View Full Version : Shopbot in a Cabinet Shop?

02-17-2001, 10:48 PM
hI am a one person cabinet shop. And I'd like to increase my productivity and accuracy. I think CNC is the way to go but I can't afford a KOMO or Thermwood! But the Shopbot seems to be geared to the small shop like myself.

Are there any cabinet shops out there using Shopbots? If so, I have several questions!

1. What tasks do you use the Shopbot for?

2. Taking a typical base endpanel with 5mm/32mm on center shelf pin holes, how long does it take to complete on panel in 3/4 birch?

3. How difficult is it to get up and going with the cad software? (I had a AutoCAD class years ago but never used it.)

4. Can the shopbot replace a panel saw and line bore machine?!

Thanks in advance for your help!

Chris Robinson
Rural Retreat Cabinet Co. LLC

02-18-2001, 02:14 AM
1. I use the Shopbot for things I cannot do on the table saw or panel saw. Things like odd shapes, precise arcs, special moldings, and routed signs, etc.

2. Since I don't do my panels on the Shopbot, I can't tell you how long it would take to do an end panel--but I do know that it would take much longer than using a saw and a line boring machine.

3. I use Vector and I find that it does so much that I am learning constantly. I was able to do several operations in a very short time.

4. I don't think the Shopbot can efficiently replace saws and line boring machines in cabinet production.

Steve Alder
Alder Custom Woodworking

02-18-2001, 11:31 PM
I agree with Steve. We have a two person cabinet shop with a lot of equipment from when we were larger. The ShopBot is used for specialty items like convex drawer fronts and furniture type details like fluting. It is also used in repetitive cutting where a person may otherwise use a pin router with a template.

The ShopBot takes about 3 sec. to drill one hole. A good boring machine can drill about 20 in that time. The same for a good panel saw, about 3 times as fast depending on what your cutting.

Don't misunderstand me, the ShopBot is a valuable tool that is an excellent compliment to a boring machine and panel saw. You can do things with the ShopBot that you can't do with other machines. Some of the items I cut take 2hrs./sheet. I do something else while it cuts.

I happen to use BobCAD or DesignCAD. Whatever you use it takes time to learn, but the learning curve can be short. I believe that software is up to you to get the full potential out of.

John Jorgensen
Jorgensen Cabinets/Jorgensen Worldwide

02-22-2001, 08:48 AM
While you are correct about a boring machine being faster than shopbot for a row of holes Shopbot is much faster at odd spaced holes, holes that a boring machine isn't set up for.
We use our machine for all our flat panel processing. Dadoes, hole drilling, counter sinking and mortising. We do a lot of units, bookcases and entertainment centers for example, that are one of a kind and require shelf pin holes at different centers. Of course if you don't have a boring machine your shopbot becomes one.I think you have hit the nail on the head when you point out the flexibility of the Shopbot.

We use all our dedicated single purpose machines to cut and size our panels. We dado our base and upper jams on the shopbot, dadoing one jam and jumping to the second while we replace the first.
No double handling on the dadoes. We then start drilling our uppers in the same manner and handle the parts only twice while we were doing it 3 times before. Easier on my back.

When I first bought my shopbot, I thought that I would put a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood in and cut all my jams out and drill and dado them at one time. As John points out, you can cut with a saw much faster than with a router. We use our shapers with power feeds to shape door panels, stiles and rails. However we cut our arched rails on the shopbot and shape them on the large machines. In short I use it for some of the things I bought it for but I have discovered many, many applications I never imagined. It makes me a lot of money and saves my back.

Shopbot comes with Vector Cad/Cam software. Some find it easier to program with software that they are familiar with. I learned on Vector so I think it is the easier, however I am convinced that no Cad software is easy. I have been a cabinet maker for almost 30 years and all my tools took time and effort to learn. So will the Shopbot.

Training is available through Imserve. Check Shopbots Web page for a link to the training site. Also, for people that wonder what I look like, I'm the short, white mustached person with more forehead than hair.

John Forney

02-22-2001, 02:02 PM

I really liked the idea of loading up a 4x8 and letting it do everything. I'm starting to think it's too generic for my needs. I'm a one person shop and it would take too much time to prepare for each run of cabinets unless I could use my Cabnetware software to layout the cuts. But, all I have right now is Designer. So, I'd have to drop another $4k into software if I wanted to use that. So, it looks like the most efficient thing for me is a panel saw and spindle boring machine.

Time is money and I'm not hearing anyone say the shopbot would improve my efficiency.

I'm right back to that point that if I could load up one sheet and let it cut away. Only handle the materials once before assembly.

I don't know. Back to the drawing board.



02-22-2001, 02:49 PM
Speaking of shelf pin holes, does anyone know where I might be able to find a 5mm router-bit that has a 1/4" shank. I'd like to be able to rout the shelf pin holes with the router, rather than have to change over to my drill and drill them? BTW wait till you see my version of a dust collector shroud. I designed it so that the brushes are always in contact with the cutting surface, it kinda floats. Oh yea and the cabinet which houses my electricals has the letters SB inlaid with mirror. will try to get pics.
Thanks JRC

02-22-2001, 05:34 PM
The beauty of SB is in Quantity work.
If your only considering OneZeez then it doesnt make sense "all" of the time.

But if you are doing a reasonable sized run of the same design then SB and the programming involved will eventually pay off.


the bit sources that were in this forum recently
had mm sized bits in their selections.

02-22-2001, 07:23 PM
John I go thru 20 sheet or so when I do cabinets,I use Turbocad to do all my files and find it very easy to use.

I have been playing with Vector for a few months now and find that it is not all that simple to use? It only took me 2 days with Turbocad and it will cut what I draw.

I found that doing it in diffrent files is very simple, this give me control of what bits I want to use.

If you would like to see what I mean let me know and I will draw you a set so you can see.


sheldon dingwall
02-22-2001, 09:01 PM

Why don't you use an 1/8" bit to rout your 5mm pin holes.

02-22-2001, 10:29 PM
Bob, I have been to most of the sites mentioned in this and various other forum topics and all I seem to find are mm sized cutters with mm sized shanks...so if you happen to know of a particular source that has 5mm with 1/4" shank I'd be greateful for the info...

Sheldon, I have tried that and the hole was not true...possibly speed? Maybe I should try again at a slower speed...apparently you have had success at this, what in/sec. rate...

Thanks... JRC

02-22-2001, 11:46 PM
You can get can get 5mm bits with 1/4" shank at Eagle. I have several of them. They are solid carbide.
Hope this helps,
Don Chandler

02-23-2001, 12:47 AM
You are correct. The beauty of the sb is quantity. I use it mostly for short production runs of widgets. Only occasionally for one ofs. However, sometimes the one ofs are things that cannot be done without the sb.

Ron V.:
What you do with TurboCad, I do with a combination of Cabinetware and Pattern Systems. Connecting the Pattern System output to sb is an interesting thought. Sb cuts while I do something else. Your take on Vector seems correct. You might try the layer command (I'm sure TurboCad has one) to assign different router bits to different layers. I use this feature to make sure everything is in the right place. You can create a master file and then save layers in seperate files. Have different colored layers etc. I may not be telling you anything new, but layering is a valuable tool.

John J.

02-23-2001, 01:04 PM
John J: I bet we went to the same school..lol, that is what I do.

I draw a master file and change colors, this lets me be able to select router bits for each color.

The best thing about doing layers is you can import them into diffrent files and just resize it, this saves on redrawing?.

I have tried a few cabinet programs but all that is really needed is 1 file as a master, then all you have to do is import that file and enter the size you want to cut.

I am now able to design a layout in 5 minutes.

Ron V

02-23-2001, 02:27 PM

I can't give you shopbot experience, but I do similar operations on my pin router. The key is to plunge into the center of the hole, then do a finishing pass to clean up the 1mm perimeter.

02-23-2001, 09:06 PM
Don, thanks so much I have their catalog (can't believe I did'nt see it.."oh well I guess it's one of those forrest for the trees kinda things...
Thanks also to Sheldon...had't tried that.

This forum is GREAT!!!

02-23-2001, 09:14 PM
You guys have been so helpfull to me, therefore I'll pose my problem here...Just today I found out my bot is not cutting square...did command "CR" for a 20" rectangle to check if we were really out of square and my diagonal was out by almost 1/8". So I did a search of the forum as well as my owners manual...I have no slippage of my pinion gears...I'm befuddled...what gives?


02-23-2001, 11:45 PM
Your Y axis is not square to the X axis. loosen up one end and shift it over to square it up. You probably will have to do it and cut another square several times to get it perfect. I cut a 46" square to check mine.

02-24-2001, 10:30 AM

Ok, I could use a little more advice because after doing more research, I've found a few things. For the price of a line bore machine and decent 8' sliding table saw, I could buy 3 shopbots!

Reading your posts and doing some calculations on cutting/drilling speeds and head travel times, it appears that I could completely machine about 4+/- 3' wide base cabinets per 8 hour day.

Now, that means that I would have time to machine and assemble. I'm thinking I would see some efficiencies in time due to handling parts fewer times going from machine to machine. Setting up for each cut etc.

Also, from what I've read, I could design components once and use that as a master file, right? Then I could copy/paste for each job? All end panels are identical. The only thing that would be different would be the lengths of the backs, tops, bottoms and shelves. A little later, I could purchase a good panel saw for cutting each component and using the shopbot for drilling and machine work.

Plus, then I'd have the flexibility to do engravings and such on doors plus alot else.

I really like the shopbot and I think I'm trying to justify it's purchase!

Has anyone done relief carvings of animals or flowers etc in raised panel doors? I'm not talking about etching in but like a relief carving? What software would be required to do such carvings?

Thanks for your time and patience.

Chris R.

02-24-2001, 10:39 AM
You can also set points A and B at right angles using multiples of 3 and 4 from the zero point. The diagonal distance when square is a multiple of 5. For example, set zero x & y close to corner, move router to A(0,1200mm(47.244")), mark point using z, move router to B(1600mm(62.992"),0), mark point using z. The distance between A and B is 2000mm(78.740") when square. Test cut rectangle and measure corner to corner to double check. This should save you a lot of test cutting. Being out of square introduces a parallelogram effect into any shape you cut, rectangles, arcs etc.
Another method is to index panel exactly to zero coordinate on long(x) axis, trim short axis(y), flip panel left end to right end, trim short axis(y) again. Measure long axis at top and bottom. The difference between these measurements is double the out of square error. For example, bottom measures 60", top measures 60 1/4", y axis out of square 1/8" to left. This method is what we use for the large panel saws.
Limitations of a framing square makes it good for only a rough approximation.
Hope this gives you some ideas.
John J.

02-24-2001, 04:16 PM
Your attempt to justify the Shopbot purchase is noble, and no one on this forum (myself included) is likely to try to talk you out of it.
However, if you are just starting out as a cabinet shop, I would recommend a decent cabinet saw, such as a Unisaw, with a crosscut table attachment. The one I use is made by Excaliber, and cost around $700. Then consider a hinge/line bore machine, such as is made by Blum or Grass, this will convert easily from line boring to boring 35mm holes for European hinges, and only set you back a few grand. With these two machines, I can cutout and bore all the parts for a good sized job (20 sheets) in a day, easily. You could table-mount a couple of routers for dadoing, as the set-up would rarely change.
If trying to do all this on a Shopbot, remember to factor in bit changes, as I doubt you would do through cutting and 1/4" dadoes with the same bit, not to mention 5mm holes.
That said, the Shopbot has been invaluable to me for one-of-a-kind items, mostly involving curved parts, templates and forms as well as multiple small parts for blocking, etc., and then there are the routed signs.
Summary: you can have a cabinet shop without a Shopbot (even if it's not as much fun), but you can't have a cabinet shop without a good saw.

02-24-2001, 04:35 PM
Here I was, going along just fine with my Bot since I got it up and running about 2wks ago and now,it's out of square (or was it always)? Today i tried to square it up but only had time to try once, to no avail. I don't think I have enough slop in my holes to do much adjusting...I suppose I'll have to rebore the holes oversize?
...so after retightening the rail bolts I tried running a Maze puzzel for a project my son is working on and alignment problems GALORE showed
up. Was cutting a 3/4" w X 1/4" deep slot in a zig-zag maze pattern...cutter dia. 3/4" move speed was 1"/sec and jog speed was at 4"/sec...not only did lines not align but in some places the depth changed...did a file check and all was fine numerically...changed JS to 3"/sec...end result was slightly better...but I was hearing clunking sounds from the steppers I think...come to think of it Z depth was screwy whild running one ot hte free downloaded carving fonts...(is that a helpful clue)?...I've got work for my Bot on Monday and would like to resolve this...any takers?...And here I was dreaming of 20 SB working for me...now I'm not so sure...

Thanks, JRC

02-24-2001, 05:18 PM

I hear ya. I may go for a used shopbot. I've been looking at Jet's sliding table attachment for $699 and appears to be pretty nice. With the line boring, a good one is about $8k. I have looked at the Blum machine and there would be too much to set up between hing boring and line boring.

Decisions Decisions!


02-24-2001, 11:33 PM
It has probably been out of square since assembly. The final adjusting y axis for perp to x axis and checking z axis for perp to table seem to be lacking in instruction manual. The precision required goes way beyond a framing square.
When you check y axis for square using 3,4,5 use bit with fine point, 1/8" or vee or grind point on old bit.
On alignment problems, take look at not only feed and jog but also ramps. I would guess that the speeds on your z may be to fast. Take a look at the section beginning on page 81 of the ShopBot Users Guide. Excellent guide and tips for axis speeds and ramping. Look in files for MS command that may reset speeds to fast
A few adjustments to the frame and speeds, you should be good to go on Monday.
John J.

02-25-2001, 07:59 AM
to keep the y axis square i squared by calculating the diagonal measurement to the longest points on the x and y. after you have these reference points bolt 2 stops that you can bump the y axis against to check .

formula diagonal = square root of X*X + Y*Y

02-26-2001, 09:02 PM
Yep, you were sooo right...major outta square...from the get go I don't know? I hope so...my key man Rodney and I trued her up this morning and had a few good laughs as well...think I solved the problem with the jolting or bumping noises I was hearing...I haden't gotten around to grounding my Bot as of my writing for HELP, on Sat. (it is now grounded) but, I think what was happening was the static charge inside the "dust" vac hose would intermitently discharge through the Bot frame and cause the steppers to skip or advance thus causing misalignments in some cuts...Grounded now and haven't had another occurance since...does this sound right to you or anyone out there?
PS...I've had an epifany on a vacuum hold-down system that if it works as designed will knock your socks off...and it's real inexpensive as well. Will let all know when the the "bugs" get worked out...
Sure wish more botters would write in with what they are doing with teir bots, etc...


03-01-2001, 11:40 AM
If your ShopBot suddenly quits cutting accurately, check to be sure all stepper motor connections are plugged in well. Twice I have had one of my x-axis stepper motors come unplugged with the result that my cuts were only slightly off, so it took me a while to notice. The machine works that well with only one x-axis stepper motor plugged in.

03-01-2001, 03:58 PM
thanks don for the posting on x-axis being unplugged.i had this problem today march 01,2001
but didn't know what the problem was. I adjusted all the hold downs and anything else i could put a wrench on.it seem like just one motor wasn't running and i couldn't resolve the problem. i was going to e-mail gordon when i read your posting.and sure enough i checked the motor and it was unplugged.sure saved me some advil. thanks again

03-01-2001, 05:27 PM
I have said this in the past but here goes again ...

In my sbpix on my web pages I have a shot of my installation of TERMINAL BLOCKS for motor connections ie.

I know this is a pain to install but it's very
secure and reliable.

So , Grab your crimpers, drill and tap set and
get to work.

03-01-2001, 10:07 PM
You can also use smaller nylon wire ties around the connecting blocks (feed between wires) to lock together. Quick, easy and secure. Lock anything together that may come unplugged. It could save a lot of time and money.

Gerald D
03-02-2001, 12:17 AM
Bob, you may not be aware that the voltages have been increased to over 40V on the later models. In some countries this would no longer be considered "intrinsically safe" and exposed connections could tickle you hard enough to stop your pacemaker!

Would advise all to be cautious when getting involved with modifications to wiring.

(By the way, we have gone way off the original topic of this thread. This will not make it easy to find these items in the future)

03-02-2001, 07:51 AM
Good Safety tips are always welcomed !

My pic is of an older machine fer sure.

Consider your point, Noted and Logged , thanx

Holy ****, 40V !!! no wonder a loose X connector was NOT noticed.
I "gotta" get a new machine ! ! ! :-)

09-24-2002, 04:39 AM
I am new to posting on this board, but not new to reading all the really helpful information that I have seen to help me along the way to deciding whether or not to "plunk" down the $7+K necessary to get this machine.
I am a specialty artist in Little Rock, Arkansas. I manufacture custom "one-of-a-kind" dioramic shadowboxes. To explain a bit further, I "paint" with fabric. I create abstract and geometric art forms with a dense foam medium (an aviation product called "Klegicell") surrounded by a typical 30" X 30" X 4" shadowbox frame made of laminated plywood (either pre-veneered or post veneered) and fronted with tempered glass.
These art forms take me, on average; about 150 man-hours from start to finish (each). I manufacture a "run" of the frames ahead of time using all the other typical tools one might find in a cabinet shop. This process is fairly straightforward. I finish them with high-gloss urethane. I cut all the necessary dadoes and reliefs with a table saw.
The real problem I have is with the "insert". That is, the real art itself. As I am not that great of a "freehand" artist, creating complex circles and abstract splines and arcs and random shapes (that make my art unique) becomes quite time consuming and very labor intensive (especially when you factor in wood template costs and "screw-ups"). In fact, of the 150 man-hours I mentioned, almost 30 hours of this is spent making these "templates".
This is where I see the Shopbot as a dramatic answer to my troubles. I am proficient with CAD programs, and I see that I could virtually eliminate the need for even one more "template", other that the one I draw in CAD, thereby cutting my time down by at least 25%! I command a high price for my creations because of the costs and the time involved, and although incorporating the Shopbot into my workshop might add a tremendous corporate short-term debt, I see it ultimately reducing my costs and increasing profits for the same value charged. In my "Day" job, I work with a Thermwood CNC, and yeah, I would love to have that baby, but, one, I couldn't possibly afford it's high price ($175,000) and two, it wouldn't fit in my shop (neither size nor height).
So, it looks more and more as if Shopbot has just "dropped" itself on my doorstep. It has all the features I imagine I would need, answers many struggles I face with my art, and definitely looks as if it can be incorporated within my budget. (Well, yeah, it's an "ouch", but looking at the support, the software, this forum and the possibilities that this machine offers, it sure beats the heck out of cutting out and sanding stupid, wasteful wooden templates!)

09-24-2002, 05:19 AM
And, by the way, most of you might not be familiar with this medium "Klegicell" I mentioned.
I use it in place of other products I had used previously because of its density and featherweight characteristics. It's really a spectacular product, one that all of you might want to investigate. I can see that it can be used as an excellent spoilboard. It is a lot like foam board that you may have seen before, except that it is about 50 times denser, and extremely lightweight. It is used in aviation and also is in the Space Shuttle. It mills exactly like foam, maintains exact flatness when surfaced (in fact, when it is shipped to you, it is, indeed, perfectly flat, and, because of it's open cell features doesn't really need surfacing), comes in thicknesses from 1/8th inch to 2", and is available in about 10 different densities and various dimensions. Best of all, it's density/rigidity allows it to support extreme weight, yet it is still an "open cell" foam that breathes under hard vacuum (sorry to those who might think that a shop vac might work, cause it is SO dense that it WOULD take a vacuum pump to do the job, cause we are talking about a spoilboard with no necessary holes drilled) and, under such vacuum, will hold down the broadest objects and, I believe, with a little trial and error, also the smallest. It is not cheap, but the price varies on density. The Company is DIAB (Divinycell International Inc., Desoto, Texas) WWW.daibgroup.com. Ask them to send you a product sample box and price list on their Klegicell line. Even with the cost per sheet delivered, if you are careful with your cuts and your depth (as much as possible) I see this as a real gain in obtaining a very good spoilboard medium. Maybe Shopbot could look into buying this in bulk and offering it as an "added enhancement" at a reduced price to its proud customers! Hope this helps anyone here!

09-24-2002, 10:30 AM
Michael, you packed so much info into your posts that I cant figure out what your question is!!! Could you send me a photo or two of what you make? mechtron@iafrica.com (mailto:mechtron@iafrica.com)

09-24-2002, 06:20 PM

From my experience with our ShopBot, if you can draw it ShopBot can cut it. It doesn't sound like you are needing the speed of a Thermwood for your Shadow boxes.

We currently run our machine at 2ips to get a reasonably good quality cut without sacrificing too much production on panel products. We run our Colombo spindle at 200 Hz or about 12,000RPM to maximize the life of the cutter. Onsrud cutters can be expensive.

We bought the vaccum hold down system that ShobBot sells. How much does a sheet of that Klegicell run? I am interested in possibly using it for a spoil board due to its stability. MDF boards seem to swell a lot in the South due to humidity.

09-24-2002, 07:08 PM
From what I gather, you already have figured out that the ShopBot would be a good investment for you, but are looking for a little reinforcement to be sure. You sound like the ideal ShopBot owner: already CAD proficient, already spending undue hours doing tedious work that the 'Bot could easily do all day long (and more accurately), and already selling your work at a profit even without it. What are you waiting for? The sooner you get one, the sooner it will have paid for itself.
Just my humble opinion.

09-24-2002, 10:44 PM
The price doesn't bite quite so much if you consider leasing. I got mine for 60 months at less than 175/mo. Reading your "bio" leads me to think that you are already in "operation mode" just waiting for the SB to drop in front of you.
Get it and good luck.

09-25-2002, 12:14 AM
The site is actually diabgroup.com (http://www.diabgroup.com), and the material is spelled Klegecell. It looks intriguing.

09-25-2002, 02:43 AM
Thanks for such interesting feedback and emails! I appologize for the typos, it is often 3-5am when I finally get the time to sit down at the computer and respond. (Weary eyes). Yep, it is Klegecell, and I did get the web addy wrong (Thanks, David!) I couldn't wait to get home from that "Day Job" (I build Corporate Jet aircraft interiors for a huge concern here in LR) and try and help out this interest in Klegecell. Here is what I can add for you:
In aviation, this product is used in many ways. as an insulator, a sound dampener and as a "core" substrate in the manufacture of interior furnishings (cabinets, galleys, sidepanels headliners, etc). The product meets F.A.A. guidelines, will not burn, and is impervious to solvent based products (Lacquer thinner, acetone, M.E.K. etc.)
DIAB GROUP, the owners and manufacturers, enjoy sole rights to this product, and they know it. In the box of samples, each density is labeled as R45 (the least dense), R60, R75, and R100. R100 is the tightest cell construction in the box, but it doesn't stop there. There is also a tighter cell group with "H" ratings that look very similar to the density you will see with the R100. At work, we use what is known as "type" 260 and "type" 250. 260 is the densest form of Klegecell I have ever seen. It is as hard as a brick, yet light as a feather. This would be the IDEAL spoilboard if it weren't for two difficult hurdles to cross. 260 and 250 (to my knowledge) only come in sheets 4' X 5', but come in different thicknesses. This is not to say that we couldn't convince them to make them in different sizes. Next is the price. I am quoting from "shop" talk, but I believe that a 4'X 5' sheet of 1/2" 260 runs $130 @. Now, I know that is probably many times more than normal MDF of MDF "Lite", but Klegecell is unaffected by humidity, only perhaps to extreme heat changes.
OK, so if that is too much, I have an invoice from them for the products I bought recently, that also will work for you. I purchased two 1/2" sheets (41" X 83")(47.2 SF) of H30 at $148.21 each.
I also purchased two 1/2" sheets (48" X 96")(64 SF) of H60 at $60.48 each. It sounds confusing, but I believe that with the "R" values, the higher up the "R" number, the denser the product, and with the "H" value, the lower the number, the denser it is.
This could be, perhaps, way too much money to spend. I do it because I HAVE to reduce the overall weight of my boxes, considering the weight of the plywood and the tempered glass. They used to come in at around 40-45 pounds each, but now, with the Klegecell, they come in at around 25-30 pounds. Quite a difference when you consider that these shadowboxes hang on the wall at eye level and some units can be 30" X 60" and require substantial hangars or stud mounted fasteners to keep them there!
But, in experimenting with Klegecell, it occurred to me that because of the unique characteristics of this product and it's "weeping" ability, it would be fabulous as a spoilboard with a vacuum pump driven hold down table. I suggest you call them (972-228-7600) and ask for the free sample box and also samples of H30, H60 and type 260 and 250 and see for yourselves. I guess my analogy would be to compare the PC router against the Columbo..You could buy at least 10 PC's for the cost of one Columbo, but look at the differences in the two. Night and Day. The same holds with Klegecell. No more warpage, swelling, rework or heavy MDF to deal with. You just might have to be a little more careful about your "Z" drop. It might really have some great advantages after all.

09-25-2002, 03:05 PM
Can you use the Klegecell as a core for a table top and apply a wood veneer? What gule would you use? I currently use Urea Resin as a glue and place every thing into a vacuum bag.

09-26-2002, 02:19 AM

Yes you can, but with a couple of caviats. You can glue veneer, melamine, laminate, metal, or other substrates to it using Urea, contact cement, 5 minute epoxy, Gorilla glue etc. It's porousity allows an excellent bond with almost anything, but, whatever you do to one side, you must do to the other to prevent assymetrical shrink and pull. You do not have to use the same thickness, but whatever you apply to one side you must replicate on the other within a reasonable time frame, say, the same day. Also, you have to remember that this product is a structural foam, and although it has great characteristics, it has virtually no "grip strength" for hardware such as screws, bushings, etc, unless you replace a small square of the product with hardwood, bonded in place with a good 5 minute epoxy or similar product. We do this often, however, we don't use any wood screws at all, just threaded inserts of different size, pitch and lengths:


(Sandwich Panel honeycomb inserts on that page)

Thin melamine applied on the reverse side first then your veneer applied on the obverse side would do just fine. Klegecell has great resiliency. You can take a piece of 1/2" and bend it nearly in half before it snaps. But, because of that, it might be advisable to make sure that your piece of Klegecell is supported as much as possible underneath if you are intending to add wings or heavy wood structures on the perimeter of the table, unless you are anchoring those additional pieces on some other structure of the base other than the Klegicell.

09-26-2002, 03:18 AM
Michael, thanks for the photos. I am sure that you would do well with a ShopBot, especially since you are proficient in CAD and know what your company Thermwood router can do. You are are not going to get the same speeds and finishes, so expect to do a little sandpapering. Another huge advantage (in addition to the price)of a ShopBot over the Multicams and Thermwoods, is the fact that you don't need to think twice before drilling holes through the table for fixing something.

And that brings me to your Klegecell as a table top . . . . If a veneer on one side will distort it, then it is far too flexible as a table top for working wood. But, if you only plan to work something as flexible as Klegecell, then you would probably be okay.

09-26-2002, 05:42 AM
Thanks Gerald,
I appreciate your inspiring words. I am certainly not up to the challenge of a Thermwood or Multicam as "one of my own". It appears that, if not for the advent of something such as the Shopbot, I would just resign myself to the art of making wooden templates and call it "part of the job"!
And as for the Klegicell and the veneer, it's neither the veneer nor the Klegicell, it's the glue. I've seen this happen with a 4' X 8' sheet of 1/2" plywood when laminate is glued only to one side and set aside. The next day, the plywood is warped like a banana. When I make my base layer, I glue a sheet of muslin on the backside of the klegecell, and then glue my fabric on the top side, and even months later, no warpage is even evident at all. It just needs balance. I learned this through trial and error, as many of my previous forms turned into themselves over time. Not aggressively, mind you, but enough for me to notice and require me to rework the art to straighten it out. Once I did, there was no noticable effect. But you do make a point. "Kleg" is not a cureall for every woe. Just simple ones.
If weight and strength considerations are a premium for anyone here, and price point is a factor readily/justifiably transferable to the endline consumer, then I can suggest a viable alternative:


This is NOMEX. Many times stronger than Klegicell (but only in rigidity, not crush factor) Nomex will not bend at all! Yet it is as lightweight as Klegicell. It, too, is as flat as a pancake, available in many different thicknesses, but has no porousity whatsoever, and can be laminated with any substrate.
Excellent in building cabinets, tables, entertainment centers, or whatever you please, IF you can justify the price point for it. (To William: This product would be the "perfect product" for your needs. It would support everything you spoke about, even if you didn't have an additional anchor for your wings and peripherals. It might require the wood blocks or, instead, because of IT'S inherent characteristic honeycomb construction, would require the inserts I mentioned before with 5 minute epoxy shot into the cavities surrounding the insert, then the insert would become "one" with the panel, (if you should need it). But, if you thought the cost of the Klegicell was exorbitant, then watch out! Unless you buy some "damaged" goods from Nordam (from which you could use much of the undamaged portions), be prepared to spend about $600 for a 4' X 8' sheet of 1/2" flat panel ! Why it is so damned expensive I will never know, other than they are aware that there are only two companies that manufacture this product today:

Nordam, and:


Both manufacture a great product (and my employer stocks this product 100 layers thick, in each thickness!), but the price needs to really come down to reality for us "common folk" to appreciate!

I built a coffee table and two end tables with this product out of scrap from a job years ago, and it did exactly what William wanted it to do, and it performed brilliantly. Someday, I hope, the price will come down to reality! Until then, we either have to deal with lam plywood, MDF, or solid wood. There is a company that makes a cardboard based honeycomb product that Bus/Coach manufacturers are using that I have worked with and does very well, but I have trouble locating this company. When I do, I will certainly let you know!

09-26-2002, 06:20 PM
Don't forget Gil floor! Gil was the first to make the balsa core "flat panels". Their product line is even more extensive that AAR Composites or Nordam. Also, there's a small manufacturer of these honeycomb panels in Andrews, NC. I think the name is CAD Composites. And YES they are expensive, I have to pay $480.00 for a 4x10 sheet. We use our shopbot to manufacture aircraft floor panels for B-727, B-737, Fokker, Dornier and Saab.

09-26-2002, 06:25 PM
I forgot to mention.... You can create an "insert" by drilling a large diameter hole (for example: 9/16") and filling it with a strong epoxy. Then when that is cured, drill the correct size hole for your screw. Voila! Instant insert!

09-26-2002, 08:17 PM

One of the paper cores I have used is called 'TRICELL" honeycomb. I was looking up the link when I found this little jewel:




The paper core is neat in that one can put a structural skin on one side and then shape the other side before the panel (IF it is a developable surface) is applied. One other thing about 'vertical cell cores' as opposed to 'foam' cores is the glue use is considerbly less. One can 'roll' on a coat of suitable adhesive to the core and then bond the panel with the very little glue use and weight.

"DN" - ice-boats used a 3" phenolic impregnated core for the main 'beam'. I asked the designer how he came up with that thickness. He stated they thought a stiff main beam would be a benifit - and they had bought a trailer load of 3" core in an auction for very little money. So much for engineering!

Ron Brown - rgbrown@itexas.net (mailto:rgbrown@itexas.net)

"In general the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one class of citizens to give to the other."