Easy to Build Desk Top 3 Axis CNC Milling Machine

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Paso 4: The Y stage

The Y stage is just like the X stage but turned 90 degrees. Mount two rails and a motor on the X Stage and then take another piece of flat material and a U channel and make the moving Y stage. Make the little bearing thing and a coupling nut for it too. When your done it should look like this.
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ERockDesigns dice: Jun 27, 2014. 7:06 PM

Hi Tom,

You've concieved of an amazing machine. My wife and I made a milling machine we call the ThrAxis based on your frame and stage design. I've written a blog post about what we built at http://itsprojectday.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/the...

Thank you so much for your inspiration and hard work getting this design made and documented.

jameshumig dice: Jun 24, 2014. 6:55 PM

You know, I started looking at instructables for CNCs about two years ago. I started building your version, then I saw the drawer slide version, then started looking at the buildyourcnc design. At one point I decided to try out a hybrid of the three and had the x and y axis going, but never finished the Z axis. After starting on a new version that was mostly based on the buildyourcnc design my family and I ended up moving across the country (south to north, not that it matters). I'm just now getting back to building a CNC, and although I won't be building your design I do feel that it is worth saying that your instructable was definitely an inspiration. Thank you.



fenwaydog dice: Feb 12, 2014. 5:44 PM

Is it possible to get software that allows me to hook this directly to a computer and have the computer direct the motor versus the computer sending data to a cnc 3 axis driver then to the motors?

haseogu dice: Nov 6, 2013. 11:46 AM
What can we do so this CNC can mill the metal?
And where will i get that pipe (frame)?
PCgee dice: Nov 3, 2013. 9:45 AM
Could i use other types of pipe such as pvc as they are a lot easier to drill through?
david+xu dice: Oct 8, 2013. 10:54 PM
Cool ! if any one want the parts of the machine , frame , driver , motor,spindle,ball screw ect ,please contact me at david@live.cn or skype:david02162
lewac dice: Oct 6, 2013. 12:59 PM
just ran across this site and more specifically this design. what I'm looking for is a method of auto pick & place without draining Fort Knox! I don't have a lot of room to do this either and have relatively small PCBs (not motherboards) on my build list. and what impressed me here was KISS. using "skids"! now why didn't more people think of this? my requirements require only very light loading (the machine weighs a LOT more than what I'm working with) so this concept should work perfectly. before beginning though gotta take a look at this software. I run win7 out of a VM under linux so both OS's are available (but prefer linux). also need to purchase a parallel port daughter board (as my motherboard no gots). I've already built 3 unipolar motor drivers so all set there. I can also use my 10 amp bench power supply to power this project.
Diynitesh dice: Sep 28, 2013. 11:03 PM
could you tell me all the elecs used
rfelts dice: Ago 29, 2013. 2:29 PM
Tom I love this design. What kind of resolution are you getting for circuit boards?
R-A dice: Jul 25, 2013. 5:41 AM
Wow, this is the easiest CNC milling machine design I've seen yet.

But, I have one major problem: Neither my PC, nor laptop has parallel ports, nor do I even know where to get a parallel printer cable in my country anymore. Is it possible to use a USB print cable instead, or perhaps even an Arduino? I've seen many 3D printer projects (but haven't built one yet) that use an Arduino to send the sketch to the stepper driver.
The+MadScientist dice: Jul 19, 2013. 9:08 PM
Hi nice work, I am planning on doing something like this myself but one trouble I'm having is that my 8mm milling bits won't fit into the tiny chuck of any dremels I've seen, I would like to know how you got around this? Cheers.
ksafaet dice: Jul 11, 2013. 1:14 AM
great ... i should try....
dmlong dice: Jun 25, 2013. 5:25 PM
What is the brand and size of the motor used for your CNC machine?
blinkizod dice: Jun 18, 2013. 1:42 PM
Awesome project mr. Mcguire...
i am from Guatemala city (Central America) I wish someday build a 4x8 feet cnc with a friend but here is some hard to get the information and materials... but would be a great idea import the motors and drivers from USA. we are looking for information because due to language is some hard to find projects like CNC in spanish pages i appreciate your help. greetings from Guatemala

vkorie dice: Jun 2, 2013. 11:47 AM
it is time to put all that we know together in other to propagate the gospel of technology...
batonas dice: Mar 22, 2013. 3:43 AM
that drill thing is stationary so a vacuum cleaner hose could be mounted to it to clean up the mess at the same time, but I guess its not a problem to clean up that little mess by hand :)
timbit1985 dice: Mar 7, 2013. 5:07 PM
Also, approximately what size did you make your stages?
timbit1985 dice: Mar 7, 2013. 5:06 PM
Hey Tom, I love your project. Do you have a link to the stepper motors you used? I'm trying to figure out what size motors I need.
j-rhod24 dice: Feb 17, 2013. 12:37 PM
would this be able to mil 7075 aluminium about 8" wide 6" tall and 1 1/2" thick?
SlickSqueegie dice: Ene 28, 2013. 5:29 PM
I cant wait to do this... I have a question though... I am electronically ignorant, I will be buying a kit with the motors and the drivers and such (do you recommend a kit). my first question is, do I NEED a parallel port? I only have a laptop and it has no parallel port on it.
im.brad dice: Ene 25, 2013. 8:41 PM
Please remember to always clamp your work pieces in a vice before drilling. Do not hold small pieces with your hand and drill. This can be an easy habbit to get into, but it can be a dangerous mistake that can cost you the use of your hand.
Great Instructable btw! Really enjoyed it.
SlickSqueegie dice: Ene 25, 2013. 1:07 PM
Great job! So much inspiration here! I gotta try it!
krissh0009 dice: Ene 6, 2013. 5:58 AM
Please say.........
What are the soft wares we have requried to operate Desktop CNC?
I Have Mach3(Downloaded from artsoft), AutoCAD,Kcam4(Downloaded from:http://www.kellyware.com/download/index.htm) and trail version of ArtCAM Express
I have doubt that,these softwares i have are not Genuine versions.....so These are having capable to operate Desktop CNC Machine or not?
Thank you........
krissh0009 dice: Ene 6, 2013. 5:57 AM
Sir please suggest me...,cheaper and good working "3 Nema 23 stepper motor 287oz-in cnc kit' from ebay
krissh0009 dice: Ene 6, 2013. 5:57 AM
Please help me......
sir.....i want to buy 3 Nema23 stepper motor 287oz-in cnc kit from ebay with cost of 132USD....ie china manufactered on through this link
I have doubt that it will work or not ?
It is suitable or not to our woodcutting Desktop CNC Machine?
krissh0009 dice: Dic 25, 2012. 1:14 AM
Please help me......,
Am a Engineering student from INDIA
i want to construct a Desktop CNC as my Mini Project
I have buy 3-axis Nema23 287oz-in stepper motor CNC kit and constructed my own frame with exess of 1000,700 & 100mm in X,Y &Z Directions.
i have some doubts in WIRING & Mach3 operation........if u have any Manuals and tutorial videos please sent me.
My mail id: krissh0009@gmail.com.........Thank you.
jsanders938 dice: Dic 9, 2012. 10:21 AM
Is this anything like these Vertical Milling Machines? Looks awesome. http://majesticmachinery.com/Machines/Milling_Machines/Vertical.php
zipperback dice: Sep 15, 2013. 6:29 AM
Yes the 3 axis machine as built in this instructable will do the same basic thing as those 3 axis machines on the link you provided. Although some of those machines have larger work areas, this machine can be scaled up to provide a much larger size of work area, albeit for about $20,000 to $40,000 less in price.
Spaceman+Spiff dice: Nov 30, 2012. 1:57 PM
I want to build one of these for use in PCB fabrication. How small do you think I can get my traces by using a router like this?
Avadhut.Deshmukh dice: Oct 13, 2012. 10 AM
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 ?
brcoenen dice: Sep 22, 2012. 6:59 AM
Hey, can someone tell me how to remove the old gears that are that are on the end of the stepper motors that i pulled out the old dot matrix printers? They seem harder then plastic, can't seem to pull them off, i might be being to cuatios and trying not to damage the motors. Not sure if i need to cut them off or what.
jde+castro1 dice: Sep 14, 2012. 8:17 PM
sir tom, were making this as our project, but may i ask if whether the size of the threaded rods will have an effect in its movements? or can it be adjusted on the KCAM? thanks ^^
ADNANABOSTH dice: Sep 4, 2012. 8:25 PM
Thank you
rock0412 dice: Ago 15, 2012. 11:18 AM
This is a real nice piece of equipment I think I will try it very soon
CrimsonandCoal dice: Jul 17, 2012. 9:47 PM
I used another instructableon this site to mske plastic from styrofoam and acetate. Then i was avle to make perfectly fitted brackets for the dremel tool. I'm suing a baby battery operated tool right now, because i was't too clear on prerty much every step, but this is sure a fun a project.
CrimsonandCoal dice: Jul 17, 2012. 9:38 PM
I'm using nylon bearings such as the kind that keep a shower door running smoothly. 4 for 3 dollars. We'll see how it goes.
CrimsonandCoal dice: Jul 17, 2012. 9:35 PM

I found my stepper motors in an old inkjet and scanner. When i yanked iut what i needed an d scavenged the rest of the coolbits i was left with two motseith two connectiins each. Any ideaswhat i can use these guys for? I haven't done a lot of work with little motors, and am a blank slate of creativity here.
DGK+Electronics dice: Jul 8, 2012. 3:23 PM
Hello, I am David, please tell me how to make a driver connector to computer. i need it really. I almost have done miller and i want to finish it fully. this programm is Kcam 5 yes? thanks... ;)
kunchu dice: Jun 27, 2012. 6:02 AM
What should i do once i engrave the pcb? Can I use it right away or should use an etchant again?

Interest dice: Jun 12, 2012. 2:51 PM
I knew at this and I'm wondering if a 78 Oz in Stepper Motor would work with this.

Btw. Awesome Job you really inspired me with this design because of my small budget
la-main dice: Jun 9, 2012. 11:11 AM
Thank you for the instuctable. I really want to make this but im on a low budget. I took apart some printers and got 4 steppen motors. They all are the same type. http://www.datasheetcatalog.org/datasheets/90/502505_DS.pdf

do you think this will work?

thanks in advance

starblue2010 dice: Jun 6, 2012. 9:15 AM
soy de venezuela y es muy posible que mi proyecto de robotica tenga el mismo principio que el CNC así que porfavor quien me quiera aportar ideas o su opinión bien recibido sea!

mi proyecto es un sistema robotico cartesiano en 2 dimensiones solo quiero que dibuje y mi idea es que pueda programarse con arduino o adicional a ello, que pueda tener o poseer un sistema que capture la imagen no importaría que se equivocase a la primera pero luego al dibujar la misma figura lo hiciera perfecto!
Jane11 dice: May 2, 2012. 7:25 AM
Can you please let us know how you connected Z axis threaded rod with the motor?Did you use Z-Axis Coupler or better solution?
Thank you
DiegoNoriega dice: Abr 26, 2012. 7:54 PM
squrillbait dice: Mar 19, 2012. 1:10 PM
Is there a parts list? I checked the PDF but I didn't see a list. I was just wondering what length of pipes you used?
thomoky9 dice: Ene 29, 2012. 1:12 PM
I created a similar machine and I used an AE-MDL-STPR811 board. It gave me by far the most torque power. The board also gives you the option of adding a surface mount heat sink, a fan and external Schottky diodes. I only added a surface mount heat sink because that’s all my machine required. The board also has jumpers, if you want to hard code it, or it can just be connected to all the controls signals by two .100” header connectors. Here’s more info about the board http://www.avayanelectronics.com/Products/AE-STPR8811/AE-MDL-STPR8811_Manual.pdf. I found some really cheap ones at DriverDudes.com, you can get just the board or have it fully assembled. Here’s the link to DriverDudes http://driverdudes.com/product_info.php?cPath=22&products_id=1
Jordan+Dyck dice: Ene 21, 2012. 10:29 AM
hey guys i dont know if it has been mentioned but you could probably is use hose clamps to secure the motor to the z axis stepper
Rorion dice: Dic 31, 2011. 12:32 PM
Hello i wanted to know what would be the best device for the router part for home use like small wood cutting or sign making?
welafong dice: Nov 25, 2011. 8:12 PM
steper motors no longer for sale surjest some other type? please
ChuckieDub dice: Nov 19, 2011. 12:36 AM
Umm. Maybe I missed it, but do you have an actual parts list?
dflam dice: Oct 26, 2011. 10:57 AM
You do realize that theoretically you can calibrate by having the machine just mill the baseboard support using some large milling head, thus achieving a perfectly flat base? I guess this depends also on how much the machine changes when you move it from place to place...
Jamesbond1999 dice: Oct 24, 2011. 8:40 AM

I just wondered what the cutting size of the cnc machine is

welafong dice: Oct 19, 2011. 7:53 AM
they dont make the steepper motors any more what do you sugjust to replace them with
thank you
richard westerfield
--%3D+Excogitate+%3D-- dice: Oct 10, 2011. 7:50 AM
Hello, I was wondering how to size the motor to the gantry. I'm new to the field of hobby cnc and can't find any info on appropriate sizing online. Any links or help would be very appreciated!
fickenchingers dice: Sep 27, 2011. 1:52 PM
Ive been inspired and starting to build this! what program did you use to run the CNC?
Electronics+Man dice: Ago 19, 2011. 5:01 PM
Hi I know you built your own driver for your CNC machine, but I wanted to see what you thought about some of the software I want to use.

I want to use:
Goolge Sketchup,
and the board here-- http://www.adafruit.com/products/81

But the big question is... I dont know if they are all compatible with eachother and Im not sure what to do. PLEASE help me out :)
Electronics+Man dice: Ago 19, 2011. 4:44 PM
Hi I know you built your own driver for your CNC machine, but I was wondering if you could take a look at this board--


Sorry its a long URL.
But do you think that I could use this board in accordance with the Mach3 software? I think it would work very well. I was also wondering if you thought that Google Sketchup might work for the designing. I really appreciate everyones comments and help on this, and PLEASE suggest other software or programs to me :)
cbaron3 dice: Ago 1, 2011. 5:29 PM
I won't be making this but your video was the best instructables I have seen. Great job.
teamhaha dice: Jul 12, 2011. 12:09 PM
thak .....
kawal24 dice: Jul 3, 2011. 12:12 AM
Can i use my own dimensions for the machine ?
Derpancakes dice: Jun 24, 2011. 6:33 PM
lol I have that same rotary tool... got it at Harbor Freight for like $30 and it works great! good choice of rotary tool...
samirdz dice: Jun 24, 2011. 6:18 AM
salut je voudrez savoir comment faire pour branchez la machine avec mon ordinateur et avec quel logiciel ps je suis nulle en informatique merci
mtiwari3 dice: Jun 15, 2011. 8:32 PM
wat type of motor is this nd where it can be available???????
anupamdubey dice: Jun 4, 2011. 1:32 AM
Can u please give me the guidance about how to use Kcam and pcb gcode to get good milling results in case of printed circuit boards
dscott2 dice: May 30, 2011. 2:09 PM
I feel a bit stupid asking, but what's that round bit called at the top of the goose neck on the frame? I've been searching for it online but I don't know its name so I can't buy it.
Brent+Blaskievich dice: Jun 4, 2011. 11:43 AM
Pipe flange.
chaitanya.vedak dice: May 13, 2011. 3:27 AM
This is absolutely Fantabulous. Will try it out. also can you give me an indication as to what software, and electronics you have used here.
I also liked dmlong's idea for using it to make panels for RC planes, (and cars etc).
please do share the Software and Electronics Details please.
treflip dice: May 9, 2011. 11:31 PM
Here you go! Here's my attempt at making it. It's not the most stable machine but it's a great opening to the world of cnc and really accessible for most people!

and speaking of the software being difficult, it took me forever to figure it out!

for anyone interested I'm using cambam to create text, sketchup with a .stl converter for more complicated stuff and mach3 for the final part. I'm not going to get into detail but it all works!

This is my project that started from your instructable... so thanks for your time and effert techart! I hope more people get a part in cnc now!
mjm2008 dice: May 3, 2011. 11:51 AM
Great job, Great project .. Many many thanks to the author.

Could anyone answer this question. Is it possible to use HDD stepper motor in a cnc project? HDD stepper motor is quit easy to find. But I am not sure if it can move the drill or the base plate. Please I need to know if you know any project used the HDD stepper motor.
dmlong dice: May 1, 2011. 4:15 PM
Do you know anyone using your CNC to make parts out of balsa wood for model RC airplanes?
freakysuwin dice: May 1, 2011. 3:56 AM
can you tell where to get tutorials to how to use the kcam software??
muhammadosmanali dice: Abr 14, 2011. 5:12 AM
I made this project but I have a problem, my motor is not rotating only vibrating what should I do? Problem is, I used 10 volt 220uf capacitor and 100k and 1k resistance and used stepper motor, is 6.4Ω and 7.50 steps. Actually I am using printer’s motor; I used 12 volt power supply .all components are fixed on right place.
panickjba dice: Abr 10, 2011. 6:42 PM
bilal_dmx dice: Abr 10, 2011. 9:45 AM
Pakistan's take on Tom McWire's CNC machine.
This guy is ballin! :p
Were students at the Center for Advanced Studies in Engineering in Islamabad and were inspired by this easy to build series of CNC machines on Instructables..We started off doing this for an Industrial Automation Project..now this wont get me into Stanford but itll help me along the way iA :p
Here ya go!
The+House dice: Mar 28, 2011. 9:25 AM
Hey Tom...... your instructable looks pretty sweet.

Ok I have one question......

Can I do this http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Your-Own-LED-Wedding-Table-Cards/

with your cnc machine? I have a wedding coming up in a month and a half. I have full access to a great work room (family business) and I think I can source most of the materials from broken equipment around the warehouse, grainger, lowes, radio shack and a bunch of other places.

I would have to produce about 200 of them, obviously each with a different name and table number. Is it precise enough to make keep the writing looking smooth and will it allow me to import a basic font from a work doc?

It's pretty clear I have only conceptual knowledge of this stuff but I might as well jump in the deep end. Thanks.
jayeshshinai dice: Mar 25, 2011. 1:01 PM
hey.im a mechanical engineer and so im not good with electronics...but it would really help me move on with the project if you could help me out with this..

i shopped for the materials yesterday using your part list but ended up buying MOSFET 2N7000 instead of your specified "Q1-Q4 4 MOSFET N-CH 100V 12A TO-220AB,
RFP12N10L Fairchild_Semiconductor Digi-Key RFP12N10L-ND"

So is this MOSFET workable? if not, is the number of the mosfet reqd RFP12N0L...??

Thank you.
onlyjus dice: Mar 24, 2011. 3:51 PM
Thanks for knowledge and inspiring to build my own. It is currently a work in progress and I have a blog going on how I built it.

Check it out: http://onlyjus-cnc.blogspot.com/
omgitschrislol dice: Mar 23, 2011. 10:05 PM
Have you tried getting a piece of scrap wood and drilling a hole whatever size your pipe is? the wood kinda helps the bit stay straight
destroyer2012 dice: Mar 23, 2011. 11:35 AM
I built one of these machines and I must say that for cutting anything serious it is way too flimsy. I tried to face a small (1 x 0.5 inch) aluminum block and the results were fairly disastrous. The single pipe holding up the dremel mount skewed, and the the whole thing just wobbled way too much. I guess I could go slower but them making anything worthwhile would take ages. And the sound it makes with the dremel on full power is ludicrous.

Engraving things works great because you're basically not cutting very much at all, and it's just an exercise in precise positioning, which this machine does very well.

I tried PCB milling several times but the problem I keep running into is not having the board absolutely level on the xy stage. The commercial solution to this is to have an airhockey-style air levitation system attached to the cutter, so it's always the same height from the surface. It would be cool to implement something like this but possibly too complicated. What I haven't tried is screwing the board directly to the xy stage for machining ( I used a vise) but maybe that will work better.

Now I am working on converting this to a 3d printer, since it seems more suited for that task anyway.

Mauricio_muga dice: Mar 20, 2011. 11:42 PM
Hi there, who have the measures of the machine???
help me please
Flying_MashedPotatoes dice: Mar 17, 2011. 10:12 PM
What i want to know is: What Cam software do you use to make the g-code? all the open source / free one's are (in my view) garbage.
dpsilver dice: Mar 17, 2011. 9:17 PM
this i my progress so far started a day ago from the upload date i haven't cu the pipe for the upright as yet, I'm going to do that tomorrow
seventhsensestudios dice: Feb 3, 2011. 12:42 PM
Novice Question: I'm very interested in building this sort of project for a number of reasons. Your design seems to be one of the simpler ones and I think I could figure it out.

My question is this: If one were to make the scale of the hardware larger so that it can deal with a great surface area of materials (I'm not too concerned with depth myself), would some adjustment(s) need to be made to the circuitry or programing thereof to account for the new sizes of the X and Y axes?
pietzeekoe dice: Ene 31, 2011. 2:04 PM
I think am ganna make a manual version of this.....the electronics seem a bit daunting
chinda.raul dice: Ene 27, 2011. 10:44 AM
you can get a pack of 8 bearings from a skate store ... high quality, high volume = good value.
tool+box dice: Ene 20, 2011. 11:21 AM
how you make te circuit ?
I sorry I dont speak english do you have a copy on spanish ???

thanks a very good idea
polilies dice: Ene 17, 2011. 2:45 AM
Hi! this is really good job, pretty fast to do. may i ask something like "sanzya"; how
thin paths is it drawing on the copper plate? thank you..
middlenamefrank dice: Ene 3, 2011. 9:37 AM
Tom, this is a fantastic project and I'm going to make one for myself. As an EE, I'm always needing an oddball small plastic enclosure for my projects and I think this will be perfect for me. I've got motors and a controller on order (I know I should make my own controller but this will get me up to speed quicker).

I've already been tinkering around with the software; I have a personal copy of Alibre, which can export SLA files, which I then convert to G-code with Freemill, and run through my (not yet existent) hardware with mach3. Everything seems to work fine, but I notice that Freemill makes a 'raster scan' of the object by tracing back and forth across the object, making its way from one end to the other.

I'm a little concerned about backlash with hardware grade nuts and all-thread feedscrews. I was thinking that, in terms of backlash, working from one end of the part to the other in one axis is ideal, but the back-and-forth scan in the other axis is far from ideal. (I'm figuring that the Z axis will probably be okay too since the tool has weight, which will probably always keep it preloaded it to one end of the backlash.) Do you suppose it would be worth investing in a high-quality feedscrew for one axis only, and making sure that winds up being the back-and-forth axis? The economy of this project is my favorite feature, but I'm thinking with that one upgrade I might boost the accuracy it achieves. What do you think?
jomac_uk dice: Dic 28, 2010. 5:18 PM
Well this instructable certainly created a feeling of "love at first sight"

I dont have access to tools that would create the pipe frame from electrical tubing, but i wondered if the same frame could be made from 20 or 25mm copper water pipe and fittings, and the whole assembly soldered, what are your thoughts?
apache64 dice: Dic 22, 2010. 7:08 AM
I fell in love with the simplicity of this design and went out today and bought the pipework. Reading the threads i noticed someone asked about the backlash from the nut to screw thread. I found another DIY CNC machine where there is a good photo of it. Basicaly you need to put a spring in the way to tension the nut to the thread thus losing any backlash. this can be done either with two nuts seperated by some silicon rubber tubing, or a spring. here is a picture of a comercial one.
sutek dice: Dic 22, 2010. 2:45 AM
Mate that is amazing!!. so simple, I have to try and make this
dbuilder2 dice: Dic 13, 2010. 12:30 PM
could you post a list of what you used e.g: router,stepper motor make etc
hondaman900 dice: Dic 9, 2010. 4:42 PM
DIY CNC hits mainstream in an O'Reilly Radar tech blog report today. See

hondaman900 dice: Dic 5, 2010. 6:49 PM
Here's an interesting new DIY CNC kit just launched on Kickstarter.com.

simon661 dice: Nov 15, 2010. 9:31 PM
Were can I get the dimentions for the pipes? Thnx
max+can+build+it dice: Nov 6, 2010. 7:55 AM
what kind of bitr do u use in the rotary tool?

ps very nice design and instructable
canedyt dice: Oct 26, 2010. 9:13 PM
What would have to change to facilitate milling 1/4" by 2" aluminum bars for tuning purposes? I want to build my own vibraphone bars.

Is it possible?

smartrobot dice: Oct 16, 2010. 5:15 AM
Would this be a good motor ?

Haku1004 dice: Oct 7, 2010. 2:16 PM
I found some stepper motors by Astrosyn 17PM-K303-G3VS from a copier. I can't find specs on their site for this particular motor, so I was wondering if you know if these would work or not.
ahmed-1a dice: Sep 30, 2010. 7:28 AM
To Tom McWire:

Can you modify your cnc To become a 3d printer????
ahmed-1a dice: Sep 30, 2010. 6:55 AM
to Tom McWire :

Can you modify this CNC To 3d printer ???
Moomba+champ dice: Sep 24, 2010. 5:10 PM
do they have to be unipolar or can hey be bipolar steppers please help
Moomba+champ dice: Sep 24, 2010. 5:22 AM
hey i thinking of starting this project but i want to know is it a bi-polar or uni-polar motor i havent found a straight answer please help
woodspinner dice: Sep 21, 2010. 10:25 AM
Hey Tom, I love your instructables on both the machine and the circuit. I have my machine up and running. in an attempt to improve its speed I want to go from 12v to 24v, I'm using 2 11w bulbs in parallel at 12v and I believe I'll have to go series to run 24v but will I need to double up the number of bulbs? course this will be tested after I get some backup bulbs but hoping to get an answer before I pop a box of bulbs again.
guitarmonk15 dice: Sep 11, 2010. 4:57 PM
I don't get why people like this get featured just because they take good pictures. It was a horrible instructable with no exact measurements of any sort, no materials list, and (I don't think) any code or programs to use.

Kilopondio dice: Sep 7, 2010. 6:26 AM
TOMpleaseeeeeeee!!!!!! ......talk to me!!!!!!....and please send the SIZES of the project!!!!!!!!!

Kilopondio dice: Sep 7, 2010. 6:25 AM
Hi TOm!, how do we know the right position of the mini tooll when it touch the plexiglas?.
Kilopondio dice: Sep 4, 2010. 5:06 AM
Hi Tom! I`d like to ask you for the long of threaded rod to the motor shaft.If I want to make some square base what would be the size of this square?. Thanks
Coinnich dice: Ago 16, 2010. 3:48 PM
I'm looking for Stepper Motors online right now because i can't find any localy and i cant really ask questions, just wondering what kind of torque (OZ-IN) that your motors have
tesla67 dice: Ago 25, 2010. 12:01 PM
go to good will and pick up some printers than pull the moters out of them that is how i am doing it (if u cant find printers use scaners) tesla
PATO+ESCOBAR dice: Ago 13, 2010. 6:25 AM
HELLO I BUILD A CNC MACHINE :) i FROM CHILE :P thanks exellent web
electreonick dice: Nov 4, 2010. 10:48 AM
Pato, es grato encontrar a otro Chileno aca, yo soy de santiago y mi nombre es Claudio Inostroza y me gustaria compartieras tu experiencia sobre la construccion de esta escepcional y versatil herramienta , saludos ( electronic_ci@live.cl)
shaadmahmud dice: Ago 12, 2010. 11:54 AM
hello everyone i have done the circuit driver and it 100% works thanks to tomMcwire.... here is my work ( http://must-info.blogspot.com/2010/08/easy-to-build-cnc-mill-stepper-motor.html )
shenzer dice: Ago 11, 2010. 11:36 AM
can i use a printer stepper motor?
tesla67 dice: Ago 25, 2010. 12:02 PM
ya i do easy and cheap
Kilopondio dice: Jul 29, 2010. 10:27 AM
What kind of stepper motors are these? bipolar ,unipolar??. THanks Kilo
Klone38 dice: Oct 26, 2010. 6:51 PM
these are unipolar because he uses a unipolar driver board
just remember unipolar has 5 wires, bipolar has 4
huu dice: Jul 28, 2010. 11:16 PM
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dylanwinn dice: Jul 19, 2010. 5 PM

There is a far better version with complete build instructions and a bill of materials assembled by the RepRap guys here:

Also, save yourself time and money, and buy these steppers:

and these drivers:

I know from experience that cheap Chinese steppers WILL NOT WORK. Also, building your own controller is a royal PITA.

That is all.
dogtown01 dice: Jul 7, 2010. 9:12 AM
can we get a little mor detail for this stage
QuietStorm81 dice: Jun 15, 2010. 11:07 AM
Firstly, your youtube video for this project is right on. Kudos! Secondly, am I correct in assuming that you can set the length of the axis rails and threaded bars to whatever drilliable area you need? I ask because I would like to make a 8.5 foot square CNC for making full size Grid Beam spars and building the frame to support the mechanism doesn't seem all that difficult. But I need a minimum of 8 feet square of drilliable area to do the hole grid correctly. Any advice?
rbneville dice: Jun 22, 2010. 2:12 PM
Hopefully no one will mind me posting this but for a larger cnc check out the site www.buildyourcnc.com
jcskyhawk09 dice: Jun 15, 2010. 11:02 AM
Where can i buy a step motor at.
heroseac dice: Jun 8, 2010. 10:59 AM
hi Tom, thanks for posting this amazing project, i ´m gonna start building it , i understood almost everything but, i was wondering , the pipe sizes? so i can start the project ,i hope you can get back to me a soon as possible i just can´t wait to start the project. thanks again.
Motta dice: May 28, 2010. 4:18 PM
Can you do PCB (nice ones) with this CNC?
Peter.Steele dice: May 23, 2010. 5:59 PM
 What is the name of the flange at the top of the goose neck?  I'm sourcing my parts right now, and I can't seem to find one of those at Lowe's or at Home Depot ... I have a feeling I'm just not looking for the right product name ... 
falling_rain dice: May 19, 2010. 7:04 PM
does anybody know the specs of my motor?
i cant seem to find it in the internet. here is whats written on the motor.

astrosyn stepper
type 20LM-C355-P8W
number T8726
minebea co. ltd
shaadmahmud dice: May 17, 2010. 5:55 AM
here is my cnc driver same as Tom mcwire

despx dice: May 16, 2010. 5:16 PM
Hi, derived from your project I present you my CNC:
Thanks for your great idea!

daniel.barney dice: May 13, 2010. 6:39 PM
Do you use a Microcontroler to move the steps motors? Which one? When you turn on the machine, do you send it to cero?
Thank you!
Whackmaster dice: Abr 23, 2010. 2:15 PM
This looks VERY nice!  Is there any chance you are going to post a bill of materials and any useful drilling and cutting patterns you might have?
iklln6 dice: Abr 9, 2010. 1:42 AM
 tap the screw with a hammer before getting it with the screwdriver to keep it from sliding around.  tapping it will make a slight indentation that will hold the screw in place before the self-tapping edges catch and start digging through the aluminum 
carabac dice: Abr 5, 2010. 10:10 PM
 This is my version of Tom's CNC. It uses the stepper motor 3 Axis CNC Driver Kit from chromationsystems.com (Jeff from Chromation Systems was a ton of help and his instructable is here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Parallel-Port-3-Axis-CNC-Driver-Opto-Isolated/) and I am using KCAM for the software. I named my machine CNCme. You can also watch the Youtube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uzli11WJeo4.  Thanks Tom, Jeff and Instructables. 

sharbin dice: Abr 14, 2010. 8:59 PM
Nice Carabac!  Where did you get the slides that you used?
carabac dice: Abr 14, 2010. 9:10 PM
The slides are off a network hardware cabinet.  I purchased them from a local surplus store.  They are very nice because they run on ball bearings.
NitroRustlerDriver dice: Abr 4, 2010. 12:40 PM
 How much backlash is there using threaded rod?
Pawl dice: Abr 4, 2010. 11:25 AM
I was just wondering if you know the accuracy af the machine? Would the resolution be fine enough for say . .  jewelery wax?
solrobot dice: Abr 4, 2010. 11:02 AM
very good.i think thise is best system. for thise system,we can change the motors.
Mark+Rehorst dice: Abr 4, 2010. 10:55 AM
 This is just great!  I like the use of pipe for the frame- keeps things simple and cheap, yet sturdy.  

Any idea what sort of precision you get with this set-up?  What is the largest size you can cut?  Where do you buy cutting tools? - cutting fiberglass PCBs is going to burn through them pretty quickly...

Thanks for the great instructable!
tomtortoise dice: Abr 2, 2010. 9:35 AM
do you think this would be easy and cheap enough for a 15 yr old to build? also i have one of the stepper motors but it doesn't look like yours but it has 4 wires will it still work?
kumarr_amitt dice: Abr 9, 2010. 3:46 AM
 no i am sorry this is not going to work .. you need unipolar stepper motors to get the desired result. this have 6 wires not four..
also a 15 year old can also build the machine only if he is a genius..
bluumax dice: Abr 10, 2010. 4:02 PM
You need 5-8 wire motors for this, or get a bipolar motor drive for 4 wire motors.
This depends on the 15 yr old. If mechanically inclined, no problem.
Gotta start somewhere.

bluumax CNC
GranInOregon dice: Mar 28, 2010. 9:08 PM
I hate to sound like a dork, but what does this milling machine do?
065 dice: Mar 28, 2010. 11:07 AM
Hi I'm currently trying to construct your machine but I'm having trouble understanding  how your machine works with out and limit switches?
fruitkid101 dice: Mar 26, 2010. 7:31 PM
If I put a burning laser in there can it work like a mini laser cutter?
twhello dice: Mar 22, 2010. 5:39 AM
Too wonderful, thanks to share.
fozzy55 dice: Mar 15, 2010. 6:14 PM
hi there...

can someone tell me what kind of stepper did he use???

bc i don't know what step motor i should to use :S
bluumax dice: Mar 19, 2010. 10:07 AM
Unipolar 5-8 wire.
Size NEMA 17
kumarr_amitt dice: Mar 15, 2010. 1:30 AM
hey tom,
thanks for the driver.
i am  facing a problem with the driver. actually the test results are positive but the motor is humming and not rotating.
the motor turns clockwise and anti clockwise in "single step click event".
can u plz figure out the problem  for me?
bluumax dice: Mar 19, 2010. 10:10 AM
If you're using Mach3 make sure it's setup right.
korkarn dice: Mar 11, 2010. 12:05 PM

I want to know size for to made Easy cnc 3 axis . I want to maks it.

Thank you.

yosoytamez2 dice: Mar 6, 2010. 10:28 AM
¿Donde puedo conseguir el cuello de ganzo? ó ¿con que otro nombre lo encuentro?
blade+z51 dice: May 28, 2010. 5 PM
Todas son partes de tuberia. El cuello de ganzo es nada mas que una "L" de 90° y un "nipple" (parece de 3" de largo). La piecza con los 4 huecos se llama "flange" y tanbien es pieza de tuberia. Todas las piezas del marco son partes de tuberia de fierro estandard.
robotron997 dice: Mar 4, 2010. 9:07 PM
hi i want to know how much will the motor tool on the z axis will cost
mgrc dice: Mar 1, 2010. 4:20 PM
Does anyone know what a good stepper motor to use is? I was looking at 5 and 6 wire motors, but there's not a lot with 1/4" shaft, and they're all kinda pricey.
fruitkid101 dice: Feb 15, 2010. 12:01 PM
How much is this going to cost...aprox?
rkersey dice: Mar 26, 2010. 9:15 AM
The project will cost aprox $200, however this all hinges on the stepper motors you get. I got mine for $30 at alltronics.com.
shadowkiller dice: Feb 14, 2010. 5:53 PM
I am usnig 1/2 inch copper piping, when I try to add the Z-axis mount, the goose neck fell down, should I use thicker piping or shorten the goose neck?? Or would sweating the pipes work??? thanks,
lcisneroslm dice: Feb 13, 2010. 9:31 PM

I am buying the Zen Toolworks CNC Carving Machine DIY Kit Model 1212 but I don't know anything about the electronics the machine comes with Nema 23 Stepper Motors 3.64V, 1.3A 6 wires Does anybody knows what kind of  power supply and the stepper motor driver board should I get?

Thank you.

bluumax dice: Mar 7, 2010. 5:47 AM
Doesn't Zen Toolworks give you that info? It depends entirely on the motor driver. Unipolar / bipolar, driver chip etc.
john10452 dice: Feb 11, 2010. 9:31 AM
Great work, but how did you couple the stepper motor shaft with the threaded rods, I am having hard time to join them together and keep perfectly alligned.
LogicNot dice: Mar 27, 2010. 3:57 AM
Hey, you can use a coupler for this. They let you connect two moving poles together, even if they're not aligned.
fruitkid101 dice: Feb 2, 2010. 10:05 PM
Another 2 Questions,WHere do I buy stepper motors for cheap. and @Tom Mcwire what are the dimensions of all the parts? I want to make one just like yours. and where do I get the bearings?...whoops 3 questions, not 2
ianstein951 dice: Ene 31, 2010. 8:21 AM
What would you suggest for scaling this up, like alot? im talking about being able to handle hard metals, and quite a bit larger. would an old treadmill moter work in place of a dremal if i used a belt reduction drive?
bluumax dice: Ene 31, 2010. 9:46 PM
Buy a real one. Big machines will hurt you if you don't know what you're doing, they are not toys. The guys that make the big DIY machines started small.
fruitkid101 dice: Ene 29, 2010. 2:37 PM
I have a question. I have a motor and I got two more out a printer. Each only has two wires instead of like five or six. Is this a problem? If not, is it different to setup? if yes,how?

dpsilver dice: Ene 30, 2010. 8:03 PM
well sorry dude but the motors u have are dc motors not steppers so they cant be used like this. they have some sort of position locating device on it but should be able to work if u can find how to drive them
i hope this helps u
the printer motors have their own built on 
bluumax dice: Ene 21, 2010. 4:21 PM
I posted all my drawings/ plans for the mills I made / sold.
CorelDraw v10, Ai, & PDF.
There are 3 different version of the plates for different needs.
2 different nut types & whether you have routing capability.
i.e. You can only drill, no machining ability.
LaughingCheese dice: Ene 21, 2010. 5:11 PM
Oh WOW, thanks for the detailed blueprints!!!

When you say you can't do machining, I'm a CNC newbie, does that mean I won't be  to cut molds out of MDF or foam?

And if I got more powerful motors and cutting head (like a Rotozip) would that be able to machine?

My idea was to cut molds for use in vac forming, I can live without aluminum cutting, that will be for the next machine. :P


bluumax dice: Ene 21, 2010. 6:23 PM
Only if you can't do machining to make the parts for this, like no machine to make them.
Make this, then make better parts. MTM, Machines That Make.

I just know most people building these won't be able to cut out the bolt pockets, etc.
daney198 dice: Ene 19, 2010. 4:07 AM

I make this CNC Milling Machine

Thanks Tom & Instructables
LaughingCheese dice: Ene 21, 2010. 5:26 PM
Wow! Great work!

Does that panel behind the machine related to it or is it something else?
daney198 dice: Ene 24, 2010. 8:14 AM

yes panel is related to machine. all the kit and wiring inside of panel.
SeaCaptain dice: Ene 30, 2010. 4:39 PM
That looks like an excellent version of this instructable!  Is there a possibility of you doing an instructable of your panel?  Looks great!
LaughingCheese dice: Ene 16, 2010. 10:37 PM
How do I find out how powerful I need my stepper motors to be? Like 50oz vs 100oz?

Are the materials you can cut dictated by the power of the stepper motors or the power of the drill (dremel/rotozip)?


bluumax dice: Ene 21, 2010. 4:10 PM
1) I used 16oz/in for mine.
2) Yep, a Dremel will only cut / do so much.
LaughingCheese dice: Ene 21, 2010. 11:37 PM
Is that enough for foam/MDF?


bluumax dice: Ene 22, 2010. 12:31 AM
Really depends on the speed you want. They were old motors I got for $2 ea.
I bought 1000 a couple yrs ago. ebay is a good place to get motors. Just get 5 to 8 wire kind. 5 or 6 are the easiest to figure out.
hello123321 dice: Mar 26, 2010. 10:27 AM
one question is that 16.in oz or 160 oz.in,
and correcting you (in a polite way) ... it's supposed to be oz.in not oz/in
bluumax dice: Mar 26, 2010. 11:16 AM
I guess that would be divide wouldn't it ;-)
I used 16oz.in on my mini mill. Because it transmissive you don't need 460oz motors. 16oz was a bit light, but it worked.
I run 30oz.in on my gantry router with a bipolar drive.
I can get 60+ IPM
frmco dice: Ene 12, 2010. 10:19 PM
I am convinced that you are a very smart person, and I congradulate you.I can make the machine, no prob. But don't no sht. about the elctronics or programs. excuse the language. I am very frostrated about it. I need help on the step motors and programing. Plz help.I live in LA. and dont have much info. on where to get stuff.
electronic+boy dice: Ene 10, 2010. 6:30 AM
i was just wondering where i could get some stepper motors like those
bluumax dice: Ene 10, 2010. 10:06 AM
Read the comments before asking questions asked 3 posts earlier.
ekis dice: Ene 3, 2009. 9:59 AM
 great job 
achollowell dice: Ene 1, 2009. 12:10 PM

Nice project like to build one in future never thought about how simple it really is great job

Plasanator dice: Dic 28, 2009. 10:56 AM
Techman-59 dice: Dic 23, 2009. 2:10 PM
 I was wondering if I could use the motors from some old printers to control the XYZ motions? I am really really "Computer Challenged" with all this so please don't laugh at me too much.
bluumax dice: Dic 27, 2009. 1:12 AM
You can, it depends on the step value, some are 7.5° & won't work. Some just don't have enough torque. One guy used old washing machine motors. www.instructables.com/id/Make-your-own-cnc-controller/

mavkain dice: Ene 7, 2010. 10:20 AM
Those little motors won't pull/push much. I would be looking at photocopier motors atleast. Another great thing with photocopiers is there are allot of other goodies in them. Some have real lead screws, decent gears and belts. Most repair places are more then happy for you to take old dead units off their hands. Saves them from paying to have it hauled away.
chikku98681 dice: Dic 20, 2009. 12:25 AM

hiii...first of all HATS OFF to u for dis inspirating work..!!
wud u mind clearing some doubts?? wot r d specifications of dis motors n spindles?wots its capacity?how u managed 2 hav d peripheral devices? n which software u used 2 drive it?? pls do response..i ll b waiting..dis s my e mail id.

cristiantutuianu dice: Nov 30, 2009. 12:54 AM
Help my to find details about some STEPPING MOTOR made by SANYO DENKI

   DC 2.2A
   1.8 DEG
   LOT NO. 10708
   TYPE 103H7126 - 0541
   DC 1.8A
   1.8 DEG
   LOT NO. 10706
   TYPE 103H6703 - 0343
   DC 2.6A
   1.8 DEG
   LOT NO. 03809
   TYPE 103H7124 - 1241

I find this in some copiers machine
This is the label on the motors.
I need to now the power supply,and all possible information about this motors 
Sincerely i try to find on the web and i don't find  . The the company don't give detail about this
This is my e-mail cristiantutuianu@gmail.com
falling_rain dice: Nov 21, 2009. 4:54 AM
hello everyone!
i just want to ask if this project is compatible with EAGLE pcb lay out editor as the CAD software and  MACH3 as the CNC software. please help. thanks!
bluumax dice: Nov 21, 2009. 11:46 AM
You can use EAGLE with PCB g code, Yahoo  or pcbgcode.org It works very well.
Scroll down & you can see some boards I made.

Most people either use Mach3 or EMC2.
I have some basic Mach3 setup info on my site.
ruawake dice: Nov 19, 2009. 12:04 PM
 Where is the rest of the movie, and/or some basic guidelines for supplies and building?  Great idea, but only shows a bit.  Holes are already in the pipe, and how is Tom able to put it together and have all the holes in the pipe line up for the rails, and motors?
A few nice additions would mean the difference between some of us newbies ever getting off the ground with this awesome project.
bluumax dice: Nov 22, 2009. 4:12 AM
It's kind of a DIY thing. Look at the ones I build, that might help.
ruawake dice: Nov 28, 2009. 8:20 PM
Thanks alot for the info and site.  Your mill looks great, with some nice little improvements.  Do you know of any cnc control software for mac osx?


bluumax dice: Nov 29, 2009. 3:02 AM
I don't know of anything for Mac.
vkgoku2012 dice: Nov 15, 2009. 9:52 AM
 Where exactly did you mount the nut because from the picture it seems like you  mounted it on the bottom of the plexi glass.
danlenz dice: Nov 9, 2009. 5:03 PM
Where can you find Stepper moters? Not too expensive.
Jodex dice: Nov 14, 2009. 1:39 AM
Old printers.
danlenz dice: Nov 14, 2009. 10:32 AM
Thanks like dot or ink jet printers?

Jodex dice: Nov 14, 2009. 11:10 AM
I don't know about those dot printers, but probably there's too. Inkjets will have steppers. Look if you can get cheap and open up! There will be lots of cool stuff :D
danlenz dice: Nov 14, 2009. 8:12 PM
As a ham radio operator and general messer arounder one can never have too musch ... stuff.
bluumax dice: Nov 16, 2009. 1:06 AM
Yes you can!
I worked in PC recycle for a few years.
The amount of stuff you can accumulate is enormous...
Gotta have that, Gotta have those too!!
Pretty soon a 2 car garage is FULL of stuff.
Jodex dice: Nov 16, 2009. 4:50 AM
Wow, cool! =D
danlenz dice: Nov 16, 2009. 6:29 PM
Ok I stand corrected. Thats too funny
tornadoboy dice: Nov 23, 2009. 8:32 AM
Ebay is always a good place to start, old Apple II Imagewriter printer have some nice heavy-duty steppers too, we threw out a bunch at my old job and I pulled the motors first, they're what I'm using.
st_indigo dice: Dic 8, 2009. 9:54 AM
check weirdstuff.com. they have some great little steppers for about $8 each.
bluumax dice: Oct 23, 2009. 12:05 AM
I put up a parts page for some of the basic stuff you can't just go buy, but makes building these a lot easier & makes for a more stable build.
V block sliders for the rails, NEMA 17 motor mounts and 5/16-18 anti-backlash nuts.

king5star dice: Oct 16, 2009. 5:33 AM
Hi  Tom  I'm Karim of Egypt on this last effort and mental characteristics and I have decided to use this circuit in the work is my graduation project, but a problem

I use the Proteus in the design of a pcb , but when I transfer circuit file to (dxf ) and open the program the machine kcam unloaded path Copper I hope you to let me know the program that you use in the design of printed circuit, which you empty copper around the track and you very much

And to excuse twice in the use of English language
bluumax dice: Oct 17, 2009. 4:18 AM
Use EAGLE for layout http://www.cadsoft.de/
and PCB G Code http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pcb-gcode/
with the optimizer, you will find it in the files I think.

bluumax dice: Oct 17, 2009. 4:28 AM
A small board I made as a demonstration for the mini-mills I sell.
mariosk8s dice: Oct 11, 2009. 6:18 PM
did you ever lock the Z-axis support with a bolt or something to keep it from going out alignment, or did you just tighten it as shown in the movie? 
Tom+McGuire dice: Oct 1, 2009. 8:04 AM
I don't know it this comment will make it out to all you subscribers but there has been a yahoo group forum started for this machine. It might be a helpful way to post questions and find answers. Give it a try.
Robotics+Guy dice: Sep 22, 2009. 2:29 PM
My ball bearings rusted!! Is there something I should be putting on the metal parts to keep them from rusting? And/or to keep them moving smoothly? THANKS!
pitbikeman dice: Sep 23, 2009. 7:34 AM
I found a yahoo group that features this easy mill build. It's http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Hobby_CNC/

They also talk about mods for it and the 608zz skate bearings and where to buy them dirt cheap. Hope this helps all of you folks.
bluumax dice: Sep 23, 2009. 9:09 PM
use stainless, grease them good, get sealed type 608-2RS Sealed
Robotics+Guy dice: Sep 27, 2009. 1:16 PM
What kind of grease should I use, and where do I buy it from? Thanks!
bluumax dice: Sep 27, 2009. 3:01 PM
I would just use bearing grease from an auto parts store. It's cheap & should work fine.
NZSmartie dice: Sep 11, 2009. 2:51 PM
I dont know if this has already been answered, but would i be able to cut out a shape, lets say a star from a sheet of acrylic?
Orista dice: Ago 28, 2009. 12:11 PM
I have been looking at making this thing for some time but due to the fact that it cant use USB and I dont feel like going out to buy a new computer just for a Parellel port i searched around the internet and found this http://www.cncdudez.co.uk/ they have a free DIY project to create a USB-Parallel Interface with firmware and software to run the cnc machine on USB so now anyone without a parellel port can use this.
Orista dice: Ago 28, 2009. 1:10 PM
Also found this one now http://rc.cis.si/projects/cnc_motion/ not sure wich one is the better choice but there might be other usb software programs just havent found them yet or you might be able to program the yourself.
LoTriMouS dice: Jun 8, 2010. 10:19 PM
You can get a PCI parallel port card. Try Newegg.
ziggalo dice: Jul 24, 2010. 1:23 PM
i've heard that some of these port cards and usb/parallel converters don't work for this machine. is this true? If anyone knows or have tried it please let us know. thanks
decarus dice: Ago 27, 2009. 11:31 PM
i'm wondering, how does it make PCB from scratch?.. how do u remove the conductive parts while leaving only small conductive traits(circuit) on the board? all i can see is the machine doing it the other way around....
Davetech dice: Ago 28, 2009. 9:35 AM
Lots of design programs have an output option that will create an outline of what you have drawn/designed. In Diptrace you can select an "Edge" output which creates a G-code file and saves it as a .dxf. Then you import the .dxf into your machine controller program (Mach, Cambam, K-Cam...etc) and use a "V" shaped engraving tool to mill the circuit trace outlines. If you are making a double-sided board, you have to set it to "mirror" the bottom set of traces and use a couple of reference points to exactly align the board when you flip it over to mill the back side.
bluumax dice: Sep 3, 2009. 3:20 AM
This is a demo board I cut on a machine like this one, but modified.
chriswillb dice: Sep 12, 2009. 9:16 AM
HI, no all it does is makes holes in the PCB board (i Think) PCbs are usually made with a photo etch method google it to find out more
bluumax dice: Sep 14, 2009. 11:43 AM
It's easier to route the traces with a mill than to dink around with etch.
TJLaw dice: Ago 24, 2009. 5:31 PM
Absolutely genius!!! What do you use for software to make the drawings and to "translate" them to the motor controllers?? I am currently in the middle of my build and any help would be greatly appreciated.
Davetech dice: Ago 25, 2009. 7:35 AM
I intended to make my own controller board but it was too complicated to draw by hand. I tried the toner transfer method with little success. I finally gave up and bought a new, already assembled Univelope driver board off eBay for about what it would have cost me in parts. It works very well. Several people on our forum use the "Hobby CNC" board kit and say it works great too. But to answer your question, now that I have a mill I use the trial versions of Diptrace and K-Cam (I'm poor, donations appreciated ;)
LaughingCheese dice: Ene 15, 2010. 5:25 PM
Speaking of controller boards, would it be possible to use Arduino as a controller board, or is that something else?

I'm a newbie to all this. :P


bluumax dice: Ene 16, 2010. 10:50 AM
You might be able to use Arduino. The inputs are just step & dir.
You can use the same type output / transistor setup Tom used too.

I sell drives using PICs & ULN2064 driver
It's just a basic cheap 1.5A $50 drive.

I use Mach3 Ver 2.63 with my boards because they need a longer pulse & the older ver seems to work best.
Also you can use EMC2 for Linux, it's free.

bluumax dice: Ene 16, 2010. 10:38 AM
I use CorelDraw to draw parts & Cut2D for g code.
PCB g code for boards.
Cut2D is $150 US, but worth a ton. It's awesome.
Robotics+Guy dice: Ago 18, 2009. 3:29 PM
Any body else have their ball bearings rust on them?
Davetech dice: Ago 2, 2009. 1:58 PM
I have built a mill based on Tom's design and video. I was a total noob when I started and now I have a working mill.

I have documented the building/learning process I went through day-to-day as I went through it for any other noobs who might want to try this. Some of my ideas worked and some didn't work.

I called it: "Building Tom's Easy Mill" on this forum: http://cerebralmeltdown.com/forum/index.php?topic=19.0

Hope it helps someone.
Davetech dice: Ago 2, 2009. 3:55 PM
Here's a picture of the mill I built based on Tom's video. Notice I did the rails a bit differently. It uses motors rated at 1 amp, has a Univelope driver board, and that's a RotoZip rebel mounted on the Z-stage. I'm still a noob, but I'm a noob having fun.
ruawake dice: Jul 27, 2009. 12:01 PM
Great project, but still no real complete list for parts, and size of various components. Except for what has been written and in your video, everything else is guess work. I assume you might not be aware that us newbies who are really interested, are left in the dark. Please post a list , or atleast tell me how much money you might want to charge for such a list.
chriswillb dice: Jul 30, 2009. 10:27 AM
I agree ruawake newbies aren't always taken into account but the project is brilliant and who's to blame? i'm sure with a bit of guess work we'll be fine
prosi09 dice: Jul 27, 2009. 2:09 AM
What is the length of x, y and z axis pipes?
Davetech dice: Ago 2, 2009. 3:42 PM
The length's are not critical. They will; however, affect the amount of working space you have. I guessed and bought 1" ID pipe, the two legs (y) are 10", the parts that join the Z-"T" (x) are 8" and 3" and the Z pipe is 10". I guessed wrong about the 1" ID because the thing turned out bigger than Tom's but I'm happy. It is Sturdy!
slider388 dice: Ago 21, 2009. 9:36 PM
Better sturdy than weak. What cutting area do you have? I'm thinking of scaling this up a bit to get a 12"x12"x3"ish cutting area.
Davetech dice: Ago 23, 2009. 9:01 AM
My work area is X-12", Y-8" and Z-5"
slider388 dice: Ago 23, 2009. 1:29 PM
wow thats pretty good. The Y in this design is kinda limited by how far out from its support you mount the z module, but I'm aiming for you area or a bit bigger.
Davetech dice: Ago 24, 2009. 1:54 AM
Yes, you are quite correct. If you try to extend the Y out too far, when the stage traverses very far from the X rails, it will tend to tip. I overcame that problem by pouring a 6 pound lead counterwieght that rides on the X stage. I was worried that the lead weight would make it hard for the rails to slide but since I used channel steel riding on steel conduit for rails, the additional friction was minimal.
Davetech dice: Ago 24, 2009. 1:59 AM
The easier approach, of course, would be to use longer black pipe "legs" to make the X stage wider, but I was past that point by then and just made the counterweight instead.
slider388 dice: Ago 24, 2009. 7:49 AM
Thanks for the heads up, I think I'll go with some 18" legs. When you say you used 10" pipe for the Z, do you mean that you put the z module 10" above the rest of the frame or do you mean you extended it out 10" over everything else? If not, how high up did you put it and how far out? Thanks!
Davetech dice: Ago 25, 2009. 7:02 AM
Upon re-reading I realized that my response missed the gist of your comment... I answered about extending the Y axis, but you commented about the placement of the Z axis upright. Here's how I built mine. But if I were to use a little longer extension than the 3" nipple. I'd get more useable workspace. I might do that. With this size pipe, it might even be a good idea to point the "T" towards the rear and put a pipe and elbow so that the Z upright is further away. I constantly have to be on guard against my Y stage colliding with the upright. In the picture you can see the counterweight. The rubber bands keep it from walking around due to vibration. I used rigid 1/2" copper rails for the Y stage because I ran out of steel conduit. It works well too. What looks like blown fuses are actually ballast lamps. Looks like I may be running them a bit hot.
slider388 dice: Sep 5, 2009. 7:02 PM
Thanks for the help man! I have my frame set up, and now I need to build the platforms. It looks like plexiglass will be too bendy for my size machine, what did you use? I need to find something relatively cheap and strong that will do the trick and not sag under its weight for its size.
Redgerr dice: Jul 24, 2009. 12:55 PM
amazing project, there is olny one flaw i see and thats to get a vacume in there, thast not even a big deal but if you threw on somthing like that it would be pretty cool :) cheers and truely amazing
ruawake dice: Jul 20, 2009. 1:58 PM
Great project, having trouble getting various parts. Could you please post Detailed parts list , including the stepper motors. This would make it so much more "user friendly", for all of us who may be newbies.
Arduino+Guy dice: Jul 24, 2009. 4:55 AM
what was used as the cutting motor because I do not want to buy a 30,000 rpm motor for 100 bucks and where did you buy it?
reggy_a dice: Jul 19, 2009. 2:30 PM
You say that this design can do 2-D Engraving and 3-D Milling in mild materials. What is the exact software that is needed for both the engraving and the milling please? I know that there is sign making software for 2-D, but I do not think it will accomodate both 2-D and 3-D. If you had your druthers, would you prefer the Column type construction as your pipe model is, or do you prefer the Gantry style engineering? Excellent concept that you have come up with here!!!! Kudos to you, Sir.
Ideal_Ideas91 dice: Jul 18, 2009. 8:12 PM
you sure say umm alot, lol
Robotics+Guy dice: Jul 17, 2009. 12:27 PM
Tom - Did you grease sides of the two aluminum u channels that rub against each other? Would you recommend doing that? Does plexiglass get scraped up since it's constantly sliding on the tops of the aluminum u channels, do you put some kind of lubricant on it as well? Thanks!
Sovaka dice: Jul 12, 2009. 1:03 AM
Would this kind of device be able to cut aluminum?
bluumax dice: Jul 13, 2009. 6:31 AM
Yes, take light passes. Weigh the table down too.
ruawake dice: Jul 7, 2009. 9:34 PM
Really inventive ideas, wonder how linear guides would work?
bluumax dice: Jul 13, 2009. 6:34 AM
They'll probably get gummed up & full of chips, dust & crap if you use the roller bearing / block type. Linear rod is the standard for type of thing.
jpablo78 dice: Jun 26, 2009. 9:42 PM
Your CNC is great because it's a simple design, but here in Argentina even the piping tubes are expensive! Anyway, I'm trying to follow your directions with some small modifications, (I have 2 bipolar motors and 1 unipolar, then I have to build a different controller). Thanks your contribution, it's a very good job


rahilm dice: Jun 22, 2009. 9:41 PM
I purchased 3 of these 12v stepper motors: http://www.mpja.com/prodinfo.asp?number=17757+MS

If I have the 12v power in, do I need to use the light bulb? If so, what kind of bulb do I need to use? And can the bulb be replaced with a power resistor?

kalabog76 dice: Jun 10, 2009. 3:29 AM
This has been awesome! Thanks Tom! I have attached a prototype board picture that I have used, I'm really bad with etching...


fgleich dice: Jun 5, 2009. 5:38 PM
Here's a source for hobby RC cars, trucks, etc bearings. Try to buy one from Ace Hardware for less than 10 dollars per bearing......I'm NOT paying that amount when I can order a pack of ten for about 20 bucks. Anyway,

BTW, Lowes and Home Depot do NOT carry bearings any more
bluumax dice: Jul 13, 2009. 6:43 AM
They're a great bearing for the price.
I bought 1000 for $270 for my machines.
You can get them by 10, 100, 1000.
10 for $4.95 + $4.95 S&H - 10 for $10.
They ship priority mail in the U.S.
Item # 608ZZ
bluumax dice: Jul 13, 2009. 6:44 AM
They come in plastic tubes too, not bags.
malikilam dice: Ago 13, 2011. 8:44 AM
You can get the 10 bearings even cheaper from the same company by ordering them on Amazon ($1.64 in shipping charge as opposed to $4.95): http://www.amazon.com/Bearing-Shielded-Diameter-Miniature-Bearings/dp/B002BBICBK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1313250027&sr=8-1
allegfede dice: Jun 4, 2009. 3:58 PM
I was thinking to use U channel alluminium rails for the bottom ones (the two scewed to the tube's structure) and U channel teflon rails for the two screwed to plexy table. So the teflon would lubrificate the motion and don't bend in the middle .... For big router tables could be even better to use some kind of Y shaped alluminuim bottom rails (improved rigidity) :D
Robotics+Guy dice: Jun 4, 2009. 11:53 AM
Won't the U channel aluminum slides have a lot of friction? Is there a better material to use? Someone recommended using nylon-on-nylon instead of aluminum, but I don't know where to buy it!
disturbedreaper dice: Jun 2, 2009. 6:02 PM
i want it i want it i want it pls can i have one i shall begin working now love this ible i want something great for engraving i think this would be good
disturbedreaper dice: Jun 2, 2009. 6:03 PM
also wat would be a good bit to use on the dremel for engraving
allegfede dice: Jun 1, 2009. 1 PM
Could you tell me what is the normal name/use of the flat circular piece of metal (the one with the treaded hole in the center and 4 holes on the side) you used for holding the Z axis? I found the tubes in my plumbing store, but cannot explain to the shop guys what kind of stuff is that piece of metal :( .... so I need to know how it's used ... int the plumbing word :D Thanks
disturbedreaper dice: Jun 4, 2009. 6:36 AM
print out the picture and bring it there i think it is used to mount something when runing a pipe throught the wall but i dont know just bring a picture
Galway dice: Jun 4, 2009. 8:36 AM
allegfede, It is a flange or mounting flange. Galway
allegfede dice: Jun 7, 2009. 9:31 AM
thank you guys :D
fgleich dice: Jun 6, 2009. 11:08 AM
It's a pipe floor circular support
matroska dice: May 24, 2009. 9:34 AM
Wow, that's incredibly cool. I've always wanted some kind of machine like this, however programming a machine like this one and making it work would actually be way off my actual knowledge. Instead, wouldn't be cool if we could come out with a joystick? :D Imagine piloting this machine this the über simple NES constroller. I see how it can be possible, this isn't beyond my knowledge. Thanks for sharing!
Kavon dice: Jun 30, 2009. 2:58 PM
Well, with a CNC machine, you dont actually control it, you use a program of sorts along with a 3d/2d drawing of something, and the program tells the machine where to cut.
trooperrick dice: May 19, 2009. 12:52 PM
Would you be able to cut some aluminum with this setup?
kasari001 dice: May 17, 2009. 1:47 PM
disturbedreaper dice: Jun 4, 2009. 6:39 AM
stepper motors i dont think it maters for a perticular modle just a steper motor becuase u will have to zero everything on the software
josheeg dice: May 15, 2009. 11:56 AM
I have never seen one of these dremel designs that somehow finds a way to hold the parts without just clamping onto a plastic dremel it would seem to me it would kill the acuracy. or precision.
josheeg dice: May 15, 2009. 11:57 AM
In other words is their a way to mount a dremel snake extention cable so their can be a X size hole that is not shaped strange to hold the bit wrather than clamping on a full dremel. It seems like it would make a better machine also.
Akair dice: May 14, 2009. 7:13 AM
Oh , man! now I don't have to spend 1000 dollars on a cnc mill i can make one for less than a hundred!
lenny25 dice: May 12, 2009. 12:53 PM
Any progress on the controller and software. Is there any open source software that will work?
josheeg dice: May 15, 2009. 11:52 AM
Looks to me like linuxcnc is free open source and uses ubuntu. It only runs on a decent computer thow.
Rick_kap dice: May 10, 2009. 4:13 AM
Hi, I'm just starting out wih building this circuitry, but i can't find the diagram for the connections to the parallel port. Am i missing something?? Regards Rick
josheeg dice: May 15, 2009. 11:54 AM
The first link on this article takes you to the schematic assembly yea that is weird I found out how the hookup works by looking at some open source avr stepper motor board site. Their also is lynn stepper. or lin stepper . I am using the motordrivers from makerbot their a open source design and quite nice make shure you get the described solder paste their all not the same.
donald.emerson dice: May 2, 2009. 3:40 PM
Great Idea, would like to build, what is the software that drives the mill? Hopefully it's as cheap as the machine.
josheeg dice: May 15, 2009. 11:54 AM
cheaper linux cnc.
sargisminasyan dice: Abr 29, 2009. 4:01 AM
Please enyone help me to build the cnc router. I understand how to make build it but theproraming not. Please, i wont to learn the programing it. How can i make a cnc router 3 axis from printer, how will i program it to work???
Eddy_S81 dice: Abr 29, 2009. 2:06 AM

Kcam looks OK, there is a crippled Shareware download, http://kellyware.com/kcam/

How much torque should the motors have? I plan to use the machine for making PCBs so will be a similar size to Toms.

I have been looking at:




Big thanks Ed
duke3d dice: Abr 25, 2009. 3:47 PM
Hey Tom, nice work, what software are you using for this CNC and where can one obtain such a software package?
cousinles dice: Abr 20, 2009. 4:06 PM
I can't seem to find the view all comments link on the page anymore. I got a lot of my questions answered by viewing all comments and using the ctrl-f key to find key words. it is a lot easer that scrolling through 50 pages. if someone else has it could they post a shortcut for me please? it would be greatly appreciated.
marco1970 dice: Abr 11, 2009. 2:13 PM
UPDATE: I also have three Vexta pk268-01 2 phase, 1/8" step stepper motors. I don't know much (well, almost nothing), about CNC but love the concept of creating your own tools and parts :)
marco1970 dice: Abr 11, 2009. 2:10 PM
What kind of materials can be used with your CNC milling machine? Can it also cut through metals? If yes, what kind? I have an old Prolight program, will it work? I also have IronCAD, but I don't know how to work it and don't have the manual for it. Another program I have is Mach... but i have the same problem (no manual). Where can I find these manuals? a Manual for Solidworks?
josheeg dice: Abr 9, 2009. 8:08 AM
Ok here is a idea built from stock useualy cut only on 2 sides... Take a 12x12 sheet of steel... 10x10x1 delrin sheet set the delrin on the steel. 1x1 steel squair tube... put steel shims on top and bottom of squair tube to give it some room... put steel rod over end of derlin and steel bars this will hold the delrin slide down... Then a delrin spacer and table for that axis... this seems to be a way to make a strong table from the shape that comes from the factory & your useing your slides to set your rails... less adjustment....
josheeg dice: Abr 9, 2009. 10:55 AM
here is a drawing of what I was thinking please comment and mention the problems...
josheeg dice: Abr 9, 2009. 10:58 AM
here it is...
bluumax dice: Abr 22, 2009. 1:52 PM
Delrin / Acetal is EXPENSIVE. That would cost about $100 USD I use scrap HDPE for my mill parts, same size less than $20. UHMW about $35
msalhi dice: Abr 6, 2009. 12:08 PM
Tom you did not mention anything about the motor specifications ... what kind should i get ?
josheeg dice: Abr 2, 2009. 8:55 AM
It would seem it could be lower cost yet if 2 materials were used UHMW (Ultra High Molecular Weight) Polyethylene Sheet for the ends of slides and Squair steel tubing a drill press with a counter sink some taps some bolts and nuts..... the same lead screw being threaded rod but washers and nuts on the ends for end bearings... a drilled block with screws could support a plastic loop. it would be stronger and more rigid and made squair like legos...
narpas dice: Mar 31, 2009. 4:40 PM
Here is my mill I guess its not cnc and does not follow many of your design concepts but you inspired it!
granolape dice: Abr 9, 2009. 10 AM
that's rad. it's like an etch-a-sketch mill!
spud218a dice: Mar 25, 2009. 7:20 PM
Is there anybody out there from CA?
JZ+Price dice: Mar 25, 2009. 8:01 PM
no; east coast