DIY MDF CNC Machine 36x22

The design I'm gonna present is a DIY CNC machine made with MDF board.
This design has been made by one of my friend and I have built one exactly like his. So we currently have 2 machines like this one.

This is my first instructable so maybe there will be a couple of things missing, please feel free to ask or post comments.

If you are planning to make one like that, please send me picture of the final results so I can add it to this page.

**This machine is a derivative of the machine you can find on**

I've done all the drawing with METRIC measurement and more precise parts identification. I Had some request for metric measurements.
I will probably upgrade the imperial one soon, so you're gonna have the exact same drawings and with more accurate information.

I have postes new pics on step 9 =)

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Step 1: Having the plans

Picture of Having the plans
The machine was entirely built on the computer before it has been made, so here's the render of both versions i have

Step 2: Cutting MDF

First, get a sheet of 3/4 inch MDF board, it's enough for all the project, even if you miss a part or 2. You can get it for 35$

After that, print the CAD of all the parts and cut/drill them.
The Drawing.Rar contains all the MDF main parts.

16 Dec 2011 - New Drawings !!!  I had some times this morning and it took me 3 hours to redraw every parts with IMP and METRIC measurements, hope you will enjoy it.

Merry Christmas to all of you
doppiej1 month ago

How are the alu angles attached to the wood? So both at the ends of the wood and on the sides of the wood.

Sorry tslots
Spiky1987 (author)  aryder-durrett8 months ago
I don't remember, i think I just got them in a store, when i saw them i was like : oh shit i need this !!

But you can find similar ones over the web, it you're in Canada you can try,43455,61994&ap=1

Where did you get the talbots at
dooiespons9 months ago
Very nice design!

Do you happen to have plans for 18mm MDF?
I just went to the store and got myself a nice plate of 244cm*122cm MDF with a thickness of 18mm, it was the closest to 3/4 inch.
Spiky1987 (author)  dooiespons9 months ago
Well, I don't think there would be any problem, just be sure to drill the hole in the center of the plate. You might have to adjust some part but if you are good enough to build that CNC, I don't think that it's gonna be a problem to adjust the plans
Monteagus1 year ago
what would i need to replace to make it a laser engraver or cutter?
Very nice work :D

Its possible to put online the 3d files of the project?

Best Regards,
Marco Gaspar
I am using stepper motor Nema23Part
No.: 57BYGH420
Frame Size: NEMA23
Step Angle: 1.8 degree
Voltage: 3.6V
Current: 2.0 A/phase
Resistance: 1.8Ohm/phase
Inductance: 2.5mH/phase
Holding torque: 12.6Kg-cm 132oz-in , with unipolar (For Bipolar connecting, the holding torque is 185oz-in)
Rotor inertia: 300 g-cm2
Detent torque: 0.4 kg-cm
Number of wire leads: 6
Weight: 0.7KG
Length: 56mm !

does it hold Nema23 ?
Spiky1987 (author)  Avadhut.Deshmukh1 year ago
I think that is the bolt pattern I used.
Nema is a standart classification of frame size. It should work.
stepper motor torque 12.6Kg
nickloris1 year ago
can i have the Catia V5 3d model of the CNC (or post it into this instructable)?

Of all the designs I've seen of home brew gantry mills this seems to be the simplest in the size I want. I'm beginning to cut MDF tomorrow.
It starting to come together. I'm making some small alterations to use up some 7/8" MDF I have knocking around and glueing some of the joint which are unlikely to ever need to be separated. A minor point is unfortunately some of the Imperial drawings have metric dimensions.
Not too far off completing the build of the MDF chassis. I found I was able to dispense with the 1" angle and use 3/4" thoughout by carefully removing some of the MDF between the two V-grooves that the bearing "skates" fit onto. I've yet to decide what I'm going to do for drive screws. At the moment stainless all-thread (polished up with a green scouring pad) with home made anti-backlash Delrin nuts seems most likely. Then to think about the steppers, driver electronics and decide between Mach 3 or LinuxCNC. How do I load photos?
Spiky1987 (author)  Brian Oldford2 years ago
Oh really ?! Sorry about that ... anyway it's quite easy to to the conversion, I'm sure you'll get over that hehe.
Spiky1987 (author)  Brian Oldford2 years ago
Nice !! I want to see your pics when you'll get to the assembly part
Spiky1987 (author) 2 years ago

You are the MAN...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
LordZ19782 years ago
can you arange the pdf with metric sizes??
Spiky1987 (author)  LordZ19782 years ago
Done :)
pfred22 years ago
You machine reminds me a lot of this:

Well, his earliest one at least. good luck. I can't wait to see the video of you running. I'd like to see what your machine can do.
jmaeding2 years ago
you could gain a few inches of width by cutting out a portion of the gantry side, then shifting it to the back. So the router could go almost all the way right and left (if looking from the front). I see many designs with bulky router holders, and they end up wasting a lot of work area from it.
coolblue2 years ago
Hi. I really like this instructale tough its a bit incomplete. Very clean project. The problems i'm facing are the plans, they're incomplete. What i would like to ask you(more of a proposal) ... coy you give me the 3d model of the project and i'll give you my plans for a cnc and if you want ill make you all the complete drawings of all the pieces and gie them to you. You can mail me at or pm me. Thanks.
bullschmidt3 years ago
I like this design a lot - one thing that seems to be missing is a good labeling from part name (ie from the pdf) to model mapping. Looks like a lot of parts need two copies, etc.

I would love to see more detailed assembly instructions, which would also help clear this up!

Spiky1987 (author)  bullschmidt3 years ago
Personally, i made my real design with a 3d picture and those pdf. I just figured out the rest my self.

As I said on the other comment, I will complete it in a few moment but the essential is already there !!

bullschmidt3 years ago
Hey Spiky -
Spent more time looking through this, and the things I still can't figure out:

1. I don't see a pdf for the bottom portion (the base). While I can see the construction design, the dimensions (to ensure the rails are tight) would be helpful.

2. What is the mechanism to connect the leadscrews to the portion they drive? I can think of a couple of ways to hack it, but was curious what you did.

3. How is the rigidity? Looks like it could wobble a bit - how do you deal with that.
4. Any idea on the cutting speed?

All in all, I love the design. Simple, clean, & looks like it requires very minimal tools. Would love to see a lot more detail. Perhaps you could post the 3D plans in sketchup format?

Thanks - looks great.
Spiky1987 (author)  bullschmidt3 years ago
I have it in Catia format, i don't know if I can convert it in sketckup format or something else.

This is my first instructable and I did it quite fast. I'll try in the next few weeks to put more details on the leadscrew and mechanism.

I will also put letters or numbers on parts. If someone is panning to build one, dont hesitate to ask questions about parts you don't see. The the moment, i'm quite busy doing other thing but I promise that it will be all completed before the end of the summer.

Thanks to all
algviper3 years ago
Great build!

I was wondering is there is much wobble and what kind of tolerance do you have.
Spiky1987 (author)  algviper3 years ago
Hmm, I didn't test it yet !
benfloom3 years ago
In the end what was the total cost of the build?
Spiky1987 (author)  ChaoBreeder3 years ago
MDF Board : 35$
Bearings : about 30$
Lead Screw and antibacklash nut : 135$
Power supply : 50
Steppers : 49$ each ( 150$ )
Gecko drive : roughly 250$
Bolt and cross dowel : 50$
Aluminium angles : 55$

Rough total : 755$
sgraber3 years ago
What about the stepper motors, driving circuitry, and software?
Hitm_n sgraber3 years ago
great question
Spiky1987 (author)  Hitm_n3 years ago
I'll add it, i'm using the Gecko drive with Mach3 software
tinker2343 years ago
Rockin! Much simpler than a lot of other versions. I can't wait to build one myself.
Spiky1987 (author) 3 years ago
Drawing.RAR contains all the pdf