CNC wood router tables are a great way to make accurate, repeatable cuts in wood. Just create your design and specifications, load the material and the router does the rest. While justifiably quite popular for industrial, hobby and educational use, these machines are not perfect and have some built in limitations. They tend to be bulky, because the machine size limits the area of the workpiece to slightly smaller than the size of the machine. So making small wooden gears or wheels can be done on a desktop CNC router, but making larger pieces such as cabinets or doors means a similarly large piece of workshop real estate will be needed. Good CNC wood routers can also be beyond the budget of many schools and hobbyists in today’s economy. Running a manual router obviates the previous cost and size issues, but repeatability and accuracy are skills that take years to develop and are hard to acquire in most schools. Some innovative thinking by graduate students at MIT have resulted in a hybrid wood router that combines the best of both worlds, with the convenience and potential cost advantage of a manually operated router and the accuray of a computer controlled machine. The router itself looks familiar aside from an LCD panel and some electronic circuit boards. Your design is loaded into the router, and the screen indicates the path than needs to be followed. As long as the operator places the router within .25 inches of the target, accurate cuts are made as the router mechanism guides the bit precisely over the desired path. This hybrid system can make anyone seem like an expert woodworker, and alleviates the need for a large router table to get CNC quality cuts. Perhaps we will see more versions of this as DIY CNC makers get hold of the concept and hack it into something even better.