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CarveWright (CW001) Wood Carving Machine

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating
User Rating 3 Star Rating (4 Reviews)

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CarveWright Wood Carving Machine

CarveWright Wood Carving Machine

(c) 2007 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

The Bottom Line

The CarveWright Wood Carving Machine (CW001), also sold as the Craftsman CompuCarve, is an innovative, compact table-top wood carving machine that is quite impressive. The software is very easy to learn and the wood carving machine creates carvings that are quite dramatic. While some hand-sanding of the final carving can be expected, the unit produces consistent, reproducible results that would impress even the most experienced woodworker.

While the unit is a bit expensive (about the same as a quality cabinet table saw), it is certainly not over-priced for the value and results it produces. We liked this tool a lot.

Pros

  • A relatively affordable computer numerical control (CNC) machine for woodworking
  • Includes software (PC/Mac compatible), memory card and reader, carving bits & more
  • Software is easy to learn, and includes an impressive shape library
  • Cuts shapes out of wood, plastic (polycarbonate & cast acrylic) and foam up to one-inch deep

Cons

  • Priced at about the same cost as a quality cabinet saw - may be out of budget for some woodworkers
  • Some minor software glitches in CW001 release, which are being addressed for future releases

Description

  • Software requires WinXP/2000 or Mac OSX 10.4, with minimum 128MB RAM, 75MB hard drive & OpenGL graphics card.
  • Maximum workpiece size is 14-1/2" wide, 5" tall and 12' long.
  • Minimum workpiece size is 1-1/2" wide, 1/2" tall and 7" long.
  • Accepts 1/4" & 1/2" shank bits, but due to manufacturer tolerances, CarveWright bits are recommended for accuracy.
  • Software accepts imports of .JPEG, .GIF, .BMP & .PNG files.
  • Future software versions are expected to accept imports of more standardized CAD formats such as .DXF, .STL and more.
  • The CarveWright has the ability to cut edge profiles and can trim a board to a specific width or length.
  • To learn more, visit the CarveWright web site.

Guide Review - CarveWright (CW001) Wood Carving Machine

If ever there was a woodworking tool for "geeks," this is it. The CarveWright software is about as easy to use as a common "Paint" program (on either Mac or PC), and can create designs based on an included library of shapes, or manually using the drawing tools. Text can be added from a litany of font styles, and can be set to follow a curved path. (CarveWright also has an optional probe that can be used to "trace" existing carvings and other objects into the software.)

Once your design is completed, the file is downloaded onto a memory card (included). The memory card is then inserted into the CarveWright machine. After inserting the piece of stock to be carved, the operator follows the instructions on the LCD screen on the CarveWright to load the file for carving.

After the file is loaded and any options chosen, the CarveWright measures the board, then asks for a specific bit to be placed into the chuck. With the proper bit installed, the unit begins to carve the design.

We did encounter a few minor hiccups while working with the software. For one, we found that when using the text tool with some fonts, the last character was regularly chopped off. The simple workaround was to add a blank space after the final character.

We also noticed that, during the board measuring step prior to carving, the unit seemed to stop while a soft but consistent beep tone emitted from the machine. The first time this occurred, we turned off the machine after a minute or so, assuming that a system glitch had occurred (because nothing was apparently happening). However, when the same issue occurred on the second attempt, we walked away and found that after about three minutes, the unit proceeded properly.

All in all, this machine would be a terrific carving tool for small production shops. I know I could find a lot of uses for one in my shop!

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