Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition

Digital Design and Fabrication

Explore, in detail, the techniques and software to use a three-axis Shopbot CNC system. Learn the techniques for consistent and precise cutting. 5 day class with Randy Johnson.  


Beginning Digital Design and Fabrication



Taught by Thea Eck, owner of Hosta Designs and who previously worked for ShopBot Tools, this 5-day class offers any type of maker, whether they are a designer, woodworker, teacher or artist, a beginner-level investigation into digital fabrication software and methods. 
Like any skill, digital fabrication techniques can be learned. Increasingly one finds CNC fostering production and lowering financial strain while maintaining quality in small shops and schools around the US. Though its work-flow is unique one must still approach digital fabrication with design principles in mind. Once learned, computer aided design (CAD) enables revision at a pace that is sometimes not feasible by traditional methods. In addition, digital fabrication can add intricacy at a level that only a well-versed hand accomplishes. CNC routers enable different materials to be investigated including wood, plastics and aluminum, and also foam and wax for prototyping and moldmaking. Digital fabrication adds another tool to one’s repertoire. Beginning Digital Design and Fabrication serves as an introduction to this language.

Some examples of designs made with CNC router. Projects will vary from last year's class.

Class Description

This class is for those new to CNC or at a beginner or early intermediate level. Through a series of structured lessons and projects, students will explore several core CNC design and machining techniques, including computer made designs (CAD), cutting file creation (CAM), tool operation, and material holding techniques. As part of the process, students will create their own designs for some of the projects and use the CNC router to cut them. Students will leave with a workbook of project tutorials and digital fabrication concepts as well as inspiration to explore new projects. 

Topics Covered will Include

• CNC design software and techniques
• CNC Set up and calibration
• Programing CNC tool paths
• Designing and machining 2D shapes
• V-carving
• 2D textures techniques
• Laying out and machining a two-sided design
• Jigging and hold down techniques
• Router bit selection
•  CNC Project ideas
•  Wood, foam and plastics will be cut

And as time allows

• Basic 3D modeling


Students are required to bring

  • PC laptop computer loaded with Windows 7, 8 or 10
  • OR a Mac laptop running Parallels with Windows 7, 8 or 10
  • OR a Mac laptop running Boot Camp with Windows 7, 8 or 10
  • The computer should be preloaded with Vectric’s trial version of VCarve Pro
  • The computer should be preloaded with ShopBot’s SB3 machine control software. 
  • If you are using your school’s computer, make sure you have 
  • administrator privileges/access to the computer


  • Hearing and eye protection 
  • Full version of Vectric design software 
  • CNC routers (ShopBot Desktop)
  • Router bits required for class projects
  • All materials


No prior CNC experience is required. For those with some experience, there will be the opportunity to explore more advanced designs and cut them (as time allows).  There will be three Desktop CNC machines available for student use.

This course is open to woodworkers, builders and makers at all levels and interests. Wood will be the primary material cut during the class, but the design and machining techniques covered in the class can also be applied to other materials such as plastic, aluminum and foam.

Students should preload the trial version of VCarvePro Design software and watch the “Getting Started” and “The Basics” tutorial videos prior to attending class.  

Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00am on the first day.
This class takes place in Building 304 at Fort Worden - not the School Building. Map
Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.
Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size: 10
Cost: $ 775
Materials Charge: $ 50
Register By: July 10, 2017

When you click on the Register link you will be able to register for the class or, if the class is full, sign up for the wait list. 

Level 1