CNC router - making hive boxes?
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  1. #1
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    Default CNC router - making hive boxes?

    Has anyone experimented with making their own hive boxes with a large format CNC router? I recently purchased a Maslow CNC router (https://www.maslowcnc.com/) and plan to experiment making my own boxes. Unfortunately they are no longer selling the kits. I would love advice on rabbit joint vs box joint and wood section. Due the radius of the tool box joint require a relief cut in the corners that will leave a small gap. I was surprised I could not find a CAD templates for Langstroth boxes so I am drawing that up now.

    Alex

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: CNC router - making hive boxes?

    I've done some NUCs from Advantec on my Camaster Stinger II 4x4 with no problem. Obviously, the joinery was incredibly precise due to the nature of the cutting method and that made the rabbit joints tighter. We don't generally build "boxes" because honestly, it's less expensive to buy knock-down from Mann Lake than it is to buy material in most cases, but I'd do these NUCs and so forth on my CNC again in a heartbeat.

    Don't worry about finding pre-made designs...you can't get more simple than drawing things out for them in whatever design software you use (Vectric V-Carve Pro for me) and the tool paths are simple. Just remember to cut the rabbits first before you do your cutouts and depending on the material you are using, make your tabs thick enough to not crumble if you're using something like Advantec.
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  4. #3
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    Default Re: CNC router - making hive boxes?

    I think using a CNC router to make simple rabbits is a bad case of 'thinking in the box.' It really opens up the capability of doing things that were so impractical without CNC that no one has thought about them. OK, you could carve your apiary name in the boxes, or even do an artistic carving of cool artwork on the boxes, but I'm sure there are some real practical new capabilities here.

    Cutting insets on the flat of each of the corners for a metal corner bracket to keep from damaging the woodwork when using a hive tool to loosen the boxes up? Insets on the front for magnets to magnetically attach robber screens? Cutting an inset for screen on the inside for a vent (thinking nuc boxes)? Some kind of flap doodah for OAV treatments? Slanted slot for inserting a strip of corrugated plastic sign as a rain awning over the entrance? These are all marginal or silly thoughts, but I'm sure there are things that can only be reasonably done on a CNC router that just have not been thought of yet.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: CNC router - making hive boxes?

    I love the idea of cutting inserts on the flat of each of the corners for a metal corner bracket. that also reduces the need for a box joint.

    Alex

  6. #5

    Default Re: CNC router - making hive boxes?

    I know their was a com company that did it that way. If I remember right. The corners of the finger where rounded. He bought by the pallet.

  7. #6
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    Default

    Hi Alex
    Last winter I did my own boxes out of 7/8” cypress on the CNC. I did box joints and predrilled all of the corners for the clearance issues with a 5mm drill bit then did an offset route on the perimeter. Worked out very good. I used plenty of glue during assembly and the joints are air tite. I have the DXF files from autocad still. I did 8 frame mediums.

  8. #7
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    Default

    Can you share your files. Great ideas!

  9. #8
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    Default Re: CNC router - making hive boxes?

    Note that is is possible to share .dxf files (or any other type of file) by putting them inside a .zip (compression or archive)
    file and adding that as an attachment to any post. The "attach file" button is available after clicking "Go Advanced" in the default Message Editor that pops up when one clicks "Post Quick Reply". If anyone has difficulties attaching a file send me a PM.

    Oh ... and the type of joints under discussion are 'rabbet' joints. 'Rabbit' is entirely something else.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  10. #9
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    Default Re: CNC router - making hive boxes?

    If you had a horizontal spindle, (with the board flat), I could see using a CNC router, especially if it had two spindles.

    Crazy Roland

  11. #10
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    Default Re: CNC router - making hive boxes?

    Roland, CNC is best used for hive bodies made from sheet stock, such as Advantec, but it certainly can be used for solid stock, too, with some careful setup, albeit not as efficiently as with sheet goods. Joinery resulting is typically rabbet construction using CNC because few machines have the capability of holding material vertically for cutting through joinery like fingers or dovetails. "Horizontal" spindle is a very rare thing; generally that capability comes from with an uber-expensive 5-axis machine.
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  12. #11
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    Default Re: CNC router - making hive boxes?

    Jim - or a person with good dumpster diving skills, a big stack of 80-20, some THK linear rails, and some big dreams. So far it is just a pile of parts, but most of the custom parts are made. Dual spindles good for 10K are finished. I need mount motors and figure out what the carriage should look like.

    Crazy Roland

  13. #12
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    Default Re: CNC router - making hive boxes?

    Sounds like a good plan, Roland...and you cannot beat "finding" good materials like that. The controller system you choose will have a significant impact on how well your machine operates, to choose carefully.
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  14. #13
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    Default Re: CNC router - making hive boxes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tmac View Post
    Hi Alex
    Last winter I did my own boxes out of 7/8 cypress on the CNC. I did box joints and predrilled all of the corners for the clearance issues with a 5mm drill bit then did an offset route on the perimeter. Worked out very good. I used plenty of glue during assembly and the joints are air tite. I have the DXF files from autocad still. I did 8 frame mediums.
    Have you been able to figure out how to share the DXF files?

  15. #14
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    Default Re: CNC router - making hive boxes?

    i had bought an I box for my table saw to be able to make perfect finger joints and it does just that. Problem is that its so cheap to buy assembled or unassembled boxes en mass that its not cost effective for me to make my own boxes anymore.
    I just bought a bunch of deeps for <$15 delivered. I can get them for $15 even assembled locally and cheaper in bulk.

  16. #15
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by aran View Post
    i had bought an I box for my table saw to be able to make perfect finger joints and it does just that. Problem is that its so cheap to buy assembled or unassembled boxes en mass that its not cost effective for me to make my own boxes anymore.
    I just bought a bunch of deeps for <$15 delivered. I can get them for $15 even assembled locally and cheaper in bulk.
    I found the same problem. My CNC slated racks were a fun project, but they did not save me a dime. My router is relegated to fun tinkering projects.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: CNC router - making hive boxes?

    Jim - yes, the drives will be important. I am/was familiar with Virtual Gibbs, a CAM program that can use .dxf or .dwg files from Autocad. I understand Gecko is one route. National Instruments Labview looks interesting.

    It is true that current woodware is hard to compete with pricewise, however if you want woodenware as Root made it, with finer grained Eastern White Pine, proper hand hold heights, "P" metal frame rests, old style number of box joints, and frames with 3/8" bottom bars, you must make them yourself.

    Crazy Roland

  18. #17
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    Default Re: CNC router - making hive boxes?

    Roland, it may be a good idea to try and use a more mainstream CAD/CAM application for your design and toolpathing work...Vectric, Fusion360, etc. The latter is from Autocad and is free for personal use and for small business/startups with revenue under $100K. I use Vectric software because that's what my CNC manufacturer supplies with the machine. But that's not the controller software I was referring to. The controller software is what actually drives the machine...WinCNC, Mach4, Acorn Centroid etc.
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  19. #18
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    Default Re: CNC router - making hive boxes?

    for a free CAM/CAD/Modeling program, Fusion360 is amazing. It is no SolidWorks or Master CAM, but it is free and does everything most hobbyists would need.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: CNC router - making hive boxes?

    Alex, Fusion360 goes well beyond just the hobbyist market in both capability and "who is using it". But yes, it's not quite as complete as the super high end packages you mention.
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  21. #20
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    Default Re: CNC router - making hive boxes?

    Jim, Virtual Gibbs, is actually one of the mainstream CAM programs for metal working machine tools. Mastercam is it's rival.

    Crazy Roland

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