Modern woodworking has recently undergone a fundamental shift in technology. The development and application of computer driven systems of drafting and machining have brought the traditional crafts to a new level of accuracy and efficiency. Not only have the manufacturing processes become more streamlined, the possibilities of design and craftsmanship are attaining new levels as well.
In the modern, CNC shop, a project is “built” in the CAD/CAM lab, before it ever reaches the shop floor. Computer generated drawings not only supply information about dimension and material, in addition, the lines of the drawing often serve as machine programming information for processing in the shop. The computer-controlled milling center has become a central fixture in many cabinet shops in our locale; indeed, competition in the industry demands that a cabinet shop utilize modern means of production if it is to survive and prosper.
This sea change in manufacturing techniques has created a new job market, one that requires a thorough grounding in both the traditional skills of the woodworker and new, computer centered abilities. There currently is, and will be for some time into the future, jobs for graduates with the comprehensive education to master both aspects of the trade. Jobs are currently open for draftspersons, layout specialists, machine programmers and operators.
The Wood Technology program at Laney College has responded to this opportunity. Our CAD lab utilizes the latest versions of drafting and cabinet layout software. By using Cabinet Vision, Alphacam, SketchUp, CADCode and AutoCAD to design and document woodworking projects, students will learn current techniques in use throughout the woodworking industry. Our shop has a 5-axis CNC which utilizes student-generated information to cut and machine cabinets and furniture in the most up-to-date manner. Our fully equipped shop allows hands-on experience and education in this rapidly growing area of fine woodworking.