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Sticky - Intro to CAD, CAM and CNC Machining

Nov 12, 2016
Have you ever been curious how production knifes handles and Kydex are made? Or maybe you have a great design with a solid customer base but have a hard time finding reputable machine shop to preform the specialized work you need.

In that case this post is for you! By the end you should have a basic knowledge of how factory knifes are made and might even be able to explain what CNC is. It stands for Computer Numerical Control but don’t worry there wont be a quiz. Its basically just machining with lots of help from computers.


1.DXF files are the most basic 2D Cad Files that serve as a foundation to build higher level CAD models. Your typically going to need one of these files before most CNC/Waterjet/Laser Shops will quote a job and at a minimum you need a well dimensioned sketch.

DXF files look like this:

2. A number of free software programs such as DraftSight and QCAD (open source) can be used to create these files. If you are using them for commercial applications be sure to check the end user agreement or upgrade to a commercial license.

3. Taking a 2D DXF file to a 3D STEP file is beyond the scope of what I can cover here. But the bottom line is CNC machines are only as good as the 3D model and the 3D model is only as good as the 2D model.

You can draw about anything with CAD

Including Professional Thermoform Tooling! I might have removed a few trade secretes on this one! But lets just say the retention, repeat-ability and overall function is second to none when you have a CNC Mill cutting your molds.


1. People often confuse CAD and CAM.

CAD is what you draw
CAM is how you cut it.


So that’s the basics of CNC! There are some pros and cons for knife makers


Low cost per part
High Production Capacity
Cuts most materials
High Quality
Mixed Production Capacity - A properly set up machine can store 1000’s of programs for different jobs.


Medium Tooling expense
Typically don’t do just 1 part.
Not suitable for fragile materials

So that's the basics when I get some time I will post a some trips and tricks on making DXF files for professionally designed knifes.

To inquire on any part you might need call the shop 419-220-4009 or shoot us an email at [email protected]


Matt Stoner


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Gold Member
Mar 1, 2006
:thumbup:Congrats on the new subforum. Good looking gear on your website too.


Fiber Laser & Waterjet Service
Jan 23, 2010
Nice work and welcome to Bladeforums Matt.
Nov 12, 2016
Thanks for the welcome guys!

Mark I like your water jet work.... We would probably make a pretty good 1-2 punch for any type of production run!
Aug 27, 2017
I am trying to get my college credits to transfer over to this trade school to learn mastercam. This is what ive decided to do with my life gents