Building a CNC router

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Picture of Building a CNC router
This instructable will show you how I built my CNC router. I hope you can draw some inspiration from my build and that this instructable will be helpful for your future projects. This instructable shows all the steps I went through in designing and building this CNC router.

The main thing I like about a CNC router, is that it is so versatile. You can use it as a drilling machine, a router, a saw, a mill and even as a lathe. Because my workshop is very small (it’s more like a shed), I didn’t have the  room for all of these tools, but I still wanted to be able to make very precise parts for different projects. That’s why I started to think about building a CNC router.

After doing some research I decided to design and build my own machine. It took me almost 6 months to build and design the machine from start to finish. Before starting the actual designing of the machine, I did a lot of research on the web. I recommend taking a look at the following websites: and These websites will provide you with a ton of information and answer most of your questions on CNC related topics.

Please note:
I built this CNC router as final project for school (also called 'profielwerkstuk' in the Netherlands). When I started the build, I was 16 years old and I finished it when I was 17. Although I have done a couple of larger projects in the past and have been doing FTC robotics for the last few years, I didn’t have that much experience with building CNC machines. This machine actually is the second CNC machine I built.  The first one was a wooden test machine, which I built to gain some experience and learn more about CNC machines. I tried to build this machine as good as possible, with the tools, the knowledge and the budget I had at the time. I think the machine came out pretty nice and I hope you enjoy reading about it.
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skhawale4 days ago
Is there any substitute for the Leadshine M542 co troller because it is'nt available in India.
Dr Soup 3217 days ago
Holy cow my friend, nice work!
coldmow20 days ago

Gruwelijk vet van je dat je het op Instructables hebt gezet. Dit is echt vet.

lcsmbs1 month ago

I am also designing and building a CNC router but I am not to sure about the dimensions. I want it to be pretty similar to your as I think it is one of the best designs around. Could you please email me the sketchup plan. Email is:

Much appreciated.



todos1 month ago

Hi and from me very nice project and really understantable posting. I am thinking of making a cnc on my own and i want some help in selecting dimensions of linear rails,bearings etc. and cutting bed?how i will configure the area of cutting?


Benne (author)  todos1 month ago

What materials you should use depends on the size of the machine you want to make, your budget, the precision etc. You'll have to provide a bit more information, so that I can help you better. I used 16mm fully supported rails for the Y and Z axis. You definitely want supported rails, when your machine is larger than 500/500mm. The cutting area will be about 20cm smaller in each axis than the lenght of your rails, but this also depends on your design. A good website with more information is: There you'll find most answers to your questions. Good luck with building your CNC router!

todos Benne1 month ago

Generally i want to cut aluminium and wood as you did and for the frame i will use also aluminium.So your length of the rails in your project is x:1050mm,y:840,z:400 and the travel area almost 20cm smaller in every axis.

It is worth to make a bigger cnc?If i want a cutting area of 1100mmx925mm i will use 1300mm x 1150mm rails?

If i made a bigger from yours i will lose precision and where i should pay attention?It change anything in the z axis;

If it easy for you can you send me some sketch up or any other information for my first steps.I sent my email to you with pm.

Sorry if i am asking stupid things but i am trying to understand what is the best dimensioning for my project.

Thanks and keep going with nice projects!

Benne (author)  todos1 month ago

I just send you an email with the sketchup drawings and some more information that might help you. Hope this helps.


Bog Trotter1 month ago

Benne Congratulations on an impressive piece of designing and construction. Is there any chance that you could edit the instructable to include some critical dimensions and a bill of materials and parts (BOMP). Bog Trotter

Benne (author)  Bog Trotter1 month ago

I haven't made a BOM, because most of the materials I ordered locally or from Dutch suppliers. In the instructable you can find the main components I used and the dimensions of the cutting area, rail lenght etc. I can send you the sketchup drawings, if you pm me your email address, but the drawings arent very detailed. If you want to make a copy/similar CNC router, I'm afraid that you will have to figure out a lot of dimensions yourself and see what materials you can use. But the sketchup drawings and all of the pictures probably can help.


benwade2 months ago

I can not tell you how much I admire the work you did here, and the quality of the instructable you have made. You will do well in whatever you undertake. I'd like to add that your English is fantastic.

Benne (author)  benwade1 month ago

Thank you very much for your comment, I really appreciate it!!!

Benne (author)  Nazir Naseer1 month ago

Nice, so you even made your own electronics, very cool!

mbrock131 month ago

First off great build! Your work has inspired me to build one as well. I had one question for you though. I am wondering what the dimensions of the side plates of the gantry were? thank you in advance for your help!

Benne (author)  mbrock131 month ago

Thanks! The side plates are: 200x530x15mm. I can send you the sketchup drawings, but I'll need your email address. The sketchup drawings are not extremely detailed nor fully complete, but they probably will be helpful if you want to build your own.

nice, how much did jtcost you to make
I meant 'it cost'
Benne (author)  TheMeltyBotBuilder1 month ago

Total cost was about 1400 euros

kbell141 month ago

how do you set the machine "0" position?

Benne (author)  kbell141 month ago

This is very easy. You should use the same 0 point as you used in your Cad/Cam program. For instance the bottom left corner of the material you want to cut. So you position the machine in the bottom left corner and make sure that the cutting tool is just touching the surface. I normally slip a piece of paper under it and lower my Z-axis until I can't move the piece of paper anymore. Then you go to Mach3 and click the Zero X/Y/Z buttons. You can find these next to the 'coordinates table' (see step 16). Your machine is now on 0 and you can start the program.

Hope this helps,


kbell14 Benne1 month ago

Thanks. figured it out after looking at the Mach3 Tutorial and confirmed by your comment above.

Tbus2 months ago

If anybody needs help with the CNC programming part I'm enrolled in a learn-at-home course in
CNC programming that is very informative:

orck2 months ago

Great build. I would like to see the other two motors. Their pulleys and belts.

Benne (author)  orck2 months ago

I added two more photo's to step 8, which show the Y-axis motor mount and belt in a bit more detail. Unfortunately, I don't have a good picture of the X-axis and since the machine is standing in it's enclosure and the motor is under the table, I can't really take a good picture of it.

topgun3083 months ago

This is a great instructable and I will be using some of your ideas in my build.WELL DONE!!

When I was looking on ebay for cnc parts I came across someone in the uk who is using your photo to sell a cnc machining service!!! Unless you have sold him your machine he has stole your photo to sell his service.

pityukecske4 months ago
Very impressive. Being a CNC hobbyist myself, I know this is a tremendous amount of work here. I couldn't find time to make a simple limit switch circuit for mine (a lot smaller, than this machine) for quite a few months now, a task that takes a hundred times less, than yours. Great work, amazing build, thanks for sharing!

stofke4 months ago
Enig idee hoeveel dit gekost heeft aan materiaal?
Benne (author)  stofke4 months ago
Ik denk dat ik rond de 1400 euro heb uitgegeven aan materiaal. De lineaire geleidingen en kogelomloop spindels voor de X en de Y as heb ik voor 150 euro van iemand over kunnen nemen, dus dat heeft wel gescheeld in de kosten. Waarschijnlijk had ik op andere dingen wel wat kunnen besparen, zoals op de elektronica, maar ik denk dat iedereen deze machine voor +/- 1500 euro moet kunnen bouwen.
SuperSVGA4 months ago
Just curious, what FTC team are you on?
Benne (author)  SuperSVGA4 months ago
Team 3761, Lords of the screws. But we aren't competing this year. Good luck with the rest of the season, if you are in an FTC team as well!
fahadshihab4 months ago
We do like it better when you did it with arduino.
have a try!
TP_inc4 months ago
Maybe just maybe I could ask my dad if I could do this with his plasma cutter
spamsucks4 months ago
Bah, I could have done this with a Popsicle stick and a bit of Gum. No seriously this project is fantastic, and is exactly what I have been looking for in terms of specifics in what I want to build. Its crazy you could work all this out, make it work and explain it well enough for people like me to use it :-) The fact that you are still young says we should expect great things of you, and the fact you wrote this in english for us is just really REALLY impressive. Keep up the good work! I wish you the best
gviola4 months ago
hi i can't understand a thing. mach3 sends g-code of my drawing to breakout board, but the board is already ready to work or i have to program it to make it works ?
Benne (author)  gviola4 months ago
You don't need to program the breakout board, but you have to configure a couple of things in Mach3. You need to set the output pins correctly and if you use limit switches or something else, also the input pins. You can do this in the ports and pins menu in Mach3. I hope this helps,

seekdzl5 months ago
I must say I am very impressed, both with the machine and also with your ingenuity. You have used tools in ways many no longer recognize as possible. The value of a lathe, probably the first precision machine, is enormous and you tapped into that value. If all young people in the Netherlands are as skilled and creative as you the rest of the world better watch out. I have never voted for any projects before now. I hope you win. Good luck.
Benne (author)  seekdzl4 months ago
Thank you very much, I really appreciate it!
HobbieTech4 months ago
My very first post on instructables. Benne, very nice instructable, I was wondering if you can post the the hole placement measurements and hole diameters, I would like to try to build one of these fine machines. Thank You.
idzalbs4 months ago
Can you please give the dimensions of aluminium plates? I am trying to make something similar to your design, so dimensions would really help!

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