General International & Woodcraft Team CNC Education Program

During IWF 2010 show in Atlanta, we met and interviewed (left to right), Steve Stevenson (General International Marketing Director), Joe Brakhage, (General International Manufacturing Rep.), and George Snyder, (Newington, New Hampshire and Providence Rhode Island Woodcraft, LLC store General Manager).

General International, a 64 year old North American family based company, manufactures CNC machines, grinders, shapers, drill presses, dovetailers, and many other woodworking type machines.(pictured below)

General reps their machines through Wooodcraft, LLC. General and Woodcraft have built a 15 year relationship together in which they are successfully teaming an educational CNC program in high schools, technical universities, vocational schools, and recently the Rhode Island School of Design as well as charter schools which educate in specialized training. Woodcraft has been instrumental in this program by having the woodworking knowledge and stores in strategic areas in which to demonstrate General’s technology for educators and placement into these schools in Canada and the U.S.

As you will hear in the following videos, students that participate in this program come out of school educated in V Carve Pro Software (a photoshop or illlustrator type software) which will bring in an image from virtually any file format, converting it into a vector graphic which allows the CNC to machine it. Teachers can provide instruction, machine knowledge, and hands-on woodworking experience to each student giving them experience before graduating into the job market. Each student will have taken their personalized project through the learning process of raw lumber, wood planing, table saws, measuring, CNC use/programming and assembly on an individual project offered by the schools cirriculum and finally taking home the finished product. Having more well-rounded, future woodworkers is an outstanding accomplishment!

Listen as Joe and George tell you about the General and Woodcraft team program:

The initial school CNC program was started in 7 out of the 10 Canadian Provinces and became very successful showing that older CAD programs and software were outdated and did not work for the school systems. General International and Woodcraft help to support this new program from sale to installation and beyond according to Steve Stevenson. “The interface, software and machine are easy to learn and operate”. Steve also stated, “General has created a swap out program for the control box and router, so that the machine’s maintenance remains low and will continue to run smoothly” and “the software can use just about any file that most computer users would be familiar with for the design requirement”. This allows for 100% student participation due to the friendly computer user interface, and Steve says, “This is huge in a school environment today”. In addition Steve maintains, “If you are a Woodcraft dealer in a successful education market, this is a product you can have a huge success with”. I would venture to say that this type of program could have the capability of helping to turn around an unsuccessful education market and teach many kids this technology in woodworking as well. I wish my school woodshop would have had one of these!

One other point Steve touched on was the safety factor. The machine is encased in an OSHA approved lexan enclosure with a safety interlock.  When the door is opened the router and motor shuts off, eliminating any student injury risk. The standard dust collection system hooks up to all school shop systems.

In addition to the school programs, Steve explains the technology:

From computer…to CNC Router…to final machined engraving…this baby get’s it done fast and correct…

Also supporting the General International IWF booth was Julie and Jim Ford, owners of three Woodcraft stores located in Newington, New HampshireEast Greenwich, Rhode Island; andJacksonville, Florida. (shown below with Darin Lawrence, Director of Product Development for Woodcraft, LLC).

For more information on the General International CNC program for schools, please contact your local Woodcraft, LLC store.

Thanks goes out to everyone at this booth for educating and spending time with us.

As a side note, Woodcraft would like to welcome George Snyder back to Woodcraft Supply, LLC in Parkersburg, WV, where he will assume the role of Product Manager in the Product Development Department. George has been the General Manager of the Providence, RI and Newington, NH stores since 2004, and prior to that, served as a Regional Manager for Woodcraft from 1995 to 2004.


Next up…Take a trip with me to a culture that started with the original woodworker, as we take a look at Doug Mooney’s Artistic Native American Indian Woodturning.

Auf wiedersehen…Frank

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