Introduction: Aluminum Cnc Router

This Instructable is not going to be a step by step build log of my machine, but an overview of my design and what I learned over the course of this build. Hopefully I can share a few things to help with your CNC build.

My frame design was based on various moving gantry CNC routers from around the internet, with a few alterations. I chose aluminum as my building material mainly because it was easily cuttable with the tools I had available, and I figured it would have much greater stability than a wood frame.

dbc1218's DIY-CNC-router build ( guided me through most of the internals of the system such as the linear guide rails, ACME lead screws and nuts, and also with the CNC controller and stepper motors. If you want a step-by-step guide I would strongly recommend dbc1281's instructable.

Step 1: Frame Build

The frame was built using mostly 1/4in 6061 aluminum from onlinemetals. All of the aluminum cuts were done using a standard miter saw fitted with a carbide blade. Cutting was very precise, and quite fast, even when cutting 1/4x3in plate. A drill press was essential for this project. I learned very quickly that a center punch does not help at all with alignment of holes if you choose to drill by hand.

Step 2: Gantry

Linear System: 16mm steel shafts and bearing blocks (mainly from eBay).

Acme 1/2in 2-start threaded rods ( Couplers, anti-backlash nuts, shaft collars (

bearings (

I went with a 16mm linear system throughout the entire system, 13mm would have probably sufficed, and would have been much cheaper. 1/2in ACME threaded rod may have been overkill also. The only problem I have with this gantry is leverage. When pushing on the router bit by hand it easily moves ~1/8in in both the x and y direction. I may cut the height down a couple inches in the future to combat this problem.

Bosch Colt router mount came from

Step 3: Electronics

Controller: Gecko 540 and power supply from

Motors: 3x 280oz/in Gecko Stepper Motors

Computer: Old pc with parallel port

Router: Bosch Colt variable speed.

Software: LinuxCNC, Autodesk inventor, Inventor HSM express.

The g540 isn't cheap, but it is reliable and easy to set up. I initially thought about purchasing software to control the CNC, but chose LinuxCNC instead. It comes with tools to setup the g540 in no time at all. I chose the Bosch Colt because it was fairly cheap, and well liked on the internet. Autodesk provides a 2 year license to students free of charge, an extension called HSM express creates gcode files for linuxCNC very easily.

I also purchased an aluminum box from It is a bit expensive but comes with a lot of nice features in a nice looking box.

Cable Carriers are from

Step 4: Conclusion

Final build cost was around $1500. The router cuts wood great, and will do aluminum with Cut depth around 1/32in at 15in/min. The build ended up being more expensive than I was hoping, but it was a good learning experience.

As of now I am using double sided carpet tape to hold pieces to the table, and haven't had any problems with that.

I am not using homing or limit switches. I find it much easier to just home the axises to the edge of my project each time.


rfmdelgado (author)2017-05-13

Hello, great instructable. I'm in process of building one myself but I can't find a good programa to go from SolidWorks model to GCode, what do you use?

cdroster (author)rfmdelgado2017-05-24

I use Autodesk's Fusion360 for modeling. It also has an integrated CAM for converting to GCode, which works pretty well.

xr3negadex (author)2014-03-02

Do you know the name of the site is instructables it is a place where there is step by step instructions on how to build or make something


That's rude... While step by step is nice there is plenty of information here to make this a good Instructable !! THANK YOU for sharing !!


A picture is worth a thousand words. Thanks for sharing the pictures. Nice build.

cdroster (author)xr3negadex2014-03-02


russ_hensel (author)cdroster2014-03-03

It is nice to give lots of instruction, but combined with the references I think your instructable is a good addition to the site. Thanks.

pfred2 (author)2014-03-04

I'm just happy to see someone make a CNC router without gobs of 8020 for a change.

supertwang (author)pfred22014-11-23

Hi Pfred2, Funny your comment actually introduced me to 80/20... I'd never heard of it. It seems like a great toolkit, so I'm wondering if your comment had more to do with how often people use it, or if you thought it was an inferior (capability-wise, not looks-wise) approach. I don't have a lot of tools around, so it'd appear to be a pretty sweet solution to building metal infrastructure. Is there some flaw I should know about before buying into that scheme, or was your comment more about the aesthetics? Curious.


PS. cdroster, I enjoyed reading about your router build too -- thanks!

pfred2 (author)supertwang2014-11-24

8020 is great if money is no object. Well, as great as extruded aluminum can be I suppose. Although be careful, not all 8020 is first run 8020. If you find a bargain you've probably found something else too.