Showing their stuff

This year’s AWFS fair in Las Vegas is history and, as always, a lot of new things were introduced to a lot of woodworkers. One item in particular really caught my eye.

I’m sure you’ll be reading all about the show in the next issue of Woodshop News and elsewhere on this website, and the list of new offerings for pro shops will be a long one. Just about every source in the woodworking industry has been feeding reports from the show, and I’ve salivated over many a new tool that was introduced last week.

But one of them surely has to be something no one expected: a take-it-to-the-work-site CNC machine. The folks at ShopBot rolled out the prototype for its new machine the “HandiBot,” a portable CNC machine (with handles, of course) that allows you to take CNC capabilities just about anywhere.

The machine functions more or less the same as other CNC machines – an XYZ-axis router controlled by software cuts any design fed into it – but instead of having a large table to hold the workpiece, you just set this thing down on whatever you want to work on. A cradle or other shop-made fixture lets you cut on vertical surfaces.

Now, I’m not ready to stand in line to buy one, as I really have no use for CNC, but I’m really excited about this. Why? Simply for the fact that something came up with what has to be one of the most radical ideas using one of the most unique woodworking technologies of the past decade.

The fact that the ShopBot guys came up with this tells me that manufacturers aren’t just sitting around whining about the state of the woodworking economy, they’re in their own shops coming up with things to move professional woodworking way, way forward.

And any way you look at it, that’s a Very Good Thing.

A.J.

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