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To un-cnc or not

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Active Member
Active Member
Dec 19, 2013
I have a Grizzly 0601 that I CNC'd several years ago. I am finding running the machine as a CNC not worth the effort, but before I return it to manual mode I thought I would solicit opinions.

Why un-CNC? Well the time to program, debug, and run the machine to make a part is painfully slow. Programs that do not run, parts that are not as planned, and the length of time from the beginning to the end of the process. I could give a longer more detailed list but in the end it boils down to time and frustration. Yes there is satisfaction when a satisfactory part pops out at the end, and yes learning to program was in the beginning invigorating but now the slowness of the whole process is just resulting in the machine just sitting there.

I did write little modules of programs which I could string togeather into larger programs, but they always needed a lot of modification and coordination and in the end I think I only saved some typing but not any time. The Wizard programs in Mach 3 were helpful but never enough to produce a complete part. And the rounded complex curves that a CNC can do so well, I have never found a need for them and thus will not miss them.

So is there something I have not considered or given enough weight to?

Thanks all.



Active User
Active Member
Mar 2, 2013
Cnc is great for multiple runs of parts, and custom parts which are detailed.

I would if possible look to get another machine and have both... but I'm greedy that way:grin:


Ulma Doctor

Infinitely Curious
H-M Supporter-Premium Member
Feb 2, 2013
Hi Transformer!
I don't CNC...

But my $.002 is,

if you are doing machining for fun or trying to make one off parts for enjoyment, it may behoove you to revert the machine back to manual operation.
it sounds as if you are not enjoying the experience with CNC.
this really doesn't have to be a problem, make the decision to revert the machine and be done with it. :bang head:


if you enjoy the process of setting up and programming CNC,
and are of the mind to stay vigilant until you have mastered the intricacies of CNC machining, and have a necessity for many of the same part
Do not give up hope. stay the course and slay the dragon! it will get easier as you acquire knowledge :pickaxe:;)


Active User
Active Member
Oct 14, 2014
Well, I like a CNC mill. The fact is, unless its a complex part, its generally faster and easier to make a one of part on a manual mill. So, yep, if you aren't having fun, go back to manual. or, get a second mill. I have both and often CNC part of the job and do part on the manual mill.


Active User
H-M Supporter-Premium Member
Oct 7, 2013
I think you may be talking about a lathe so this may not be any use.

I have a CNC mill but mostly make 1 off parts or prototype a lot, haven't run more than 4 parts of anything since I've had this Tormach so I do a lot of manual milling. With being able to use the DRO'S and make cuts using the keyboard or jog shuttle I like it much more than turning handles, I can cut faster and more efficiently, making better cuts with better finishes, I think.
If you can add cranks to your machine or get a decent shuttle you may like running manually more and still have cnc capability if needed.

I can't write G code programs and Fusion 360 has been easy to learn and generates complex G code programs for me for the parts I have CNC'd it will do turning functions for lathe work too that may save some time and headaches to the slow programming.

Good luck with whatever you decide.


H-M Supporter - Premium Member
H-M Supporter-Premium Member
Feb 1, 2015
I have a Tormach PCNC 770 and the primary reason for buying it was that it allowed me to do machining that would have been impossible otherwise. Most of the work that I do is 1 off pieces as well. For simple parts, I machine "manually" using the jog shuttle in continuous mode. It is "machine by wire" and lacks the tactile feedback of a crank on the mill and has limited feed speed options but does the job. The only negative that I would have would be in drilling operations. I value the tactile feedback for drilling.

One reason that lathe and mill operators use the power feed is that it provides a better finish on the cut. The same is true for using a CNC mill. I have a manual mill as well but can count on one hand the number of times that I have used it in the +5 years that I have owned the Tormach.

John Saunders from NYC CNC has some excellent You Tube videos where he runs through machining a part from idea to finished part in a matter of minutes. He presents weekly videos using Fusion 360, a free-to-hobbyist CAD/CAM package.

Tormach's PathPilot has improved their conversational machining to the point, that for simple parts, it is not necessary to create a CAD model and CAM post. While initially, it was limited to Tormach owners, they have relaxed that requirement and non-Tormach CNC machinists using Mach 3 have been converting.

If you are determined to convert your CNC, I would look at retaining the CNC but adding the cranks. There have been a number of setups like that have been described on various forums. That way, you would have the best of both. Above all, if you decide to revert to strictly manual, don't burn your bridge behind you. You may decide that you want to go back.

Bob La Londe

Active Member
Active Member
Apr 19, 2014
Quite often I've run acros simple jobs are easier to do manually. Since I no longer have a manual mill (and the one I had was not wonderful) I've learned that a notebook, calculator, and the midi interface that allows me to type in lines of code and execute them one at a time comes in as a close substitute for a manual machine. I still think there are jobs that are faster and easier to do manually, but I could never take one of my CNC mills and de-CNC-it. I've also found that learning how to use Klause' screen editor and create my own custom buttons to execute snippets of g-code speeds up a lot of little things I do all the time.

All of that being said, the plan is to bring another manual mill into my shop for those jobs that are just faster and easier to hack out by spinning the wheels. I just haven't decided what yet. Probably what ever comes along at the right time and price when I have some money in my pocket.

No matter how good I get with rapidly doing the math and entering the code or using the jog features there really is no substitute with some jobs (particularly with mystery metal) for the feed back you get from turning the handles.

I'm of the camp that thinks you should have both.


Global Moderator
Staff member
Feb 8, 2014
Why not convert it to manual/CNC. I would go nuts if my mill couldn't be run as both. When I CNC my lathe, it will be operable as the original manual, or as a CNC. With changeover in seconds, probably just by pressing the E-stop. Haven't done all of the designing yet.


H-M Supporter - Premium Member
H-M Supporter-Premium Member
Jan 20, 2016
I have a CNC mill and many times wished I had a manual mill.
So, I forced myself to learn enough G code and the proper use of my CNC control software (Mach3 with MachStdMill screen sets) to be able to do most anything as if I was using a manual mill with power on all axis. I just type a single line of code into the MDI and run it. Often I will combine several lines of code (within Mach3) as a short program. I'm no G code expert by any means, but can make basic moves in X, Y, and Z axis at specific speeds and feeds.
It has become as easy to mill something this way as it would be using a manual mill. And I still have the option to us it as intended - as a CNC.
I would think the same strategy can be applied to a CNC lathe.


Hobby Machinist since 2010
H-M Supporter - Sustaining Member
Feb 27, 2014
I echo what Mike P. says. It is not a steep learning curve to be able to use a CNC mill to make straight cuts at a defined speed and distance. For simple cuts, I will also do this. Sometimes using MDI, sometimes just using the pendent.


Former Member
Former Member
Sep 29, 2014
Your main problem is the control is to simple for such work, a high end control with a conversational mode can quickly and easily be programmed for common operations by anyone that already knows how to run a manual machine.

By simple I mean that it will do everything that you want yet requires a copious amount of coding and tweaking. With a conversational control someone has added macros and sub programs for simple tasks.

This sort of control would probably cost far more then your machine however. I run some old 1990's Bridgeport EZ Path lathes which have a very simple to use control and require zero knowledge of G Code, there are certain things that it will not do in conversational mode however so it may also be programmed in raw G Code.

As an example the part pictured below can be programmed in 10 minutes or less using the conversational mode.

Line 1 PGM #
Line 2 Tool choice
Line 3 Path enter a number such as 1 in case you have more then one in a single program. The Path screen offers choices of rapid, line, arc, thread, drill, groove etc.
You then enter the part shape beginning with a Rapid move, the program for the part pictured below would be as follows, you need not enter an axis, X is first followed by Z, Rapid, Line and Arc commands are mere button pushes

Rapid 1.500 0.000 (this describes the beginning of the part)
Line 2.000 -.250 (any position towards the chuck past Z0 is minus)
Line 2.000 -3.500
Arc 3.000 -4.000 Radius .500 CCW (the tool moves from 2.000 -3.500 at a .500 radius to 3.750 -4.000)
Line 3.7500 -4.000
Arc 4.000 -4.125 Radius ,125 CW (the last line move describes the size of the stock)
Confirm Path
Rough, Pressing the rough button asks you for several inputs, finish allowance in X and Z, DOC, Feed rates, clearance distances and so on, you simply tab down the fields and enter whatever values you desire.

Finish, Pressing the finish button asks the same questions as roughing without the finish allowance, speeds, feeds and so on, it will run the complete profile in one shot.

Done, you have entered 6 lines of actual dimensions and maybe 15 fields of other data such as DOC, Feed rate and clearances.

As mentioned this assumes you can already run a manual lathe and have set the tools and know what you want to do with feeds speeds and doc

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