Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition

Exploring Component Fabrication with CNC

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


Explore Component Fabrication with CNC



Taught by Randy Johnson ,CNC trainer and woodworking author, this five-day course offers woodworkers, builders and fabbers  an in-depth introduction to the programming and operations of a three-axis CNC (digital) router.

“Although not a replacement for all woodworking tools and techniques, CNC has become a complementary tool for many woodworkers.  Considering the popularity of handheld routers and the ever-present template, the CNC adds a new level of control and repeat-ability. This is largely due to its ability to cut contoured and complex parts without the need for a template, guide or fence. When using a CNC, there is little penalty for design complexity. However, as with all making, the craftsmanship/artistry (choice of tools and materials, and execution of techniques),and the aesthetics, and the utility of a piece are all determined by the head and the hands of the maker. Choices not tools determine the final quality. 
In practical terms the advantages of using a CNC may simply be that of getting the job done quicker and at a saleable price point - whether it’s roughing out a Windsor chair seat, or chip carving 100 jewelry box lids.  Beyond its practicality, the CNC also provides a exciting opportunity to explore new ways of making things.”   RJ

Class Description

CNC machines are capable of almost effortlessly cutting complex designs and shapes. As such it can greatly expand the fabrication options available to a furniture builder, and the more one uses a CNC the more one discovers new ways of creating parts.  Getting over the initial learning curve of CNC can be a challenge, but a CNC is really just another shop tool, a somewhat unique tool - yes, but still just a tool. Learning to exploit the capabilities of a CNC can lead to new ways of solving design problems and fabricating parts.

This class will include 4-5 design challenges that use the CNC as the primary fabrication tool.  Students will work independently and collaboratively on the challenges. Instruction will include discussions on CAD modeling, tooling, machine setup, material holding jigs and CNC tips/tricks. 


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

  • Computer mouse and mouse pad

  • Digital calipers (not required)

  • The computer should be preloaded with ShopBot’s SB3 machine control software

  • If you are using your school’s or employer's computer, make sure you have administrator privileges

  • Pencil/pen and notebook for note taking and sketching

Tools provided by the school

  • Hearing and eye protection

  • Full version of Vectric design software

  • CNC routers (ShopBot Desktop)

  • Router bits required for class projects


Experience operating a CNC or using CAD design software (e.g. VCarve Pro/Aspire, SketchUp, Rhino, Fusion 360) is helpful, but not required. What is required is a desire to explore the design boundaries of CNC fabrication techniques.

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 runs from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday.
This class takes place in Building #315 at Fort Worden.  Map
Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the school.
Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size: 10
Cost: $ 800
Materials Charge: $ 55
Register By: July 6, 2019

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.