Interested in Attending Open House / Learning About CNC Projects

I heard about Vancouver Hacker Space from some co-workers. I’m interested in attending the open house either this Tuesday or next and I’m interested in completing a project using the CNC machine. I understand there is an orientation that new members need to undergo before using any equipment, and I wanted to reach out and ask about the process before committing to a membership. Also, if there are any current members who use the CNC machine that will be attending one of the upcoming open house meetings, I would be interested in getting your input on my project idea! Thanks :slight_smile:


Which machine are you wanting to use? There is only one that is fully functional at the moment.


I’m interested in learning how to use the CNC machine!


Your enthusiasm is much appreciated :slight_smile:

We need to know which machine you want to learn about so we can find the person to give you a hand. CNC (computer numerical control) is only the method of control. There are ~3 CNC routers, 1 robot arm, ~4 3D printers, 1 small CNC milling machine and the laser cutter.

You can describe your project or check out the wiki at for help identifying the particular one you’re most interested in.


Hey Courtney - welcome to the forums! What material are you interested in CNCing? Wood, aluminum, steel, or something else? Tell us about your project! :smiley:

We currently have a wood CNC as well as 2 metal CNCs but I believe all are undergoing maintenance at the moment. Sorry for the delay in responses here (we are completely self-run so everything is volunteer).

I’m hoping someone that works more regularly with these machines will respond with a status update.


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Hello, can’t say I know much about where the current equipment is at but I have some of my own. I can help answer any questions you have.


I’m interested in using the wood CNC machine! I’m currently working on creating a 3D model to show what I’m trying to create in more detail, but in a nutshell I’m trying to create a small shelf for storing a game console and accessories. I was planning on rigging my raspberry pi to it as well to give led lighting effects! I found some “nailless” shelfs online that I thought looked really interesting. The pieces basically slide together or fit together as puzzle pieces. I have used a wood CNC machine before but this was about 10 years ago. I’m planning on coming to an open house to show my model once it’s complete and get some input if the CNC is operable. Thanks for your reply!


If the shelves can in any way be made with this baltic birch (usually 4mm I think), then the laser cutter is an ideal solution for what you’re trying to achieve. You can even double up the plywood.

Something like this:

It’s faster, easier, and working 100% right now.


Hmm, I’m not sure if this would be thick enough. The 3D model I’m creating uses the dovetail joint like in the image below:

Do you think this would be difficult to achieve with the 4mm baltic birch?

I also seen people cut these joints by hand. The main reason for selecting the wood CNC was wanting to engrave a name into the wood, which I thought would be easiest to do using the CNC. I also don’t know how gracefully I would be able to complete these joints by hand! What do you think?


Thanks for the reply Brian, right now I’m trying to decide best material and machine to use to complete my project. I will be able to provide more details when I have that 3D model put together, however I did post a picture of the wood joints I’m trying to use to put this shelf together in the reply to Jarrett’s post!


The laser cutter cuts in 2D, so you wouldn’t be able to do that particular style of dovetail, but you could do a finger joint which is quite similar:

(This is the model of a toilet stool I made using 1/4" birch and finger joints on the laser.)

Also, baltic birch is typically available in (nominally) 1/8" (~3 mm) and 1/4" (~6 mm) thicknesses. Note that the finger joints will fit best if you base the design (i.e. the length of the tabs) on the actual measured thickness of your material.

Edit: Forgot to finish note on etching. Definitely something you can do on the laser

To use the laser, you need to be a member and do the training ($30, ~3 hours, typically offered every 3-4 weeks).(Add your name to this thread to express interest in training: Anyone want laser cutter training?) You may also be able to connect with a trained member to do some cuts on your behalf while you’re waiting for training.

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Thanks for the information, I’ll add my name to the list! I think 6mm will work fine, I just need something thick enough to support the weight of a game console. I will have to do some redesigning to account for 2D cutting as well.

A few questions for you:

Is the wood available at the hack space or should I make sure to purchase this beforehand?

Is it possible to purchase a membership after attending open house on Tuesday? I wanted to have a look around the space before signing up if that is possible!

Thanks! You and everyone else in this thread have been very helpful! :slight_smile:

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The laser cutter is super fun and there is a ton of possible joints you can make with it.

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Maybe, but probably not. There is a designated laser material storage area. Essentially, members can leave laserable materials their as long as they are labelled with a name and date. Anything that is unlabeled or dated more than 6 months is free to use. (More details here: There is a chance there will be something usable there, but for bigger or more specific projects it is best to bring materials with you.

One of the more popular options for sourcing 1/4" (~6.4 mm) baltic birch plywood is Windsor plywood. Members typically get it cut down to make it easier to transport, and fit in the laser / laser storage. (It comes as a 4 foot by 8 foot sheet - the laser has a bed size of 1000 mm x 800 mm) Home Depot may be an option too, but it tends to be more pricey.

Steps for joining are listed here: It is done online through Paypal and by sending an email, so you can do it whenever and wherever.


Perfect! Thanks for the help, I really appreciate it!