanner head, or whatever. All the DIY projects I find are long on mechanical details, short on electronic and software info, so I haven’t made any moves in that direction yet.

  15. Craig says:

    From what I’ve seen, there are actually a few CNC programs that have been written to work with these machines. One of the how-to’s details some Windows software (costs money, but has a trial period first) and mentions Linux software(free, best I can tell) that could also be used.

    And for those interested, the ad on the back of my craftsman catalog states that this unit will accept workpieces up to 14.5″ wide and 5″ high.

  16. walter says:

    Ijust ordered one. It will be here Sept. 4. If I can run this anyone can.I’ll let you know.

  17. walter says:

    I got mine on sept. 4th. For someone with no computer know how this is awesome. I’m going to have fun with this one,and try to make some money.GOD bless.

  18. Tim says:

    This has a bigger area. I have see it even cut tile at the orlando builder show. They were in the Bosch booth. http://www.CNCShark.com it did a great job on oak doing impressive picture of grapes with leaves.

  19. Well, well… an identical looking machine has popped up on Amazon named the CarveWright N01 Woodworking System. Unfortunately, the price tag isn’t any lower than Sears’.


  20. Clint says:

    “Stuart Deutsch Says:

    November 6th, 2007 at 8:58 pm
    Well, well… an identical looking machine has popped up on Amazon named the CarveWright N01 Woodworking System. Unfortunately, the price tag isn’t any lower than Sears’.”

    both the CompuCarve and The CarveWright are made by LHR. go to
    http://www.carvewright.com/ to see the machine and order their is also a forum locate at http://www.carvewright.com/forum/

  21. Ralph says:

    Bought one from Carvewright, same product as Compucarve.

    DOA, blank disk, test card in it, two completely different warranties comparing the manual and what is posted.

    Fianlly got it going, stopped running without posting an error.

    Had 7 different issues with it, most were know issues. In two days, never got a small test project done correctly, even the sample project failed.

    Still fighting with them over the return of it due to poor quality right out of the box.

    There are other small CNC router solutions out there for just a bit more money, the additional cost is well worth it.

  22. Ron Strand says:

    Had one, and for a cnc router, it made a great boat anchor

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