Five Things CNC Beginners Should Stop Doing – CNC for Beginners

Hey y'all! A little bit different video this time. Different from what I normally make. I frequent a lot of Facebook groups, and I see a lot of people asking questions… …making requests, posting their projects on Facebook and other social media… …and I see a lot of new CNCers making what I consider to be mistakes. Now let me start off by saying I am NOT trying to discourage anybody in this video. I'm not trying to berate anybody. What I'm trying to do is just the opposite. I'm trying to encourage you. I'm trying to help you avoid some of the mistakes that I made. Now, in talking with people, emailing, and private messaging, and everything… …I have come up with a list of five things that… …I would like to see beginning CNCers stop
doing. Now again, this is not to criticize berate or belittle anybody. This is just a list of things that I have noticed that people tend to do…

…that, in my opinion, I think they should stop doing. And remember this is just my opinion. I could be wrong. And I want to know what you think. Today at 3 p.m. Eastern, Noon Pacific, I'll be hosting live Q&A #13… …and I hope you'll come join me and give me your opinion. I'd like some feedback – I'd like some dialog back and forth. Do you think I'm wrong? Do you think anything I'm pointing out has any merit? I really want to know.

For now, let me go ahead and get into my list of the 5 things that I think beginning CNCers… …or all CNCers for that matter… …five things that I think CNCers should really stop doing. Number 5 – Don't Punch Above Your Weight. What I mean by that is it's very easy to try to dive in over your head… …on your first few projects. I get contacted several times a year… …by people who've just gotten their CNC machines…

…haven't cut a project yet… …and the first thing they want to do is try to carve a guitar neck or a guitar body. Those are not beginners projects, I'm here to tell you. I suggest you start out with simpler, more basic projects first. Learn the machine – there is a learning curve. The great thing about a CNC router is it'll do exactly what you tell it to do. The bad thing about a CNC router is it'll do exactly what you tell it to do. So until you get a little bit of experience with the machine… …don't dive in over your head. You don't order a piano, having never played one before… …then book your first concert at Carnegie Hall the same week. You have to learn the machine. You have to learn how the machine reacts to certain materials. You have to learn how it reacts to certain feed rates and cutting depths. You can't learn everything all at once, so don't even try.

Learn your software. Learn your machine. Learn how and where to mount material. How and where to set your X, Y, and Z zeros What the bit's going to do, what it should do, what it shouldn't do… There are a lot of things involved in this process. And that's the key right there… It's a process. It's not just pushing a button, step back, and a finished guitar body or guitar neck is going to drop out the other end. That machine does not exist. There is a learning curve. Do yourself a favor and kind of flatten that curve… …by starting with simple, more basic projects.

Do a little bit of V carving, profile cutting, and pocketing. Get into the simpler, more basic projects, and work your way up. Know your limitations, and learn your machine's limitations. This is not a race. Build yourself up; don't bite off more than you can chew… …because you will become discouraged very fast… …and be half tempted to throw it in the dumpster. Number 4: Stop Comparing Your Current or Your Worst Work to Someone Else's Best Work. Everyone… I mean everyone… has been where you are right now. I know it's real easy to get discouraged when all you're seeing is… …the work of more experienced CNCers. But every person who posts a picture on Facebook or Instagram or YouTube… …has been exactly where you are right now.

Take a step back. You are doing the best you can with the skills and knowledge you have right now. In a year from now, that knowledge and those skills are going to be way beyond what you're doing right at the moment. Stop beating yourself up for not knowing how somebody who has 20 years of experience did something. Enjoy the process. Enjoy the steps that you're learning along the way. When somebody who has been using a CNC for 10 years… …posts something on Facebook, you're seeing that object. What you're not seeing is the 10 years it took them to get to that point. If we constantly use our projects… …as an opportunity to berate ourselves, berate our lack of knowledge… …or our perceived lack of skills… …we're forgetting the bigger purpose of the project. It's real easy to get discouraged. The hard part is learning how to take that discouragement… …turn it around… …and make up your mind to develop your knowledge a little bit more… …push it just slightly…

…and practice. There is no replacement for experience. And the only way to get that experience is to do it over, and over, and over again. Number 3: Don't Lose Sight of the Entire Project. We look at every minute detail of what we're working on. It's inevitable – we have to. We have to make sure that this is properly sanded… …or make sure that is properly cleaned up… But take a step back and remember the purpose for the project. Is it meant to hang on a wall? Is it meant to be seen from real close up, or is it meant to be seen from a distance? Is it indoors or outdoors? Is it meant to hold tools in your shop? Is it meant to be a display piece… …or a gift for someone who was graduated, or for their birthday? Is this meant for young children… …kids or grandkids… …who are going to be rough with it, and beat it up? Never lose sight of the big picture. Don't forget the purpose of the project. Every project we do has a higher purpose. When we've finished and given that project over to the client, customer, loved one, or whoever…

…it is serving that purpose. So, take a step back and look at the big picture. Number 2: Don't Rely on Others to do Your Design Work. I get asked for design advice on a daily basis… …everything from; "what's the best font to use for this design?" …to; "how big should I make this?" My standard answer has always been, "Whatever you like." We all have our own personal preferences. We all have our own personal tastes. And, while it's okay to ask for some advice… …because we do legitimately want confirmation of a design idea before we commit to it… …don't let it get to the point to where you're afraid to make a move on your own.

Trust your eyes. Trust your judgment. Pick a font. If you don't like it, change it. Nothing digital "can't be fixed." You can change fonts. Once you've carved it, then it becomes a little more challenging. But that's what the preview process is about. If you don't like an element, change it. Trust your eye. Trust your own judgment. And let your creativity flow. Most of us have an artistic streak that we've never even attempted to touch… …because we don't think we have the skills or the knowledge. But you know what looks good to you. And 99% of the time, that's the way you should go. That's how you should do it. If it looks good, you'll know it. If it doesn't look good, you'll know it. Trust your judgment, trust your eye, and practice. And the Number 1 thing I would like beginning CNCers to stop doing is: Stop Pointing Out Your Mistakes.

Don't point out your mistakes. Don't point out your mistakes. Don't point out your mistakes. Don't point out your mistakes… …like forgetting that you're wearing your glasses. Yes, if it's an obvious mistake you do have to fix it. That may mean you have to recut it. I mean if somebody specifically asked for something blue and you painted it red… …it's hard to hide that error. But 99.999 recurring percent of the mistakes we tie ourselves up in knots over… …are mistakes that most folks will never notice. It's okay if there's a flaw. Now, again, if it was supposed to be cut out of walnut and you cut it out of pine…

…that's a mistake you're going to have to eat. But if the finish is not as smooth as you thought it could be… …or maybe there was a little bit of chip out over in one corner… …again, the majority of the time… …people are not going to even notice that mistake. Another thing to consider is… …when somebody complements your work, they're giving you their opinion. When they take a look at a piece and say, "Holy cow! That's amazing!" Just say, "Thank you." To start pointing out your mistakes after they've paid you a compliment…

…is negating their opinion. What you're essentially saying is… "Your opinion is wrong…" "Your opinion doesn't matter…" …or "You're being less than truthful, and here's why… …this is wrong, this is wrong, and this is wrong." You're taking that compliment, turning it around, and basically insulting the person who gave you the compliment. Don't do that. Just say, "Thank you." Now, I know some people have a hard time saying thank you. So just say something like…

"This was a challenge – I'm glad I have it finished…" …or, "I learned a lot doing this…" …or, "This is something I'd really like to do again. I really enjoyed this." Accept the compliment. Don't point out your mistakes. Don't point out your mistakes. Don't point out your mistakes. So there it is. My list of five things that I would like to see… …beginning CNCers stop doing. Now let me clarify a couple of points, here…

I know that a couple of things on this list may look like… …I'm suggesting you try to pull the wool over your clients or customers eyes… …or that you try to hide something from them. I'm not suggesting that at all. I'm just suggesting that we… …be a little bit more lenient on ourselves, here. Kind of back up and relax.

Maybe I should have put Don't Lose Sight of the Entire Project… Maybe I should have put that at the top of the list. Because when you present a piece to a client, a customer, a gift recipient… …they're going to look at the project in its entirety. They're seeing the whole thing. When we're working on a piece, we focus in on every single square inch of it, because we have to. It's unavoidable. It's just the nature of what we do. And that makes it real easy to develop a sense of tunnel vision… …to where that's all you see; that one little spot that really bugged you… …when the client, customer, or recipient is just going to look at the whole thing and say, "Wow!" So, take it easy on yourself; that's what I'm getting at. Be a little bit more lenient. Now, I know… we are, and we always will be, our own harshest critics. I've been working with wood for right at 50 years, in one way or another…

…and I am, and will continue to be, my own harshest critic. I want it to be as close to perfection as I can get it, because it's got my name on it. But what we need to remember, and what took me the longest to figure out, was… …perfection is a subjective thing. You can't really quantify it. You can't really pinpoint it, because what's perfect to you may not be perfect to me…

…and what's perfect to me may not be perfect to you. Strive for excellence. Do the best job that you can with the tools, skills, and knowledge that you have… …and develop those skills and that knowledge from there. We're going to go ahead and wrap up this video right here. And I really want your input. Again, today at Noon Pacific… 3 p.m. Eastern I'll be hosting a live Q&A session on my YouTube channel. There will be a link in the description box below. I'd like your input. I'd like to have some discussion on this. It was kind of a random idea to do this video… …I want to know what you think. Did I leave something out? Should I have left something out? I want to know what you think.

So, again, Live Q&A #13 will be this afternoon at Noon Pacific… 3 p.m. Eastern here on my YouTube channel, and I hope to see you there. I hope you got something out of this video. If you did, please give me a thumbs up. If you'd like to follow along with my further CNC adventures… …be it software, or outside here in the shop shed, working on projects…

…I hope you'll subscribe to my channel. And if you subscribe to my channel…..hit that little Bell button right next to the subscribe button. Then you'll get a notification the next time I post a video…..or the next time I go live. So, I'm going to go ahead and say goodbye right here…..and as always…..whether you subscribe to my channel or not…..I'd like to thank you very much for taking the time to watch…..and y'all take care..

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