Building your own CNC router/milling machine

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Already at the age of 12 I was dreaming of making a machine which could make things! A machine which would give me the opportunity to create products for in and around the house. Two years later I stumbled ont the words 'Computer Numerical Control' or more specifically the CNC milling machine. After I found out people were able to build one themselves in their own shed, I knew it! I had to build one, I yearned to have it!!
For three months I tried to find the proper parts (A dremeltool, drawer slides, pieces of wood, etc.), but I didn't really know how to build a CNC. The idea fell into oblivion.

In August 2013 the idea to build a CNC milling machine captivated me again. I just finished the first year of my bachelor in Industrial Design, so I was confident enough to start a build. The real difference between now and 5 years ago was, I learned to work with metal on manual milling machines and lathes and above all I had the right tools to design a machine.

This Instructable will show you how I built my CNC milling machine. I know a lot of CNC dreamers do not have the knowledge or tools to build a full metal machine. I still think and hope this Instructable inspires you to make your own machine. I include all of the necessary steps I went through in designing and building this CNC milling machine. All of the drawings I used to build my machine will be available.

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kSaletta14 days ago

Such an amazing job!! Best one ive seen someone make EVER!

oscar_ib27 days ago

just awesome! congrats!

bfranco1 month ago

This is a well engineered and executed should consider offering it as a could easily get a 1000 pre-orders to get the price down, eliminate the risk, and make a nice profit. If you decide to do so, please let me know.


Trochilidesign (author)  bfranco1 month ago

Hi Bfranco,

Thanks for your positive respons! I'm already exploring the possibilities in producing kits. Since I'm a full time student as well, it'll take a bit more time. If kits will be offered, I will of course let you know!

billbillt1 month ago

Very good.....

Dear: Trochilidesign

I really like the way you figured out how to make CNC drill move to carving position because I am thinking about building a 3d printer based off the designs of this designs. I just wish it had better software.

You can get better software... Much better.... Just be ready to spend truck loads of money for it.... Check out SolidWorks and MasterCam software... The more powerful the software, the more it costs....

Trochilidesign (author)  nschreiber08131 month ago

Dear nschreiber0813,

You could indeed use this design for a 3D-printer. The only disadvantage would be the relatively low speed of the machine. 3D-printer normally work much faster than CNC-milling machines. Stepcraft cnc machines can be equipped with an extruder head, so it could be done:

jakal_1 month ago
Hi, were is a file 3d of linar rails hiwin thanks

I have to say, this is really great stuff. I do plan on making this one (as it is well built and in comparison to some other cnc machines that ive seen, no offence to others)(will be the first cnc i make.) but i do have a few questions and requests.

1. on your pdfs, when on the topic of the holes. what does the "m" mean? as in m8 ,m5 and so on.

2. the inner square frame, what are the lengths?

3.i have visited the web site with the guide rails and the running blocks and there are plenty of variations of both. any chance you can tell me which of the many options are the ones featured in the instructable.

4.any chance you could make an assembly video (to have a better idea as to what the individual parts look like) and to see how the parts connect to one another from a few angles in motion. (im really visual XP)

5. the only parts im having trouble making in cad are the three lead screws. like, what are their tread . . . .(for lack of better words and knowledge )= ) tread variables? dimensions? measurements? (i really dont know what word to use good thing im still going to school for this)

but yeah. i really would appreciate the help and information. thank you.

Trochilidesign (author)  kikomonster791 month ago

Thanks for choosing this design! I'll try to help you with your questions.

1. The "M" in front of a number means a ISO metric screw threaded hole. So a M8 hole fits a M8 (8mm) bolt. So for example, for a M8 threaded hole, you first drill a 6.8 mm hole and then tap it with a M8 tap. The drill sizes printed on a lot of vernier calipers.

2. You can define your own sizes as long as they fit between the Maytec profiles.

3.All of the guiderails were bought on ebay second hand. I'll have to take a closer look on the serial numbers, I'm not close to the machine at the moment ;)

4.I might make a Solidworks exploded view animation. disassembling the machine and then rebuilding it would be a lot of hassle ;)

5.They are Trapezium threaded (as pictured below). However, it is not necessary to model the threads in CAD. You'll only need to cut the leadscrews to the desired length and adapt the ends to your bearings and pulleys.

ILLIAN1 month ago

One of the better documented designs around, nicely executed too! But WHY do gantry CNC designers keep using profiled rail the wrong way??

hive8 ILLIAN1 month ago

What you mean the wrong way?

What an incredible build! I see that some of the parts you used for this build are CNC machined. I've looked into custom CNC parts in the past and I've gotten crazy rates, usually 700-$900 for a small 5" by 5" part. I know how to make parts with lathes and mills, but I don't own or have access to a CNC machine for complex parts (which is why I want to build one!). Would you happen to know if there's a relatively cheap place to get custom CNC parts done?

Trochilidesign (author)  lance.plater11 month ago

I was fortunate enough to CNC mill the gantry side plates on a professional Bridgeport CNC at my faculty. You could ask your nearest Technical university. they may mill something for free. Or ask some people on CNC-zone! If I had the time, I'd like to mills some parts for you.

vpandya21 month ago

Sir I have purchased this motors and now i have completed the penal board but i am new to mach 3 software, i Dont know how to settle down the settings in mach 3 is there any one to help me out ?

Trochilidesign (author)  vpandya21 month ago

If you're completely new to Mach 3, you should begin with reading the manual. It explains the settings really well!

hive81 month ago

One more question the linear block rails are these 20mm?

Trochilidesign (author)  hive81 month ago

No the guiderails on the x axis are from the 25 series from Bosch rexroth, but you could also take them from other brands of course

Thank you for the reply how about the Z and Y axis are the 25mm as well, I have good connection to HiWin so i can get whatever i need quick. Sorry to ask I just didn't see it in any of your drawings (maybe i missed it).

hive81 month ago

Very nice build where did you buy the pulley and belt, also what size did you use?

Trochilidesign (author)  hive81 month ago


2x (61062) Zahnriemenrad Profil T5; 15 Zähne; Riemenbreite 10
1x (61524) Zahnriemen Profil T5; Wirklänge 200 mm, Riemenbreite 10

2x (61066) Zahnriemenrad Profil T5; 20 Zähne; Riemenbreite 10
1x (61525) Zahnriemen Profil T5; Wirklänge 215 mm, Riemenbreite 10

2x (61064) Zahnriemenrad Profil T5; 18 Zähne; Riemenbreite 10

1x (61525) Zahnriemen Profil T5; Wirklänge 215 mm, Riemenbreite 10

TimKorssen1 month ago

Wow, great project! I want to build my own CNC table. Could you please send me the BOM and where to buy them?

AvelinoMoro2 months ago

Increible descripcion!, estoy muy animado a montar una, a ver si soy capaz? muchisimas gracias por la fabulosa descripcion de todos los detalles de la maquina.

Un saludo

Trochilidesign (author)  AvelinoMoro2 months ago

Gracias, te recomiendo intentar realizar una!

Simplemente excelente he ido buscando por ahí un buen tutorial y creo que ya voy a dejar de buscar por que las medidas y el diseño son brutales pero tengo unas dudas. Es posible comprar el set entero en alguna web ?. Usted lo distribuye o algo así ? muchas gracias y felicidades ya te he votado jejejeje

You don't have any overtravel microswitches in case of an axis "run away"!

Trochilidesign (author) 1 month ago

Just updated the drawings and added the drawings in step 4 "The Last Movement" .

starguywisc1 month ago

I have looked on the MayTec site at their 40mm x 80mm extrusions and there are several. Which one did you use? Great job. I want to make one of these. :)

Trochilidesign (author)  starguywisc1 month ago

Profile 40x80 6E, LP

Wylie6271 month ago

great project!Can you provide detail BOM on that?

hitecyes1 month ago

excellent project, congratulations. My question is where I buy all these components. It posible send me the instruction a my mail

Enique1 month ago

I´m no spek english, your Project is very.....good, tank!!!

Enrique Monesiglio

Enique1 month ago

I´m no spek english, your Project is very.....good, tank!!!

Enrique Monesiglio

rmarkham12 months ago

Great looking design!

Can you explain how you got the side guide rails aligned to within 0.001mm?

Does that mean the deviation along their whole length is less than 0.001mm in all three directions?

Surely the aluminium frame would be too flexible to get to that level of accuracy?

Trochilidesign (author)  rmarkham12 months ago

Think you've misread that part. The rails where aligned to within 0.01mm (big difference ;-)

You did an excellent job! But I have a few recommendations for you, as I used to work for a very big CNC machine tool manufacturer, and have quite a bit of experience. One thing is your drawings, but if you intentionally left some stuff out then I'm not sure what I can add.

As far as your linear guides, from what I see you aligned them to the extrusions, but I could be wrong, I read through the instructable but didn't look at all the PDF's.

Ideally you want to square up the linear guides as far into the build as possible. Little tricky because of the gantry instead of a saddle. For your X axis you want to bolt on (or as you did, use a mag base) an indicator holder to the truck on the linear guide that is bolted into place. You need a pretty stiff holder to get the indicator over to the other linear guide that is snugged up. Then indicate off the top and side of the truck as you move them through their travel. Top will give you in and out separation, side will give you twist. Indicating the "master rail" off the frame is good to get the table as flat as possible.

With the light duty of the machine you'll probably be fine with one truck per side, but if you want to go heavier 2 trucks per side is ideal.

Use the same method on the Y and Z axis.

Squaring up X and Y usually requires a granite triangle. Square the triangle along X with an indicator based of the side plate or cross beam. Then put the indicator on the Y axis and run it across the surface of the granite that's 90 degrees from the surface you just squared in.

Z is pretty much the same, just run it up and down granite surfaces that are 90 degrees out from each other.

The machine should be as square as you can get it now, but the spindle can still be way off. For that you need the indicator based on the table and a piece of precision bar stock (biggest that will fit your spindle to lessen the chance of getting a bent or bending your test shaft) in the spindle, and run Z up and down, again with the indicator in positions 90 degrees apart.

To test your machine and controllers you would usually use a ball bar, which is basically a very very precise length transducer. One end is fixed to a ball on the table, the other to a ball in the spindle. Command a circular move in X-Y, and check the output of the ball bar to see how it deviates from a perfect circle. It shows correct settings, geometry, how well the X and Y motion is coordinated, etc. Probably not feasible for an application such as this, but you can use the same principle with some other methods.

Let me know if you would like some advice on your drawings as well as your machine.


carabac2 months ago

Very nice job!! I made one based on the Instructible from Tom McGuire but now I am tempted to build this one. What stepper motor controller did you use?

Trochilidesign (author) 2 months ago

Dear All,

Many thanks for the positive feedback. I've noticed there's some fuss about me not releasing the Solidworks CAD models (not only on but also on The main goal of the Instructable was to encourage builders to design and build a machine. Designing your own machine gives you a better understanding of what you're making. Since the Instructable became hugely popular in the last few days I got a lot of requests from both people who are interested in the CAD models and people interested in kits. Of course, I respect the ones who want a detailled look at the 3D model. But I also need some time to explore the possibilities in producing kits. There might be a possibility that I upload STEP files in the near future, but for this instant I have to disappoint you.


Very neat design.

Do you have the Solidwork files available?


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