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: cncroutersource.com and cnczone.com. 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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Big Jonyesterday
I just started researching this project to make my own. Your instructable has very detailed information and the machine looks very clean. Thank you for this, job well done. I see you are making another, if you have a chance can you please send me your sketchup drawings for the new version? nels66@tds.net. Again, nice job!
Benne (author)  Big Jonyesterday

I only have Solidworks drawings for my new machine. It is based around linear modules from Bosch Rexroth. These modules are normally very expensive (I got them from ebay) and not easy to obtain. Even if you have Solidworks I don't think the drawings are very useful since they use these custom parts. It looks a lot like this:


An open source project by the Dutch cnc forum.

OrozcoJ16 days ago

Congrats Benne, this is a very impresive job!

AbdullahA1922 days ago

smart idea i have seeking such that idea but for aluminum

Great instructables, i found stepper motor, stepper motor driver and psu on here http://goo.gl/zT0D7b is it good deal? the controller is different from yours can i still follow this guide if i want to build 1?

MahfoodS1 month ago

Awesome project! I am currently trying to design something similar, so this is a great resource and inspiration :)

Regarding your choice to use timing belts to reduce the machine's space footprint, wouldn't that introduce more error into the machine? You're sort of throwing away the accuracy and precision the ball-screws are known for! Or am I misinformed in this regard?

Benne (author)  MahfoodS1 month ago

Well this depends on the type of timing belts you use. I used HTD timing belts which are known to be absolutely backlash free. The belts are very short so stretch is also not an issue.

It's nice to hear that you can use some of the information from my post for your design, I am currently building a knew machine as well. The knew machine looks quite a bit different and it deals with all the small problems i had with my previous machine. It looks a lot like this:


The biggest problem from my previous design was the X-axis. It's driven with only one ballscrew in the middle. If I am machining on the side of the cutting area, the gantry tends to twist a bit, because it's only held in place in the middle. The machine uses relatively cheap linear rails and these are not enough to keep it absolutely straight. A better idea is to use two ballscrews, one on each side. You could use the exact same design as my previous machine and just add an extra ballscrew, but I think the picture shows another improvement i want to make. It has a high base and the Y-axis is just a beam that goes across. This way you can create a large cutting height by making the sides higher and keep the whole structure very stiff. There is nothing that goes under the table, so it's easier to make the table stronger as well.

This design will be more expensive, since it uses extra ballscrews, motor and drivers etc. but I think it will work better.

nuno cruz1 month ago
excelent project! i'll follow this one to build my own. but tell me,why belts instead of direct? it will helps in vibrations?
digitalpr2 months ago
May I ask you where did you buy standard sizes aluminum plates that are already cut to length? I am searching auch pkates for a looong time :)

hondaman9002 months ago

Awesome instructable - thank you. Great detail and clearly stated.

I wonder if it would be possible to add augmented reality positioning like this: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/creationworks...

I would imaging a webcam and the software would be all that's needed. Not sure if you'd even have to have it integrated with Mach 3 to be useful. This would be very useful for avoiding the trial-and-error tests required to get the machine set up.

kbbaktha4 months ago

Great Instructable, so lucid and crisp. Thanks for sharing. This is one of the projects in my wish list. I hope to take up soon, as I am already 64 years young!

bybecker4 months ago

Nice job. Congratulations.

lowe5 months ago
Only 1500 for all aluminum cnc? Thats pretty good
-Maxi5 months ago
Hi dude, could I get your email? I'm looking to start making a cnc machine but I have some questions. I speak dutch so communication won't be a problem.
wdvalenz5 months ago

Great Job,

Could you please send the source files to my mail: wdvalenz@gmail.com please.

Kamikage5 months ago

Hello there :)

firstly... wooooow, that's VERY impressive :P

Secondly, I need a hand. Maybe a couple of hands. I am a heavy sketchup user, I designed lots of things, usually houses and pieces of furniture. Recently, I've been confronted with the need for a new bed. Looked on Ikea and some other places and found something that might fit but looking at the thing, it's not really worth the money. So I sat down and I designed my own bed in sketchup. Since I would like to be able to take the thing apart and I'm no big friend of metal... joints. MANY joints. The bed is basically built like a wooden jigsaw puzzle, using commercially available beams - usually around 45x45x2400mm, 19x100x2400mm, 25x50x2400mm and so on. Once all pieces are ready it can be assembled and used (at least according to sketchup design) without using any nails, screws or glue. I have a router (my boyfriend does). And a saw and mostly manual woodworking tools. But with the amount of joints in the design, it would likely take me and my boyfriend ages to finish the actual bed.

So I've been looking after a CNC router and I've come across your design. I think I'd like to build one myself, rather than buy one, because if I build it (based on your design) and it breaks (or, more likely, if I break it) at least I can fix it myself.

Do you think you would be ok with sharing more than the 18 steps (as in... really detailed) and maybe help me if I have questions during the building process? (If needed I can make use of german or danish).

Many thanks for your help and once more... wooooow coool machine :))))))))

Kamikage Kamikage5 months ago

Oh, I just tried opening the sketchup file at the end of the article, unfortunately my version of sketchup (8) can't open it. For the time being I haven't yet taken the step to sketchup make because I'm still running vista on my machine.

buckslayer246 months ago

What kind of materials can it cut?

Benne (author)  buckslayer246 months ago
It can cut all materials softer or as hard as aluminum. Aluminum works well, but I'm currently building a new machine that's a lot more high end and ridgid that will work even better for this. I haven't tried steel, but I don't think it's ridgid enough for that.
xemestan6 months ago

Ola boa tarde! Parabéns pelo projeto!

Podes me enviar seu projeto em PDF para meu email? Pois não estou conseguindo baixar: jeffersonalmeida22@hotmail.com

Muito obrigado!

QuentonR7 months ago

Thank you Benne you are an inspiration.

todos7 months ago

Ben is this-->


your set of ballscrews?

If not what was your choice?

NoumanM8 months ago

which type of cutting bit are you using in your project

kingkhalid8 months ago

like your cnc i want to build one can you send me your drawings and about how much does it cost my email nhm.khalid@gmail.com plzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Benne (author)  kingkhalid8 months ago
Both the total cost and the drawings that I have are in the Instructable

Hi! Nice Job! Any chance to see a video of it in action? And can you do 3D parts by using the appropriate software to e.g. sculpt wood moving all 3 axis simultaniously? Is this a hardware or software limitation if one can move all 3 axis at once? I have noticed that a lot of people use two motors on the x axis. Have you noticed any need for that? Have you ever thought about driving the nut on the z axis and not a threaded spindle? Would there be any advantage of not moving the z axis stepper motor along with the z-axis? Yes and like one other commenter already stated you did an very good job writing English. Easy to read and understand!

jdtilden10 months ago

i like your cnc i want to build one can you send me your drawings please and about how much does it cost thank you jdt_66@yahoo.com

hasannebso11 months ago

wow you amazing i love to build this router please can you send me the plane and the sketchup drawings


Benne (author)  hasannebso11 months ago

I just added the Sketchup drawings to step 1 of the Instructable. The drawings are not very detailed and not fully complete but I hope they will be helpful. I dont have a full set of plans, but the sketchup drawing and the pictures + documentation should be enough to build your own machine.

cnclover11 months ago

hi i am very interested in building this machine , can you give me the autocad file so i can modify the size of the machine before printing the design , thank you very much

paulgentile7211 months ago

here is a great cnc build I found- http://www.cnczone.com/forums/open-source-cnc-machine-designs/171805-starting-48x96-cnc-router-parts-build.html

drphil1111 year ago

Great piece of engineering and building. Have build one CNC machine already in wood. Need to move up to the next realm. Would you please send me your sketchup drawings. Thanks. docphil111@gmail.com

hamzas1 year ago

hi first of all thanks for sharing this info... great project i want to build this same design but in 2x scale is the same electronics will work and motors torque should be enough for acrylic or aluminium ??? and if possible please send me the plan on r.hamza_shahid@hotmail.com i should be really thanks-full to you thanks

How much did this cost overall?

kSaletta1 year ago

Wow this is such an amazing machine!!! Its so awesome how you made your own machine that you use to make parts! You did such a nice job on this!

Benne (author)  kSaletta1 year ago
Thank you!
jmacangus1 year ago

A fine piece of engineering.

skhawale1 year ago
Is there any substitute for the Leadshine M542 co troller because it is'nt available in India.

hey dude, i am salam siddique from mumbai

i have build a cnc mill myself and below are the pics you can see

i have to tell you that it is very tough to find cnc electronics here in india

i myself ordered tb6560 3-axis cnc driver from ebay

so it is good if you order from ebay or you can make one, there are lots of articles on the internet but if you are a beginner i recommend you to buy one

if you need anything just google it........

best of luck....

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