Computerized Carpentry: Yankee Remodeler Brings In Space-Age Wood-Cutting Tool

Space-Aged-Wood-Cutting-Tool-webImagine that you have a computer and a huge wood-cutting tool that can talk to each other.

Imagine that you can draw a picture of something, such as a bookshelf, so precise that you can see a three-dimensional picture of it and the computer can give you exact measurements of every component of the object.

Imagine that the computer can determine how to cut the pieces from a sheet of plywood in a configuration that will minimize waste and… OK, OK, you’re way ahead of us now, so we’ll get to the point. There is such a device, and Yankee Remodeler of New London has one.

“This software can do anything under the sun,” says Mike Mahoney, shop supervisor.

The device is called an OmniTech Selexx Computer Numerically Controlled Router. It cuts wood, as well as other materials, and makes grooves and drills holes. And it is an amazing thing to watch in action. There is a large, flat surface, called a vacuum table, that holds the sheet of plywood in place. The cutting assembly with its carousel of bits is poised above the wood. Punch in the program and this automobile-sized device goes to work. The cutter moves into position… BUZZZZZZZ! … it moves over here now… BUZZZZZ! … it moves over there… BUZZZZ!!!! … until every piece it cut or grooved or drilled.

The various pieces of the bookshelf are lying there ready to be assembled. This device is amazingly efficient in operation and even, somehow, elegant. A voice in the back of your mind is telling you that there isn’t anything machines can’t do these days.

Put yourself in the shoes of a customer. First you site down in the Yankee Remodeler offices with designer Robin Mantzaris and describe the job you want done – a large job such as a room remodel, or a small job such as a bookshelf. Mantzaris draws a picture of the room in the computer. Take a look at it and decide, for instance, that you want to change the style of the door. And Mantzaris makes the change.

“With the router we can make molding, counter tops – we can make a piece convex or concave, we can make a conical shape,” says Mahoney, “The piece will have an accuracy of plus or minus a hundredth of an inch.”

Mahoney then puts the data about the room on a UBS key (other technologies are also available), put the key into the control panel for the router and flips the switch. Piece by piece, all the wood for the project is cut. The router can even cut in a perfect circle. Mahoney has used the device to make window seats, wet bars, entertainment units and all manner of object.

To read more of this article, click here (PDF).