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Where CNC meets handwork: Owain Harris

You might think that a woodworker who dives into using CNC equipment either doesn’t much like working by hand or doesn’t know how. Neither would be remotely true of Owain Harris.

Harris, who works in Deerfield, New Hampshire, and used a ShopBot CNC in the process of building his recent sideboard (see the back cover, Manual Meets Digital, in issue 267) has also built a wide range of complex period and contemporary furniture based in hand work and traditional machines. And he has loved the process.

Figuring out which tools and techniques will best accomplish a particular job is what keeps Harris excited about going to the shop every morning. He thinks of each new piece of furniture as a puzzle, and his job is to crack the code. Sometimes, the solution involves hand tools, sometimes machines, sometimes the ShopBot; and often it’s all three.

Harris got his CNC machine when a friend offered him a great deal on a virtually new ShopBot. In addition to furniture he does a fair amount of built-ins and kitchens, and he thought the CNC would come in handy in that sort of work. But he’s discovered since that it’s helpful in a wide range of ways.

For the inlay on the top of his recent sideboard he used the CNC to create templates—which he followed with a hand-held router. The CNC also enabled him to sculpt the compound-curves of the scalloped doors and drawer fronts on the sideboard.
When our web producer, Ben Strano, and I visited Owain recently, he gave us a tour of the ShopBot—and of the sideboard it helped to build.

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Published at Tue, 20 Feb 2018 21:34:08 +0000