Until recently, if you wanted a CNC machine you had two choices: buy one online, or build one yourself. Today, a guy can actually go to the store and buy a CNC machine. Sears was the first big retailer to start selling a CNC machine — the CarveWright — and WoodCraft shortly followed suit. Now Rockler has announced they’ll be offering the CNC Shark. What’s more, supposedly you can watch live demos at your local Rockler.
The CNC Shark can route wood, engrave or cut plastic, and etch or cut tile. Constructed from steel, aluminum, and HDPE, the Shark’s X and Y axes can travel 24″ and 13″ respectively, while the Z or vertical axis can travel 4-1/2″. It also moves pretty fast — 120 inches per minute or more — and it moves precisely in increments as small as 0.0000625″. A 269 oz/in stepper drives each axis. And each axis also utilizes four precision linear bearing guides for rigidity. A Bosch Colt palm router mounted to the Shark supplies the cutting power.
Next Wave Automation includes VCarve Pro software with every machine, but you’re not locked into the software they supply. They also support other industry CNC programs like Photo Carve, 3D Cut, BobCad, BobART, BobNestCad, Mach 3, and Lazy Cam. Once your design’s ready, you operate the Shark via your computer’s USB port.
The CNC Shark retails for $2,300, but you’ll need to spend a little more to get started. Plan on another $120 for the palm router and $20 more for the table. A full CNC machine for under $2,500 isn’t bad at all.