Norman Pease fell in love with woodworking in 1985 when his career began and he was hired as a cabinet shop apprentice. Since then he has never looked back, with his passion for the sounds and the smell of wood allowing him to develop his expertise and get him to where he is today with his one-man show – The Three Gryphons Carving Studio.
After surviving the recession in 2008 and now with close to 20-years’ experience in the industry, Three Gryphons has continued to establish itself as a go-to for custom made decorative millwork. Based in Royersford, Pennsylvania, Norman deals with customers in a niche market, primarily serving cabinet makers, designers, and architects. His business offers everything from custom turnings to engraving, as well as customer relief work, signage and rapid prototyping for new products before they go into production.
The addition of CNC machining and SAi EnRoute CAD/CAM software has changed the way Three Gryphons operates, says owner Norman Pease (pictured)
“I began working out of the basement of my home in East Greenville and soon afterwards purchased a lathe. As my sales grew, so did my work week,” says Norman.
Although the company was founded in 2002, it wasn’t until 2007 that he made the decision to move the business out of his home and into its current location in Royersford. With his previous background in the restaurant industry now firmly just a memory of a former life, Norman purchased a 3 axis ShopSabre CNC router with a 4’ x 8’ cutting table to properly equip himself for what lay ahead.
Compared to hand carving, CNC machining with SAi EnRoute, reduces the time required to undertake jobs from several days to just a few hours, says Norman Pease
With demand starting to increase as the firm became reputable, and a need to support applications flexibility and ensure efficiency, Norman required the appropriate infrastructure to meet the requirements of his business.
“At this stage, I actually had too much demand for the amount of time available, so I was turning away work”, he explains. So began an initial exploration into the types of feature-rich CAD/CAM software solutions available on the market.
“I was new to CNC machining and I started from nothing. I didn’t know how to draw on a computer, I didn’t know how to use CAD, I never ran a CNC router before and the machine had to hit the ground running in terms of making money straight away,” Norman adds.
“As I had never used any other CAD/CAM software, I spoke to a lot of people about different software programs to drive the router and EnRoute was the name that kept popping up,” he continues. “Those recommendations from other EnRoute users, and a price point a couple of thousand dollars less than some solutions from other competitors made it seem like a sensible option from the get-go.”
Driving the business forward
The addition of CNC machining and EnRoute changed the way Three Gryphons operated from that point. The company currently uses EnRoute version 5.1 Pro to drive its ShopSabre CNC router, with the software being involved in everything the business produces. According to Norman, the straightforward and logical functionality of the software is a key aspect of EnRoute.
“It’s an intuitive program that can be used to solve any problem,” he says. “I like the layout; it’s a ‘what you see is what you get’ interface insofar as the icons and what they do, which helps to save loads of time.
“As an example, I once had a customer who wanted to achieve rugged carved look on an item, but the CNC router would typically make the finished piece too perfect,” he explains. “I noticed EnRoute has a function called ‘distort toolpaths’ – on the face of it, not a capability that users would typically access, but for this specific requirement it was exactly what was needed.”
Using EnRoute enables the creation of projects that resemble traditional hand- carved surfaces
According to Norman, this all-round intuitiveness links closely to the in-built time-saving element of EnRoute which proves a clear winner when it comes to enhancing overall design and production efficiencies.
“If I hand to hand carve products, I would be looking at a week to complete the project; with CNC machining and EnRoute, the job is done in five hours. Better yet, while it’s running I can be sanding or assembling on another project, so I’m getting more done - saving time over here, while driving productivity over here,” he explains.
Norman also cites EnRoute’s nesting feature as something that not only saves time, but also costs in terms of its ability to reduce material wastage.
“The nesting feature allows me to cut parts very quickly, as well as being able to draw the parts and know exactly how much material I need. This reduces the amount of material I waste on each job by about 15-20%, which quickly becomes significant over just a few jobs,” he explains.
Creating a path to hope
Alongside the usual commercial projects undertaken for various customers, Three Gryphons also opens its doors twice a week to Manor of Hope, a support program for recovering addicts. This allows those in rehabilitation to learn new skills in a working environment using EnRoute and to provide an outlet away from the stress and frustration that they may be encountering in everyday life.
The programming is accessible for all and, according to Norman, its simplicity is underscored by the fact that attendees are usually running the CNC router within a couple of hours on the very first day. This, he believes, gives a sense of accomplishment and is the first critical step in re-building self-esteem. Within two days the program’s participants are taking something home that they have made, even if it is a simple plaque with an engraved name or phrase.
“I had a new group the other week that included a graffiti artist who wanted to make his own font,” says Norman. “Usually this would be difficult, but he drew the whole thing up, took a photo with his smartphone and then imported the picture in EnRoute. Thanks to the intuitiveness of the way that the CAD tools are setup, it was very easy to teach him how to use it. With very little direction, he had his project drawn and ready to go.”
Scaling up for the future...
Based in part on the popularity of the workshops ran for Manor of Hope and the creativeness of those on it Three Gryphons plans to shortly upgrade to EnRoute version 6, which it will access through SAi’s subscription option. This will deliver the company even greater flexibility by accessing a range of business and productivity features beyond the RIP, as well as being assured of always having the latest updates.
For Norman himself, the importance of the software on his life can’t be over-stated: “I bought EnRoute and my CNC machinery in 2007. If I had not had both of those things I would have been out of business in the recession; I wouldn’t have survived,” he concludes. “Companies started to turn to me and say let’s put our effort and money into prototyping and new ideas and I did so with EnRoute. That’s how I got to where I am today.”