After many attempts and learning experiences using CAD and CAM software (Inkscape and PartKAM), I have learned that while it is possible to cut your own cable chains, the time and effort involved simply doesn't justify it, especially since the results have been far from perfect. Because of the very fine bow in the wood some pieces came out thinner than others, wood on wood circle joints stick way too much without a lot of sanding, the tabs necessary to keep the pieces in place so they would not be destroyed in the cutting process increase the work ten-fold as they need to be trimmed and sanded. For the small CNC machine I am designing, I would need between 6 and 10 feet of cable chain that take approximately 20 minutes for each job that results in a two links that measure approximately 5 inches. If the jobs ran perfect (not) that would take about 5 to 7 hours to cut, add in the cost of material and I should have bought it on ebay.
I look at the whole thing as a great learning experience with these major takeaways;
- I learned how to make pockets and islands in PartKam
- I learned how to make, and the importance of, tabs in PartKam
- I learned simple is better in CNC work
- I learned that large pieces of 1/4" plywood do not lay flat enough to do accurate CNC work on
- I learned accurate cuts are absolutely necessary when making cable chains that should move fluidly