Why isn't Home Depot aping Ponoko?
Samuel Blanco made this desk himself from plywood
(smartly the kind with holes in the bottom so he could loop his router and such underneath) for just $185. It won't win any awards for originality, but you can't beat the price.
It'd be nice, though, if there were a way for everyone to cut out big piece of wood like this. I just ordered a cut of wood from Ponoko
last night for a car PC that I'm building. It'd be slick if Ponoko could work with machine and wood shops around the country to outsource bigger projects like Blanco's table. Or hell, it's a perfect opportunity for Home Depot or Lowes—upload your EPS file before you leave the house to go pick up your freshly cut pieces.
For someone like me who doesn't want to buy tools they're likely only to use a few times, a larger-scale manufacture-to-order service would be great. They could dip their toe in with services like cut-to-order wood for easy things like desks and shelves, then scale up to larger, more intricate projects with more materials if it makes sense. It'd let the hardware stores expand into a whole new marketplace, half-Ponoko, half-Ikea.
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