But small shops and hobby woodworkers, CNC is often quickly dismissed as not needed or wanted. The reasons include cost, the potential learning curve, an unclear need, and a concern that “it's not real woodworking.” As CNC routers continue to decrease in price and increasing in availability at woodworking retailers, there is more and more access to information, classes, and community feedback on how to utilize this valuable tool. And, while it’s true that a CNC router can automate the operations of many other machines (i.e. table saw, bandsaw, drill, router), that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The versatility of the CNC is perhaps the best justification for adding it to a small shop. What other tool has the ability to cut complex and odd shaped pieces with such ease? Curved furniture parts, templates, jigs, and rough carvings are all handled easily with CNC. It’s also a great companion tool for prototyping, because it allows a woodworker to quickly create multiple versions of a design or a sample for a client. It takes the tedium out of many operations and allows the woodworker to focus on other, more creative aspects, such as design and craftsmanship.