If you’re the type of gadget-obsessed woodworker who likes to push buttons, the Craftsman CompuCarve System may be for you. The CompuCarve (Model #21754) is an 83-pound, three-dimensional woodworking machine that can rip, cross cut, miter, contour, joint and rout. It does all these things not only to wood, but to plastics and some kinds of high density foam.
It also, and Woodworker’s Journal editor Rob Johnstone — who played with it at one of the recent woodworking shows — thinks this is one of its coolest features, carves. You can design an image for it to carve, or you can scan in a picture or a design and the CompuCarve will translate the image into data (it looks at the “grayscale” of the light and dark spots on a picture and translates them into pixel depths, so it knows how deep to carve) and carve it onto your material. You could, if you wanted to, carve a truly custom molding with this tool, in much less time than if you did it yourself without the CompuCarve assist.
That is not to say, however, that the tool is particularly speedy. It’s not: you’ll be able to get a good start on some other woodworking projects while you’re waiting for it to finish up the design you’ve set it to carving. It is, however, faster than some CNC routers, and it’s easy enough “for the average Joe to make it work,” Rob says.
You do need to have a PC running Windows 2000 or later to make it work, but, because of the memory card that comes with the CompuCarve, you don’t have to have your computer in your shop.
The tool also comes with carbide cutting and carving bits, ¼” adaptors and a starter software package. It costs just under $1,900. For more information, go to http://www.sears.com.