Did you buy for fun or for business?

Hi,

On a different thread I noticed a lot of comments about folks buying a CNC for fun rather than as a business investment. I also noticed a lot of the people buying for fun are retired and were looking for something to keep their mind active. That actually parallels my own situation, I retired, stumbled across the CNC router world and thought it would be interesting so I bought one over a year ago. I am a hobby woodworker and had some interest in drafting (pre-CAD, was taught back when it was pencil and paper) and computers so there seemed to be a natural fit. I have absolutely no intention to sell anything. It has been interesting, I’ve made a number of projects that challenged me. I learned a lot about CNC and related software. I built a nice table, tool/bit storage and cover cabinet for it. I upgraded to a spindle, etc. All fun stuff and that’s all I wanted from it.

It is a pretty expensive tool, the most expensive in my shop and I’m well equipped. Has it been my best investment (I.e. dollar per use)? Nope. Was it worth it? Ya, just for the experience, learning activity, etc.

How about you? What’s your reason to buy one? Are you a fellow retiree just looking for new challenges?

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Approaching retirement here… I’m a hobbyist woodworker with deep pockets.
Bought mine for fun. I’ve enjoyed all the learning that goes along with it. I like the challenge of designing and creating things- all kinds of things- from signs to jigs to gifts. I work at my own pace which admittedly, is very slow. Several people have mentioned what money I could make with it when I do retire, but I don’t want the pressure of doing a hobby as an income source.
I recently bought a 3D printer and some of my self-taught CAD for that has crossed over to the CNC.
I really dig my X50 with a few upgrades but it has teased me into wanting a much larger machine.

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Retired here coming from owning a large industrial machine shop with several CNC machines, I have built and modified several CNC routers and lathes in the past using Mach 3 for the control. So glad to have the Masso to work with, it is miles head of Mach , albeit much more cost but worth every penny. I make a lot of thinks like cribbage boards, chip and salsa trays, boxes, cutting boards,board games, a friend and I sell our stuff at a local market, we are lucky to make the price of material back but it is really about keeping the brain going and interacting with the folks at the market.

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I find it more to be a single tool that helps with making money if you can corner the market on a unique product. I think we’re way past the days of anyone buying just a CNC and making fortune. You’ll always need more than just the CNC.

Because of that no one should buy a hobby grade CNC to make a living with. Should always be for fun first, and if you happen to fall bass ackwards into making money, that’s an added bonus.

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I bought mine as more of a hobby than anything. I have no intentions to make money off it but if someone wants to pay me to make something for them then sure why not. I just see this as another machine in my personal home shop to have fun with is all. I ordered mine last Nov and got it in May of this year. I finally assembled it this month which was very easy to do. I did have a problem with the flatting of the spoil board though. For some reason the it stopped and a red flag popped up on the sensors. I have no idea what happend nor how to reset it other that turning it off and back on again. But no worries I will learn more about cnc in the coming future. Im still trying to learn all of this new stuff.

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“Did you buy for fun or for business?”
Both.

Mentally, I retired about 6 years ago, but until the rest of my life catches up, this is a “serious” hobby that may or may not have a financial return at any given moment.

After retirement, I will of course put a lot more effort and time into this. Mainly because I like to make stuff, but also for the beer money it can generate.

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I retired in JAN, got my 1F in FEB, been playing ever since. Friends/family like the stuff I’ve made so far and I like the thinking part. My heart still races a bit when I start a new cut. Learning a lot, having fun, can’t think of a better endeavor in retirement.

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I,too, am retired. I bought mine for the challenge of learning something new. I’ve found that the design and setup for some project could be accomplished much quicker with other shop tools but the whole process challenges me and is mesmerizing watching the machine cut it out. At this point, I just do projects for family and friends, maybe one day a side gig for additional income. An expensive tool to add to the shop, but for me wasn’t about the money or return. I enjoy learning new technology and software, the build of the table, machine assembly, etc. Shout out to all the “Community” members that contribute their advice and knowledge, which made this whole process easy for me without having any real prior CNC experience. Priceless!

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Retired. Been a woodworker all my life and the CNC is just a fancy router turned upside down and I love it. Just like Atroz, I learned manual drafting, and I still remember the first time I was taught how to turn 3 flat views into a 3D view just using a T square, a 30° triangle and a scale ruler. Everyone should have to do hand drawings before they can use a CAD system!

Also learned computer programming back when you had to save every KB of file size that you could, (remember tape drives and 5 1/4" floppies??), so you had to learn nesting of formulas and making lines of code do things more than once which greatly helped me later in life.

Been using various CAD programs almost since they first came out (anyone remember Simple Kitchen Designer?), but I also have an advantage, as my professional life was as a structural designer using 2 very high end pro CAD systems and a HUGE cnc to make samples.

VCarve Pro is a much simpler version of what I used and I enjoy it very much, but I sure wish it was fully parametric. Maybe some day it will be, (for those of you who do not know what that is, basically it allows you to use variables instead of numbers which allows you to change a drawing just by changing the value of the variables).

In CAD, I enjoy the challenge of figuring out ways to making unique designs with a minimum amount of bit changes and time such as in the attached pictures of a trivet and a coaster.

As I taught my designers, try to improve your drawing skills 1% every day by taking the time, (I allotted them 30 minutes every day), to draw the same simple thing over and over from scratch, (every week, we’d start a new drawing to work on using a different tool or tools). By the end of 6 months, they’d be amazed at how much better they were.

Enjoy and challenge yourself all the time!!!

Pony

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Hello you all!. I retired couple years ago and getting my Forman this week, it’s been a long wait but I’m sure it’s well worth it. It’s for hobby purpose but time will tell and just now trying to learn CAD too. I’m also long time woodworker and enjoy puttering in my shop so I’m ready for new challenges… can’t wait lol

Mostly for fun. However it has paid for itself, and didn’t take all that long to do so.

Retired 18+ years now and still working on my bucket list so I guess a woodworker was a must. Initially it was for my wife (who has yet to barely go near it) who though it might be fun to fill time when the pandemic first hit. Since then though, I have discovered it has become an almost indispensable tool bolstering my current art ‘phase’. Though I was use to AutoCad in my working life, our 1F has forced me to become better educated using other 3D software. Hopefully all of this can facilitate keeping my mind active as time continues to move toward the inevitable end though.

So in short, I’m not interested in income from this investment at all. So lots of investment with essentially no $$ return. Even commissioned work is simply funded by paying for materials (and an occasional bottle of good wine).

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Both. I’m semi retired and the 1F is now integrated into my normal workflow. It’s generating income that helps justify its existence in my shop. But, I got it mainly for the experience of learning a new machine and software. That alone has been well worth the investment of $$ and time. I’m having a blast with it and enjoy learning new applications and techniques.

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Just being curious if you please. Is your semi retirement a function of your wood shop, if so, how do you see that in terms of business growth in the future? I could see a growing business as a possible deterrent/drag to a pure hobby.

Though I may be wrong, maybe that is why I shy away from selling at this point.

I’m semi retired from a 50year career in construction/carpentry/woodworking. I definitely want to stay engaged in woodworking and continue to expand my skills. I’m cool with growing this aspect of my small business… to a degree. The beauty of my current status is the ability to pick and choose the jobs I want to take on. I’m focusing on just shop based projects and the 1F has opened the door to some really fun jobs that I wouldn’t have been able to tackle otherwise. I’m going to ride this wave as long as I can…

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I have been a bird carver for about 25 years and my hands were getting sore from carving . I also retired about 10 years ago and decided I would try some cnc work to keep my brain stimulated and it has done that! I could care less about making it a business and if I sell a few projects, for that I’m grateful! Crib boards, board games and now trying fishing lures! I realize how my experience airbrushing birds is helping me with my new projects!

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Definitely not business. Wanted to add features to traditional projects, but with a tool that can do things I haven’t done before.


I wanted the CNC to make clock dials, and I’ll use traditional woodworking to make the clocks. This one’s case is done, but the dial isn’t ready yet.

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@Arzt

You actually caused me to stare for a moment and say, “wow.” That’s really nice. I immediately flashed back to my childhood, remembering all of the furnishings from my great grandmother’s home. The brass along the top makes it pop.

The clock is beautiful, thanks for sharing.

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I retired and wanted a CNC to help build components for some of the hobby projects I do. So far, it has worked out great. I don’t care about making money with it. I am happy turning out the projects I can turn out for myself, friends and family. I find with the capabilities I now possess, I don’t need a scroll saw for tight work and I can reproduce things if other people have an interest. I am having fun!

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Hey Atroz,

Buying it for hobby and fun. Not pushing hard on sales, but if it happens, great. It it doesn’t, still plenty of family and friends to give to. I’m approaching my second retirement and recently started up 3D printing and learning Fusion 360. Got back into wood turning a couple of years ago. I’m thinking this Onefinity Elite Journeyman (arriving sometime this fall) will round out the fun. Last item I’m looking at is a fiber laser.

Nova Galaxy Lathe and Voyager Drill-press
Bambu Labs X1 Carbon Combo
Élite Journeyman PWN spindle 24 Watt Laser

…and yes, still married

Caesar

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