Substitutes for the "ideal" craftroom or shop

Looking through many threads in this community I find it easy to discover plenty of digital fabrication machines or other shop/craft nessessities to compliment or somehow expand/enhance the capabilities of the glowforge in combination with other tools/materials. (I’m like a little boy with a toy catalog) But then reality sets in and I realize that I would either be short on funds or shop space (which might be true for others also.)
I’m curious to know, for those that care to share- What tricks, jigs, hacks, shortcuts, or other tips have you discovered that compensates for the lack of space or the high tech tool?

I will start with a lightbulb moment I had this week. I was real close to buying one of those CNC machines to complete my “ideal” shop of laser cutter + CNC + 3D printer, because I felt like having a cnc would help me realize some of those 3D designs I have in useless plastic from my 3d printer into natural beautiful wood carvings or something for the laser. But i have just realized, that I do not need a computer to reproduce a 3D design on wood if my 3D printer will suffice. I spent too much time researching how to strengthen 3d printed parts, stronger filiments or coatings trying to make the print be the final part. I had failed to realize that all I really needed to do was use the plastic parts as a pattern and then use a carving duplicator to transfer the 3D pattern onto the wood. Lookup Gemini wood carving duplicator, Radarcarve, or copy carve to get an idea of what I mean. There are also plans online to build one yourself (great laser project perhaps.)

Cons - I have to print/create/obtain my 3D pattern first and cannot CNC direct onto wood.
Pros- Much cheaper than a CNC, Larger build volume than CNC desktop machines, almost unlimited length and both Pattern and new block of wood can be rotated in synchronization via chain giving you 4 axis dimensions of carving.

1 Like

Wow, good question, I’ve lived wanting more toys for so long and not have in the cash or the space I may miss a lot simply because it is now instinctive. Let me throw out a few things that may get the ball rolling.

  • Think in cubic feet not square feet with limited space. Many tools can be stacked, I’m needing to do more of this right now.
  • If what you have will not make what you want, use what you have to make a tool or template to make it. Sounds like you have already figured this one out!
  • You have to have something to cut with but it does not have to be ideal. I used a panel saw and a straight edge for years before getting a table saw.
  • A laser cutter will do most of the things a CNC will do if you are simply willing to reimagine the part. That does not mean I will quit loving my CNC

The pantographed part from a 3d print is a bit of a stroke of genius, I would have never thought of that.

1 Like

I’ve seen many people build fold up tables that hold cnc machine. Or just a fold up table in general.

It’s all about utilizing all your free space. A French cleat shelving system is a cool thing to have (and easily made).

1 Like

Ive seen the duplicators that also scale up or down the original as well. So you could save time and resorces on your 3d print and still end up with your desired product. With my glowforge i had panned to use an old oak extendable dining table and make a bracket to nest the glowforge where the leaf would go which would also serve as inlet and outlet support for the pro passthrough if i made it level with the bed.


I look forward to hearing what ideas others have to share. In my case, I use my maker equipment for a growing side business. The business was initially just a way to pay for equipment that could hopefully pay for itself and help buy the next piece of equipment. It may become my primary source of income in a couple years.

My “office” has been a computer desk in the corner of the dining room. Using @markevans36301’s “cubic feet” concept, my laser printer and inkjet printer are on a custom built hutch above my computer monitors. The hutch cost about $30 in wood and an afternoon in build time.

When I wanted to buy a used vinyl printer/cutter, I knew it would take up most of the rest of the dining room. I asked my wife if she was willing to give up her dining room for 1 year for me to test the waters with a printer/cutter. We only used the dining room about twice a week anyway.I figured in 1 year, I’d either decide the printer/cutter was a bad idea and sell it or it would prove its worth and I’d need to move to a bigger location. It has proved it’s capable of paying its way and that convinced my wife and I to invest in an addition (garage with office/workshop above) that I’ll move into later this month.


This is where mine will be going.


Drooling here! We’ve been wanting a craft studio/cottage, like, forever.

This ones moved along a bit since the picture was taken, it’s got a roof now which will, eventually be planted with Heather.




I cant be more jealous right now. Im in a rental property and have been dreaming of something like this…

Wow! us city folk wish we could build a dedicated craft cottage :smile:
@markevans36301 Thanks for the tips. I actually never would have thought about the 3D print to duplicator idea and I can’t find that process documented on the internet either. I only stumbled on the thought when i was looking at a website showing how they duplicate guitar bodies or gun stocks. It occured to me that the thing i’m duplicating can be any material as long as it is rigid then copy that onto wood. Pictures are worth a thousand words so I may have to create a 3D print to solid wood instructable showing the gluing of plastic parts and transfer process to one solid wood object (could make a multipart glowforge object and transfer that to a solid also)
@primal_healer I’ll have to try that scaling thing you mentioned. I may have to try it just for art to start with and then do some research on how to do scaling for accuracy.
If I was an inventor or had any knowledge of programing, I think it would be cool someday to design some type of hardware/software for the occulus rift that would allow someone to do this virtually from another room with a stylus of some type - but now I’m dreaming again.


The flip side of that coin is that us country folk don’t get easy access to good restaurants, theatres, cinema, museums etc and we have to put up with really slow internet.


True. seems like folks in the subarbs will have the best of both worlds or if your house is just big enough for equipment. The Carving duplicator i mentioned above as an alternative to CNC is still very large. It will take up a table the size of a 4x8 sheet of plywood (or unless there is a way i can mount the whole thing vertically against a wall…)

Not sure what you’re getting at. There’s one of them new fangled “movie houses” just 45 miles away. And my closest neighbor Edsel has a nifty collection of deer antlers and vintage hubcaps that anyone can look at for free. (not kidding).


Maybe Edsel would be willing to part with some? It could be some nice laser material :wink:

Thanks. Good idea. It’s Buck season right now. The smaller antlers are just discarded. One of the neighbors gave me half a Buck to butcher on Wednesday. Had a little venison with my eggs this morning.


@Joshua Im not sure if the upscaler i mentioned exists but i thought of it from watching previous videos i think one was on “how its made” of mints making dies for coin production they carve a huge version of the coin and downscale it multiple times till they have the desired dimensions. I can see a problem with doing the reverse tho. If you start small and increase in size it would also magnify any errors in the 3d printed object. Just thought it may be something to try to save time and money. In theory all you would need to do is take an existing duplicator and increase the length of the arm on the working side to give you the correct scale up. But either way thx for the mention and have a great day. Cheers