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The Return of Camp ShopBot

By Ross Gruet, Friday, November 4, 2022

It’s time to go back to camp! Camp ShopBot events used to occur several times a year throughout the country, but this is the first one since 2019. We had intended to ramp them back up in 2020, but things being what they are, we couldn’t get them going until now. And what a great way to get back into the swing of things! ShopBot CNC enthusiasts and ShopBot employees gathered at The North Carolina Furniture School on a bright autumn morning on Saturday, October 22nd, 2022.



 

North Carolina Furniture School is in the quaint town of Farmville, NC. The school is housed in a large woodshop that was formerly an old Chevy dealership. There is even some “Used Cars” signage intact on half of the interior brick wall. Every piece of woodworking equipment you can imagine is in this facility, with four ShopBot CNC machines, including a PRSalpha, a Stand Alone Indexer with dual Z, and a Desktop tool with decking removed for joinery. Our host, Stuart Kent, is the founder/director of the school and has been in the woodworking industry for many years. He’s a Fulbright Scholar, former Eastern Carolina University professor, and an all-around great guy. ShopBot began a partnership with Stuart and his school in 2021 to be an official ShopBot CNC training facility.


After some coffee and doughnuts, introductions, and milling about, we kicked things off with an introduction to the town of Farmville from town commissioner, Burt Smith, who was thankful to have a creative gathering in his town and hopes we’ll come back for many more. ShopBot’s Jeanne Taylor MCed the event, introducing presenters and their discussion topics and drew names for giveaway items between every presentation. 

 

Bill Young, one of the longest running ShopBot employees, joined our host Stuart in welcoming everyone and encouraged folks to email campshopbot@gmail.com about hosting their own Camp ShopBot at their workshops, schools, or community makerspaces.

 

ShopBot founder, Ted Hall, provided some company history and talked about our new status as an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT).

 

UNC BeAM (Be A Maker) shared slides filled with photos of their many makerspaces, labs, and workshops on their Chapel Hill campus that contain ShopBot CNC machines. The makerspaces are available to all UNC staff, faculty, and students. There are an incredible number of opportunities for the UNC community to make use of modern digital fabrication technology.



UNC BeAM (Be A Maker) talk about their many ShopBot-equipped makerspaces on campus.

 

Sign maker, Ernie Balch, presented highlights of his work and provided great insight into materials and finishing processes.



Ernie Balch talk about his sign-making process. 

 

ShopBot’s own Buddy Warner, sometimes known as “Buddy the Bit-miester,” talked about CNC bits and all the ways they can be used. He also shared highlights of his ShopBot CNC sign work.

 

After our lunch break, two more members of the ShopBot team, Jeanne and Tyler, shared details of a special tree “cookie” table that involved elaborate hold-down methods to evenly flatten the slab. They talked about design decisions and Tyler’s multi-step sanding process to achieve the smoothest surface possible. Hopefully Jeanne’s mother will appreciate all the hard work that went into the finished piece since it was made for her.  



Jeanne presented this tree slab "cookie" to ShopBot fabricator, Tyler, to work his magic turning it into a one-of-a-kind table.  

 

John Haggerty shared some of the wildest custom CNC work and custom jigs that we’ve ever seen! John has an incredible portfolio of large-scale work and innovative CNC accessories. He got all of us excited at the prospect of having a Camp ShopBot hosted by him at NextFab in Philadelphia. We’ll make sure we post information about it once it’s planned.

 

ShopBot Engineer, Ryan Patterson, presented a quick tutorial of his CabinetPartsPro software to demonstrate how easy it is to nest parts and crank out cabinetry with affordable software.

 

If you read our last blog article about Triangle Barkitecture, you may already be familiar with our next presentation. Ross from the ShopBot Marketing department and Alex from Engineering teamed up to build a unique doghouse for a local competition and charity event. Utilizing ShopBot-CNC-made parts and help from several fellow employees, they talked about the design process and experience at one of the most fun events of the year.



Alex and Ross, from ShopBot, talk about their award-winning Triangle Barkitecture project. 

 

Closing out the day was our host, Stuart Kent. He talked about his partnership with ShopBot Tools, upcoming CNC training at the school, and other woodworking classes on the furniture school’s calendar. He shared furniture samples with the group that are specifically made to look primarily hand-made, although, the majority of cut parts were created on ShopBot CNC machines in his shop. Stuart makes use of CNC to do a lot of heavy lifting by utilizing the repeatable precision of his tools on-hand. Most of his joinery is hidden and stronger than traditional methods due to the flexibility and detail achieved from his ShopBot machines. If you'd like more information on this topic and any other related CNC woodworking topic, sign up for Stuart's training courses and get ready to learn!



 

Between talks folks were encouraged to mingle and share their CNC projects they brought with them. Learning from one another was the goal and it certainly seems that goal was met.


Are you interested in hosting a Camp ShopBot at your shop or local makerspace? Email campshopbot@gmail.com and let’s put something together!



ShopBot CNC work from Camp ShopBot attendees.


Photos By: Ross Gruet, Jen Nix, and Jeanne Taylor


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