Using cabinet CNC software with your machine

Last week I was visiting MTM Interiors in Welshpool.

MTM is owned by Gareth Ellis who works with his son Tom and a few other lads.

MTM makes mainly custom kitchens and fitted units.

With a show room in the London area, Gareth has recently moved the workshop back to Welshpool to reduce over heads.

Greatly appreciated for their high quality work, MTM continues to work on project in London and throughout the South East.

You can see Gareth’s work on his website here (now renamed as Welshpool Kitchen Company).

Up to recently MTM made cabinets on traditional wood working machinery, designing using a standard CAD drawing software and spread sheets, cutting on a panel saw and drilling by hand using jigs.

In January 2013 we set up MTM with a complete CNC solution for making cabinets.

This solution includes Polyboard cabinet CNC software, VCarve CAM software for nesting and setting up CNC tool paths and one of our 3 axis CNC routers.

Here’s a quick run down of the process for those of you that are not familiar with the different parts of a CNC solution.

1- Designing wood working projects

Cabinets and furniture is designed using specialised software. For kitchen cabinets we use Polyboard, for stair projects Stairdesigner.

2-The drawings of each part are output as separate drawing files

Polyboard (or StairDesigner) outputs the drawings of each part in a DXF drawing file (DXF is a standard format for drawing files that can be read by all CAD/CAM systems).

These drawings are just the geometry of each part and do not include any information to tell us what to do with this geometry.

3- To optimise the cutting of individual pieces, all the parts are arranged to best fit on specific panels of material

This process is called nesting the parts on the panels. In our CNC solution we use a function of the CAM program Vcarve.

4- We create a file that tells the CNC machine what to do with the geometry of each part

This process is called applying the tool paths. It is in fact simply adding parameters to each line on each drawing that tells the CNC machine what tool to pick up and how to machine the part.

This process is done by a CAM program, in our case VCarve.

By matching Polyboard DXF drawings with VCarve we can set up templates that tell VCarve to always do the same thing with every Polyboard drawing. In this way once set up, the process of applying tool paths becomes entirely automatic.

5- The machining instructions file is sent to the CNC machine

Once set up the CNC machine reads the CAM file and cuts, routs and drills all the individual parts out of each panel.

Once machined up the parts are put through an edge bander and assembled.

The complete system was set up for them by Rick Suckley our CNC expert. Rick also set up the software and trained Gareth and Tom so that they could get up and running as fast as possible.

I asked Gareth and Tom how they were doing with their new tool, and here’s a short video of their answer:

(Sorry for the low quality and my shaky hand but we weren’t set up for pro video shooting)

‘MTM Interiors using Polyboard and CNC to build kitchen cabinets’

While talking, Gareth has raised a very interesting point, his CNC cabinet software solution has not only made manufacturing cabinets easier but has also opened up whole new worlds of possibility.

For instance, MTM now offers custom manufacturing of cabinets in kits.

A customer can design a cabinet using the free version of Polyboard, send the design to Gareth and get all the parts delivered to his door step as a kit ready to assemble.

Following our visit, Gareth will also be offering the same service for stair parts.

So if you want a stair in kit, just design it with our free stair software StairDesigner, send the files to MTM and they’ll send you back all the parts ready to assemble.

Go here to download StairDesigner

I thought this a great idea making a win-win situation for his customers who get a very cost-effective solution and for MTM who keep their CNC investment moving.

For more information on MTM’s (now renamed to Welshpool Kitchen Company) services you can contact Gareth on his website:

To see how Gareth also uses his CNC to build curved hand rails have a look at this article:

Carving a Wreathed Hand Rail on a CNC with Rotary Axis

Check out this page for more information on our specialist Wood CNC Machines.

Don’t forget to leave a comment to let us know what you think.

    2 replies to "Using cabinet CNC software with your machine"

    • Michael Brannigan

      Nice post… Thanks for sharing

      • Stefan

        Hi Michael, thanks for your comment. We really like the integration of Polyboard with VCarve to output the machine code. VCarve works well and is very affordable. All the best, Stefan

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