Beth Bourque, Masterpiece Woodworks: Custom by Computer

November 26, 2013

Whether it’s a cell phone or the latest CAD program, it seems like technology is constantly evolving and improving.

Though it’s probably not something that’s thought about all that often, one of the biggest breakthroughs in modern design technology, especially when it comes to woodworking, is the use of the Computer Numeric Control (CNC) tool, which is more interesting than it sounds!

The advent of the CNC router can be traced back to the 1940sit was a breakthrough technology that paved the way for modern, automated machinery. The router itself includes a large table which secures the wood in place. Using a variety of cutting tools, the computer-guided router moves around the table (the X and Y axes) as well as up and down (the Z axis) to make saw and router cuts accurate to within millimeters. 

It’s a technoloy we use all the time at Masterpiece Woodworks, because it not only allows for interesting textures and patterns not easily achievable by hand driven tools, but this technology gives interior designers unprecedented options for creating custom, one-of-a-kind pieces for their clients, whether it’s a cabinet door, a decorative panel or a home accessory. 

An intricate design achievable through the use of a CNC tool. Photo courtey of Masterpiece Woodworks, 

Virtually any designpatterns taken from fabric, wallpaper or even a drawing the designer createdcan be imported into the Computer-Assisted Design (CAD) software, and the cutting process is planned. The CNC router’s versatility also speeds up the whole wood working process to create custom fine furniture, it completes the cuts in minuteswhere hand-carving is cost prohibitive for most wood working projects. It’s like a table saw, router, drill press, and other specialized tools all in one computer-driven machine. 

Designers manning the CNC router. 

Photos detailing an example of work created with the CNC router are shown, with this design tool used to create an intricate tray–highly decorative and useful. The pattern was imported into CAD via a scan of the inspiration fabric. From there the designer traced the pattern, mirrored and manipulated it until the ideal placement was found. After the router carving, the tray was crafted by hand and finished in a custom mixed high gloss lacquer.


-Beth Bourque

Beth Bourque is the creative director at Masterpiece Woodworks. For thirty years, Masterpiece Woodworks has specialized in creating fine handcrafted custom furniture and cabinetry using an old world approach combined with cutting edge building skills and finishing techniques.  To learn more about Masterpiece, please visit their website at, visit the shop at 65 Bodwell Street, Avon, Mass., or call directly at (508) 580-0021. 

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