Introduction: Dremel Carver/Duplicator Like a Human Powered CNC Router

Picture of Dremel Carver/Duplicator Like a Human Powered CNC Router
For the last few years I have seen all these cool CNC projects from affordable rapid-prototyping machines, to laser cutters, to hacked together CNC routers. One of these days when I have the funds, I will build one of these CNC machines but till then I thought I would do something more on my budget.

I have a Dremel and have been buying various router bits for it lately. I was thinking that I could buy one of those Dremel Router tables but, that would be kind of limiting. So then I thought what about building a Dremel Duplicator. It would have three axes and could be utilized much like a CNC Router with the added advantage of copying an existing object.

This is my exploration into building a Dremel Duplicator.

+ Revision 1.1 - 01.04.08 - Wood and Metal Pipe construction
+ Revision 1.2 - 01.06.08 - Axes improvements
+ Revision 1.3 - Coming Soon!

Step 1: Design Intent

My original design intent was to create a Dremel duplicator/carver from readily available and inexpensive materials. This machine should be able to duplicate simple operations such as holes, channels, and outlines. Ideally this machine would also be able to manufacture complicated 3D objects. Future versions may include synchronized turntables and a mounting plate to hold items in place.

I had this all planned out: draft a simple CAD model to figure out dimensions, print out pieces to use as a template, cut and drill parts, assemble, document, post to contest and brag about how this machine cost less than $20 to build, was modular and reconfigurable. Seems pretty easy but it was anything but&

The main stumbling block in Rev 1.1 was that I did not have access to a drill press. The holes in this project need to be exactly aligned, which is really hard to do with a hand drill.

Rev. 1.2 will show a proof of concept.
Rev 1.3 will hopefully show a refined project.

Step 2: Rev 1.1 - Materials

Picture of Rev 1.1 - Materials

You may have asked yourself, does this work?

And the answer is that it's a work in progress.

The biggest problem was that I used a hand drill because I did not have drill press. All of the holes were crooked and none of the axes aligned. So would this work if you had a drill press? Maybe, but I think you would still need to come up with an ingenious to increase the performance of the sliding axes. This may be achieved by adding ball bearings or using UHMDPE plastic.

At any rate I am going to include the printouts and construction documents in case you want build/modify this design. If you build one or have any suggestions please email me and/or attach a picture.

You can fast-forward to Rev 1.2 to see a working prototype if you like.

Rev. 1.1

+ (1) Dremel
+ (1) Phillips screw driver to be used as a Stylus
+ 20ft of 1x2 hemlock (mdf or plywood may be better because it will be less affected my expansion and contraction of natural wood)
+ 5' 11 3/8 of .5 Stainless steel pipe (electrical conduit would be fine)
+ (1)  3/4" or smaller pipe clamp ($0.79Hardware Sales)
+ (1) 1.25" pipe clamp ($1.29 Hardware Sales)
+ (1) 2.5-3" pipe clamp ($1.29Hardware Sales)
+ (16) 2.5" wood screws
+ (34) 1.5" wood screws
+ (7) .5" wood screws
+ (6) 8-32 x 1" screws (this is to lock the Dremel and stylus in place.)

Useful Tools:
+Safety glasses and ear plugs: Safetly First, attempt project at your own risk! I will not be held liable for any injury, medical expense or death as a result of think about, building or using the project once completed.''

+ Hand drill
+ Miter Saw (hand saw could also be used)
+ Drill press
+ Pipe cutter
+ Various drill bits including 1/8, 1/4, .5 or slightly larger
+ Tape measure
+ Ruler
+ Router bits for a Dremel

Step 3: Rev. 1.1 - CAD Model

Picture of Rev. 1.1 - CAD Model

I'm not an engineer, so this is a work in progress.

Step 4: Rev. 1.1 - Wood Pieces

Picture of Rev. 1.1 - Wood Pieces

I used 1x2's because its inexpensive and relative uniform. The materials will be updated soon, I'm working out a few bugs.

Step 5: Rev 1.1 - Metal Pieces

Picture of Rev 1.1 - Metal Pieces

Metal pipes lengths:

Step 6: Rev 1.2

Picture of Rev 1.2

Finally some success! As you can tell from the videos, all of the axes are working properly.

Now I just need to work on the accuracy. The x axis (left and right motion) is quite choppy at the moment. Im going make the arm the entire length of the vertical support so that it can only move up and down. The new x axis will be the pipe that the Dremel is attached to. Another improvement will be the addition of skate board bearings on the rails which should improve tool fluency. So stay tuned!


ErinE36 (author)2017-01-06

Judging from the gap between Rev 1.1 and Rev 1.2, I have a sneaking suspicion that Rev 1.3 isn't "coming soon." :) Having not built Rev 1.1 or 1.2 myself, but seeing room for improvements, I'm going to take a go at Rev 1.3 myself this weekend.

pperrin (author)ErinE362017-01-25

Do post your results :) Just found this myself, got a 3d printer wich is great for fine detailed stuff, but for bulkier components cutting down wood etc from diagrams seems very much quicker approach!

Pazzerz (author)2009-08-19

To eliminate the slide problem, there is a 'sliding' ball bearing you can use, called a ball bushing, simply enough. It is a tube with straight 'races' inside. The races contain ball bearings that roll through the races and return the other direction, but not touching the surface as they return. It allows radial and linear movement. They come in many sizes and give a good tight fit when used with the proper sized shaft.

I just looked for the price of those bearings and they run right around 70.00 a piece. Now having stated that since he is working with a limited budget I would suggest roller blade bearings because they are much cheaper and can be implemented into this design. He would have to make slots above the area where the pipes ride for the bearings, but I am sure he can do this if he has a decent jig saw or even a decent hand saw. Love those bearings but boy they are expensive.

I know this is very old, However if your still wanting linear bearing I can help you out. I'm not sure what size rails you have but 8mm or 10mm Linear bearings can be had for under 20 shipped and thats a high estimate

jonov1 (author)Pazzerz2010-07-09

You're a good man, kenbo0422. This piece of hardware will simplify a great deal the CNC I was planning to build. Thanks for this piece of tip.

Pazzerz (author)jonov12014-05-24

I just recalled the name of it, lol, its a linear bearing. I think McMaster sells them.

imheya (author)2016-05-12

Could you please change the video settings to "Public"? Thanks

KD8MSS (author)2015-11-15

Youtube videos are set to private.

luisexperto (author)2015-11-07

muy buen diseño y practico felicitaciones saludos desde venezuela

HockeyPop (author)2015-10-02

One note on the stylus. You really need the stylus to match the size and shape of the router bit to cut exact dimensions. Maybe have a friend w/access to a 3D printer print a plastic copy of your bit?

Woogaus (author)2015-07-16

An idea to throw in the mix. My wife is a quilter and I have been researching free motion quilting rigs for her, and this might benefit from the way they control them. The sewing machine rests on a platform with handles on it and a stylus to trace the pattern, if you were to add some handles to the dremel holder, then you could watch where the point is, but actually move the dremel, that should take care of much of the slop issues. I saw a pic of one that a guy used a laser pointer mounted to the rack. I've been thinking about making something like this for my router.

orlandolover12701 (author)2015-02-02

Can the duplication machine copy EVERYTHING, including game cases? Even if it doesn't, your duplication machine is COOL!

dungd1 (author)2015-01-17

i can control it by pro engineer?

dungd1 (author)2015-01-17

i can control it by pro engineer?

dungd1 (author)2015-01-17

i can control it by pro engineer?

dungd1 (author)2015-01-17

i can control it by pro engineer?

dungd1 (author)2015-01-17

i can control it by pro engineer?

ag5119 (author)2015-01-07

I love the idea! But I too wanted to see it in action. Bummer!

anoniemouse (author)2011-01-28

I am not trying to be mean or put anyone down But - - This is a joke right?

They sell a version of this at M-- Wards.

You can find a version in more places than I can find room to list here.
It is called a pantograph -- (Google or Bing this) these sell for $29.00 and up.

In drafting and art classes they show you how to make one with 4 yard sticks (or rulers) and a few thumb tacks and a rubber band.
Dremel Sells a better one!!!

Dremel does not have a pantograph, if so a link to it would benefit those of us who own more than one dremel tool in our shop. I have the stylus, the cordless, a single speed (router use only) and a variable speed for just about everything else that I need to do. I just checked and if it is not on e-bay then it probably never existed.

anthony.eaglebarger.7 (author)2014-09-10

He could use that hand drill and make a drill press, a few 2x4's and a couple of drawer slides along with those screen door pneumatic returns and he's got a decent drill press at a fraction of the cost. Or he could look for a bench top drill press I found one after I build my big one for around $75.00 USD. (author)2014-08-27

I have downloaded the pdf instructions and the related timber cutting template which will print A4 paper size. .. there are no dimensions marked on the cutting plan ?

Does anyone know if the timber is A4 scale or should I print on larger paper ?

Seems short lengths then ? (author)roy.design2014-08-27

In the same line as the cutting template download text link ...

Router Duplicator Template.pdf(792x1224)

.. what does (792x1224) refer to ?

Pazzerz (author)2014-05-24

I built the copy carver that Matthias Wandel designed, and it works quite well. This one is similar, and the movement problems may be avoided by using roller skate bearings to contact the pipe instead of direct contact with the wood. OR-- you could use a linear bearing, which would fit inside the hole in the wood and contact the pipe right there. This will do 3D well. If you want to duplicate larger (taller) objects, a dual synchonized turntable system will allow you to carve mostly from one side but synchronously turning the blank with the original and getting a complete duplication all the way around.

brunoaco (author)2014-05-16

I would love to see the videos too

E.Talon Culp (author)2014-02-25

Too bad the videos aren't available. They're marked private.

cyberghos (author)2014-01-30

How to view the video? it's private

jnhem (author)2013-08-09

People are saying pantograph but its more like a polygraph in all ways. I think your doing a great job and I cant wait to use this to create my own

TrueNhero (author)2013-06-03

videos are private.

gtoal (author)2012-06-16

This is effrectively a pantograph, no? Have you thought about doing a version that reduces, instead of 1:1? It's easier to create a larger scale master then trace over it to create a fine reduced copy than it is to go straight to the smaller object.

goosy (author)2011-04-07

I saw a 3-D duplicarver in a Poplar Mechanics way back. The inventor Don Laskowski developed a production model in 1979 and there are many similarities with this design. Please check first before going into production.

Thermonuklear (author)2011-03-11

Can't wait 'til it's finished! This is something I've had my brain on for a few months now. Simplicity is reliability I always say.

Your design actually reminds me of a pantograph, just with 1:1 scale :D

twighahn (author)2010-11-04

this should win the dremel contest.i could trace photos on to wood

brb112988 (author)2010-09-29

this thing is great i etch glass alot with my dremal tool all the time and this duplicator will make it alot easier for me thanks alor im gunna start building one 2marrow but im gunna try and makeit out of metal cuz that waht i work with all the time

knightwalker0384 (author)2010-08-28

for larger object go through pages on this sight

joaocarimo (author)2010-08-09

Good job. I've got an idea that could take this to another step. I would put a laser diode in both edges and an optic sensor as well. The main idea is to have a low energy laser beam to scan an object with the optic sensor in order to send the exact values to the high power laser to do the job using it's optic sensor or diode to guive the input. you should have a X and Y stepper motor. the x axis steppet motor would advance as soon as the difference of the value read on the source scanner and the target is equal to zero. as soon as the x scan is complete, the y axis advances to start all over again untill a full replica is created. The laser diode to scan teh source object could be extracted from a ny tegular cdrom and the high power laser diode, can be obtained from a regular dvd rw device. The circuit would be very simple. Other application: a) Scan a full object. b) Magnify / zoom it to another scale c) duplicate the object in another scale.

curt-fullmer (author)2010-04-06

Pazzerz (author)2009-08-19

To get a better accuracy at the tip of the dremel: Use another dremel tip in place of the screwdriver. The exact profile of the tip will give you better results. Also, fill in the cutting ridges on the profiler tip with epoxy or putty... Since the carving tip is spinning, its profile is virtually solid, so the profiling tip needs to be solid as well.

static (author)2009-08-18

IMO no matter how much flex you remove flex from the other components, slides rails and bushings are going to be a problem. They work fine in designs where the carriage is moved by lead screws. Here where the force that moves the carriages is so far removed from the slides, I believe control will remain a issue. Using two parallel tubes where there is now one tube just might help, but may introduce other problems Good luck in getting it all the bugs worked out to YOUR satisfaction.

merijnvw (author)2009-08-17

Hi this is really cool. Do you have photos of things you made with it?

gearhead1951 (author)2009-08-15

I dont remember th' titles , but there are a number of tutorial boks on routers and router jigs and at least one that covered a 3 axis pantograph that was capable of carving in th' round , that is , to carve a free standing copy of a statue ! I last saw this book in VA in 1997 Gearhead

kmpres (author)2009-08-14

Hey, nice work! I really like the low-tech approach; human arm power instead of stepper motors, no need for electronics, etc. Some diagonal bracing will help a lot, I think, as well as a front piece connecting the two side rails together makng a four sided box instead of the three sides you now have. If a wood peice would get in the way you could make this out of 2mm thick aluminum. These should go a long way to improving accuracy and reducing flex in the arms. Also, I noticed the cardboard surrounding the pipes you bought have the Katakana characters for "Stainless Pipe" written on them. This probably means those parts were imported from Japan, or maybe you live there, as do I?

altomic (author)kmpres2009-08-14

Re: the Katakana - I thought the same thing (having lived in Japan for 4 years and bringing home cartons of Japanese tools and electronics parts). great instructable. I like it. without the massive complexity of industrial CNC instructions. thanks

Instructabilis Deus (author)2009-08-14

That's pretty cool Adran. I tried to come up with something like this a few years back, but never succeeded completely. A couple of ideas I did have that might help though were to use a square piece of plywood on a piano hinge connected to a 1x8, and a couple of ball-bearing drawer slides for the side to side axis, that the 1x8 attaches to. This gave me better side to side accuracy. The piece I never figured out, you clearly did with the drawer slides going forward and back also. Very nice

I have to say this is pretty darn cool! But technically because a computer does not run any of the movement, Its not really a CNC its more of a mechanical Replicator. Still pretty sweet ible

imshanedulong (author)2009-08-13

That is a very clever idea! Extremely useful!

peterlonz (author)2009-08-02

I am an engineer & I congratulate you on a "rolled up sleeves" approach to getting your project to the demonstration stage. Please heed the suggestions above, all are soundly based. Yes low cost does bring bragging rights, but when the chips are down & your time, energy & emotions are considered, what you really want is something that works outstandingly well, within the limitations imposed by your chosen cutter head. Construction precision, well chosen stable materials, & rigidity are are key to performance. If you could build this for $150 excluding the cutting head & reach the performance objective, that would be an outstanding achievement. Keep developing & don't be afraid to start over - and please buy that damned drill press.

armylifer (author)2009-05-29

Nice beginnings. Release your stylus from the hose clamp. To make your stylus springloaded and touch the pattern before the dremel hits the work piece, make a solid bracket on the swing arm with a hole just large enough to let the screwdriver or a real stylus to fit in. Make two adjustable stops to fit on the stylus below the bracket and the other on the stylus above the bracket. Put the top stop on the stylus and put a spring on that is easy to compress, but not so that the weight of the swing arm causes it to bottom out. Put the stylus in the bracket and put the bottom stop on and secure it once the dremel is almost touching the work piece. Much less goof-ups and more precision carving. Good luck.

GEEKSRUS (author)2009-03-04

Poor design due to limited stability of the axis materials you are using. Try a Arm that reverses the work upside down on the other side of your table opposite to the model you are attempting to copy, (two tables) an upside down cutting table and the Template table. What does it matter if your dremel drops the material upside down away from your template model? Consider a stiffer Beam; the wooden amusement park roller coaster is popular because it moves. Wooden Floors are popular because they flex. Reduce the number of moving parts and increase the strength and sliding flow with brass bushings or lead bushings, or wheels or something. Nice try though to be nice. Also if you use a seesaw type of setup you can increase the size or reduce the size by moving your dremel tool up or down the beam on the opposite side of the axis. Note: only if the Beam is 50/50 like a standard seesaw would it produce the exact copy from he template. good luck

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm an Industrial Designer working for Tom Vincent. I have been really interested in the green movement for a long time, and have been ... More »
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