Award-winning wood carving expert shares love of CNC machines

An award-winning woodworking expert has spoken of how his love for working with the natural material was transformed by CNC machine tools.

Youssef Benzaoui began as an enthusiast working with wood as a hobby, but it turned into a career in woodworking that would eventually win him a design award for his expert use of used machine tools.

He left his woodworking shop to program CNC machines for a living at a wood products firm but still loves working with wood in his spare time. He has won a design competition for a bamboo project made using his own CNC router.

“One day I was browsing the back of a CAD magazine and there it was: Turn CAD drawings into carvings on wood and other soft materials with a CNC router,” he told Woodworking Network.

“I took the plunge and bought a CNC router and a CADCAM package.”

Mr Benzaoui used this technology to start a sign-making businesses but two years later he took the opportunity to join a high-end woodworking company as a CNC programmer. He has now been programming and operating used CNC machines tools for more than 14 years and continues as a woodcrafting enthusiast at home on his 4×4-foot Digital Tools gantry router.

Using Delcam ArtCAM Express to carve and engrave wood, one of his first projects was a bamboo magazine holder inspired by circular word patterns used in old stone mosaic floors.

The design geometry was created in AutoCAD, then adapted to all faces of the magazine holder and carved with a 90 degree V-bit using ArtCam Express.

“I then imported the AutoCAD file into ArtCAM Express and used the Vector Doctor tool to pinpoint any failed geometry, where arcs and segments didn’t fillet properly in the original drawing,” he explained.

A 3D graphics option was then used to render the design in a range of materials and the selected toolpaths were simulated to ensure there were no loops or broken paths that would cause problems on the machine.

The finished project was entered into the Delcam ArtCAM Express design competition and won an Express Texture Toolpath module.

Now, Mr Benzaoui is planning to work on 4×8 foot panels and put his CNC programming skills to an even greater test.

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