Building a drawer slide CNC machine for under $200!


Drawer Slide CNC Machine for under $200


Like many of us interested in this hobby, I wanted my own machine. But I didn’t want to dive into it, spend $2k plus and have a large paperweight out in my shop. The idea was born for a simple, cheap, somewhat accurate CNC machine that I could modify as I gained knowledge (and funds).

The first step in the process was deciding what hardware I was going to use.

I decided on the TB6560-3 axis driver bought off eBay for $22.00/free shipping. I chose this driver because it was very affordable, and that is how I chose most of the components for this project. Next came the 12V 8.5A Switching Power Supply, also bought off eBay for $14.99/free shipping

For stepper motors, I found a lot of 5 on eBay for $10.00/free shipping. They are small, but they actually have plenty of power for this machine (I’m not milling aluminum and the x-y is quite small).

The spindle is probably the most important part of the machine. If you buy something that has too much run out (movement in the shaft/bearings which makes your cutting tools “wobble”) you will have difficulty achieving any sort of accuracy. This is the mistake I made, I chose a Dremel 100. This is a great tool, don’t get me wrong, but it is made with a plastic housing, and it turns at 35,000 RPM so it has quite a bit of run-out.

There are a lot of misc hardware pieces need to build this machine, but most of which can be found at your local Lowes, Home Depot or local hardware store. I will detail a list of materials needed here:

Also, you will need some sort of software(and obviously a computer) to run the machine and to do drawings. I use Mach3(free... for the controlling software, and I do most of my drawing in Turbo Cad for Mac. There are many choices out there, some more expensive than others.

****EDIT**** I forgot to mention what I would do with the laser cutter if I were to win! I would make a lot of crafts and projects to benefit a not for profit I'm involved with. It's a great organization that helps children increase their self esteem and self confidence.


(2) 2”x4”x8’

(2) Pairs of heavy duty drawer slides

(1) small linear slide rail (bought off eBay $5.00/free ship) for Z axis

(1) 2’x2’ 1/8” sheet of luan plywood (could also use Plexiglas)

(1) Sheet of Plexiglas or lexan ¼” to 3/8” 10" x 10"

(1) 3/8”x 3/8”x 36" aluminum angle 3

(1) 3/8” x 36"aluminum U channel

(1) ½” x 1/8”x 3’ aluminum flat stock

(1) ¼”-20 x 3’ Threaded rod (lead screw)

(3) ¼”-20 hex standoffs 2” long

(1) ¼” fuel line hose for coupling motor to threaded rod

(1) Tube of super glue

(4) Wood screws for securing drawer slides to frame

(16) Nuts and bolts 10-24 x 5/8”

(12) Nuts and bolts 8-32 x 3/8”

(2) drill bushings (for lead screw support)



-For stepper motor hook-up determined by stepper motors (how many wires) and how far your drivers are placed.

-Power cable for power supply (used 3 wire cord of old power tool)

-Small length of 12ga wire for driver power (from power supply) + and –

1. Start by building a 2x4 frame, as shown in the Illustrations.

2. Attach the drawer slides to the frame

3. Glue or weld a small piece of sheet metal (with holes), or plastic to the hex standoff for the lead screws and attach to bottom of both X and Y axis

4. Attach the X axis plywood, luan, or plexiglass

5. Attach the next set of drawer slides to the X axis

6. Attach the Y axis plexiglass (10" x 10") to the drawer slides on the X axis

7. Next, attach the small linear slide to the upper Z support

8. Attach a small piece of plexiglas, or any other rigid material for the Z axis, along with another hex standoff mounted to the back for the lead screw.

9. Depending on your spindle motor choice, you will have to figure out how to mount it. I used a 2" plastic pipe holder, found at Lowes in the plumbing section.

10. Also depending on which stepper motors you choose you will have different options on mounting them. I used aluminum angle to mount them.

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jayrak28 days ago

How does the machine work? receive instructions for the machine to operate? Computer hardware and software???

bdubu2 months ago

Thanks so much for sharing this. After about five years of getting nowhere
on my own CNC machine (mostly due to limited funding + lack of an acceptable workspace), I now have renewed hope. This really is a good
overall (fixed gantry) design for a first time CNC hobbyist. Just like imyz, I too have an "evil plan" to use your brilliant simple design to "bootstrap" myself into this hobby. I'm a little disappointed that no one has yet shared pics of their own builds of this CNC machine. BTW, I believe you indicated somewhere in the comments that you'd be upgrading your design. Do you have any news regarding that?

niels.wraa3 months ago


Nice machine !

Can the machine be used by a mac computer, and what software can be used for it, and do you know anything about freeware for mac.



patsam371 year ago
How did you hook up the controller to your lap top. I tried a db25 to USB cable but I cannot find the I/O number. All 3 lights just stay lit but nothing happens.
You need an actual DB25 port, a USB to DB25 conversion cable won't work. Try using an older laptop or better yet, a desktop.
Elivonk abadon9 months ago

Will a circuit board to go from USB to DB25 work?

imyz1 year ago

Out of curiosity, how much accuracy you can get out of it?

I have an evil plan to make a clone of your machine and then use it to build a second of my own design.

Elivonk imyz9 months ago

i'm also making a clone of his with a few tweaks here and a few teaks there like doubling up the Z axis support and not using plexi glass for anything

mal-hajji1 year ago

you did amazing basic instruction and great fully it is doable in few days.
there is only one thing i miss in here. the electronic part. how did you connected the motors to the driver ?

taydos1 year ago


S30z1 year ago
Did you not use stepper motor drivers?? or are they not needed. Forgive my insolence
patsam371 year ago
My step motors have 6 wires how did you hook everything up to the tb6560 and power unit. I have been looking online trying to find out an easy way to hook everything up but I could only find the 4 wire hook up.
CopperDropDesigns (author)  patsam371 year ago
Try this link.
Harrison V1 year ago
Would you build one for me, if I bought it from you and paid you for labor, parts, shipping, ect.?
Great job on this it looks fantastic! What software do you use for designing your parts?
CopperDropDesigns (author)  krissh00092 years ago
287 oz-in is wayyy more than what I was using. I doubt they are actually rated that, but it is still a bigger motor than I used and I can cut wood just fine.
CopperDropDesigns (author)  krissh00092 years ago
You should be fine with those. Thanks.
ddzahn2 years ago
I'm in the process of creating this build. Great Ideas and design! Luckily I saw a potential problem with dust fouling up the bearings so I mounted them upside down thus making the raceway opening face downward. Also, I am using 3 nema 23, 283 oz steppers I found on e-bay for $90.
aimatt2 years ago
This is really an outstanding build. Are you sure about the price of steppers though? $10 for 5 is so so so cheap.
CopperDropDesigns (author)  aimatt2 years ago
Yeah, I found a great deal. They are they same size as printer stepper motors. I'm sure you could find some non working free ones on Craigslist.
Redsic2 years ago
Lovely design..

Good Idea's on Sourcing component's...

You have given me some Invaluable Ideas on cutting down the cost's of the
I am building with quite afew modification's...

Thanks !

gera2292 years ago
Do you have any backlash with this?

What did you use for the bushings that hold the screws in place?

I see a plastic part with a cylinder in it, but what is that? You didn't specify it in your BOM.
CopperDropDesigns (author)  gera2292 years ago
I used bronze bushings, similar to this:, but I bought them at the hardware store.

I don't really have any backlash, yet. I'm sure as the nuts and rods wear, it will get more noticeable.
gera229 gera2292 years ago
Also what's the max speed you get with that driver and motors?
steinesc2 years ago
I've been looking around on eBay for the 3-axis controller. Haven't been able to find any as cheap as you have. Any suggestions as to where else to look?? Thanks! Great project!!
I wasn't able to find any of the electronics or motors with the same/similar specs, anywhere near the price the author found them for..

I did however find a Chinese supplier on ebay with a warehouse in the US that I got a 4 axis version of the same controller, and 4 motors for about $100. The cheapest I found anywhere was $85 for the 3..
Thanks for the reply. I have been trying ebay and have been looking around for a few months now. I've been wanting to build something else for a project of mine, and have been pushing that off until I have this built, so I can try to build it with the help of the CNC.

I'll just keep looking around.

mikerosati2 years ago
How is the Z axis supported when the slide isn't fully extended? If you have a pound or two with the slide, mount, and whatever you may use as the spindle (dremel, trim router, etc..) wouldn't that just put all the weight on the screw and motor, which would pull apart?

Thanks :)
CopperDropDesigns (author)  mikerosati2 years ago
The Z axis is supported. It is on a single linear slide, which is quite stout and flexes very little. The is not taking any side to side load.Look at the pictures againd and you will see it. Thanks.
Thanks for the reply :)
I wasn't asking about the side to side support though. I was concerned about the vertical - Yes it's on a slide, but what other than the motor and screw is keeping that slide from dropping to full extension? As an example, if I have two pounds of trim router, small mount to connect it to the slide, etc, wouldn't that two pounds be pulling down on the screw, trying to pull it off the motor? Since there is no spring to help alleviate the weight, wouldn't this stress and break the hold made by glue, etc with the coupling hose?
CopperDropDesigns (author)  mikerosati2 years ago
Ahh, I see what you are saying.

I have not had the tubing "coupler" break loose yet. I guess super glue, and a very tight hose connection is enough for the light weight dremel. I am in the process of rebuilding the machine and upgrading it. Stay tuned! Thanks.
dionicia122 years ago
I really like this design and I want to try and build one like it but I'm curious as to some of the parts you used.

How long are all the drawer slides that used?
They look very similar, if not identical to the slides I purchased from Lowes.. I got 24" heavy duty (up to 100 pounds) for $18 a pair.

I thought it would be a good idea to get the best slides, and use them through upgrading later.. Only $3-5 difference from the smaller/lighter duty ones..
abetusk3 years ago
This project really looks great, thanks for the instructable!

Can you speak a bit about the resolution you're getting out of your CNC? Also, you say that you had touble with your Dremel100, is there are Dremel tool that you would recommend that doesn't have as much play? Can you speak a bit about your source for the U channels, threaded rods and other hardware you used in your build?

Sorry for the deluge of questions, but I'm trying to build my first CNC and I'm still trying to get a feel for what kind of hardware and where to purchase it for a reasonable price.
CopperDropDesigns (author)  abetusk2 years ago
I would probably use any small router(trim) with an aluminum body. It would reduce the amount of run out.
I got almost everything from the local hardware store, which was the point of this whole project. Let us know how your project is coming!
acl98652 years ago
Can you explain how you attached the output shaft to the threaded rod? If it's just a tight hose it would seem like there would be a lot of potential slip, yet I can't find any metal coupler online that fits a 5 MM output shaft..
CopperDropDesigns (author)  acl98652 years ago
I couldn't find a small enough coupler that would work with this design. So I used a 1/4" heavy duty fuel line hose and super glued it. I used the super because as the motors heat up, it transfers the heat to the hose and it loosens up and slips. It has been working great, and if there so happens to be a programming error, the super glued joint is usually the first thing to break, not your machine.
hamettal2 years ago
i'm almost done building this project but i still wonder.. where did you use the aluminum U channel? xD i'm sorry i read this instructable over and over again and i can't find it!. i have some issues programing with mach 3 :/ i hope to make it work, so i can show you a video :) regards!
CopperDropDesigns (author)  hamettal2 years ago
I didn't really need it, I just used it for my light bar, so it's not neccesary. Can't wait to see your build. Let me know if there is anything I can help with.
omg lol true!! i didn't pay atention to the light bar!!! thanks!! let me check cuz i need some help on mach 3. i want to add a Estop button and limit switches but i'm not sure about how to do it
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