Hi Everyone -

We're the Craft Tech Lab at University of Colorado, Boulder. We've recently acquired our first handibot, and we're new to the world of CNC and routers in general (we primarily work with laser cutters and 3D printers).

We have a few newbie questions (and yes, we've googled, hunted for documentation, etc. so we don't waste anyone's time).

1. What are the main safety considerations for inexperienced users, outside of the obvious safety guidelines for working with bench/power tools?

2. Some of us (like me) are tiny girls, and struggle with the weight of the handibot, even if just to lift it to put material under it, or to change bits. Are there any suggestions for set-ups? We don't intend to pick it up to move to larger jobs - we work on a very small scale. We also work with it on a workshop bench, and I'm worried that a kid is going to mistakenly let go and it will drop onto his foot ...

3. What is the most goof-proof bit to use for engraving letters (it doesn't have to be deep) - for both largish and small-ish fonts?

4. Are there any specific constraints when purchasing bits? Can we use bits that are used with regular routers?

Thanks so much for your input.

Re: Newbie questions: safety, weight, bits
June 07, 2019 12:52AM
Okay, lots of ground to cover and I hope others chime in so you will have a variety of opinions.

1) Okay, in my opinion, the Handibot will be one of the safest power tools in your shop. That is not to say things can't go wrong, just that they will go wrong slower than on say a table saw.
A couple of thoughts here, always make sure the bit is correctly installed in the collet, the right depth and not too tight or loose.
Check files produced by students carefully, taking too big of bites will get you in trouble, wait, being too conservative isn't good either. You have to develop a feel for it and record settings for it the way I'm sure you do for your lasers.

2) Jigs and levers. I'm a big man but don't have near the muscle mass I once did as I march into geriatrics, two-person lift put it on a jig that has a hinge or where you can slide material under it. There's lots of prior art for this. If you have a specific use case and can't find anything, give a holler, and maybe we can find it together.

3)Depends on the look you are going for, but you got Vcarve with your handibot so a good bit to work with is a V bit. A 1/4" ball works well for mono-line fonts.

4) For the most part, you want to avoid most bits made for plane routers as they won't typically have the up cut or down cut spiral. Stay away entirely from bits with a guide installed.
My most used bit is a single flute 1/4" up-cut. These work great for cutting out sheet goods. For carving things from solid wood, you will want carving bits.

1) There is an "hood interlock" that can be enabled on your handibot so that whenever someone opens the yellow hood while the tool is running, it will automatically pause motion and turn off the router. You can restart your cut once you close the hood, but it will not allow anything else to happen in the meantime. I tend to leave this off when I'm at home -- but always have it turned on when I'm working at shows where curious kids might try to get at the parts being cut while I've got my back turned.
This setting is in the configuration menu on the tab titled "Machine" ... you can test it by opening the hood and then trying to start the manual control keypad. The tool should warn of an interlock and refuse to be moved.

I agree with Mark that the V-bit is a good one to start with--you're unlikely to break the bit and it will give you a chance to get familiar with running the tool while not making big, deep cuts at first.

Thanks for the great tips! We will definitely engage the "hood interlock", and will look for jig/lever ideas.

Re: Newbie questions: safety, weight, bits
June 13, 2019 10:37PM
ya know I was thinking that you need to turn those lemons into lemonade. Petition the school and see if you can get 1/2 a gym credit for all the lifting smiling smiley
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