Cutting CNC Tabs with a Router Table

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CNC routers are all the rage these days, being used for everything from ad hoc intricate projects, to production cabinet runs. An overview of a CNC machine would convince you that this technology brings a ton of capabilities to a shop, and will help you understand the growing popularity around the technology.

Even though CNC routers bring a lot of automation to a shop, there are still some manual things that need to be done to successfully complete certain CNC projects. For example, when you cut small pieces out from a larger workpiece when running a job on a CNC, if the piece is completely removed from the CNC there is a loss of control. When that happens in the presence of a spinning router bit it can be dangerous, and the workpiece could be damaged.

One simple approach that can address this tricky situation is to leave tabs behind that provide a minimal connectivity to the larger piece. By removing most of the material, and leaving only a small amount behind, the cleanup effort is minimal. To use tabs on a CNC project;

Program your CNC software to leave the tabs behind. Most CNC software tools enable this, allowing you to specify position, number, and thickness of tabs. You’ll want to leave just enough material to securely hold the workpiece.

Remove the tabs. Using a specialty router bit, the tabs are easily removed and the work piece is freed. This can be done using a router table or hand-held router.

Clean up the workpiece. Carefully examine and clean up any imperfections that were left behind by the flush trimming process.

If you are interested in CNC technology, but working on a budget, then perhaps you might be interested in an introduction to benchtop CNC.