How to Make a Three Axis CNC Machine (Cheaply and Easily)

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The idea behind this Instructable was to fulfill my desire for a desktop sized CNC machine. While it would have been nice to purchase an off the shelf unit the issue of price as well as size proved prohibitive. With this in mind I endeavored to design and build a three axis CNC machine with the following factors in mind:

-Use Simple tools (needs only a drill press, band saw, and hand tools)
-Low Cost (this kind of got away from me however with everything bought off the shelf the cost for all parts is under $600 (significant savings could be made by skillfully sourcing some pieces))
-Small footprint (30" x 25" footprint)
-Usable working envelope (10" X-axis, 14" Y-Axis, 4" Z-Axis)
-Relativly fast cut rate (60" per minute)
-Small part count (fewer than 30 unique parts)
-Easy to source parts (all parts available from 4 sources (Home Depot + 3 online sources)
-Ability to cut ply-wood (Succesful)

Lets get started...

UPDATE: - Coming soon the ability to order pre-cut MDF pieces from oomlout
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Step 1: Others Who Have Finished

A salute to those who have laboured through to this point (and to demonstrate that it is reproducable) Here are some pictures of other peoples machines.

Photo 1 - Chris and his friend put together this unit; laser cutting the parts out of half inch acrylic. Not only does it look super it must weigh a ton. But kudos, anyone who's worked with acrylic knows laser cutting it is great but it is a very very unfriendly material to drill and there is a lot of side drilling in this design. Good job guys, check out more details (and photos including some testing with circuit boards) on Chris's blog I particularly like his work with making 3-d objects out of 2d cuts (here) .

Photo 2 - Sam McCaskill has finished his desktop CNC machine and it's looking really really nice. Super impressively he also resisted the urge to cheat and cut all his pieces by hand. I'm really impressed.

Photo 3 - Angry Monk's - With MDF pieces cut on a laser cutter and drive converted from toothed belts to threaded rod

Photo 4 - Bret Golab's - Bret has completed his and gone through the extra step of getting it setup to work with Linux CNC (a task I attempted and was foiled by complexity). If you're interested in his settings you can send him a message (Instructable ID: bretlyssii ) ). Great job Bret!

(If you have built one and would like it featured here, please send me a PM and we can arrange for the sending of photos)

Angry_Monk6 years ago
I started to build this over the summer. i had the parts laser cut at my college from the DXF file. i just completed it a week ago after modifying it for better precision on the X and Y axes. i replaced the belt dives with threaded rod so now i can step forward 0.001" no problem, i think i can even do 0.0005" fine.

modifying the X and Y axes for threaded rod control isn't that bad, the only hard parts were making the new motor mounts and controlling both sides of the Y axis with one stepper. i ended up controlling both the Y axis threaded rods (one on each side) by mounting the timing belt pulleys on the ends of the threaded rod and running a timing belt around the rods on the back of the machine.

the reason for all this is because i want to do very small precise machining. i already have milled a couple propeller molds, to lay carbon fiber over, that are 1" in diameter and need 6000 lines of G-code to mill. i actually have another being milled right now. they came over very nicely.

i have a video of my machine in action but its hard to see any details of the prop because of its size and because my camera won't auto focus during a video.

Nice build excellent instructions tried to find wiring schematic is there one ? ...Jerry
katzsplat techdog6 months ago
I bought a Probotix kit for this CNC machine, and the product webpage has a wiring diagram. Check it out:
Hi I, like you, prefer to use threaded rods. Do you have a drawing of the modification? Thanks and best regards from now Hector Ushuaia
I'm building one right now. The purpose of the machine is to mill PCB's i need the machine accurate to 0,001 . Did you try the machine with the standard building? How accurate it worked? Can you put images of the changes you have done?
yes, i tried the machine with the standard planes. the Z axis is fine at 0.001" res, probably more. the X and Y belt driven axes were only good for about 0.002" res. note my micro stepping was at 1/4. i didn't want to increase micro stepping because that is more of a software way of increasing resolution, i want to increase resolution the hardware way so i know i'm really getting what i want. when i switched to threaded rods i did get a slower traverse speed on those axes but increased accuracy. i also needed a larger stepper for my Y axis because it was driving two threaded rods as opposed to one. a final note is that i used (2) screw in T-nuts to attach each threaded rod to the machine (and ball bearing at the ends for support and to reduce friction). the purpose of two T-nuts is so that they can both be attached to the machine but tightened against each other a little to help reduce backlash. this creates more friction on those axes but it greatly reduces backlash to near nothing. for this mod i just got a 205oz-in stepper from HobbyCNC, and a 77" timing belt (same type as the kind used here) from mastercarr. everything else: timing pulleys, 1/4" bearings, 8mm bearings etc.. i reused. i used the 8mm bearings to fashion some extra pulleys on the back side of the machine for the 77" timing belt.
IMG_8234 (Large).jpgIMG_8235 (Large).jpgIMG_8236 (Large).jpgIMG_8239 (Large).jpgIMG_8240 (Large).jpgIMG_8241 (Large).jpgIMG_8242 (Large).jpgIMG_8243 (Large).jpgIMG_8244 (Large).jpg
oomlout (author)  Angry_Monk6 years ago
Wow, not sure I ever thought anyone would actually complete the build but your machine looks awesome (sorry grew up on ninja turtles). Would you maybe have a photo which includes the full machine I would love to add on another step to the Instructable showing other peoples versions. (could you send it to me in a private message along with any relevant info you'd like included about your machine (of course only if you'd like it to be there) Also very impressed with your conversion to threaded rod, there are a lot of applications where the toothed belt just isn't precise enough.
Dodgy oomlout5 years ago
In addition to my previous question, re rod vs belt drive, how does the tightly strung inox (stainless steel) wire compare? If I can get inox rod at a reasonable price, would that be the best thing to use? If I chose rod. I would like the highest amount of resolution I can get. I know that the finer the pitch of the thread is, the more resolution it will have, but what about the width of the rod? I thought originally that a thicker (M12) rod will be better, then I realised it would be heavier and harder for the motor to turn, and perhaps, give no resolution advantage, and perhaps, thinner is better! What's the deal? Thanks.
the pitch of the threaded rod is really what is important. you just end up creating a worm gear drive. for greater resolution use finer threads, it will amount to a higher gear reduction. its all about the gear ratio. the greater the number of turns the motor has to turn to get the machine to move a distance X the higher your resolution and also the greater torque the machine has (added bonus). you can get the same gear reduction using a belt system but you you will just need to gear the motor down before it drives the belt, which is a lot harder than just using threaded rod.
epo Angry_Monk5 years ago
Hi! Thanks for showing the details on the modifications you made of Stuart's instructable. I can see in your other image posted under "others who have finished" that you are using a ridgid laminate trimmer which have a variable speed feature. Let me pick on your brain and experience if you don't mind :) - How fast do you run the router? - where do you get your router or end mill bit? - what is the maximum depth of cut per pass do you subject your cnc? - Stuart indicated a feed rate of 60 ipm, do you have the same or you have another preference? - Have you used your cnc to cut mdf? I know that's a LOT of questions but will appreciate your insights. Thanks. Edgar
Angry_Monk epo5 years ago
its really not a lot of questions. sometimes you just have to ask, and i can answer. i run the router at close to max speed, i dont know the RPMs. i figure this CNC isn't exactly the most rigid one out there and if you cut at a decent speed things will flex a little, and i needed it to be very precise. so the higher the RPMs the less stress on the bit and such. you can get the cutting bits from Master Carr (they basically have close to everything, so if you ever need anything check there). for depth of cut.. again, i needed precision, so if you can sacrifice this you could cut lower. but i usually didn't go more than 1/8" deep per pass, and that would be a heavy cut rough pass. i think it got it to run good at 30-40 ipm, 60 is a little fast for the small parts i was cutting. when cutting i would go down to 3ipm. i haven't actually used the machine to cut MDF but i think it would do fine cutting it. i don't know how fast you would be able to go but you could cut it. a few things worth noting about this: when you pick a motor for this CNC make sure it has collets for 1/4" and1/8" tools. its a pain if it doesn't... but if you run into that (like i did) you can actually get a collet adapter from Drill Bit one major thing i noticed about this CNC was that although the I-Beam for the X axis traverse was strong in the Z direction (could take some weight) the carriage could rotate about the I-Beam (rotate about the X axis). this would make the carriage flex in a hard cut. if i were to redo these plans i would definitely do something to fix this. maybe add another I-beam about 4-6" away from the existing one to get more rotary support. i have to admin that after i built this it couldn't cut as precisely as i needed it to so i ended up buying a desktop CNC mill from Taig. since i already had the steppers and controller board from this i could buy the CNC ready version. but i do not regret building this, i will still keep using it as a CNC Router. it was great to build, it taught me a lot about CNC in general being that this was my first experience with it. but for those who just want to cut about good parts CNC style, then this works fine, plus its cutting area is huge (and easily scaled up.).
epo Angry_Monk5 years ago
Hi! Thanks for spending time to answer my query :) and your insights will prove to be very useful as I optimize the performance of my cnc. Fastest rpm assuming that you had what I have (i.e., ridgid laminate trimmer) should be 35000. Currently I'm running g ocde with feed rate of 12ipm and wow you did ramp it up almost 3x. That will save me time! But then the issue of precision is the downside. I did anticipate using 1/8 bits so got an adapter to fit into the 1/4 spec of the trimmer. I have no problem visualizing flexing problems you experienced. Like you, this is my first cnc encounter and the experience will probably serve me well in the future. Out of curiosity, where did you purchase your taig unit and for how much? Regards.
Angry_Monk epo5 years ago
i got the taig mill from , the guy that runs the site is really nice and helpful. i got the CNC ready version and that was about 1100$. i really like it, its very nice and precise.

just an FYI, i could run this CNC router at 30-40 ipm but that was only rapid traverse. when cutting i went much slower. and even on 30-40ipm you can miss steps, 12ipm is better, but i would only go up to 20.
epo Angry_Monk5 years ago
Got the dxf file around you can post?
He has the DXF for the parts under step 4.
Torito5 years ago
Are the y axis rails round or square? I couldn't find that out...
They are round. The only parts that needs square tubing are the "bearing blocks". These are what will have bearings attached to them so that they can slide along the rails.
Thanks GalaxMan7!! I understood the bearings system, kind of autocenter rail and hard to move perpendicular to the rail. Excellent drawing! :) Do you have/know/test the diameter of the rail? What is the material of the bearing blocks, aluminium or wood? Thanks for your time.
The diameter of the rod is .5" DIA (aluminum). The square tube is .75" square (also aluminum). The bearings are 8 mm ID and 22 mm OD. Also, I forgot to draw the nuts on the end of the bearings that keep them on. I hope that answers your questions ;)
qyy galaxyman73 years ago
 can u tell me the rpm and horsepower suitable for this machine.
galaxyman7 qyy3 years ago

I would suggest at least 100 oz-in torque for the stepper motors. I have 200 oz-in on my machine and they work great for pretty much everything.  As far as RPM and horsepower, steppers aren't usually rated like that. 

qyy galaxyman73 years ago
 can i have a schematic diagram for pic card to the stepper motor if iam using 4wyre stpper motor?
galaxyman7 qyy3 years ago
4 wire motors are bipolar steppers. The direction of the current must be switched back and forth for these to work.  Hobbycnc sells the driver board that works with unipolar or bipolar.  If you don't want to buy it, look for a circuit online. Google "Bipolar stepper motor driver"
Excellent, more than I expected. Thanks.
ref:How to Make a Three Axis CNC... Hi I want to make this machine. I saw your post in youtube. I need some help. I have a question. What keeps the machine on the track? (Y axis) Only the belt? I, like you, prefer to use threaded rods. Do you have a drawing of the modification? Thanks and best regards from now Hector Ushuaia
Ok, here is a few pictures.
Thank you very much The diagrams are simple and clear. I follow with my questions. That keeps the machine on the rails? The threaded rods? Greetings
Yes, the threaded rod keeps it on the rails. I recommend using a thicker threaded rod so that there is very little movement. 3/4" would be perfect. You can get a PVC pipe coupler from 1/4" to 3/4", then you can drill holes into the side and put set screws through to hold the threaded rod to the motor shaft. Here is a website for an adapter.
Hello Thank you very much for your attention. I agree. The threaded rod should be thicker. My problem is I'm planning a mini-mini version of this machine, using printer motors, it is possible that 3 / 4 is too much for these little motor. A possible solution could be carriers for bearings rotate 90 degrees. I should change the table a bit. Greetings Hector
Another way would be to add a seperate rod that the cart can slide on instead of relying on the strength of the threaded rod.
OK. It could be a solution. It will take a bronze bushing or bearing. Another possibility I've seen is to use an angle as rail. Deputy quick scheme. Greetings
The angle with the two bearings works only if you have a method to tighten them onto the rail. This means you either have two on either side of a track that can be tightened inward, or you have a track on both the right and the left, where the distance between the tracks can be extended. The best is a combination with both. Here is a pic
We agree. For simplicity, I only showed one side. So the vertical line is dotted. In a small machine, the table itself could be angled to accommodate the aluminum angles. best regards
Rick_kap4 years ago

A big THANK YOU to the author of this instructable. Over the last 4 months, I have built this project, and it is up and running.
I did make some alterations as i felt it wasn't very solid enough but overall i would say this is the best instructable i've built.

These photos are a bit old now as i've have an additional attachment to be able to cut vinyl. I am also in the process of adding another attachment to be able to use the cnc as a plotter.

Thank you again

qyy Rick_kap3 years ago
 hye rick
can i know the specification of your stepper motor?
the rpm,and the horse power?

and cn u gve me a schematic diagram,electrical diagram and how do you modified it to be with emergency stop button

god bless u,,thanks

my email adress :
katzsplat4 years ago
A big thanks to the author, oomlout for this terrific instructable.  I read this about one year ago, and purchased a kit from outland86 soon after.  I now have a fully working CNC machine thanks to them!

I want to provide a 3D model of this machine that I made in Google Sketchup for everyone to use to help learn more about how this machine fits together.  I've checked with the author, and he's fine with me providing it to the community.  I wish I had something like the model when I was first assembling the machine; it took a lot of trial-and-error to figure it all out.  Hopefully this model will make the road easier for future CNC'ers. 

I made this model because I plan to expand the Y-axis to 36", so now I have a virtual copy of my machine to modify.  Enjoy!
So is this the modified version or the original one? Please tell me...
This is the original model, as designed by author.  I have not shared my expanded design with anyone else.
OK Thanks!!
Just what I was hoping for... I wanted the original version...

Thanks a lot for sharing this!!

-Wayne Rodrigues.
do you  mind exporting this in a seperate format other than Sketchup???
Sorry, I can't do that.  The Pro version of Google Sketchup is required to export to other formats, but I only use the free version.  Anyone who has Sketchup Pro could do this very easily, any volunteers?
"The Pro version of Google Sketchup is required to export to other formats..."
Not its not.  You just got to add some things to it.

Waddya want to export the file as?  STL?  DXF?  OBJ? .X?  Find the ruby script you want, download and install it.

By the way, Google Sketchup (free version) can also export COLLADA files (.dae or Digital Asset Exchange), which can be imported into a variety of other programs...
Sounds good robotguy4!  

To the rest of you: now you've got an easy way to convert the sketchup model to whatever format your heart desires.  Enjoy!
Very cool, thanks for doing this!
outland865 years ago
Jan 16, 2009. 10:00 AMoutland86says: HI all Just thought i would update the offer for kits with a photo of the parts you get remember its all the hardware only thing you have to supply is the stepper motors and the driver electronics and of course a computer...i can help with support for assembly and what software etc you will need to get up and running only 14 kits left and i am sorry but i will not be making anymore...$560 includes shipping to the lower 48 states. these are sold at cost as a courtesy to those who want to make this machine but do not have time or tools to make from scratch. call me 320 469 0347 in minnesota and i can setup a paypal invoice to you or arrange payment or you can just send the money to me by Paypal and i will ship it right out dont forget to look at my other post here for more details. as i said i am now offering some telephone and email support to help you get your machine up and running. see picture below
parts list and photo.jpgminibot3.jpgminibot1.jpg
Hi, do you have anymore of these kits available?
hello yes i do have a couple left we can also now supply stepper motors and MACH 3 software to drive the machine
What if I live in or near minnesota?
Hi, You can save on shipping if you pick it up. It would be $500 and If you would like to purchase the stepper motors from me that would be an extra $100 so $600 for the kit including stepper motors if you were to pick it up. Thanks
epo outland864 years ago
Hi! I know its been a long way since January but have to ask anyway. Do you still have the kits available? Thanks.
outland86 epo4 years ago
Yes we do have a couple kits left. My husband is in Canada on a fishing trip and will be back by the end of the week.. If you would like to purchase one the cost $560 including shipping to the lower 48 states. Please pay by PayPal using a credit card and we can ship next Monday. If you have any other questions I speak with him once a day and I can have him answer them then. Thanks for the inquiry. Julie Campbell
I am almost Ready to Make CHIPS ! I converted all my Axis to Lead Screws... and replace the Tool holder with a dedicated Spindle ! I modified the Original design... a little to accommodate my Needs. Thanks again to have Fired UP my Mind ! This has been FUN ! Will post a little movie once I get Her Moving !!!
very cool! do you think, you could post some specs and illustrations for the Lead Screws conversion? thanks
I rather not at this time.. barvaKouzel. Not that I don't want to ! but it's not tested ... So I don't want peoples to Hang me to dry !!! Not yet anyway !!! LOL I just got my Transformer today and should find out soon if this conversion works... I'll keep you updated !!!
mattmolitor5 years ago
Pictures of my completed build. I didn't stray very far from the plans presented here. I used the bigger motors on hobbyCNC and made a wooden box for the electronics, but most of the rest is the same. I glued some of the parts (gantry beam for instance) where it seemed like it would add a lot of strength. Things I observed during my build + My mistake was to cut the parts for a tight fit, this was a mistake, a tight fit with mdf parts means broken parts. + A lot of the cross drilling can be accomplished as you place the parts together. This allows the other piece to be a guide for your drill. + The design doesn't mention limit switches. I could probably stand to add these as I have already crashed it a couple of times playing around. + Use a router for the slots, trying to cut those with a drill is tough. I purchased and used a trim router that I will use as my second generation cutting tool. + There are a couple of places cap screws work better than hex bolts because the design shows two hex bolts so close together they are difficult to tighten. On the Z axis I just used 1 bolt rather than 2. I glued this whole assembly together anyway, so 1 bolt is more than enough. + The author mentions cutting out the parts on a band saw. I did a lot of this on the band saw, but it is very handy to have a scroll saw for a lot of the interior cuts. + I am very tempted to convert this to lead screws for all axis (as many others have done). + Building the base plate for vacuum fixturing would be a nice addition with probably not much effort.
machine1.JPGmachine2.JPGmotor electronics.JPG
outland861 year ago
Hi Everyone

We have a set of pre cut wood parts avaialble for this Router with all the edge boring done and cut professionally on a KOMO CNC..absolutely precise parts.
from MDF. an inexpensive option to ensure you have an accurate machine when you are

some minor improvments and modifications have been made to the original design.

also for FREE....FREE....FREE

you can download free from our site an extensive and comprehensive set of plans for this machine that includes the DXF files of all parts drawn by a professional draughtman with dogbone fillets added to allow you to cut the parts uisng a CNC well as a set of drawings ready to laser cut.
a parts list and indervidual part drawings including metal parts belts etc to make building this cool little machine a breeze..hindreds of hours of work went into these plans and cut files and they are your for obligations.

Where on the site are the pre cut wood parts available? I looked and can not find it.

Is it possible to extend the Z-axis beyond 4"?
Is it simply a matter of modifying everything to be taller? Is software going to be an issue? Any advice would be great.

Thanks for posting this! I cant wait to build one.

We agree. For simplicity, I only showed one side. So the vertical line is dotted. In a small machine, the table itself could be angled to accommodate the aluminum angles. best regards

blackstoneg23 days ago

can u please send me the draw of cut-to-be-out mdf pieces in cad please?
Thanks in advance

kgentry70727 days ago

I had success printing the 48 x 48 inch PDF using Adobe Acrobat Reader. Reader has an option to print across multiple pages with cut marks. I printed to 11 x 17 inch paper to reduce the printed page count. I folded each inner edge using the cut lines and then cut the paper along the folds. Next I taped the pages together with clear 1/2" "scotch" tape. I had a large 48 x 48 inch poster when done.

For gluing to MDF I applied blue painters tape to the entire MDF sheet. I used a children's glue stick on the blue tape and stuck down the trimmed pages. After the glue dried I cut everything out with a combination of jig saw and band saw. Had no trouble with paper staying stuck.

clickyummy1 month ago

Gotta get my mouth on some of them cocksickles.

cliffyd1 month ago

Cheaply and easily?

bearblue1 month ago


bearblue1 month ago


bearblue1 month ago


Tbus2 months ago

If anybody needs help with the CNC programming part I'm enrolled in a learn-at-home course in CNC programming that is very informative:

gazumpglue2 months ago

Nice build excellent instructions tried to find wiring schematic is there one ? ...Jerry

chimplost2 months ago

They are round. The only parts that needs square tubing are the "bearing blocks". These are what will have bearings attached to them so that they can slide along the rails.

Great Instructable for a CNC. I was just browsing the web, and happened upon it. I would recommend, that anyone trying to build this, or any other CNC, check out the company I work for, as our pricing and product seem to be a bit better than the source mentioned. Our site is and just a quick check told me that our parallel breakout board is half the price, and an additional 2 axis, than the one linked from Check us out, and maybe you will find more things we offer that you will be interested in, and or like to share with people. Thank you and have a great day.
steveazhocar3 months ago
Got the dxf file around you can post?
regaltaxlaw3 months ago
I'm building one right now. The purpose of the machine is to mill PCB's i need the machine accurate to 0,001 . Did you try the machine with the standard building? How accurate it worked? Can you put images of the changes you have done?
das12334444 months ago
can I use this cnc cutter to cut plastic parts and wooden parts???
Hello. I hope you are fine. I'm from Iran. Can you tell me how to build motors, servo control board do email. Sorry if you do not learn English. I'm help from Google Translath. . Thank you very much
das12334445 months ago
please help me !!i cant understand how to make y axis runner??
skymooncyprus5 months ago
good project
How hard is it to increase to y axis to 20 inches
How hard would it be to increase the table length to 20"? So the table would be 14" x 20"
cchappell56 months ago
I'm interested to see if this machine can be scaled up to 4 x 8 feet, I need to work with full size sheets of XPVC or plywood up to 1" thick.
david xu6 months ago
How much budget for this machine ?

Cool ! if any one want the parts of the machine , frame , driver , motor,spindle,ball screw ect ,please contact me at or skype:david02162
clickworried7 months ago
He has the DXF for the parts under step 4.
My Diet Area8 months ago
In a small machine, the table itself could be angled to accommodate the aluminum angles.
My Diet Area8 months ago
The only parts that needs square tubing are the "bearing blocks".
sharder1 year ago
About how much did it all cost you?
katzsplat sharder8 months ago
Here's what I spent to get my machine running, hope it helps:

$560 Kit from outland86

$384 Motor Kit from (3x HT23-280-8 Stepper Motor)

$175 Mach3 software license

$400 Vectric Cut2D and Cut3D license

~$50 Misc. hardware

$0 Old computer with parallel port lying around
jj.inc1 year ago
I wan't a cnc machine pretty bad, but I have a few questions. I have a couple old printers, so could I use their stepper motors. What do I need for a driver, how hard is it to pair the driver and computer, and how to you configure the whole thing.
katzsplat jj.inc8 months ago
I haven't played around with printer steppers personally, but I doubt they would be strong enough to move all the weight of the CNC machine around.
antmanadam1 year ago
Could you substitute the 1/2" rod for simply 1/2" pipe like copper?
Yes, I think so. The rods are simply guides for the bearings to roll on. If the pipe is strong enough to support the gantry weight, then it will work.
pat40271 year ago
Would this setup be able to handle a router? and if so what modifications would be needed
katzsplat pat40278 months ago
I managed to install a Hitachi M12VC router on mine, but I had to do quite a few modifications. The Z Cart Holder was completely re-done to fit the router, and I also changed the Z Axis shaft to ACME Lead Screw. Once I installed the router, it was too heavy, so it would cause the carriage holding the router to tilt. I ended up counter-balancing on the other side of the carriage with some bricks. Now my X-axis motor has to move much more weight around, but it works reliably now.
awaxy1 year ago
Does anyone have autocad plans for this?
katzsplat awaxy8 months ago
Back in 2009 I made a Sketchup 3D model of this CNC machine. (Look for my comment dated Dec 24, 2009). Hope this helps.

bijilbaji1 year ago
Me and my friend are tiring to build this and we cant find heads or tails of what line of circles are please we are new to this we have printed out real size design. are these engravings?? please help us anybody
Back in 2009 I made a Sketchup 3D model of this CNC machine. (Look for my comment dated Dec 24, 2009). Every part is modeled identically to the real thing. I suggest you download it, and then examine the parts in Sketchup to answer your questions.

jkellett18 months ago
Hi, I made all the cuts and I am about to drill, how would I find out how deep I should go for the grooves on the base?
Back in 2009 I made a Sketchup 3D model of this CNC machine. (Look for my comment dated Dec 24, 2009). Every part is modeled identically to the real thing. I suggest you download it, and then measure the part in Sketchup to answer your questions.

drexaq201510 months ago
How does it do machining aluminum? Is there much chatter?
jayeshshinai11 months ago
Mannn, i have been wanting to build this machine since so long. Just cant afford to spend so much (college)..but i am getting the parts cut at college (water jet/masonite)..getting some used printers from craiglist for the steppers. Any donors for electronics/ spindle/hardware?
dowloand DXF archive?
john henry1 year ago
the hardware link is broken.
Nice Instructable, oomlout (reminds me of when I was learning German). I used some of the ideas on here for my CNC design. I didn't want to use MDF for the stage of my x-axis, but it is nice and flat and doesn't warp much

I'm not quite finished with building mine yet, so these photos inspire me to persevere.
I like this article. One of my resources when I started my build.

I'm building a fixed gantry and trying to keep all the moving axes light so my probably VERY underpowered steppers (NEMA 17s) can move everything.

My project is more of a sketch--I'm trying to learn as I go and make mistakes (something I'm good at).  I know this probably sounds ridiculous to the ultra-planners out there, but I've found that through mistakes and the openness to ideas is my best way to progress.

Enough about me, can anyone tell me why you would or wouldn't want to have a fixed gantry?  Is my idea semi-sound, or just stupid?
rica94101 year ago
Is there a way to increase the z axis aside from making the machine taller?
wolfbain51 year ago
can anyone post or email me the altered plans for using the threaded rods?
tchronakis1 year ago
hi i want to ask if any file (dxf or corel files) have toolpaths?? because a friend of mine had a cnc router for professional use...... sorry for my bad english!!!!!
plz can you send to me all the drwaing part for this machine by solidworks or autocad or catia
ReadyNerd1 year ago
I would love to see one built with 80/20. That would probably make the fabrication much simpler. I've used for years and you can design and have a kit fabricated at the manufacturer website. It's almost indestructible and infinitely changeable
Anybody out there still selling a kit with all the wood cut and drilled (or similar material)? I have the hardware and lack the skill to cut the kit accurately enough for the machine to function.
I just spent $85 at home depo and I still didn't get everything from there I needed. Can someone tell me what a "Bolt (#8 x 3"), and Nut (#8) actually is in actual part that can be found vs the 8mm parts. Has anyone built this machine using substitute hardware for the metric parts?
the bolt is a size #8 bolt that is 3 inchs long, and the nut is refering to a size #8 nut which fits a size #8 bolt the sizes should be labeled on the packaging.
Hope this helps!
Perhaps my question sounds dumber than I mean for it to. " #8 " does not refer to a metric or Iso standard so im trying to figure out what to do next.
A #8 is standard metrics has its own classification system
I guess what you are calling "#8" is actually a M8 metric bolt.
Your"#8x3'' bolt is technically called an M8x75 bolt
3in allen head #8
Anything below a 1/4" thread is given an indexed number from 1 to 12 for UNC and 0 to 12 for UNF.

The roughly equivalent of a #8 UNC bolt in metric would be a M4 as the recommended tapping drill size for a #8 UNC bolt is diameter 3.8mm and that of an M4 bolt is diameter 3.7mm.
Scott-3001 year ago
Am I the only one who played the Benny Hill music in the background whil watching this?
Scott-3001 year ago
Am I the only one who played the Benny Hill music in the background whil watching this?
outland861 year ago
Hi Everyone

We have a set of pre cut wood parts avaialble for this Router with all the edge boring done and cut professionally on a KOMO CNC..absolutely precise parts.
from MDF. an inexpensive option to ensure you have an accurate machine when you are

some minor improvments and modifications have been made to the original design.

also for FREE....FREE....FREE

you can download free from our site an extensive and comprehensive set of plans for this machine that includes the DXF files of all parts drawn by a professional draughtman with dogbone fillets added to allow you to cut the parts uisng a CNC well as a set of drawings ready to laser cut.
a parts list and indervidual part drawings including metal parts belts etc to make building this cool little machine a breeze..hindreds of hours of work went into these plans and cut files and they are your for obligations.
outland861 year ago
Hi Everyone

We have a set of pre cut wood parts avaialble for this Router with all the edge boring done and cut professionally on a KOMO CNC..absolutely precise parts.
from MDF. an inexpensive option to ensure you have an accurate machine when you are

some minor improvments and modifications have been made to the original design.

also for FREE....FREE....FREE

you can download free from our site an extensive and comprehensive set of plans for this machine that includes the DXF files of all parts drawn by a professional draughtman with dogbone fillets added to allow you to cut the parts uisng a CNC well as a set of drawings ready to laser cut.
a parts list and indervidual part drawings including metal parts belts etc to make building this cool little machine a breeze..hindreds of hours of work went into these plans and cut files and they are your for obligations.
outland861 year ago
Hi Everyone

We have a set of pre cut wood parts avaialble for this Router with all the edge boring done and cut professionally on a KOMO CNC..absolutely precise parts.
from MDF. an inexpensive option to ensure you have an accurate machine when you are

some minor improvments and modifications have been made to the original design.

also for FREE....FREE....FREE

you can download free from our site an extensive and comprehensive set of plans for this machine that includes the DXF files of all parts drawn by a professional draughtman with dogbone fillets added to allow you to cut the parts uisng a CNC well as a set of drawings ready to laser cut.
a parts list and indervidual part drawings including metal parts belts etc to make building this cool little machine a breeze..hindreds of hours of work went into these plans and cut files and they are your for obligations.
outland861 year ago
Hi Everyone

We have a set of pre cut wood parts avaialble for this Router with all the edge boring done and cut professionally on a KOMO CNC..absolutely precise parts.
from MDF. an inexpensive option to ensure you have an accurate machine when you are

some minor improvments and modifications have been made to the original design.

also for FREE....FREE....FREE

you can download free from our site an extensive and comprehensive set of plans for this machine that includes the DXF files of all parts drawn by a professional draughtman with dogbone fillets added to allow you to cut the parts uisng a CNC well as a set of drawings ready to laser cut.
a parts list and indervidual part drawings including metal parts belts etc to make building this cool little machine a breeze..hindreds of hours of work went into these plans and cut files and they are your for obligations.
outland861 year ago
Hi Everyone

We have a set of pre cut wood parts avaialble for this Router with all the edge boring done and cut professionally on a KOMO CNC..absolutely precise parts.
from MDF. an inexpensive option to ensure you have an accurate machine when you are

some minor improvments and modifications have been made to the original design.

also for FREE....FREE....FREE

you can download free from our site an extensive and comprehensive set of plans for this machine that includes the DXF files of all parts drawn by a professional draughtman with dogbone fillets added to allow you to cut the parts uisng a CNC well as a set of drawings ready to laser cut.
a parts list and indervidual part drawings including metal parts belts etc to make building this cool little machine a breeze..hindreds of hours of work went into these plans and cut files and they are your for obligations.
outland861 year ago
Hi Everyone

We have a set of pre cut wood parts avaialble for this Router with all the edge boring done and cut professionally on a KOMO CNC..absolutely precise parts.
from MDF. an inexpensive option to ensure you have an accurate machine when you are

some minor improvments and modifications have been made to the original design.

also for FREE....FREE....FREE

you can download free from our site an extensive and comprehensive set of plans for this machine that includes the DXF files of all parts drawn by a professional draughtman with dogbone fillets added to allow you to cut the parts uisng a CNC well as a set of drawings ready to laser cut.
a parts list and indervidual part drawings including metal parts belts etc to make building this cool little machine a breeze..hindreds of hours of work went into these plans and cut files and they are your for obligations.
outland861 year ago
Hi Everyone

We have a set of pre cut wood parts avaialble for this Router with all the edge boring done and cut professionally on a KOMO CNC..absolutely precise parts.
from MDF. an inexpensive option to ensure you have an accurate machine when you are

some minor improvments and modifications have been made to the original design.

also for FREE....FREE....FREE

you can download free from our site an extensive and comprehensive set of plans for this machine that includes the DXF files of all parts drawn by a professional draughtman with dogbone fillets added to allow you to cut the parts uisng a CNC well as a set of drawings ready to laser cut.
a parts list and indervidual part drawings including metal parts belts etc to make building this cool little machine a breeze..hindreds of hours of work went into these plans and cut files and they are your for obligations.
outland861 year ago
Hi Everyone

We have a set of pre cut wood parts avaialble for this Router with all the edge boring done and cut professionally on a KOMO CNC..absolutely precise parts.
from MDF. an inexpensive option to ensure you have an accurate machine when you are

some minor improvments and modifications have been made to the original design.

also for FREE....FREE....FREE

you can download free from our site an extensive and comprehensive set of plans for this machine that includes the DXF files of all parts drawn by a professional draughtman with dogbone fillets added to allow you to cut the parts uisng a CNC well as a set of drawings ready to laser cut.
a parts list and indervidual part drawings including metal parts belts etc to make building this cool little machine a breeze..hindreds of hours of work went into these plans and cut files and they are your for obligations.
outland861 year ago
Hi Everyone

We have a set of pre cut wood parts avaialble for this Router with all the edge boring done and cut professionally on a KOMO CNC..absolutely precise parts.
from MDF. an inexpensive option to ensure you have an accurate machine when you are

some minor improvments and modifications have been made to the original design.

also for FREE....FREE....FREE

you can download free from our site an extensive and comprehensive set of plans for this machine that includes the DXF files of all parts drawn by a professional draughtman with dogbone fillets added to allow you to cut the parts uisng a CNC well as a set of drawings ready to laser cut.
a parts list and indervidual part drawings including metal parts belts etc to make building this cool little machine a breeze..hindreds of hours of work went into these plans and cut files and they are your for obligations.
outland861 year ago
Hi Everyone

We have a set of pre cut wood parts avaialble for this Router with all the edge boring done and cut professionally on a KOMO CNC..absolutely precise parts.
from MDF. an inexpensive option to ensure you have an accurate machine when you are

some minor improvments and modifications have been made to the original design.

also for FREE....FREE....FREE

you can download free from our site an extensive and comprehensive set of plans for this machine that includes the DXF files of all parts drawn by a professional draughtman with dogbone fillets added to allow you to cut the parts uisng a CNC well as a set of drawings ready to laser cut.
a parts list and indervidual part drawings including metal parts belts etc to make building this cool little machine a breeze..hindreds of hours of work went into these plans and cut files and they are your for obligations.
outland861 year ago
Hi Everyone

We have a set of pre cut wood parts avaialble for this Router with all the edge boring done and cut professionally on a KOMO CNC..absolutely precise parts.
from MDF. an inexpensive option to ensure you have an accurate machine when you are

some minor improvments and modifications have been made to the original design.

also for FREE....FREE....FREE

you can download free from our site an extensive and comprehensive set of plans for this machine that includes the DXF files of all parts drawn by a professional draughtman with dogbone fillets added to allow you to cut the parts uisng a CNC well as a set of drawings ready to laser cut.
a parts list and indervidual part drawings including metal parts belts etc to make building this cool little machine a breeze..hindreds of hours of work went into these plans and cut files and they are your for obligations.
outland861 year ago
Hi Everyone

We have a set of pre cut wood parts avaialble for this Router with all the edge boring done and cut professionally on a KOMO CNC..absolutely precise parts.
from MDF. an inexpensive option to ensure you have an accurate machine when you are

some minor improvments and modifications have been made to the original design.

also for FREE....FREE....FREE

you can download free from our site an extensive and comprehensive set of plans for this machine that includes the DXF files of all parts drawn by a professional draughtman with dogbone fillets added to allow you to cut the parts uisng a CNC well as a set of drawings ready to laser cut.
a parts list and indervidual part drawings including metal parts belts etc to make building this cool little machine a breeze..hindreds of hours of work went into these plans and cut files and they are your for obligations.
outland861 year ago
Hi Everyone

We have a set of pre cut wood parts avaialble for this Router with all the edge boring done and cut professionally on a KOMO CNC..absolutely precise parts.
from MDF. an inexpensive option to ensure you have an accurate machine when you are

some minor improvments and modifications have been made to the original design.

also for FREE....FREE....FREE

you can download free from our site an extensive and comprehensive set of plans for this machine that includes the DXF files of all parts drawn by a professional draughtman with dogbone fillets added to allow you to cut the parts uisng a CNC well as a set of drawings ready to laser cut.
a parts list and indervidual part drawings including metal parts belts etc to make building this cool little machine a breeze..hindreds of hours of work went into these plans and cut files and they are your for obligations.
outland861 year ago
May 1, 2012. 9:35 AMoutland86 says:
Hi Everyone

We have a set of pre cut wood parts avaialble for this Router with all the edge boring done and cut professionally on a KOMO CNC..absolutely precise parts.
from MDF. an inexpensive option to ensure you have an accurate machine when you are

some minor improvments and modifications have been made to the original design.

also for FREE....FREE....FREE

you can download free from our site an extensive and comprehensive set of plans for this machine that includes the DXF files of all parts drawn by a professional draughtman with dogbone fillets added to allow you to cut the parts uisng a CNC well as a set of drawings ready to laser cut.
a parts list and indervidual part drawings including metal parts belts etc to make building this cool little machine a breeze..hindreds of hours of work went into these plans and cut files and they are your for obligations.
outland861 year ago
Hi Everyone

We have a set of pre cut wood parts avaialble for this Router with all the edge boring done and cut professionally on a KOMO CNC..absolutely precise parts.
from MDF. an inexpensive option to ensure you have an accurate machine when you are

some minor improvments and modifications have been made to the original design.

also for FREE....FREE....FREE

you can download free from our site an extensive and comprehensive set of plans for this machine that includes the DXF files of all parts drawn by a professional draughtman with dogbone fillets added to allow you to cut the parts uisnf a CNC well as a set of drawings ready to laser cut.
a parts list and indervidual part drawings including metal parts belts etc to make building this cool little machine a breeze..hindreds of hours of work went into these plans and cut files and they are your for obligations.

waynerod4 years ago
When you say X Axis Travel, you mean the distance the Dremel travels along the X axis?

Or do you mean that is the horizontal part of the base?

I guess it might be the first one right?

-Wayne Rodrigues.
Could anyone please tell me the measurements for the base??


-Wayne Rodrigues.

The footprint of this machine is 31 inches on the X Axis, 25 inches on the Y axis.  The X Axis travel is about 14.5 inches, and the Y Axis travel is about 10 inches.  

You can learn more about the dimensions if you download my Sketchup 3D model of this machine, which I posted down below.
SU Model? Down below where? I could seriously dig that!

Duh, I found it in SU 3D Warehouse! Nevermind!!
Thanks a lot!!!
Wurzberger1 year ago
I just started gathering up the material for this machine today. I was looking at getting a Dremel 4000 for the cutting head. Does anyone have any experience with this? They are about $80 on Amazon, and with all the attachments and option I should be able to use it for a ton of other things when I remove it from my cnc machine, but if its no good for a cnc machine I really have no use for buying it right now.
Hey all. FInally after a two year interruption to do some home renos my workbench is once again laden with the cut parts of this project. I was assembling a bit last night and came across a question.

The upper and lower x-axis rails - what holds them in place?
outland862 years ago
Just wanted drop in a note to let everyone know that is again selling the pre cut and pre drilled wood parts only kits for these machines as well as really comprehensive free plans and assembly guide for this machine
can be downloaded free from the website...this set of plans is a must to download even if you make your machine from it has the DXF files fully cleaned and setup for cutting on any CNC router...
check em out if you are planning on making this machine
im a bit confused with step 3 of the assembly instructions, can anyone help?
arzie20004 years ago
Yes it's really easy to build a cnc machine, there are tons of DIY's out there... but what I noticed is that they hardly include the "brain" or the controller specs and schematic diagrams. I would like to suggest to instructables admin to remove the so-called "DIY-stuffs" that don't have complete information. it's deceiving and gives the readers "false-hopes" on accomplishing this project.
I have to agree with arzie2000 that there are so many different plans out their that claim to be diy cnc plans but they end before they are finished.
Either No or not enough electronic information.

As I am building my own cnc router I have had to study multiple approaches
to the controller end of my machine.

There is alot of information out there
it would be nice if someone could put that into plain english too, I have found that some people are making it look much harder than it all really is.

Maybe they like doing things the hard way... lol

I have tested my stepper motors and am ready for a power supply,
but it took me a long time to figure out what I need because of all
the different conflicting information everybody has different ideas !.

I really wasn't sure how much power I would need for a power supply
12v-24v-36v ?

Then I found what I needed at
That was after buying a stepperworld FET-3 controller on ebay.

Taking a look at made the whole picture so much clearer.
I found I could boost my motors (I am using 2nd hand nema 23 step 6 wire motors. ) with 50w resistors using a 12 volt power supply .

I copy and pasted them below from .

Power Resistors (50 watt rating): $5 ea
Assorted values available...
0.3 ohm, 0.5 ohm, 1 ohm, 1.5 ohm, 2 ohm, 2.5 ohm, 3 ohm, 3.3 ohm, 4 ohm, 5 ohm, 10 ohm, 20 ohm

Heavy Duty Power Supply: $30

ATX type power supply has 3.3v, 5v and 12v with enough current to drive 3 motors in HI TORQUE mode simultaneously. AC power cord included. Power Supply is International (Input voltage range 100VAC to 240VAC) Power Supply is prepped to turn on without requiring any load or motherboard connection.

If you are looking and are overwhelmed by too many choices then I know how you feel.
You basically have two options, go stepper, or go servo. Stepper setups need motor drivers, and servo setups need motor amplifiers. You're not going to get good stepper performance at only 12 volts. You need to use a PWM chopper drive. Resistive dropping drivers went out with big hair in the 80s.

6 wire motors are unipolar types so that limits the drivers you can use. Most folks try to use bipolar motors for increased performance. I've made some unipolar drivers based on Allegro chopping drivers though. They're OK I guess.

I have some electronics background. I suppose it helps me out a little with all of this. That motor driver in the pictures will wind a motor up to about 2,500 RPM. Which is so so stepper motor performance today.
how do you set up your computer so i will control your machine?
@jtedder I will post a short video I am getting very frustrated trying to leave a reply my text keeps disappearing

hopefully this video will upload . it is not a fantastic video but ir shows
the wiring which no one would directly show me , even though I asked around on forums . I found my information through
he answers his emails promptly and was extremly helpful.
I found that there are a lot of guys out there that take all the info they can find
and don't share it then other people that do share info and do go out of their way to help.
I spent a lot of time spooling through troves of information to build my own machine - is nearly complete and I did it very cost effectively. It can be done !

There are many people that don't want to wait and just want a plug in and go machine , others buy kits to assemble.
Some of us design and build everything from the ground up too.
after more than a year of doing research. i have finally managed to build my own cnc router. it's not easy as it sounds. the mechanical framework is just a piece of cake. as for the controller part, that is really a pain. As what mrmartyman7 says, just buy a kit instead, it will be much easier.
If I had the money I would go with anything by this guy.
His videos show step by step how to assemble from crossing the t-s to dotting the i-s. add him to your sunbscriptions watch and learn. He has a lot of videos and a brand new book on I want one !
anyone want to buy me a present , please

I ened up not needing the resistors , I contacted the owner of stepperworld and he emailed me downloads of testing software that I was able to test my motors , power supply , FET3 board ect.. alkl works fine, now I need a full copy of mach3 software. I have put the homebuild on hold while I have been getting my new buisness going . Model train scenery products.
Skip Mach3. The stuff is braindead. Use EMC.
I guess you missed a few articles I've posted here:

All the electronics for a CNC machine. It is really pretty simple. All you need a power supply, An interface between your PC and your motor drivers, and the drivers themselves. As easy as 1, 2, 3 !

I'm afraid the power supply you've recommended is not a very good choice for high performance CNC. 12 volts just doesn't cut it. Dropping resistors went out in the 80s too. My driver I posted won't work with your unipolar motors.

I've made some drivers out of Allegro ICs that would though. They are similar to the drivers the author bought. I just used older SLA series ICs and made my own sequencers for mine.

I'm not going to say doing that is easy though.
full and truly comprehensive assembly guide for this project free download at
It is a pretty pedestrian design which in my opinion is not worth me pursuing. I'm looking for something a bit different than the run of the mill.
A complete electronics kit can be purchased on ebay for less than 200 dollars.
Do an ebay search for. "3 axis stepper kit nema 23"

An older Pentium 4 computer is ideal for controlling a CNC machine.
These can easily be found for less than 100 dollars.

The information shared here is a valuable resource for many people.
Suggestions that this information should be censored may be short sighted.

Just because it doesn't cover all aspects doesn't make it useless. Other guides cover making a controller board, and if you just want to choose one or set one up there are guides to that too. The same goes for choosing software.
I don't think anyone said useless , I try to learn something from every different machine I look at . Determining what is best suitable can be overwhelming .
Hope my input helps someone out that may be going through similar problems.
It is a great learning experience for sure.
Someday when I have more time I will post another update on my progress
but for now , If anyone has a question I will try to point you in the right direction.

No I'm not a PRO, but I also have seen some teachers that shouldn't be PROS either. I like this site and intend on doing more and more here to show the talents that I have in different areas that may inspire others .
That is how I learned everything I know , watching people doing things and also reading about them.
Yawn but long lectures do put me to sleep though !

Advice : Students do try to stay awake in class because the moment you
doze off you'll miss the piece of information that is most important.
ZippinZim2 years ago
Hello, everybody! Wanted to thank you all (especially oomlout) for these plans, your comments, suggestions, and motivation. I'm not a very experienced wood worker or machinist, but I really want to build this CNC machine for some flight simulator parts I wish to make. I'm sure I'll find a thousand other uses for it as well, so I'm pretty excited about it.

I've decided to document the build and you can see my progress along with some descriptions of what I've done at the folowing photobucket address:

This is one day's work (really one afternoon). I do not have a band saw, so I am either going to go to my dad's house to make the precision cuts or buy one for myself. I will be acquiring a drill pres as well.

Appreciate any comments, suggestions, or assistance anybody can provide. And thanks again to all of you!!
full and truly comprehensive assembly guide for this project free download at
Morne062 years ago
Hi can anyone plz help me id like to build one of these machines but dont quite understand how do you get the program from ur pc to the machine and how does the machine know wat to do

Thanks if anyone can help plz contact me at
full and truly comprehensive assembly guide for this project free download at
Can you please make a video for showing how you connected the motors and the circuital system in the cnc. These parts are screwing my head..................
Another question is can we make the circuit required for cnc by our own??
If yes please make a video on the topic.............
full and truly comprehensive assembly guide for this project free download at
I don't know if we can, but I know I can.

Basically you have to supply power and ground to your motor driver, and step and direction input signals to it. Then hook your motor up. That's about it. Pretty simple huh?
outland862 years ago
Pre Cut wood parts kits are available for the Router at for $249 incl shipping. to the lower 48
also free to download are updated plans CNC fixed DXF's and a full and comprehensive assembly guide. that makes this project truly cheap and easy !
Darmani2 years ago
Hi, i hope you are still checking the comments, I am triying to build a cnc machine and ive been looking everywhere for plans, and yours are the ones that i found the best documented and easy to make, the only problem is that where i live its difficult for me to get the belt drive, and i cant order it online, so i was wondering if you could add 1 extra step to the instructable where you show the conversion from belt drive to a lead screw, thanks for your time.
jaminm62 years ago
Will you make a list of all of the hardware ,and other supplies needed , im about to start building one with a plasma cutter attached to it. I shopped around and was able to find all of the motors ,a controller ,all the adapters ,and a mil bit for $100. i Just need the exact numbers so i can order the hardware. THANKS!!!
tech15103 years ago
If you want true precision use ball screws. They will repeatedly
pfred2 tech15102 years ago
ballscrews have no more innate precision than all thread. They are simply more mechanically efficient. But you just keep right on believing the nonsense you do.
tech1510 pfred22 years ago
Sorry to inform you, ball screws are machined to a precision of 250nm per centimeter far higher precision than a threaded rod. Also ball screws are better in a CNC as they have the ability to move the assembly faster, require less upkeep, and effectively eliminate any backlash.
pfred2 tech15102 years ago
They can be, but what stops any other linear actuator from being just as accurate? You make it sound like there is only one ballscrew manufacturer in the whole world and they make only one kind. That simply is not the case. More likely you are only aware of one kind. Any manufacturer worth spit makes both rolled, and ground units, some with certificates of accuracy.

Then there are the evil downsides to ballscrews which you completely fail to mention. Such as the fact that ballscrews cannot hold without being held. Or, what do you do if you need to take the nut off the rod? Then there is cost to take into account. Any ballscrew that is certified for its accuracy is going to be a very expensive item. Any ballscrew is going to be more expensive than alternatives.
Wi112 years ago
Making up criteria before you started building was an awesome idea!
pfred2 Wi112 years ago
I make up criteria all the time. It's a gift ...
RobLoughrey2 years ago
The table is specc'd at 12x14x4, so I would think no guitars, maybe a ukalale?
you spelt ukulele wrong
pfred2 rgale2 years ago
A "ukalale" is another instrument Spock plays when he isn't playing his Vulcan harp!
kotten2 years ago
100 608zz bearings $35ish through ebay w/ free shipping ...rather than the parts listed VXB which charges $39.99 & $15s/h

3 shaft couplers from Grainger part# 6L012 $19

3 stepper motors through ebay for <$200
kotten2 years ago
Does anyone have the DXF file that includes the holes?
merdogan22 years ago

Can i use this for pcm milling and drilling? I want to use 24K rpm spindel motor and i'm planning for this project stainless steel

What is the sensitivity of the device?

for example i will open 0.20mm hole on 0.30 coper surface if it possible?

When i will complete drawing of this project on solidworks, i will send laser cutting.

please put your comments.

Thanks and Regards
You know what, cutting all these pieces would be a lot easier if I had a CNC machine.... Oh bother
crob092 years ago
I found a website with more info
crob092 years ago
hey check out it looks like it has potential lots of info on the cnc topic. I also found another website at
crob092 years ago
hi I found a website at looks like it has potential for a newbe
Coinnich2 years ago
Just a question,

I’m not sure if I ended up getting the scale right for the pieces, ( I know this is going to sound like I'm a perfectionist, but why not try to get it as close as possible. ) When I measure one of the straight legs of the Belt Holder Brace I measure 4 9/32" is it suppose to be 4 ¼”?

hey guys plz help i make this 3-axis drilling machine but i don't no which portable drilling machine are used....and where is available i try to find but in that drilling machine handle is available so i cant hold in my machine so plz help me and give me the reply...........
fferdian2 years ago
tried to built this machine, completely by hand, bit hard to cut out and drill in this thickness. now i wait for the pulley belt and the electronic part of this. any idea how to change the belt to threaded rod ? bit hard to find that kind of pulley here..
by the way, I'm from Indonesia. sorry for my bad english
madyicstik2 years ago
hi? any more kits that are available? are you willing to ship to calgary ab canada? might be a stupid question but will a novice guy like me be able to assemble it no problem? im ok at assembling ikea furnitures.... what comes with the kit and what doesnt?
msholden2 years ago
I built your CNC machine a while ago. I found it to be complete and functional. I have made 100s of wood projects with it and find it more than enough. I think you did a stand up job and congratulate your design. If any one is looking for a first machine to build this is it. I even etched a few PCB with. I built an aluminum one designed for etching PCB
Picture 046.jpg
Metric6812 years ago
I have recently completed this Project. I changed the Head to a Router and made it 6 feet long. I was wondering if anyone else have done something similar. Also i am having accuracy problems like the machine is a 1/4 inch off after it machines awhile.
ProMt8Pge2 years ago
It looks like this site provides a method for cheaply making a full CNC mill:

This project is very interesting too. Has anybody seen it before or tried to build it themselves?
atifmushtaq2 years ago
dear Sir,
could you tell me about all motor's spacification we need for this project and could you send me all of its parts with after payment with or without motors and contrller.
I will be very thankful to you.
Best regards,
hussam.tech2 years ago
very nice work
kshanky2 years ago
from did you get the lead screws...
as much as i know .. they are very costly..
What would it take to be able to machine some steel with this design? Using metal pieces instead of the MDF? And stronger motors?
I think its an interesting design. And relatively easy looking to build.
mkane3 years ago
Would this CNC machine be capable of cutting 0.75" MDF or Aluminum?
squiggy2 mkane2 years ago
that depends on your cutting tool. you'd be stretching it with a dremel type rotary tool, but if you set the machine to move very slowly it'd work. but you'd have to replace the cutting heads more often
heelercjwww2 years ago
I just started building this cnc machine. The instructions are great has anyone tried ReplicatorG?
mrmartyman72 years ago
@jtedder 4 times I have tried to comment and my text has been lost .
testing testing 2 2 3 4 4
bleounis4 years ago
Approximately how many Dr Peppers will I need to complete this portion?
Great project.
RobLoughrey2 years ago
Actually the second step, but its the third page. Many of these people need to actually read the instructable before they start criticizing. I see all the info I need.
rawville3 years ago
i could use some advice for drilling the 5/16 holes on edge, especially the base. my drill press doesn't have that much clearance so i figure i'm going to have to twist the head and make a special jig for it. (never done this before) with only 3/32 space on each side, you have to be real accurate and i'm not sure i could do that with a hand drill. i also might make the base larger, so how would you guys drill these on edge holes on a piece that lets just say 8' long.
Your table should rotate/tilt, if you can go the full 90 degress, go that way.
What CAD software do recommend?
can i have this picture on dwg or dxf file full free downloadble DXF ready to cut extensive assembly guides all free
Hi, I've tried to download the free plans but can't as when they are half downloaded it says the file is invalid. Any help would be greatly appreciated, could you e-mail them to me?
CSwick23 years ago
I guess the biggest question I have is, if I follow these plans to the T, will the milling machine be big enough/have a big enough cutting area to cut out guitar bodies?

If not, how expandable is it without modification to anything but the dimensions?
Hello I'm about to buy those motors I found.
The guys who selling this told me that they come from an old copy machine and that he was about to use them to build a cnc.

If anyone can confirm this that would be really helpful.

barva583 years ago
Please some information about software (mach3) configuring. Really good job.
what software do you use to make the g-code?
roloh3 years ago
i really appreciate you by share all this information! i am pretty sure that it would help me a lot!
Thanks man!
I'm having trouble opening the PDF file. It says "the pdf file is damaged and could not be repaired." How else can I open this file?

Raziel_LOK3 years ago
Hi everyone, anyone can tell me if with this CNC setup i can cut MDF and acrilic? and what how thick can i cut?

Another question, What the name of that driller yellow collored (yeah i dont know how its called)? sorry, everything is new for me about CNC.

i imagine it all depends on the dremel and bits/attachments you get. Google "cutting acrylic with dremel" (sub mdf appropriately) there's a ton of information out there. People use dremels to cut these materials all the time. the reason I say "I imagine" is because yes maybe you can cut 1-1/2" mdf with your new bad larry dremel, but that may not mean your cnc machine's frame is built for that.
I have always wanted a CNC mill, but didn't want to spend a bunch of money just to have a tiny mill with barely any cutting area.  I am now inspired to make my own.  Do you have any tips for drilling into the edges of MDF?  Whenever I try it splits.

P.S. If I do end up making this, I will try to remember to count the amount of holes drilled.
hondaman9003 years ago
Interesting article today about DIY CNC machine:
Raziel_LOK3 years ago
Hi, I really liked this CNC plan. I need it very bigger, can I just extend the axis and conserve the others parts? or i need to change something (like stepper motors)? I want to cut wood at most and probably usable area like 4'x4' or 4'x8'.

Thank you.
do you have the file for autocad dwg or dxf i couldnt get the dxf into autocad
is there anyway to not use as much materials to make the rig?
astronutski3 years ago
I am in the middle of constructing this CNC machine and was hoping someone could answer my questions.

It's not clear when cutting the Top Beam and Bottom Beam if the 1/4" holes are to be through holes or are .125" channels like the other 1/4" channels. They are not marked as such.

From the pictures it looks like the top is a through hole channel, but the bottom couldn't be. The bottom says "0.000" where the other channels say ".125", so I don't know if that's a typo, I can't figure it out. I've looked through and printed all of the pdf's and even all the pictures of this thing, but still can't quite see those groves.

Getting very eager to finishing this thing, I can't wait to start cutting things!

Please help!!!
Anyone? Please?

Are the 1/4" marked holes in the Top Beam and Bottom Beam channels? Through holes? Unnecessary? Why are there all those marked holes, but the note says "0.000"?
astronutski3 years ago
Incredible plans and wealth of info here! I'm brand new to CNC but am a long time tinkerer and woodworker/telescope builder, this is the next logical progression, not to mention the off the charts high level on the "cool meter"!

Can I please ask (and hopefully get responses to) a few questions?
1. What is this thing capable of? I would love to see what it can do, in say acrylic, cabinet-grade plywood, 6061 aluminum maybe? And at the same time, I'd like to see/hear what it can't do. I'm not looking to machine aircraft parts, but I can definitely see a use for telescope parts and other small parts for other hobbies, ie. Kite Aerial Photography :-)

2. Is it possible to substitute a real router in there instead of a dremel? I would do this just for the added range of material able to cut. I've also read somewhere that the dremel's bearings are too sloppy for really precise cutting.

3. I just now saw the talk about the threaded rod upgrade and will need to study that, that really sounds like something I'd like (I'm the woodworker that uses machinist rules and calipers as opposed to woodworking rulers :-)

Thank you millions!
aggrav8d3 years ago
A note of caution: I've been trying to build this machine. McMaster Carr will NOT ship to Canada citing export regulations. Any Canadians trying to do this who have succeeded, please point me in the right direction. Thanks!
Unfortunately you are basically out of luck with McMaster now. They will only shipped to "long established" Canadian customers. Luckily my workplace is one of those customers so I can sometimes include some of my stuff on company orders.
thepelton3 years ago
I have an Epilog laser, and with it, you can cut small round holes in acrylic. I have mostly been working in 3mm plywood however. I was considering doing some stuff in acrylic.
mateo99443 years ago
A note on the motors and controls section:
The hobbycnc kits seem nice because everything you need is in one package, but if you feel like tinkering in hobby electronics as well, you should check out
You can pick up an arduino(really nice open source micro-controller) for as little as $19, depending on which one you get. They also sell these stepper driver boards:
which for $15 aren't bad. They would interface very easily with an arduino. They also have stepper motors but ebay is the cheapest way to go for those.
Over-all its about the same cost, but if you've never used an arduino, it is defiantly something you should look at.
nadav3 years ago
hi, im thinking of building this but i wanted to know if i could make the millable area bigger? if yes what modifications would need to be done?
resipsa3 years ago
Time lapse video was awesome. You should have had your wife come in at some random point for a simulated quickie! Would have been comedy gold.
tgg3 years ago
I am very interested to make a small CNC machine at home. Plz, can you write me the details materials which i need and also i would like to produce small machine part with this small CNC machine.

Thank you in advance and let me hear from you.

aggrav8d3 years ago
Do you have any advice for someone looking to make a bigger machine? I'd like to build a 4'x6'x12" envelope.
VEnom023 years ago
Hello. I`m living in Lithuania and I can`t get 0.5" (12.7mm) thick MDF, only 12mm thick. So I want to ask if I need to do any changes to layout for cutting MDF that is given? Sorry for my bad English.
hectormena3 years ago

7raczyk3 years ago
Hey, great instructions on how to make a CNC machine. I could really use one for my projects but I have one issue with it, it's too small.

So here's my question, would it be possible to make a CNC (Using these instructions as a basis) that has a usable working envelope of 60"x 60"x 6"? If so, what parts would I have to modify to allow it to do that? Would the code also be difficult to modify?

Thanks for any future replies.
Just to ask, what could this possibly cut through? Metal hopefully. I am in a high school robotics team, and we would really like to have a CNC. And another question, could this be turned into a manual mill in the interest of cost and time?
timweaver173 years ago
What sort of bit would one use for the dremel? How does it work with milling materials other than wood and foam?
JOHN BLUE3 years ago
Anyone has a g-code or m-code for it? I would like to build it using my university's commercial CNC machine. I hope to hear from you soon. Thanks in advance.
mianderson3 years ago

I have many wood routers in my shop now how cool would it be to build this beast!
Idloid3 years ago
Hi hello I want to make one CNC for myself but the thing is that here in México I cant get some of the parts, specifically the ones for McMaster Carr because they have no shipping, so I was wondering if someone knows where could I obtain this materials? Please
waynerod3 years ago
Hey, Right now, I'm using LinuxCNC (EMC2). I cannot get it to work. I think my hardware (PC) may not be suitable. I'm thinking of trying out MAch3. Could u do a tutorial on how to set it up and get it running for this CNC Machine? Plz!!!! I beg of you!!!!
Draaxx3 years ago
I just completed the wiring and fired up the CnC machine. I recorded a short video of some movement tests I was doing today. Can't wait to start making some parts. I didn't cheat and cut out all the pieces using a jigsaw. Great instructable.
Ok so do we use the coarse thread or the fine thread for the threaded rod
waynerod3 years ago
Hi, Right now I'm in a fix.. I don't have a DB-25 Parallel port on my computer. Where could I get that from??
If it is a desktop, you can add a parallel port card.
abadv84 years ago
If you plot the drawings on a laser printer, you can simply use a hot iron to transfer the details to your substrate as the toner is thermally activated... 
Bellimor abadv83 years ago
Just a note on this for anybody who wishes to use this method. It will be a mirror image of what is on the paper so if you have parts that are unique i.e require being cut on an angle or only partial depth keep it in mind as your left will become your right so flip the image before printing. Though from what i can see of the pattern it appears that it shouldn't really affect it, just thought I'd mention it as it is a common method used for etching PCB poards and I've seen many a board scrapped due to this
Good point. You could also have it printed as a mirror image
outland863 years ago
Hello all just a note to let you know the free FAB files (ready to cut CNC files) and a new fully complete assembly guide for this machine are nealry rready to go they will be totally free of charge downloadable at the link below and will be ready by end july 2010 the DXF files have been totally redrawn from scratch and have been designed to use to cut parts on any CNC router using a 1/4 inch bit with all parts dogboned to allow for a good fit on all parts(dogbones compensate for the raduis of the router bit on an inside corners) ENJOY
the free files are now available enjoy
volks093 years ago
I printed out the plans but they need to be overlapped ,fitted and taped together before laying them on the board. How can I fix this problem its seem like theres a small border around the edge of the paper ? I'm on a macbook pro and I scale to 100%. Help please !
madmonky133 years ago
what would be a step up from a dremel??? and how well does a dremel work for routing??? (what would be appropriate for metal milling? thanks jordan
bombmaker23 years ago
You may want to add this tip to the gluing stage. Whenever I glue onto any wood product, I use a plastic spreader to move the glue around and press the paper firmly down, using the spreader as a sort of squeegee.
would be possible to use on to make one then!!
If the machine has a larger work surface than the one you want to make on it, then, yes you could. That is why he mentioned resisting the urge to cheat and go cut everything on another cnc mill.
waynerod3 years ago
Hi, Can anyone plz plz tell me.. what the "Coupling Nut" is used for in the "Z Axis Motion".. Also, could anyone plz tell me what makes the Dremel Holder (Z Cart Holder thing) move up/down according to the "Z Axis"?? IS it due to the "Threaded Rod and the Coupling Nut"??? (It would be nice if you could do it with the help of some pics/diagrams/videos) Also, for the Parallel port, DB-25 is needed.. whereas I have DE-15F. Could I use an adapter?? Or do I have to get a PCI Slot??? plz...plz help as soon as possible... Thanks, Wayne.
waynerod4 years ago
Can anyone plz tell me what do the many 0.25" holes on the base are for?

Is it for drilling a sort of place for the metal rod? if so, how deep does it have to be?

Dear waynerid: It is detailed at the full size PDF.
geng06103 years ago
Can you put a laser instead of the dremel tool and make this into a laser cutter?
prosi094 years ago
How did you connect the motors with the computer ?
look on step 4
captnkrunch5 years ago
the software you name (lazycam) seems to import only 2D drawings. Do you have a recommendation for 3D models?
If you don't mind prices, MasterCam, Mach3, and TorMach all work very well. I'm not sure about the other free editions of the software. Try google for more advice.
Heres a better idea.. Steel plate for the base and a blue ray laser burner. Resin boards getting cut to size and etched. There artistic adverts great for putting on your windows. Ads for what? Simple ads for them on there windows and\or your business. Please someone do.
scoops423 years ago
 I have a couple of questions in regards to building this machine.

I see the link to the stepper motors but its gives me a couple options on packages, would you recommend the pro or the ez driver package.
also im looking to extend the table eventually once i get a feel for it. should i get the 130oz motors as recommended or should i go for the 305oz motors since they are only 30 dollars more for the package.  looking for pros and cons of that.
I also see the transformer is not included in the package. Do I need one?

and lastly  when I do extend the table is it just a matter of getting longer frame rails and adding support where is needed to keep the machine rigid or is there so more complications that i should be aware of?

Thanks for your help


hectormena3 years ago




P.O. BOX 17-01-2876


Has anyone mentioned plasma cam. I had their litature sent to me once it was a plasma cutting tourch controlled bt CNC set up thir controlers set motors and programing might be great combo set up with the acrilic cnc body that looks so great. I belive a set up like this could be used to produce savanious wind turbines. the s could be routed into foam then a perfect circle cut out of foam. two sets of cuts is all thats required top plus bottom and two middles. the vanes coukl be pvc piping. the kit could ship flat and be assembled by owner on site with adhesives. the glued up balanced assembly could then be sprayed with a material like grancrete or polymer or some such weather proof uv resistant covering. all made with home made get up and highly repeatable with readiley available off the shelf components.
naveen.a0193 years ago
Can anyone tell me where can i find 100oz or above Used Stepper motors...?
naveen.a0193 years ago
hi, i just sold my cnc project which i built a year ago. I have been visiting this instructables from past 1 year...but never made my mind to make one..but have decided now to build this flawless machine. I personally feel that, if the drive is converted from toothed belt to threaded rod, would possess more rigidity in machining. Hence if any one has done so, could you please share some ideas. my email address is


galaxyman75 years ago
Hi, I just finished this project after very long deliberation. I converted both the y and x axis into threaded rod. Everything works great except tthat when the dremel bit goes through the MDF that I'm cutting, the MDF burns and gets black. Even if I decrease the feed rate or increase the spindle rate it still burns. I have also tried slowing the spindle but that makes no difference. The bit I have is brand new 1/8 flat square slot cutter. On the package it says it can cut wood and other materials, but when it goes through MDF it just burns. Vacuuming the sawdust out while it is running seems to reduce burning, but the edges of the MDF are still blackened. Do you have any advice?
You need to get CNC bits. Period. Using anything else will get you poor results. I've bought everyone of my bits from Hartlauer Bits. When you call there, Mr. Hartlauer answers the phone and fills the order. He knows everyone on of the bits and which one you will need. Also, check out
Thanks, this means I actually have to increase feed rate and decrease RPMs, which is not what i would expect, but I will try it. Thanks for the help!
qyy galaxyman73 years ago
 can i know the rpm and the horse power of the stepper motor
ydeardorff4 years ago
Id like to see the same thing but in a larger table size. Say 48" by 96" while keeping the Z axis at 4 to maybe 6 inches at most.
Id like the ability to use stock typically found off the shelf, and just slide it on to the table and start cutting.

Ive also heard replicating the cnc mill with the first mill you made will make the second even better, and more accurate.

Do you have prices yet for a pre-cut ready to assemble kit ready to order?
PM me to let me know.

we have some kits left check my posts here under outland86
HI Outland

Does the kit have the steppers etc? What is the accuracy? Could this router PC boards with VERY small tracks?

DO you you have kits available? Will youship to South Africa - if so, how much?
Hello Shearder

the kit comes with all hardware and parts to assemble the machine itself
i does not come with steppers or any electronics ..(steppers available at

The accuracy is dependant on how well you tune the machine and keep it tuned

Yes i have milled PCB's myself with mine but the results may or may not be up to other peoples standards it was fine for my simple projects. for very accurate PCB milling the best solution outside pro PCB mills is a Sherline CNC milling machine Running MACH 3 software with Sherlines hi speed spindle attachment. and a free copy of eagle CAD PCB routing software.
the Sherline Mills and Lathes are precision American made machines and can be used for a multitude of things

 due to size and wieght Shipping to South Africa would not possible it would cost more than the machine is worth.

 in the next couple of months i will be making available a set of DXF files that have been optomized for cutting the wood parts on a CNC wood router like  a Shopbot or similar machine you can then take these DXFs and have someone local cut the parts for you on there CNC machine. these DXFs will also have PDF files included that give the details for DADO depth and edge boring location drawings. all in one package. the DXFs have been created in such a way that you can cut the parts out on a CNC router with a 1/4 inch endmill and still have all the parts fit together snuggly..  anyway more information is  and will be available soon at we will also be selling simple edge boring jigs for this and similar projects in the near future


Paul Campbell
qyy outland863 years ago
 can u reply me 
how can i get the dxf file.
iam searching in,,but its hardly to find the link related to the site where the dfx file.

its states that it is for sale,,iam willing to buy it

mail me at
god bless u,tq
Thanks a TIN for the info Paul. Yes probably would be best for me to make my own :) all things considered i sent an A4 envelope to Brussels and it cost me over 300 bucks my money so - yes, shipping would not be worth it LOL
i started buy everthing for this last nite  i got to get the wood today waiting on truck waking up 5 am geting everthng ready :)

got something to ask you thow  not for me couse well i done gone throw this
and sorry for the spelling here

i taken the meserment's to homedepo  for the nut's and bolt's  and well had a problem  0.25  is 1/4  in   i not used to this meserment i felt like a noob walking into homedepo into i had 5 home depo worker's working on this with me lol  is there a way you can post a txt or something for the next  someone     i allready got it figered out  not hard to learn just did not know it

this my farst time even trying to build  or run a cnc   i built halfpipe's and music studio's so  this won't be a problem 

thank you for this by the way  i spent 2 munth's studioing cnc programs'
and looking for digram's and help   out of all of thim   i got every info off your page and even understand it better   your's is allso the best i seen on here
i well take a pic of it after done for you
hye dragonart777.
im from malaysia.

can i have a gcode and all schematic and electrical diagram from u?
kokotipi3 years ago
hi there i m planing on building one myself but I m Mac user, does anyone know if i can find the right program to use on Mac?
I could get a cheap PC but I quite like keeping the control for everything from one computer.

Thank you very much!

There should be a few windows emulators around for the Mac. Just be mindful that some emulators can run quite slow on older systems.
tcase3 years ago
would this machine be able to do wood carving like at this site for doors?
I'm thinking there would have to be an up and down motion also...
This what I call an instructable. Very well done
waynerod3 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
Can anyone tell me if I can use another bearing instead of the Shaft Support bearing (1/4" ID 7/8" OD)?
 Is anyone willing to sell this part to me? (Of Course you would also need to ship it to my address in Australia)

I would be very thankful if someone in the US (or anywhere else) could do this
jgz3 years ago

The stepper controllers usually have a serial interface.  I have used Mach 3 on another router project.  Forget Vista.  Must use Windows XP.  Windows7 might work.  I don't know.  Newer laptops don't have a serial interface.  USB to serial converters won't work.  They don't produce enough power to drive the controller board.

arduinoe4 years ago
what do you think of by DIY CNCsite, be honest. thanks yall.
The design and layout isn't that great, I guess its more of a blog, but the information is very well written and awesome really informative stuff, the links and all are great too.
thank you!
jperi4 years ago
Hi you have 3D drawing posted by another member on step one .

have anyone made this in autocad so i can take it to shop and make parts on another cnc.My friend have one and it will be mucg more simple to do it.Thanks
HY what I mean is a 3D drawing dwg or dxf file so I can take all the measurement easily
dbasner4 years ago
Hey  I plan on building one of these soon, I have read a lot of tutorials and think that this is by far the easiest setup and explanation.  Because the working area is smaller than the size of the board needed to make the structure, you could turn that one file into several smaller files, then give kits to people.  I am not very handy with CAD (don't have the software yet), but somebody else could do it probably.  If somebody has done this or plans on doing so it would be great if you could post a link to the file(s).\

clout0264 years ago
has anyone tried extending the x-axis as well?  would this be a difficult change?
johannesgj4 years ago
in one page its the x-axis thats 14" and in the other its the y-axis. however i want to make it 10" is that possible?
if yes how would i do?
as i see it i can just shorten the rod, piece of would for the z axis to hang on and the ground plate.
is this doable and do i need to make changes to the original pdf's. or can i manually shorten the design by hand?

if changes is needed in the pdf can someone help me making the pdf's?
kind regards 
johannes gårdsted jørgensen
btw great instructable ;-)
zmb4 years ago
What software did you use with the package from HobbyCNC to run the controller and create GCode from a CAD file?
the merog4 years ago
Can anybody help by answering this...

How to control the z-axis, if laser cutter is used (ON/OFF)?

Awaiting replies...//MEROG
Just use a relay (SSR might be a good idea). Also, you can probably leave off the z-axis transport, depending on the power your laser puts out and the varying height of the part you'll be working on.
if I can get a 3D drawing for all the machine .
I  think that's will help so much person interested to do this project
lemone30004 years ago
wat software do u use for the cnc machine

jperi4 years ago
Hi guys can anybody tell me how to  print this so its bordless that I can glue it one for one widouth cutting paper
from where can I buy the controller. and can I have the electric diagram
gadgit4 years ago
Love to build this cnc but I can't access imperial size mdf in australia. Would it be possible to scale the plans down slightly so that metric size sheets can be used? The closest thickness we have is 12mm mdf which is a 94.5% scale reduction on 1/2 inch  which will also scale the 3/4 inch pieces nicely to 18mm (also commonly available).

Also the paper dimensions are showing in acrobat is 8x10?
I live in Europe mainland. Our MDF and plywoods are rated in millimeters. But only for 'convenience'. If I measure the MDF, the 12 mm is 12,7 mm = 1/2". the 18 mm is 19 mm = 3/4". All sizes are in inches and feet. Full sheets are 122 cm x 244 cm. Not a logical ISO value. Concrete plywood is 125 x 250 cm. Now, THAT is an ISO size!

What it boils down to: 122 cm = 4 feet. 244 cm is 8 feet. MDF is always delivered in imperial units....
are you saying you cannot get 1/2 inch thick MDF in Austrailia?  Is this some kind of import restriction?  I'll be more than happy to set us up an MDF import business because I can get you all of that you want straight from a local manufacturer near me.
thank you for offering this site .This is really amazing .
please can I have the all dimensions for the base .
slamsworld4 years ago
I have completed this project after lots of research behind it  - gave me wood the first time it run - this is such a fantastic tutorial the author deserves a Nobel Prize for what ever this qualifies for
davidbue4 years ago
 Hi all. Building a CNC router quickly becomes a big project. More a hobby that just a project you finish up.

I have built my own CNC mill capable of milling in softer metal alloys a few years ago. Using is and keeping it running takes up a lot of time but is also great fun. 

I've made everything but the stepper motors and Win32 software myself. Hardware platform, electronics, PCB and micro-controller firmware. You can check out the build at my website:

Should you choose to make your own CNC mill then go for it. It's so much fun!

Cheers! David

i got evething today but the motor and motherboard   
i spent from 7 am  to just know  12:13 am   lineing up the sheet's of paper
and cuting the wood out  

for thow's that have not started  get the layout printed at staple's ask for a 48"x48"  well take a week to get it they well hafe to ship it  well cost you 23$
don't get it as a blueprint  it will have line's in it that well mess you up on your cut's    

if not  have fun it well take you a good bit and a fest in the wall

2ed  don't  do what i did  i used a jegsaw  couse my roter router wen't up
i new i would not have a good cut from the start  but i got a really good cut for it being a jegsaw  bad timeing for my roter router grrrr

as for that   i got everthing cut  ill put it togather tomorew  wonce i get my motor's and all i thank ill just have my cnc cut me new board's thin replace it

thank's again  out of every cnc i seen   your's or the best  and very easy to understand   i feel like im building a $5.000 cnc  here  i thot it was going to be small but hmmm biger thin i thot   i did exstend the bass thow
couse after im done im going to exstend everthing 

p.s  i am haveing fun with this project  and it's not something that well take you one day  so im really likeing this  

may you please make it so their is just a track and a turning nob with a gear or something SIMPLE!!!!!!
tech33124 years ago
Nice instructables on the CNC, i would like to double the size of this CNC machine. Which section of drawing do it have to expand so it can accomodate the design. I know that the Nema sockets and the screws cannot be doubled so i cannot tell the print 200% of it's actual size. I have autocad 2010 so i can edit the drawings. But do you know an easier way of doubling this size?
robotron9974 years ago
hi i am not able to understand how the motor is connected with the belt or the rail in the y axis and x axis can you explain it briefly
2145954 years ago
hello i am interested in your plans but i have 3/4" MDF can i still make it or are there many changes that have to be made

if you can email me at i would really apprecoate it
You won't be able to use 3/4" MDF without making some serious changes to the design.  Home Depot has 8'x4'x0.5" MDF for ~$22, which is enough to make two CNC machines.  I'd recommend buying the correct thickness of MDF.
bullschmidt4 years ago
Very interesting.. I was curious if you thought this would have the precision to be used as an additive printer as well, aka a repstrap/reprap.  The large work area & higher speed seems very attractive (vs some lead screw CNCs). 
zoltzerino4 years ago
 Right, I am completely new to this. Well not completely but.....

Once this is made, what are the practical purposes?

Can It make a copy of itself?

How do I tell it what to do?

Is that a normal drill or something specific?
piant4 years ago
 how can I buy and allready made system like this one.
outland864 years ago
Electronics for the router

The Best way to Run this Machine  is to use a free version of MACH 3 software up to 500 lines of gcode. available form Artsofts website of you can buy it at
use it with a driver board that uses step and direction signals
these are available for  under $200 also at the URL above if you like.
you will need somthing like a 24 volt 6.5 amp power supply to run the driver board available on ebay just search under 24 volt CNC power supply. about $30 bucks
also paralell cable ,also available on ebay just search for CNC cable about $4
4 wire securty wire for hook up from home depot.

you can use small nema 23 steppers available plenty of places and  at

if you get the whole package from you get a configuration file to set the whole thing up turn key so you dont have to worry abouit trying to figure out the number of turns a screw will move the dremel and the belts etc etc. and port and pin setups

Just thought i would let you all know somthing about the electronics side of this project as somone asked about ports and pins

this cnc runs off what ports best
waynerod4 years ago
Do you have a PDF file for A4 sized printing? Please.... This is instead of CNC-05-MDF-CutPattern(Rev3).pdf

Please... this would help me heaps as I don't have access to Letter Page Sizes (incase you don't know the size you have given for is for "Letter")

By the way, it will make a difference if I use A4 and Letter right? Coz this is designed for Letter and if I use A4 it won't be right.....
gdykes4 years ago
All finished! Machine works great! Constructed from 7 layer 1/2" plywood. Total cost under 500.00 and 2 weeks of construction in my spare time. I have photos if you are interested. Thank you
dcorbett gdykes4 years ago
Do you have drawings, pictures, etc?
I am researching the CNC market, and cannot decide whether to start small, or start with the one I want...
What software, controllers, etc did you use?
xx123j4 years ago
+1 on that 3M spray adhesive.

Also what would it take to get this to mill nonferrous metals?
AllenKll5 years ago
For sticking down the paper, you could use rubber cement. I used to use it all the time for temporary gluing of paper patterns. It works quite well, and peels off with no residue. I've used it mostly on sheet metal, so the MDF may react differently. But it may be an option.
Regular ol' 3M "77" spray adhesive also works well. Lay down a non-overlapping layer of wide masking tape/painter's tape over your work piece, then spray the backside of your pattern with 77, then stick it to the tape layer. After cutting is completed, the tape makes it easy to remove the pattern.
Trust me..  wulfhardt is right on.  
I layed down the masking tape, then sprayed the 77 on both the tape and back of the paper..  it dried in a few minutes and worked very well..  stayed on well for the cut process, and 
I had to go back and make some different motor spacers (to fit my motors) and just glued it to the mdf..  and wow I'm really glad I did that.
cerberoos4 years ago
 what is the tolerance of this machine? Can it drills only foam or have a good precision also for wood?

Would you sell a complete unit? If yes how much including delivery to Australia SYDNEY

Thanks in advance

shipping a complete kit to sydney costs about $800 usd not economical i have checked
but you will soon be able to get the FAB files( Gcode and instructions)
from my website
to be able to have one cut out for you no matter where in the world you are
about two weeks and they will be available
agent4 years ago
Sweet,  I want to build this so I can quit using my school's Epilog. I've been laser engraving everything! If I can make this I could finally etch my own PCBs.

But first: I'll make the acrylic version on my school's Epilog :P
blackgear074 years ago
Hello, i´m very overextended to find the right parts (screws, nuts and other), because im from germany and i don´t know the right dimension in metric!
please, could you help me and tell me the metric measure ?
You could use a converter, you won't need the mesurements to much in this project, as you work from a template. I normally use metric measure but imperial shouldn't be so hard ( 12 inches = 1ft).

what is the difference between Nut 8mm and Nut #8?
for that is no converter!

#8 means number eight Nuts, I would suggest you get them from where he gets them or some where equivlient

what at the cross nuts for? can i use something instead
The cross nuts are used to join MDF panels at 90 degree angles.  You could probably use T-Bolt construction instead, but I think that would make the assembly more complicated.  Oomlout has an instructable about it here:
something else I mean sorry
i belive you made a typo , the holding torq should be 100 oz*in instead of 100 oz/in
dsmskyline4 years ago
With Stuart's permission I can supply a single page 48"x48" sticky back sheet to apply to the MDF or what ever other substrate you are using to make the pieces. Makes it much easier than trying to line up tiled sheets. Thomas
I received Stuarts permission. I have compiled the assembly and hardware files into one "booklet" that can be supplied with the cut files as well. Will have a package with all 3 cut files on low tack adhesive vinyl and a 24 page booklet. Cost will depend on how many people are interested. Just the cut files are going to cost ME about $20 each to print, the books are somewhere around $10-15 each depending on the papaer. That is with just doing 1 at a time. If interested, pm me or reply on here with your zip or postal code and I will get you a price with shipping. Thomas
Hi, I am extremely interested in your offer, I live in Ontario Canada and my postal code is L7G 5L1

Happy New Year...

Thomas my UK Post Code is BH21 3TL here in Dorset England. What kind of payment do you accept?
Are you able to send this to an address in England and what is your price?
MrMystery964 years ago
I built one of these from some scrap steel laying around my shop a few years before this' ible came out. The two designs are almost exactly the same.
timweaver174 years ago
when will the precut mdf be coming out? also, how much will it be costing?
Hmm. I think Ponoko would be an interesting way to get this cut out, at least. When I saw this, my first thought was that you could put a laser on here, and  have a laser cutter. There are many instructables on this, and it wouldn't be hard to attach. I may have to try this... it 's certainly cheaper than Ponoko in the long run!
vinubox4 years ago
Instructable - a university, for the people, by the people... don't know how much thankful I'm... 
outland864 years ago

Hello everyone good to see this great Project is still going strong i finally have a website  setup for the Kits i have left .only 6 out of the twenty i made of the full hardware kits and i will not be making anymore full kits. after they have gone.
i will be making just wood parts kits without the edge boring done on them  for people in the USA and i will be selling a small jig that makes the edge boring part a breeze  those will be on the website as well .

i will also be releasing my DXF files as a FAB on so that you can have a local CNC fabber cut the parts for you.  i completely redrew the original DXF files and modified them extensivally to allow cutting out of the parts on a cnc router using a 1/4 inch router bit and still being able to clip all the parts together and keeping most of the original look of Stuarts cool project.
I have a couple of videos on the website and youtube about the kit as well .
 for all you people out in Metric land i will be doing a metric version of the DXFs as well all will be available just after Xmas.

Just so you all understand what i mean by being able to cut the DXF files out on a CNC router if you try to cut a square corner on the inside of an angle using a CNC router you will be left with the arc of the router tool as round bits can't cut square inside corners this is one of the first things you will discover in your travels into CNC. to get around this a method of creating what are called dogbone fillets on the inside corners is done to  compensate for the Router bits circumferance. and therefore allow you to create parts that will clip together tightly. very cool and worked perfectly with this design.

MERRY XMAS everyone!  who believes what i do, and happy holidays to the rest of you :)

make CNC not War !

rhymed4 years ago
I've tried this a few different ways and here's what I came up with.

About the gluing -
Attempt 1) Glued down with Duro All-purpose spray adhesive. It stuck very well, but was still able to be peeled off if you were very careful. Even after a week. I had sprayed only the board. Turned out the strength wasn't good enough because my saw pulled it up off the board which obstructed my view of the cut lines.
Attempt 2) Tried again with hard-core spray adhesive (3M 90-something) and sprayed both paper and board. This is a permanent bond, and it shows. The paper is part of the board now. It went on more bumpy than attempt 1, even after pressing it out (I used a roll of packing tape as a rolling pin to press it all out). However, when it dried, it was totally flat and tight. It might have helped that I brought it in from my garage to let it dry. It's not a damp garage, but the air is definitely more humid than inside my house.

The real problem I had with both glue attempts was just getting the pattern laid flat and in the proper location. I had the 1-page version printed (in two pieces) at the local FedEx/Kinko's, and I was laying it down on a 4'x4" piece of MDF. It was too hard to get the pattern lined up for gluing because I wasn't able to be precise enough. This was a lot easier the second time because I used an 8' x 4' piece of MDF (it was only $15). Then I cut out large chunks of the pattern in easy to handle sizes. I was able to spray the whole board and lay the, now manageable, pattern pieces wherever they fit easily. Once the glue had dried  roughly I cut away the unused MDF and was left with easily manageable MDF planks. That made it a lot easier to do the actual detail cutting of the machine pieces.
is this machine as designed capable of cutting cast aluminum. if not what alterations would be required, increasing the scale, materials, or cutting tool? how is the tolerance? thanks.
I too am starting to collect/build this machine and want to use it for cutting delrin plastic and very small aluminium pieces (3D). Can someone recommend any required modifications such as stepping motors and tool other than a dremel if required?

Thank you for all the help and to the creator, very nice work!
i think you could replace the dremel with new holders and maybe a high power air or cord drill and i dont know but maybe getting stronger steppers
as long as you have a sharp enough bit, you go slow enough, and you do multiple passes, it should be able to cut aluminum. I don't think you would be able to use an endmill to face it, but I do think you could make 2d cutouts with a small pointed bit.
greenie78884 years ago
Hi, i caNT FIND the part number for the skate bearings from,  which one is it, a direct link would be great.
Hi gdykes, my english is bad. I hope that you understand spanish. quisiera hacer un cnc, espero que me puedas pasar fotos a mi correo o decirme a donde verlas. thanks.
Jerry5314 years ago
What is the computer program that you use ?
yiu854 years ago
is there a way to turn the dremel tool on//off using the software?
abomb550764 years ago

Once youve finished it you can go onto something like this

bullmoose114 years ago
MDF is very porous and dusty. I'm going to try painting the MDF sheet with "Killz Complete" primer sealer first before gluing the pattern down. The primer drys hard and glossy so the spray glue will stick..  I can have a full 48x 48 pattern printed on a large format plotter at Staples for $4 a sheet. I'm copying the PDF to a USB memory stick to take in. Staples said they could print from that. Then I will cut the 4x8 pattern sheet into smaller more manageable pieces and cut them out on my ShopSmith Scroll saw. It should work well I hope....
redfire054 years ago
in the picture above i see the cnc contoller chip did you solder it all ,was it hard and what is the thing the contoller chip is sitting on
AlexPCS4 years ago
Hi. I have a little doubt about the project .. on the y-axis and the z's all okay .. the problem is. what makes the X-axis how is the system if can someone help me may email is
derekhunter4 years ago
Hey Great instructable!! if i were to build this item am i amble to just add longer metal bar to give the base a longer length?
Anyone have some advice where you can input the resolution for each axis in Mach3? Just like the values in step 2. That would be awesome! Thanks!
Hey all, I'm about to embark on this project and thought I'd share a tidbit with you. There's a large format print shop in my city that can actually print the plans right onto the MDF and the result is nice and sharp (thanks to the smooth, hard surface of the MDF). They're printing it for me for just over $5 a square foot (just under $100 total). Thought I'd pass this along as there may be similar shops in your areas that can do the same. KD
oomlout (author)  AnimattersInc6 years ago
Hey: Thanks for the tip it sounds like a great one and would certainly help greatly in precision. Would love to hear how your build is going. Regards Stuart. P.S. I am working on coming up with a way to produce the cut MDF pieces for purchase, but haven't quite cracked an ability to provide the volumes I'd like to produce (small) for a price point which I feel would provide good value (again small).
Hey Stuart, not sure if you're still keeping an eye on these or not but I thought I'd let you know that the build, which got shelved for one reason or another is officially underway. I start my cuts tomorrow and will hit the Home Depot's nuts & bolts aisle for all the other goodies. I've started building water wheels with bells & whistles (so to speak) and it requires a pile of little gears and cogs. 30 minutes on my scroll saw and it occurred to me that this might be a great time to build this CNC machine. Thanks once again for being such a great resource. This machine should allow me to focus on the creative side of things as opposed to logging hours on a scroll saw.
Thought I'd post a week one update. I've got all the cuts made, holes drilled and routered bits routered. This is working every other evening for about 4 hours? Maybe longer on Saturday last weekend. Had trouble finding the cross nuts in the quantity required at the local DIY centre but after visiting a few of them found enough. Ikea has tons of them and only 10¢ each but they are fine metric thread so you'd have to shrink the .25" holes a touch. Otherwise they'd work just fine and way cheaper (69¢ at the DIY). Assembly should begin this weekend!
Just another update for you all. THings are coming together but I've found out that you really should have the stepper motors and bearings on hand before you begin assembly because it's no time at all before you need them. I'm now online placing that order right now. One thing that would have helped me is to really visualize and understand the shapes of the pieces and how they fit together. I didn't realize that the little channels and stuff were to accept a joint with another 1/2" section of MDF. That said, some of the cutouts are not as smooth as I would have made them and/or I stayed on the wrong side of the line when cutting. The "persuader" helps in this matter.
evox4 years ago
I was wondering if anyone could help me out. i have a friend that is a machinist and she was wondering if anyone had the code to cut the pieces out or has anyone made the measurements. this would save me a huge amount of time. so if someone could help me out i would really appreciate it. thanks
nick23344 years ago
I have a question about the motor couplers. From what I can gather, they are just bored through 1/4" holes with two set screws to secure the shafts. On the X and Y axis there is a smooth 1/4" rod which will slide into the couple nicely. For the Z axis though, it is a threaded rod going into the couple. Is the OD of the threaded rod exactly 1/4" and does it slide in easily and concentric to the motor shaft?
vanmik4 years ago
super netto pdf
Sanger354 years ago
Hi; Just starting on my CNC and look forward to looking over your site. I also purchased the spacers for the roller blade bearings, then cut each one in half to make two pieces. The bearings will ride on the spacers and a 1/4" bolt attaches them to stock.
I don't really want to buy a controller, so is it practical to make one? If so, where can I find out how?
darkcover4 years ago
This may be worth a look if you are interested in CNC technology. Visit or for more information about the upcoming release of Sinumerik, the latest in CNC technology.
cre8ev4 years ago
could someone explain the difference between the linux drive and the "other drive"? Also i have a contact for neumatic routers and or lasers. Can i fit either one of those on any of these cnc machines?
gdykes cre8ev4 years ago
I redesigned the two spindle holders and have one for a trim router, dremel, and a pin plotter. It is an easy modification.
tbenefi334 years ago
Ok I got the pattern all printed out and I'm ready to lay it out on the wood but I have a question about the over lay do you cut off the excess over lay then line it up or you just leave the overlay and draw a line connecting the other one ?
Mansheep224 years ago
This is the page where the software and instructions are said to be... i don't see it =/ is it on another page?
I gather this set has been updated, sources of control boards, motors and software are now on step 4. Mike
szefski4 years ago
I have found a Canadian supplier of bearings, pulleys, and belts. The company is called Stock Drive Products and the website is
Prices are steeper than Macmaster-Carr - I paid $120 for 6 bearings, 3 pulleys and 12 feet of timing belt and the order arrived 3 days later.
szefski4 years ago
Macmaster-Carr will not ship to me because I am Canadian :P. Is there anywhere I can order a pulley, pulley belt and imperial bearings? I have located everything else. If you ( or someone else!) could post a link that would be awesome.
Mansheep224 years ago
Heya, I am laying the pattern down on the MDF as I speak (or am trying to) and I am having difficulty lining them up. In the picture above I notice reference lines, how did he get those on there? Do i need adobe writer to add those lines, or am I overcomplicating it?
vaq4 years ago
Hi I'm in the uk. iv converted all the bolts and nuts using a conversion chart, so basically 0.25"x2" bolts would be M6x50mm can I do this or am I gonna miss the 3mm difference later on? O and does it matter if the nuts are fully threaded or partial-thread coz I'm having a bad time finding partial-thread bolts? any answers welcome, lol i've just started cutting i'll let you know how i get on. P.s great instructions Vaq
JohnnyVegas vaq4 years ago
I just finished building and you should definitely get the partial threaded bolts on the (6) 8mm x 60mm. Theses are used as pulleys for the belt drive. The others can be fully threaded. They make no difference. Also for anyone having trouble grabbing 8mmx60mm bolts locally I used some 8mmx70mm and they work fine. Non threaded off course.
vaq4 years ago
O i forgot to mention that rumour has it that MDF can cause cancer it has somthing to do with the epoxy used to bond it so mask up.
morganrehm4 years ago
To anybody attempting this, I strongly recommend you use a plotter to print out the whole 48x48 file. I just finished cutting these pieces using single 8.5x11 pages and it was a big pain. Lining them up is very difficult, also pieces of paper tend to peel off during cutting - then again I was using a spray-on adhesive. Maybe other glues would work better.
cool 'ible, but still too expensive for me guess they dont come cheaper than this though... gonna actually needa earn some money >.<
Idosci6 years ago
Do you have the cut pattern as a one page, full size pdf?
oomlout (author)  Idosci6 years ago
I have added the pattern as a single 48"x48" page to step four (there is now a choice as to which version you would like to download) Stuart
stuart i wanted the board size to be 48" x 48" can u help...
Idosci Idosci6 years ago
Thanks. This is an awesome project.
hi stuart , pls tell me were should i foud the elctronic part of this cnc rourter and what would be thev cost , as well will those parts run with windows product
tom.ettore5 years ago
Stuart, Built according to your parts list but resolution is 1/125" based on pulley and belt teeth per inch. Is this correct with this setup? I measured approximately 12.5 teeth per inch on belt which results in 125 steps per inch. Do I need to change the drive system for better resolution?
the amount of teeth on a belt shouldn't matter, treat it as smooth, and the pulleys as round, unless you only have one belt tooth contacting the pulley. even then there's marginal contact conditions that make number of teeth on the belt irrelevant.
I appreciate your response. If you build the machine with the parts ordered you will see you have to scale for both the x and y axis to 125 steps per inch. I have been running the machine for several months. The z axis resolution is 1/4000" and the x and y axis is .008" resolution or 1/125. Keep in mind the steppers are 200 steps per revolution which on the pulley size and number of teeth on the pulley(20) gives you this resolution years ago
If I do not want to do a cnc version just a milling machine what parts can I miss out? Thanks Jack ps. awesome instructable
skaar years ago
controller software with manual position entry would do it.
krams9764 years ago
First of all great job and I love the video of you putting it all together. would you be willing to share your G-code for Mach3 as I cannot get your files to work with rhino, artcam,turbocad. all your circles render incomplete.I currently have access to a cnc running G-code on Mach 3. Or any assistance would be greatly appreciated. p.s. what did you use to make .Tap (G-code) for Mach 3 ??? Thank You Mark
tbenefi334 years ago
How can I scale this up to 48 1/4" x 36 3/8" I have an aluminum table I wanna that size I wana use.
dheintz44 years ago
Can you use this for a cnc router? I see you have a dremel and am wondering if we can use a router on this or if I need to do something different.
galaxyman75 years ago
You can get 10 skate bearings for 5 bucks at
Times 4 is only 20 bucks + shipping. I was wondering if these would work just as well.
Just a question for u, did anyone respond to your thread about the skate bearing. I have all the parts except for the bearing. Which one did u end up going with. Thanks.
I am almost done with the machine, and the skate bearings recommended by galaxy do actually work as a replacement.
yep they work fine, I'm pretty sure they are the same ones from the instructable, just in lower quanity.
arcandor4 years ago
Sweet machine! If I'm not posting new stuff for a while, it's because I'm building one of these... dremel, extruder and possible laser tools included =)
weldermike4 years ago
hi I'm just starting to look into building this cnc , I love ur plans , but its not very clear to me on how ur belt drive works, would u happen to have any pics or video,
look farther back in the comments there is a paint picture that shows the belt routing
cawink5 years ago
In the parts list, what size is a #8 bolt? I can't seem to find a bolt named #8!
I am pretty sure that's metric sizing. There is both a #8 and a M8, which are different sizes just to keep things interesting.

Here's a page on bolt sizes and strengthens:
jmedinav4 years ago
looks great and pretty!
lidak44 years ago
After all , where I can get the software ?
tom.ettore5 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
Tom.Ettore..... the Y bearings are to permit the Big Bolts to rotate freely ! that's why he uses a Large bolt with a "smooth Shank" ! versus an all thread Bolt.... Don't over tighten ! or you will Rip the Bearings MDF pockets... Same goes for the X Cart Bearings... Cawink ! #8 Bolts are Metric !!! that's all ! 3/8 or 11/32 would do ! if in a Bind !!!
dciocoiu5 years ago
I figured out how to make a T.E.L.S laser and it is relatively easy to make so thats what I would recommend using on homemade stuff since it is inexpensive and if you bust it you want have to pay 600$ to buy anathor one.
Jahguleth5 years ago
Hello, I have 2 questions: 1- If i wanted to increase the CNC working area will i have to configure anything or get different parts to connect the stepper motors or can i just cut the MDF pieces a bit longer? 2- Does anyone know a website that has info on Do It Yourself stepper motors controllers? I found a website with all the schematics to make a 3-axis controller that supports high voltage/current outputs but some components are out of date and aren't available anymore and the component list hasn't been updated. Thank you.
1.Yes you can just extend all of the mdf and the rods for a longer travel. However, if you extend the x-axis by making the cart longer, it will compromise the strength of the machine. If you make the y-axis larger it will have no effect on the strength, and all you have to do is extend the base out. 2.there is an instructable on that subject also. Just look up "cnc" in the search bar and you will find one on how to solder your own controller.
I'm aware that i may need stronger motors than the recommended 100 oz/in in this project, and right now i need to start searching for the motors and that will probably be expensive. Or if it is possible to just connect 2 stepper motors in parallel to the same Axis Controller Output i'll just get 2 cheap motors and have them share the load.
About the Controller I suppose you were talking about this one:

I can't believe i didn't see it earlier. I've already bought most of the components and will probably pick up the rest of them on friday.

Thanks :)
BUILD IT BUILD IT BUILD IT! it worked for me first time, and i left the bulbs out. to reduce noise/to stop my steppers jogging, i used pullup resistors on the inputs, look through the comments for more details
brian13b5 years ago
I have a question, I tried printing out the single page pdf. file...and I ve tried printing it so it take up a whole page and im still getting borders, where ill have to cut it.......just wondering
I am 90% completed and Can't wait to Start Cutting but I hit a BUMP ! McMaster Carr is Refusing to ship to my location... "Canada" !!! Their Reason ! Export duties paperwork... ??? Ok ! So.. Any of you have an alternate Source for Timing Belts and Shaft support Bearings and MXL Timing pulleys ????

This is a Nice little machine and I am trying locally but.... Nothing so far !
Thanks in advance !!!!

gneedel5 years ago
Would you be willing to make the 3D cad available?
Albu Dan5 years ago
Hello! Could you please post some pictures with how the belts for the Y axis are mounted? And I was wondering what power is recommended for the motors to have? Thank You!
2224645 years ago
To outland86: How much is one of those CNC kits? What extra stuff would I need to get it running? What software do you use to generate tool paths? Is there some circuitry that will make this machine compatible with MasterCam X3?
mattmolitor5 years ago
What holds the bottom X Axis Rail in place? I'm almost to that point and can probably make something work, but wondered what the origninal intent was. Maybe an interference fit, then once the X Cart is in place it holds it there? Did anyone else secure the rails down with glue or maybe a drilled & tapped hole?
outland865 years ago
Hi Everyone i have been getting some emails asking me about the packaging and shipping of the kits so i took a photo of the kit ready to go out to another happy CNC enthusiast. my lovely wife held it up for me we carefully pack every kit and triple check to make sure all the parts are in and safe. see the picture...PS: i have less then ten kits left so if you want one let me know..we will not be making busy on other projects now..
cnc-router.jpgparts list and photo.jpgminibot1.jpg
pbawesome5 years ago
hey stuart i love this instructable because i was going to design each and every part myself currently i'm recreating your parts from printed glued sheets in solid works because i don't have autocad if you have all the parts made in cad could you give them to me so i can import them into solid works, making all the measures is a real pain. i appreciate your time put in this for us i hope i can either cut all my parts before the school year ends or i will have to do it after summer my school has no problem me coming after the school day and using their bandsaw drill press milling machine, all the awesome tools we have, thanks.
oddy5 years ago
Hey Stuart, before I'm saying something else, I must say that I'm amazed by the expertise you've shown pulling this together, not an easy thing designing every part of this machine(and making it actually work). That said, I live in Europe and I'm disappointed by the availability of components here. I found everything on the McMaster Carr site, which states that they ship to Europe. Though, when I mail them to ask the shipping prices, they tell me they don't ship to Europe anymore because of the export prices. I searched for those bearings, belts and pulley's to no avail. Could you suggest me a shop that DOES ship to Europe and contains those parts? With best regards, Sam
Jahguleth5 years ago
If I use a different threaded rod for the Z axis and different timing pulleys and belt for the X and Y axis how can I calculate the steps needed for each milimeter?
outland865 years ago
Just somnthing i thought i should mention to you all and that is that the hardware to make this machine runs about $500 cost. As a kit it weighs about 51 pounds and costs about $60 dollars to ship to the lower 48 states..i sell it for $560 .so you see what a bargin i am offering here. for the whole machine ready to assemble with a few hand tools only. and of course your own electronics
galaxyman75 years ago
Hey I'm almost done with this project after about 5 months :). Check out my semi completed machine at .I have made some modifications, including converting the machine to threaded rod. Obviously it isn't done because the dremel isn't attached yet.
wulfhardt5 years ago
I do believe I've found my next workshop project. Something like this could save me from doing a lot of fretwork on the scroll saw. Thanks for posting this great guide. :)
MacleodPT5 years ago
Hello to all! First of all I would like to thank for this Instructable. By chance I happen to have worked a little with a cnc router and now I would like to build one myself. I've had a few problems though, because we use the metric system and also because some parts I can't recognise. For example the #8 x 3 bolts and nuts, what are these? And the cross nut ? Do these have any other technical name? Help would be much appreciated! :) Thanks and Happy New Year! Orlando
galaxyman75 years ago
I am almost finished with this project. The only thing I changed was the y-axis. I made it using threaded rod instead of the timing belt. The one thing I need help with, though, is transferring the rotation of one threaded rod to the other. The timing belt I have is already cut, and I don't think I can make it into a loop again. This is what I have already built, and it has worked on and off, but it has a tendency to get off track. It is made of MDF
Snaptastic5 years ago
Would this be capable of cutting thin (eg 0.1") aluminium sheet? Would it be able to do fine enough detail to mill a PCB? AWESOME job by the way, and good on you for sharing your work!
Wow... .1" is rather thick for aluminum. I used to build electric signs and channel letters, we use.063 aluminium sheet, as most in the industry do. When "thick" stuff was required we went to .080". At .1" I think you can start to call it "plate"
oomlout (author)  Snaptastic5 years ago
Hey Snaptastic; I'm afraid this machine is better suited to cutting wood and foam than aluminum. Consider how hard it is to cut your desired material with a dremel tool and that will give you a good idea. That said if you mount a more powerful cutting head (small router) and cut at a slow enough rate it would be more than able to. In terms of being precise enough for PCB's, I have yet to try anything this detailed however I think it would be able to cut larger traces on through hole designs, however anything surface-mount you would definently want more precision. This is a good starter CNC machine to play around with and experiment and if you find you like it all the motors and electronics can be used on a larger more precise machine in the future.
Hey - thanks for the reply! Sorry I should have been clearer, I meant whether the rest of the assembly would handle cutting aluminium (ie the steppers and the framing etc), aside from needing a suitable router and bit, and whether it could route a simple through-hole pcb. I guess the most detail I would need would be a dual in-line through-hole IC for op-amps etc. If you ever try anything like that I would love to see the results. Thanks!
outland865 years ago
All Parts Hardware Kits. LIMITED NUMBER AVAILABLE!!! check pictures below !! After reading the posts and requests on the award winning INSTRUCTABLES.COM CNC Router, I decided to answer the call and produce a LIMITED number of these as a kit. I HAVE ONLY MADE 20 OF THEM SO DON'T MISS OUT! I upgraded it slightly and made a kit for all those people who just want to build one and do not have the time, the workshop or perhaps the skills to produce such complex and accurate parts. To that end, I have come up with a COOL KIT that will make it possible for ANYONE to be able to put this machine together. I have modified the basic design to make it more ergonomic and trendy looking. I colored the MDF parts to give a Snappy finish. You could never make this machine using a jig saw! You would have to be an artisan. This kit brings together all the other associated hardware so you can purchase it all in one kit. These parts have all been cut on an Industrial Komo CNC Router and are very accurate. All the difficult edge-boring for the cross nuts have been done for you. All the metal parts have been cut to length and all of the holes have been drilled. I even black-oxide coated the steel parts for a COOL look so it's just assembly that's needed. The kit arrives in a nicely packed cardboard box. As I said, I have only made TWENTY of these kits and I am selling them at my production cost. I am doing this because I wish someone else would have done this when I first got into CNC as a hobby. The kit is $500 plus $60 shipping and handling to the lower 48 states. (That's what it costs for the parts without me assembling it for you so it's a DEAL AND A HALF! Merry Christmas!) There are no returns, but I will replace any defective parts. I will try and help you if you have any problems or questions, but most of the information on this machine is on the Instructables website and it is sold under that understanding. I accept Paypal to or you can email me at the same email address if you have a money order to send me and I will give you my details. This kit does not include the electronics. (That means stepper motors, driver boards or power supplies) I would recommend Probotix or Xylotex to drive them. You can find them on Google. They have turn-key solutions at a good price. I supply everything else, including my phone number and adddress so you feel safe when you purchase from me. Please Note!!! CNC machines can be dangerous so you buy at Your own risk. We do NOT accept responsiblity for any injuries or damage related to the use or construction of the kit. Check my 5 Star Ebay feedback rating. My user name is pcampbell2767, as a reference to the fact that I deliver what you pay for! GOOD LUCK AND ENJOY!
woopy5 years ago
[[Video(, {width:425, height:350})]][[Video(, {width:425, height:350})]]
Doveman5 years ago
Um im not for sure what a CNC dose but i think i do... but i thought it cut out things in metal, because i have a friend whose dad happens to be a machinist. I got to see his huge CNC.
some CNCs cut metal, some cut wood, some cut all u feed em with :-P depends on the device. (metal cutting CNCs do cost more money..)
Couldn't you use any CNC to cut metal, by simply running the milling bit faster, and moving the stage/workpiece slower?
it depends on the torque that your milling bit has. If you are using a dremel type tool to do the milling, it would burn out the motor.
rahmansaid5 years ago
I need to work on small cylindrical stuff. Can this system be modified to do that?
The only way to do cylindrical work on a 3 axis cnc is difficult, at best. What kind of work do you want to do in the interior of your cylinders? For the O.D., I would use a lathe...?
I plan to do carving on wood handles, no interiors. Can u pls point me to where I can get help? Thanks so much.
It will take some creative modification of the design but it can be done. Your 3 axis will be slightly different than in this design. Yours would have to be lengthwise along the handle, height/depth and lastly the rotation of the handle. So your modified design would look something like a lath but would not work like one if you can picture what I mean. There won't be much in the way of changes to the contoller system, just the way the drives are hooked up to your system.
Yeah, the right tool for that job is a wood lathe. They can be very inexpensive, look for sales at hardware stores and for used ones for sale in classified ads.
That could be done on a 3 axis, but your carvings would be straight down into the handle, rather than following the exterior contour of the handle.
I am curious, is this an original design? I am considering proposing a few changes and I want to make sure I talk it over with the right person.
Torito5 years ago
Well, I have made this far. Still need to cut some pieces but I am going to change the rail system. ¿Is there any specification about the belt? I mean that I don't know the strength it needs to support. I have been searching over the web and found that the only parameter you can choose is the width and not thickness for example. What is the recommended width of the belt for this particular machine? Remember that the belt helps the machine stay on the rail. anyway you can solve that somehow but I like this design. :-)
Though building a cnc machine under $600 seems to be almost impossible I'd say that I'm very impressed how smart people can do it possible. Thanks you for so grate Instructable information.
I'm agree with you about this interesting site and I wonder how cheap could be automating an old sewing machine for embroidering work? Could that be possible?

[ Industrial Machines]
Torito5 years ago
Sorry for no positive comments before. EXCELENT work. I'm starting out by compiling files. I have been reading a lot and found out that this is my hardware option.
galaxyman75 years ago
I heard from some other people that a usb to parallel port cable will not work for controlling a cnc machine. Do you know if this is true? If it is, does this mean I have to get a PCMCIA card for my laptop so it can work? By the way, I am planning to use Mach 3. Thanks.
jaypp6 years ago
great this is just what im looking for. is this "Three axis" CNC machine capable of making 3d prototypes? or is it just a 2d cutting machine? thanks
oomlout (author)  jaypp6 years ago
The machine is capable of cutting three dimensional jobs. However the cost and complexity of the software involved with creating the files to cut them is prohibitive for me so I have only experimented with 2 dimensional cutting Regards Stuart
Dodgy oomlout5 years ago
aren't there freeware 3D programs available??
Dodgy5 years ago
Have you read up on Tom McWire's design? What do you think of it? How does it compare/contrast with yours? Did you know of Tom's when you started/finished making yours? Is it easier to copy someone elses design or make you own from scratch?
vuego6 years ago
Looks good! Does anyone have made inch --> mm conversion? Any PDF? Where I can find similar timing belts and pulleys in Europe (webshop)? McMaster doesn't ship to Finland.. :(
Dodgy vuego5 years ago
vuego: I made a program that lets you type in a value in mm or thou, and it converts to the other. If you enter 1000th it gives 25.4mm and vice versa. Does this help ?
oomlout (author)  vuego6 years ago
The design was actually made using both inch's and mm so if you measure some of the pieces you get rather random sizes however if you print out the pattern and cut the pieces out it should work fine. In terms of drilling holes bolts and pulleys in almost all cases the nearest metric equivalent should work (it might take some experimenting though). Sorry I'm afraid I don't know of any European industrial suppliers.
galaxyman75 years ago
I'm almost done making this milling machine. I have all the parts cut out and drilled, and I would like to know which parts have to be exact for the milling machine to be exact. I'm making it by hand, so I'm not talking about .001 tolerance. However, I would like to create semi-perfect gears with this, and not have them be elliptical. I might have to redo some parts, but thats ok. Thank you.
oomlout (author)  galaxyman75 years ago
Hey galaxyman; If you pay special attention to ensuring the rails on all three axises are parallel, and that any hole which connects one piece to another (ie. where the bolt goes through not where the hole hut lives), and finally any hole which has a bearing connected to it. You should be laughing. I hope your build continues well, would love to see the finished result. regards Stuart
Dodgy oomlout5 years ago
Stuart: OT: I started making a large wooden pantograph over a year ago. It will be using big, 42mm OD ball bearing races at the 5 pivot points. I would like to be able to draw something with the stylus, and get the other end (milling bit?) to reproduce c. 100 times smaller. How does this sound?
galaxyman75 years ago
Hi again. Can I use McWire's cnc controller for this board, or does it work with a different type of motor? Many thanks. :)
oomlout (author)  galaxyman75 years ago
Hey galaxyman; You can use McWire's controller for this however his board offers only half stepping where the hobbyCNC board allows for dividing each step into 16ths. Due to using belts rather than leadscrews, the precision available using half stepping is closer to a hundredth of an inch rather than thousandths. But for most purposes that should be just fine. (it's also possible to easily upgrade in the future). Regards Stuart
Dodgy oomlout5 years ago
So are you saying that leadscrews are always better than timing belts ? (if I need more resolution) I'd like to make a CNC machine based on Tom's, as I think the leadscrew method is easier. Thanks.
kingsuv5 years ago
Can this be modified to cut a larger footprint?
galaxyman75 years ago
By the way, Gorilla glue works great for gluing in the rods. Just make sure you don't put too much, because the glue expands and gets on everything. I used gorilla glue to glue a deck to its foundation, so it's pretty strong. :)
bidouille725 years ago
Hey guys, Nobody interested to help me ? How to fix the X-axis rail (step 9 in the instruction manual) especially the one that is down? How to held it ?
oomlout (author)  bidouille725 years ago
Hey bidouille; Galaxyman is right the x-axis rails are held in place by the x-axis cart squeezing them together. Once together this isn't a problem however it makes for some challenges in assembling. What I did was electrical tape the bottom one in place and once the cart was installed removed the tape. Regards Stuart
I think both of the rails are held in just by being wedged between the two sides. I have built the base and put in the rails, and they fit very tight. As for the bottom x-axis rail, I think it is held in by the x-axis cart. It goes around it and holds it from both sides.
galaxyman75 years ago
Btw I'm almost done with this project! I will send pics after its up and running. I just finished building the y-axis cart, and I put a level on and it was perfect! It's a good thing, because I had to make many of the holes a bit bigger because of many errors on my part. My machine is pretty ghetto so far. I hope the x-axis cart goes well too.
What a cool idea! Being a newbie to instructables, I gather this place is full of great ideas! (Thinking aloud on a - I wonder how much more would be involved in adding the A and B axes to make a full 5 axis CNC...hmmm After 10 years of running / programming 3 and 5 axis CNCs, I had never thought to build one.
what do you mean, 5 axis. is that diagonal, and surely that is just a combination of x, y and z axis all together.
You have the standard 3 - X,Y and Z, plus A and B. "A" axis is the angle and "B" is the rotation of the tool (router, drill, etc) enabling things like cutting a 45' groove @ .0030" (ex) around inside and outside corners, I.D. and O.D. treads, etc.
mweston5 years ago
This could be really handy for making 3D logos and things like that Great idea!
collard415 years ago
wow you can work fast!
bidouille725 years ago
Hello guys, First of all great jobs, and very good explainations. I plane to do this CNC soon. Just one question (for the time beeing ...) how to hold the Yaxis rail( fig2),x axis rail ( fig 9) and last but not least x axis rail. Are they glued or just hold in partly cut MFD ? Regards
wizardrule5 years ago
Stuart do you have a dxf file you can provide?
Duh seen it Man iam blind anymore
alamda5 years ago
great project i am new in instructables & i had been thinking to macke cnc machine but couldn't get steeper motor and its controller
dj.ali5 years ago
I had been thinking of making a CNC machine but couldn't get which software to use and how to use it.. i have mach 3 as well as CNC linux emc2.. can any one help me how to use that software
oomlout (author)  dj.ali5 years ago
Hey dj I'm afraid I am far from a cnc software expert, but if you head over to they have forums with answers to all sorts of questions, and a really knowledgeable;e community to help with any you may have. regards Stuart.
jamwaffles5 years ago
i am planning on building a cnc machine similar in size to yours. as i live in the uk, i could only source, among others, 50oz holding torque steppers. would this be able to haul a gantry made out of 10mm mdf and all the other stuff?

great build, by the way and if you're looking for a controller check out

i have built it and it works well combined with linuxcnc and i can even do microstepping
oomlout (author)  jamwaffles5 years ago
Hey; I'm afraid I'm not the best advice when it comes to motor sizing questions, the only thing I would say is mine are 80 oz/in and if anything I would recommend more power. However much larger motors are available in the same footprint so if you build it and decide you'd prefer faster movement you can easily upgrade. Regards Stuart
80 in/oz should be fine for this size machine. If you already have 50's, give them a shot. I got mine from HobbyCNC, but their smallest ones are larger. fyi: I use their controller (an old version, not sold any more) and have been happy with it. Their kits for controllers are pretty easy to build and use.
s3r4ph5 years ago
For anyone interested, I have found a simple way to increase the rigidity of the Y axis crossbeam. Increase the length of your bottom crossbeam rail to 29 inches (from 26). Then you will need to drill 0.5 inch holes in the four cart pieces (Left Cart Inside, Left Cart Outside, Right Cart Inside and Right Cart Outside). These holes need to be 4.75 inches from the top-most of the cart pieces and 2.5 inches from the back (long, vertical) side. The longer bottom rail should slide right into these holes and provide some more rigidity. I have also considered doing the same thing with the top rail, using 0.75 inch MDF and drilling a slot for the rail, but it is not necessary at the moment. I don't have any kind of useful drawing software on this PC, so I have tried to describe this as best as possible. If you have any questions, please ask.
CADapult5 years ago
A possibility for sticking the patterns down would be a spray adhesive. 3M makes one that can be applied to either make the attachment semi-permanent, or easily removable. I've picked it up at Walmart.
oomlout (author)  CADapult5 years ago
Spray adhesive is a great idea the applying the pattern with a glue stick can be a tad laborious. Regards Stuart
Padlock oomlout5 years ago
some spray adhesives dissolve certain types of foam... I learned that the hard way.
garyc6 years ago
I had staples print out the 1/2 sheet drawings for me,cost a whopping 6 bucks for the pair.I went ahead and measured the drawings out and redrew them with autocad.Worked well for me as the dimensions are whole parts of an inch.I'm about 75% complete and am looking forward to seeing it run.Great plan! Thanks alot Garyc
oomlout (author)  garyc5 years ago
Hey; oh that is exciting I look forward to seeing pictures of your completed machine. Regards Stuart
ryno855 years ago
I think I've found an error in the assembly instructions. In the section where you are building the rails, it shows 24 8mm x 55mm bolts, but the parts list only shows 6 of these bolts. I think it should say 40mm. I haven't started building yet, but based on my Sketchup model, 55mm would be way too long. I'm planning on building my router based on these plans. I'd like the work area to be larger, and also to use the threaded rod on all 3 axes. Any tips for me?
oomlout (author)  ryno855 years ago
Hey; I must admit that is some eagle eyed browsing. You're very right it should read 40mm and if it did it would match the parts list. I'm afraid I'm away from the source files at the moment but I will make a note to fix that the next time I update. Regards Stuart
ivanirons5 years ago
Every time I come back here there is more info and more to look at!

Thanks for the resource,
CNC Router
maxpower495 years ago
the software and motors is on the third step
maxzchea5 years ago
Bro, nice job. i wanted to know weather this machine can print 3d object? Please advice me more~!
btop maxzchea5 years ago
Can do, as long as you have the right software.
maxzchea5 years ago
Bro~!!!!!!!!! all i have done, and its only left the thing i need. Look at the picture below. i have no idea where to find the device i have circled with red. Please anyone knows where to find it, please tell me. message me here or Please thank you
btop maxzchea5 years ago
That is a Dremel i think. Basically is is just a drill that is shaped differently. You should be able to fin one in your nearest DIY shop. -Billy
Evote6 years ago
Thats a great design congrats:P but too expensive for me. I'll build one in bout 4 months i working on a project at moment but yer i'll try for under $100. Probs epic fail LOL.
So, do I NEED the drill press and band saw? Or can I just use a regular drill and maybe a circular saw?
emac6 years ago
Great design you payed good attention to detail
oomlout (author)  emac6 years ago
Thank you, I hope you enjoyed.
emac oomlout6 years ago
very much
mtverbal6 years ago
I am trying to source a shop that will cut the mdf for me. Any recommendations on how I might find one? I'm in the Los Angeles area.
oomlout (author)  mtverbal6 years ago
it can be hard to find a company that will do only one small job forsomeone however take a look at the TechShop ( I think they have a Los Angeles location and might be able to do it.
I have been looking to build a CNC machine of my own and I have been doing alot of research before attempting to build one. I was thinking of building the Y-axis as a movable table instead of using a timing belt. Would you agree or have you had better luck with the timing belt? Also could you post or email me some close up pics of the y-axis timing belt installation. Thanks
oomlout (author)  brentparker796 years ago
A lot of people go with the moving table option, I decided against it mostly because it required a larger footprint for the same size cutting area, and requires more unique pieces to be cut. (I posted a simple drawing of how the belt runs in response to a comment by maicon)
Thank you if you can send me some images with instructions about timing belt, my e-mail address is
maicon6 years ago
Nice to meet you, my name is Maicon, I'm from Brazil, I would like to receive something about the places that I need to pass the timing belt, because I didn't understand during the adobe reader, If you can send me images with the interior of left cart and right cart and the places that I can put the timing belt, thank you and sucess.
oomlout (author)  maicon6 years ago
here is a quick drawing hope it helps
cmjm6 years ago
oomlout (author)  cmjm6 years ago
there should be no problems with this (I have actually made a version with a 60" Y axis which worked quite well). you just need to extend the base and Y axis runners.
wolf.alex96 years ago
do you think you could creat .stp files of the parts?
oomlout (author)  wolf.alex96 years ago
sorry I'm afraid my suite of CAD/CAM software is rather limited however if you have a program which can read .stp files you can probably import the .dxf version of the parts.
ivanirons6 years ago
How long did it take to complete the entire build start to finish?

CNC Video Tutorials
oomlout (author)  ivanirons6 years ago
The design took quite along time and several iterations. However once that was finished building the last model took about two days. -one day to cut and drill the MDF pieces. -the second day to assemble solder test etc.
russelljwr6 years ago
I was checking out your cnc board and stepper motor. I was wondering if you used a transformer? On they say you need a transformer to operate it. Did you use one?? If so what did you use. Thanks Jesse
oomlout (author)  russelljwr6 years ago
I actually used an old computer power supply (the 12 volt output) however if you want to get the full performance or use larger motors you will need to buy/find either a transformer (bridge rectifier and capacitors) or power supply which outputs 24VDC
kardinal76 years ago
Greetings Stuart I've been studing your project for over a month ago. And i must say as others that this is a great instructable. My idea with this project is to route PCB's. On this matter the routes can go to 10 - 20 mils width . Is it possible to make this kind of route? Has anyone try it for this end? Thanks,
oomlout (author)  kardinal76 years ago
it could probably do PCB's but if you plan on doing mostly detail work perhaps looking at Angry Monks's conversion to threaded rod (in the comments) might be a good idea.
oomlout (author)  kardinal76 years ago
Hey: I must admit I haven't tried this myself. On first thought though I think this goal may be a little ambitious however if you were to replace the dremel with a more precise cutting tool, and adjust the machine and software properly, I don't see why you wouldn't be able to achieve a degree of precision near what you are looking for (looking forward to seeing how it goes) Regards Stuart
I thought on a change of the MDF parts to Iron, regarding more rigid material. Do you think that does the trick? Other thing I've remember was on a shaft with more rotations. What do you think?
oomlout (author)  kardinal76 years ago

Oh my, well switching the mdf to sheet steel would certainly increase the rigidity and I would love to see the finished result, however if you're looking into being that ambitious I would recommend consulting people more knowledgeable than myself (they can recommend all sorts of ways to increase resolution rigidity and the like). I fear the best I can do is point you in the direction of the experts in the DIY CNC forum on .

Sorry to delegate the answering but I'm sure there are others who would provide more reliable answers.

Best of luck
Thanks Stuart for the indication, When I have the machine ready I'll post photos. I just have one more question, i assume you've used the steppers 130oz-in 2.6V 2.1A, with the other versions is it possible to get a more accurate stepper?
oomlout (author)  kardinal76 years ago
Hey: no worries I'm sorry I couldn't help more. Actually the steppers I have on my machine are 80 oz-in holding torque. I fear most standard stepper motors I've found are 200 steps per rotation (I assume yours are too) but using a micro stepping driver this can be upped to 1600 steps per rotation. On this machine to increase resolution the best option would be to use a smaller diameter timing belt pulley but I fear the one I used is the smallest I could find with a 1/4" bore hole. (however if you convert the drive from timing belt to lead-screw you could up the resolution but at the expense of cost and speed) Hope that was helpful Stuart
Hello again :p .
After a small google search, i've saw a good proposal for the motors and drives take a look.
Also enable micro-stepping. :D
But i don't know if this helps me on the resolution.
For a higher resolution, have you thought about geared ratio with belt drive to the stepper motor and axis.
keep the reply chain going!!!!!
garyc6 years ago
Very impressive machine,I am impressed with the time and thought that you have put into it.Would there happen to be a dimensioned drawing?For an old machinist like me,it is more comfortable to work with dimentions rather than cut on the line patterns.Thanks a lot for all your effort,Garyc
oomlout (author)  garyc6 years ago
sorry I'm afraid I don't have the skill set to make a dimensioned drawing. However if you print out the full size plan you can measure dimensions directly from that.
k5dkh6 years ago
Stuart, How would I download the DXF file? Great build.
oomlout (author)  k5dkh6 years ago
It's in step four named: DXF-05-MDF-SimpleDXF.dxf
Howling mad6 years ago
-a 48" x 48" piece of 1/2" thick MDF (any 1/2" sheet stock can be used I have plans to make my next version out of UHMW but cost was prohibitive this time around) Stuart, Try Baltic Birch plywood. Definitely not as expensive as UHMW but much sturdier than MDF. Baltic Birch is a specialty ply for woodworkers, and has 12-15 plys with no voids, which is definitely NOT what you find at Home Depot. I found mine in the local yellow pages under plywood of all things. You will have to call 3 or 4 places, and see what they offer. a 48"x48"x1/2" sheet costs around $60 US. You could get away with just using the birch ply for the vertical components just make sure you reinforce the connection to the MDF base. Some additional thoughts: Industrial Supply (store) just as the name implies, bearings, etc. If you are not in the middle of suburbia you will find one under some such name. Steel Bar - I have a local place called Metals Warehouse, also as the name implies, which is a mom/pop shop for metals. I needed to buy some tool steel to make blades for a hand planer and wonder of wonders on the shelf and ready for my greedy little hands. Bigger base table: Think broken Hewlett Packard plotter! Marvelous chassis for long chrome plated rods for table. Really enjoyed reading your instructions. PS> For the jerks selling your instructions, I believe you can sue them based on GPL licensing! Kick them where it hurts!
oomlout (author)  Howling mad6 years ago
Hey; Thanks for the suggestions. I may have to try them out/include them in a future update. Glad you enjoyed.
John Smith6 years ago
Hey, awesome project, and EXCELLENT drawings! You said you made them in CorelDraw? Is it easy to do it there? I don't have the program, but I'm considering it.
oomlout (author)  John Smith6 years ago
I did use CorelDraw but that is only because it is a program I'm familiar with if you're looking for a rather nice OpenSource product with similar functionality try Inkscape.
babs036 years ago
hi friends how they cnc plasma start cutting and stop. is there any separate device connected with cnc & plasma
oomlout (author)  babs036 years ago
Sorry I'm afraid I don't have any experience using plasma cutters.
ivanirons6 years ago
Great Instructable! I love the documentation. You have every base covered. I have made a couple of machines myself. You went the next step and recorded it all.
I also instruct others. I have made a number of tutorials on various CNC Projects. I like to walk people through each step during the CNC Process. I get great feedback from people just entering our cool CNC Hobby.

Here are the videos:

Then click on the link on the left.

Thanks for your contribution,
Ivan Irons
oomlout (author)  ivanirons6 years ago
Lovely site I'm sure it will help loads of people enter the hobby.
kwhizr6 years ago
Hey I'm sure a lot of you already know this, but for those that don't - if you live near a Kinko's or printing place, you can get large scale drawings printed for pretty cheap. Just take your PDF in on a memory card or disk. I have scaled maps printed this way. Congrats! by the way, awesome Instructables.
oomlout (author)  kwhizr6 years ago
That's a good idea; the gluing together sheet after sheet can get pretty boring.
cruisorusa6 years ago
This is a very nice design. In fact I'm going to build it when I complete the other CNC router I'm building. I appreciate a good project!!
oomlout (author)  cruisorusa6 years ago
:) thanks CNC router projects do have a tendency to take longer than one initialy plans. Good luck with both your current and planned build.
canuckis6 years ago
What kind of a cut out tool did you use? Was it an actual cut out tool, dremel, or router?
oomlout (author)  canuckis6 years ago
To cut out my pieces (step 7 cheating) I use a three axis Routermaster CNC machine (something like 5 hp). The cutout tool I mounted on the finished machine was a cheap dremel clone (by Power Fist).
mem22226 years ago
thanks dear
AngelT6 years ago
How about using a CNC Router to cut all the pieces? I took the drawings in Corel Draw format to a shop with an industrial CNC Router and they cut the pieces for a nominal fee. Had to correct a few hole alignments but it came out just perfect...
rcflydream6 years ago
Smooth at Silk
russelljwr6 years ago
Awesome design. You out great though into this cnc. I am having trouble with your dxf. I have autocad, and solidwork. Neither of them seem to be able to open your dxf correctly. Do you have the dxf that you can email me? Thanks Jesse
Jacub2d6 years ago
Can't wait to get started on this project :)
budsiskos6 years ago
instead of building the axis rig, you could go on ebay and by an old crane/claw game for $100 or less and then remove the claww and replace it with the router. from there you could either add the remaining controlling components or hand control it
I dunno -- no matter how or where I print it out, the 8x10 printout doesn't match with the real-world ruler. At 4 inches, it ends up about 1/8" off. I've used two different printers, and even opened up the PDF with both adobe's PDF reader and the FoxIt PDF reader. Same results. Each time, I set the print size to 100% (or "actual size" on FoxIt), and it's always the same thing.
oomlout (author)  jovial_cynic6 years ago
Hey Jovial; This was a mistake I made (I accidentally drew a 4" ruler which was only 3.8" long) I have re-uploaded the PDF with this problem fixed. If you download the new PDF file (CNC-05-MDF-CutPattern(Rev2).pdf) and print it out the rulers should agree. (sorry for the confusion and if the problem persists please just shoot another comment and I'll see what I can do). Stuart
Do you need to redo this file as well? CNC-0.75MDF-CutLayout-(8x10).pdf
oomlout (author)  jovial_cynic6 years ago
nope the other files are unchanged Stuart
... well, the aforementioned file is also off. Is it important? I'm pretty close to the gluing/cutting process and I'd just as soon have everything sized up right before I start...
oomlout (author)  jovial_cynic6 years ago
good point, I realise it's late in the day but I'm still going to blame this one on having not had enough coffee. I copy and pasted the same dodgy ruler from the first file into the other two as well. I have fixed it in all the files now. Good luck on the process and I'd love to hear how it goes. Stuart
sanzya oomlout6 years ago
what's the page size to print the layers, I have a lot of troubles to print in the real size...
chrislebeck6 years ago
i've been struggling for several days now trying to get my 35 sheets to line up and to measure out right but just couldn't. my local kinko's here (east texas) can only print out 36" wide at a time. so what i've done is to make 2 pdf files (a left & a right) out of the 48" X 48" sheet. each is like 26" wide and 48" long which should be able to be printed out at any kinko's (there is a little extra on each page to overlap). i got 2 copies of each for $20. again be sure to NOT re-size them when printing! hope it helps!
oomlout (author)  chrislebeck6 years ago
Hey: The 35 sheet glueathon is really one of the most difficult components of this project, thanks for the contributing your 36" split file, I'm sure others will find it useful. But I have to second you on the not resizing whilst printing the acrobat print options are a minefield for that. Regards Stuart
ataheri6 years ago
Hi Just want to know if you got the shaft couplers from hobeyCNC or Mcmaster. since in your pdf file says from hobeycnc
oomlout (author)  ataheri6 years ago
Hey I got my shaft couplers from hobbyCNC however any 1/4" to 1/4" shaft coupler will work equally well (if memory serves me right the McMaster Carr ones are slightly cheaper however it was a bundling the delivery charge choice for me). Regards Stuart
Islam Safir6 years ago
excellent instructable i wanted to build a cnc from over a year now and after seeing your instructable i started doing it i had some problems but overcame them specially converting to metric but i still has problem figuring out some parts i don't know what a cross nut is so please can you show me a close picture of it i couldn't find it on and also i don't understand how the belt attached to the machine if you could explain it in details i would be greatful to you thanks for your effort and generousity
Hi, I'm Guessing, But you may well be in europe (metric). I sourced the cross dowels from item no. 84353 £3.53 for x100. They do the trick, but be aware they are about 2mm longer than required. But other than that the rest of the sizing is as. rgrds
oomlout (author)  Islam Safir6 years ago
I'm afraid I don't have a better picture however I can offer that it is also at times called a "cross dowel nut". They are the cylindrical metal bits with a hole through them that come with IKEA furniture. Also if you download the PDF parts list it includes a part # for the dowel nuts at McMaster Carr. Hope you're build is going well Regards Stuart
mochouinard6 years ago
Can you build the pieces to do this CNC with the same CNC ? I guess there is some hole that can't be done (the one in the length of the MDF) ...
oomlout (author)  mochouinard6 years ago
It would be great if it could, and in designing it at one point I had plans to do it so self replication was possible however it prooved to complicate the project more than it offered in advantages. However a large number of the parts would be able to be produced by the completed machine. Regards Stuart
FUNKMONKEY6 years ago
this is a great feature, do you have any 3D models of the parts to be cut out? I know a guy that could cut them out form me so I can build my own CNC machine. cheers
oomlout (author)  FUNKMONKEY6 years ago
Sorry I'm afraid I don't the machine I used to cut my pieces was rather old so the files I have for cutting it out are rather useless to anyone else. I also cut it in a 2.5 dimension style (2d cuts at different heights) However if you have a friend who can cut it out they should also be able to create a tool-path that would work on their machine from the included Corel draw version of the layout. Regards Stuart
clint_so6 years ago
I am also slightly confused as how the y axis rail is held in place. When I look at the assembly drawings it shows the y axis rail above the machine with some dotted lines headed down to the .125" deep groves on the base. One other thing, a simple request. If you built the parts+finished machine for the assembly instructions, in autocad with the 3d modeler, are you able to post that file. Because I also have autocad (2007) it would make constructing this even easier (your assembly instructions are simply amazing) to plan out because I could double check every step . If that file is too large to post, is it possible to email it to me? I can PM you my email address.
oomlout (author)  clint_so6 years ago
The Y-axis rail is held in place by the way the y-axis cart squeezes the beam (if the y-cart was not there the bottom rail would simply drop off) I have a 3-D DXF version of the machine however this is not a proper model (ie. I took several shortcuts as I was producing it for visual not manufacturing ends) I could e-mail it to you (it is rather large) if you are still interested but taking measurements off of it is not a good idea (my cad skills are rudimentary at best) I have plans to roll out a collaborative super information intense version of this instructable (ie all my files related to it and greater in depth writeups, perhaps explaining reasons for certain design choices and the like and opening it up for others who have made this machine to help out with). But I have always had more ideas than time so we'll see if that happens. Regards Stuart
... and if you think cutting them out is fun, getting the paper off is even better. :D For anyone interested, I have attached an altered Z Cart Holder in CorelDraw format that fits a Ryobi Laminate Trimmer to Stuart's CNC machine. With a body 2.40" in diameter, the laminate trimmer is much larger than a Dremel. It has a 1/4" collet and spins at 25,000 rpm, and will require switching to 1/4" x 3" screws to mount. It weighs about a pound more than a Dremel, which shouldn't present a problem. I went with larger motors (305oz) to offset the increased weight and to help this little terror do its business. I will comment on any consequences (positive or otherwise) of my unendorsed alterations. :)
G:\CNC Machine Info\Z-Cart Holder.jpg
oomlout (author)  born.makestuff.die6 years ago
Thanks for the addition I must admit I have found the Dremel cutting tool as lacking in cutting power, also something capable of taking a 1/4" bit would greatly reduce the number of snapped bits I produce. I have grand plans of rolling in all the discovered errors in the future and would love to include this modification in that revision, if you are ok with that. (no worries on making a speedy decision have great plans but no time so itt will not be happening in the near future) Would love to see some pictures of your completed machine Regards Stuart
ferasmetib6 years ago
hello what about the software that expected to be at the PC to control the motors to do the image? is there a free software or what. why no one is talking about it thanks
oomlout (author)  ferasmetib6 years ago
The software I use does cost a little but is quite friendly, if you are willing to commit a dedicated computer to this machine there is a Linux based control program (EMC Enhanced Machine Control (I think)). However this is definatly not my area of expertise there is a wealth of knowledge and experience as to the software available to run a machine like this on the discussion boards over at Regards Aaron
Dogboyman6 years ago
Stuart, Thanks for all the time you put into this. Has anyone tried to scale this bad boy up a little? I like that it doesn't take up the whole garage, but my purposes might occasionally require a little bit more working area especially on the X and Y axis. Any thoughts?
oomlout (author)  Dogboyman6 years ago
I don't see any huge issues with scaling up this design, there would be a degradation in the rigidity of the machine, but the nature of your application would determine whether this was a deal breaker or not. There has been some talk of others wanting to scale it up but I have yet to hear of successes or failures in their efforts Regards Stuart
lathes6 years ago
great project

cnc machine
oomlout (author)  lathes6 years ago
Thanks, perhaps when I find me self a spare several grand I may need to take a look at some of the machines on your book. Off to come up with an idea which warrants the purchasing of a 5 axis CNC Knee mill, drools :), (or for that matter if there are any machines without a price but looking for a good home do keep me in mind). Regards Stuart
chrislebeck6 years ago
on the parts list it doesn't specify the size of the belt clamps. anyone have a size? or does it really matter? that is the only part i have left to buy before building. also will me using steel square tubing affect anything over the aluminum in the parts list? my home depot & lowes only had the steel in stock. thanks! & thanks stuart for a great little project!
oomlout (author)  chrislebeck6 years ago
I used 1/8" belt clips, but any size capable of squeezing the timing belt would work (sorry for omitting this from the parts list) Regards Stuart
chrislebeck6 years ago
also curious as to what kinds of bits people are using in their dremel tools or whatever. this is all new to me so i'm just trying to get a feel for what to use when. thanks
oomlout (author)  chrislebeck6 years ago
Personally I'm using a standard 1/8" double flute (I think thats the right term) with no twist. However the only reason I am using this is it seems to be the easiest to find 1/8" router bit. I would love to hear what others (perhaps with more machining experience than me) are or would recommend using. Regards Stuart
workingman6 years ago
I would like a cnc were the table is 48" x 48" do you think I would have a problem if I modified the table size to you design?
oomlout (author)  workingman6 years ago
I can't see any immediate problems with extending to this size, however their would be a degradation in the rigidity of the machine. This would only cause problems if you intend to use it for particularly detailed (or precise) work. In terms of the logistics behind stretching the plan it is as simple as increasing the size of the base and the beam and buying more timing belt. Hope that was helpful and do keep me posted if you proceed with building. Regards Stuart
Can anybody tell me if using 1/2" round aluminum versus 1/2" round steel is going to be a problem? The local Home Depot had only one piece of 1/2" round steel stock, which did me no good ... but they did have four pieces of 1/2" round in aluminum, so I picked them up hoping it wouldn't be a problem. They are used as guides, and as such I can't see enough torque being placed on them to bend them. However, if I am mistaken I would like to know early in the game so I can return them and go hunting. Thanks!
Aluminum is a bad idea. The skate bearings are made of steel (iirc) and steel is much harder than aluminum, so the bearings will chew up the rails. The rule of thumb is that you want the bearing to be softer than the material it rides on. Bearings are much easier to replace than rails.
Excellent point. I have already completed the machine and have been using it, so at this point if the aluminum rails do start showing wear I will replace them with steel. Fortunately, on this machine switching rails out could be done in a few hours time. The Y axis rails literally just slip in, but the X axis rail would be more involved. And of course I would lose all my calibrations :(
Nevermind, I can see no problem with using the aluminum 1/2" round stock. They provide guidance for the skate bearings and don't bear enough weight to bend them. Stuart: I have noticed a few things that you may or may not wish to address in any future revisions for this machine: 1. When the ruler (oh that nasty ruler) was copied from the 1/2" MDF plans to the other plans, a 1/4" hole was accidently included. This makes it appear that an additional 1/4" hole is drilled on the Y-Bearing Block Side (A) on CNC-075-Aluminum-CutPattern(Rev3).pdf. The extra hole is also included on the 3/4" MDF plans, but has no effect. 2. On CNC-075-Aluminum-CutPattern(Rev3).pdf the Z-Bearing Blocks are labeled as being "Short" which would indicate that there is a "Long" one. However, it looks as though both the Z-Bearing Blocks are the same length. 3. On CNC-Part-Summary.pdf it seems that you revised from using 30 each 8mm x 55mm for steps 3, 13 and 23 (as shown in CNC-Assembly-Instructions.pdf) to using the following (as shown in CNC-Part-Summary.pdf): 24 each 8mm x 40mm for step 3 2 each 8mm x 60mm for step 13 4 each 8mm x 60mm for step 23 Once again, thank you for the effort in putting this together for us! My own CNC machine will be going together later this week when my goodies from McMaster Carr arrive. I certainly do not wish to be nit-picking, but merely to help catch the things that fall through the cracks. Like Foaming said, discard what you feel is not worth being concerned with.
oomlout (author)  born.makestuff.die6 years ago
Hey Thanks for the help with the errata (again this seems to sound sarcastic but I really do appreciate it) I'll be addressing these issues in my update (not sure when but it's coming. Wishing you have fun and success in your build Regards Stuart
edoggy6 years ago
Hi, very good work. I am also wondering how any of the axis square tubings holds to the chassis. What keeps the moving parts from lifting off the rails? (mostly the "Y" axis) How is the "X" axis bottom rail fixed to the chassis? Should it be installed before the cart sides? I'm sorry to have so much questions at once but am pretty interested in building your project. I might also draw it all on Autodesk Inventor before. Keep up the good work: you have talent.
btop edoggy6 years ago
The belt that goes over the motor pulleys holds the gantry onto the rails.
HOLY SMOKES this is great! I had to join after months of leeching just to leave a comment of what a nice job you did on this. My brother and I are going to build a pair of them side by side and will also note any corrections that we feel may need addressing. In such complicated drawings some stuff always gets by, that's for sure. Really nice job Stuart, and thanks for sharing this!
Foaming6 years ago
Stuart, Update since July 7. This has been a great project so please use what you can to make it repeatable and throw away anything considered to be nit picking. Step 3 Required Parts I will be using easy to find 5/16 hardware for the Bearings in place of 8mm. I may need to look for flat washers because the ones I am using a dragging on the bearings. Step 4 Printing pattern I printed out the PDF on a plotter. Step 5 Glue To glue I used Elmers Rubber Cement located in the school supply section. Allows you to peel the paper off with out sticking, comes in a 4 oz bottle with a brush. Step 6 Cut out pieces I used a scroll saw to cut the pieces and realize that other tools may be used which would affect the drawing. Some line issues. If all the pieces with edges that do not contact another piece were side by side it would have saved a lot of cutting. For example: If the hypotenuse for the belt holder braces shared the same line then it would have been 1 cut not 2 and not make a difference to the project outcome. I cut the center line on the motor spacer before realizing that you probably used that to center things. These lines were used in several other places Some pattern, (Xs) on the internal cutouts making it obvious that that material needs to be removed.. For example X cart cap, X cart End Right. Step 8 Hole drilling After drilling the holes I lined up similar pieces and redrilled the holes for consistency. Holes are missing from the drawing. Base 5/16, holes for belt brace holder, there were others but I do not have them on my list. I drilled them the same as the holes for Belt Holder but may need to switch from the .25 x 2 bolt specified in the directions to something shorter. (My bolts are not fully threaded and have a shank) A better description of the hole with a lip on the X Cart Cap is needed. Once the area was routed out I used a bearing around the inside to draw the hole, (AKA Spirograph), then cut out the area. This provided a large enough hole while leaving large enough lip to support the bearing. Step 9 Assembly Right now I am trial fitting and assembling. Questions? 1. On the base I may continue the slot all the across the board and drill a hold in the belt holder to hold down the rail. Is there a reason you did not run the slot from side to side? 2. Is the primary reason the 4 imperial bearings are used in place of the 8mm skate wheel bearings due to the .25 inner holes?
oomlout (author)  Foaming6 years ago
Hey. I really appreciate the summary of the errors (oh that sounds kinda sarcastic but I really am) I'm afraid I'm away from a reliable internet connection for a bit but once I get settled again I will begin rolling in these improvments. Thanks and everyone please keep them coming Regards Stuart
thatkidej6 years ago
NICE WORK! Jeez, now I want a CNC :(
What bits do you use? Thanks! I am almost done cutting my pieces out and I already completed the circuit board/power supply set up.
zoominbc6 years ago
Hi, nice work. I am wondering how the Y axis is attached, does it just ride on the rails? Also it's not clear to me how the machine is aligned or adjusted.
albanetcsr6 years ago
Awesome machine! Can it cut and/or etch plexi? What about MDF?
clint_so6 years ago
Alright, I think I found a minor error with your 48" X 48" layout of the parts that get cut. I got this printed out on 1 whole sheet at a kinkos, at a 1:1 scale, the ruler on the sheet lines up with a real world ruler and so dose every other mesurment except the part labled BASE, when I mesured it it comes out to 29" x 24.5" not the labled 30" x 25". Is this just my error? If not than im guessing mabey you counted the extra inches put on by the belt holder Braces which would should create the final footprint you stated in step one.
ddbisho6 years ago
Did someone post the .dxf file somewhere? If so, could someone point me in the right direction. Sometimes I miss these kinds of things. Thanks.
13th6 years ago
This is a wonderful instructable Stuart. Is there any chance you will be putting this together and selling it as a kit to people in the future? Providing the hardware and leaving the person to print out (or maybe you'd include printouts) acquire, cut, drill, machine, etc. the larger pieces. If a person could get all the hardware in one easy purchase, It would be quite helpful and it sounds like a lot of people are interested in your design / instructable as well. Thanks. -13th
So if I take the .dxf to someone with a 48" x 48" cnc router what will not be cut? The holes? Or are they included to be cut?? thanks!
oomlout (author)  standupclothing6 years ago
All the holes are included. However depending on the machine being used to do the cutting the DXF will have to be changed in various ways, (bit compensation different layers etc.). But who ever you get to do the cutting for you should be able to figure these things out. Best of luck Stuart
clint_so6 years ago
What I did to help speed things up is I took the main layout PDF file to a FedEx Kinkos and got it printed out for about 20 bucks.
static6 years ago
Great work. You must be the Dave Gingery of the use MDF to construct machine tools.
btop6 years ago
The controller board you used was a bit expensive. I would have used >THIS< which only costs about $30 and still has great performance! Anyway great job, gotta make one!
oomlout (author)  btop6 years ago
That does look like a good value, if any one else knows of better places to source parts it would be great if you drop a comment. I'll update the parts summary portion when there gets to be a number of suggestions. Stuart
A freind of mine used two printer head sledges (including the bar they ride on and the motors) for the X and Y axis of his machine. He said even years old inkjets (which you can find at your local landfill or garage sale) have very precise printer sledges, as long as no parts are bent of course. Worked well for him at almost no cost for these parts.
hey i have a question about your controller. I am probably 99% going to buy it, but i have one question. if i use a motor which i have lying around, how will the computer and the controller board adjust itself. i mean what if the motor i use is more RPM then the board thinks so instead of making a 1 inch line it makes a 3 inch line. does the computer software automatically calibrate all of this? Thanks
Both the controller in the instructable and the one in btop's link are for stepper motors, not regular DC motors. The controller sends out a series of pulses to the motors, and they rotate a certain number of degrees for each pulse. (Note: That's the simplified version. ;-) ) There's still going to be some calibration involved, but you won't need to worry about RPM.
oomlout (author)  alanfreefal6 years ago
Hey: The software is fully adjustable, I fear I don't know the intricacies as to how to do it but if you browse the manual included with the program you choose to go with they'll detail how it's done. Stuart
pjax6 years ago
do you have any details on how you interfaced the machine to your pc? I mean, how was the driver connected to the pc and to the motors? and how seamless was mach3 to the driver?
oomlout (author)  pjax6 years ago
I'm afraid my knowledge in these areas is not too great, and were I to try and explain it, it would only serve to confuse you further. I would refer you to the great CNC DIY community over at ( direct link )
Dude! Awesome! Congrats on the win! I have been wanting to build a CNC machine like this for years (life sometimes gets in the way). I have seen other plans but this is the ultimate guide. It takes me by the hand and walks me through the whole build. You do know guys are selling plans like this for $$.... Thanks for sharing and enjoy the laser cutter... you deserve it
What would be the advantages of upgrading to the 305 oz stepper motors?
oomlout (author)  standupclothing6 years ago
If you use the larger motors, you would be able to move the machine much faster, and should be able to cut more agressivly. However if you have plans to only attach a dremel (as oppossed to something more powerful (ie. dry wall router) moving to larger motors isn't very useful as even with my 80 oz/in motors the machine pulls a router bit from the Dremels chuck before it begins to skip. Stuart
Mfmalive6 years ago
your instructables is on my group! EntertainMoment
alanfreefal6 years ago
Hi, FOR ANYONE who knows, what are the cheapest motors and controller board, and what website can I find them? Thanks... ive been searching for hours and nothing I've found is less than $90.00. I searched in eBay and there I found motors for cheap but not the controller boards. Someone in this instructable left a website for a $20-$30 controller board, but it doesn't come built. Thanks
osvikvi6 years ago
Hi Stuart, Nice job, I'm very eager to start building my own, but I'm thinking to use aluminium instead of mdf, anyway I started thinking to... You mentioned earlyer something about hard to find metric bolts. This made me think, since I'm located in the EU (where a quarter pounder with cheese, is called a cheeseburger and where they put mayonaise on their fries) Therefore I would need to get the drawings in metric numbers. My question to you or anybody else, does anyone have the metric measurements for this or should I start converting myself? Or does a conversion programme to do this math already exists? Thanks for your help, osvikvi
oomlout (author)  osvikvi6 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
osvikvi oomlout6 years ago
if I use a convertion software it says 0.5" = 12,7mm.
Do you happen to have a metric measuring tape to verify this? our standard for MDF is 3-6-9-12-18mm.

(maybe if you send me some sheet stock, I can send over some metric bolts and nuts ;o)
oomlout (author)  osvikvi6 years ago
Hmmm. 1/2" is 12.7 mm (the conversion factor is 1" equals 25.4mm). I'm not sure but if you use the 12mm MDF with the existing dimensions the error would be less than ten percent in thickness and might still work. However to discover this you'd have to put it all together before deciding whether you were happy with the results (you could also epoxy some of the final pieces if there was slop anywhere). Off hand I can't think of any area on the machine that would be too much the worse given this difference. Other suggested conversions: Replace the 1/4" bolts with 6mm bolts. Replace the 1/2" bar stock with 12mm bar stock. Hope that helps Stuart
mkeeley oomlout6 years ago
Hi Stuart, Great instructable! (I know it's been said before, but it really is good) Here in New Zealand everything is metric, MDF is 3-6-9-12-18-25, and rod stock is also in mm. I'd be willing to convert the autocad files to use 12mm MDF and other metric values, if you could post the files that would be great. Also, as I don't have a band-saw or drill press handy, having CNC-ready data files of the parts would be useful, so I can just take them down to the local CNC shop and get them made. - Mike
oomlout (author)  mkeeley6 years ago
Hey: Happy to hear it although I'm afraid I'm not a very technical person and in that fashion the drawings were done in CorelDraw and not AutoCAD. However in step four there is a stripped down version of the drawings in DXF format. Or if you have CorelDraw there is a zip file in that same step which has all the CorelDraw files (Ver11). Stuart
oomlout (author)  mkeeley6 years ago
Hey: Happy to hear it although I'm afraid I'm not a very technical person and in that fashion the drawings were done in CorelDraw and not AutoCAD. However in step four there is a stripped down version of the drawings in DXF format. Or if you have CorelDraw there is a zip file in that same step which has all the CorelDraw files (Ver11). Stuart
If only Thomas Jefferson had worked a bit harder on converting the US to metric 200 years ago...then it would just be Myanmar and Liberia...Honestly, freshman honors biology class...I had to teach the metric system to half the class, and they still couldn't understand that there are 100 centimeters in a meter. Is five ounces to a gill, four gills to a pint, two pints to a quart, four quarts to a gallon, and so forth really any easier?
je1330 osvikvi6 years ago
Oh man, I was actually eating fries as I read this, so very very strange. Guess that would be better than peanut button on a burger though, so to each their own. Stuart, congratulations on your win, you do truly deserve this, I thought so since I first saw your Instructable, and I think that was before you even added it to the contest. So, great job! I can't wait to see what you come out with next... -- jason
how much of the .75 inch mdf do you need? Not much? I didn't see it on the list of things to get
oomlout (author)  standupclothing6 years ago
sorry about that, the 3/4" plywood was listed in the more extensive Parts List PDF however it was lacking from the main instructable, I've added it to the step. So you don't have to go looking though, all that is required is a 5"x5" piece Stuart
ah thank you i haven't looked into the pdfs yet :-) and one last question... is it pretty much a necessity that i cut it with a scroll saw and drill press? And once finished will it be able to cnc metal parts?? How thick if so? Thank you so much! I am new to this so i gots a ton of questions!
oomlout (author)  standupclothing6 years ago
Hey: Well I used a bandsaw but if you were skillful enough with something like a jigsaw you could do it and again it could conceivably be done with a hand drill however great care would need to be taken to ensure the holes were straight. In terms of cutting metal parts, I fear that most metal cutting would either have to be very slow or not too exact. Granted if you mounted a more powerful router to it the results may be nicer. Stuart
Can this machine cut 3D layered designs as opposed to just a corel draw image?? Can you change the bit to cut thin metal?
oomlout (author)  standupclothing6 years ago
This machine can actually cut 3D objects with no need to layer, however to do this software is required to convert a 3d Model you have into something called a toolpath. I'm afraid I don't know of any free or low price software which is capable of generating these toolpaths in 3 dimensions. Stuart
thanks man! great stuff! I love it! This has made me start to research and look into machining! thank you!
Mfmalive6 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
If you keep posting irrelevant videos in your comments, you will be banned. Please keep your comments appropriate.
zachninme6 years ago
Hey, awesome instructable, and congrats on winning. How exactly did you cut the pieces? I couldn't be that accurate by hand with any tool :P
i really like this, especially because i now work with a CNC machine where i work. i'm thinking about making this, but need money first. very nice.
oomlout (author) 6 years ago

Well I have made the finals of the Laser Cutter Challenge the winner will be determined by rating a special forum post.

If you want to check out all the contestants you can go to.
( Check out the finalists )
(and if you would like to vote for me click on Stuart.Mcfarlan)

or if you have already made up your mind and would like to vote directly for me click on this one and plus one the rating :-).
( Vote for this instructable )

I have my fingers crossed
oomlout (author)  oomlout6 years ago
Thank you everyone who voted, it came as quite a shock to me this morning when I recieved a message that I had finished first in this contest. Oh goodness off to plan all the potential laser cutter inspired Instructables. Thanks once again Stuart (PS. also to those who PM'd me about getting the full size patterns I'm in the process of reformatting the plans step so all the files people would like are there, however doing this without confusing the stage is proving a tad more complex than I thought it would be however later this week for sure)
Ferrite oomlout6 years ago
alanfreefal6 years ago
Can anyone please tell me the dimentions of the "base" of the entire machine. I think its around 25" by 25" but can anyone please tell me exactly how big the base is.
oomlout (author)  alanfreefal6 years ago
Hey: The dimensions of the base are 25" tall and 30" wide. Hope that's helpful Stuart
Ferrite6 years ago
This could be modified to use cgoh's laser engraver/cuttercgoh's laser engraver/cutter instead of a Dremel to cut other materials(i.e. cake, I think that Dremel cut cake could get messyl : -)
clint_so6 years ago
About the printer problem, since I cant seem to line up a dozen papers in the first place, Im going to take the part layout PDF file to a local printing place and have them print it out (if they wont charge too much).
Hey, i started on this project yesterday and hit the same problem as you, that i wasnt able to line up many papers together. what i did, was instead of trying to line all the papers together, instead i just cut out all the separate parts and lined them up individually. then i glued them to the wood i want to use and now im gonna cut the parts. hope my idea helps, but if you can have someone to print out the entire plans, that would be much better. i also thought about going to a place where they would print out everything but i thought it would be too expensive.
oomlout (author)  clint_so6 years ago
Probably a good idea, if you send me a PM with your e-mail address I'll send you a version of the PDF which is only one 48" x 48" page rather than the main one on the instructable which is 35 8.5"x11 pages. (I think the print shop would be better able to print this version rather than the main one) Stuart
Wow, wow, wow, wow, and wow. VERY nice job! I've got to give it do ya, that's ONE NICE JOB! out of curiosity, two things: 1: why MDF? 2: was this all from scratch and brainstorming, or did you just copy a nearby existing CNC machine by looking at it?
oomlout (author)  thecheatscalc6 years ago
In response to your questions

1) I chose MDF because it was quite cheap and my initial plan was to use screws (which you cannot put into the edge of plywood), although I think I may put together another one using UHMW now that I know all the pieces fit.

2)I would love to take total credit for this from but the design came out of seeing other machines (both professional and home built), and taking elements I liked and seeking solutions to things I didn't like. (I seem to be adding this link to every second post but if you're interested in other home built incarnations I cannot recommend the DIY CNC zone forum highly enough) ( direct link )

You may not have invented it, but your the one that brought to us and I'm sure I speak for most when I say, Thank You.
Oh, and just a side note, if you DID copy the dimensions from a nearby mill, NICE JOB! Wow, this would really help with casting aluminum pieces... I wonder if I could use something more powerful then a dremel tool... (and something that doesn't get so hot so fast!)
oomlout (author)  thecheatscalc6 years ago
Hey: Certainly something more powerful than a dremel could be affixed, in terms of enough power the current issue I'm having is I only have right hand thread router bits so when I push it too fast the machine pulls the bit out of the collet. Stuart
askjerry6 years ago
I liked it enough to post it on our forum...

Haha. Your dremel looks like a pencil.
royalestel6 years ago
Truly great, yo. Thumb's up.
SacTownSue6 years ago
The posts are scattered by date so I'm not entirely sure if the printing issue is resolved. Assuming the file has the right scale and all at Stuart's end of things...
If you're at work you might not have the authority to change printer properties. If that is the case you need to check with you sysadmin type person. You are going to have to figure out your own setup based on these instructions. I have to go through this routine pretty much everytime I turn the printer off which is it's usual state.

I'm using iE6.0 and Acrobat6.0Pro. I have a roughly 5 year old Epson.
Without saving the file.

Click on the printer icon. You get the pdf print box. Left column, middle of page -> Page Handling: -> Page Scaling: Change to "None". Easy.
Next, next not so easy, back to the top -> Printer: Click Properties button. You now have the information box for your printer. On the "Main" tab Paper&Quality Options: It won't let me check "Borderless", I guess it's for photo paper which I don't have. So I select the "Page Layout" tab. Under "More Options" I check "Centered" and "Minimize Margins".
Additionally, if there is anything that has boxes to set a default margin size, I came across something with 0.75", change those to zero(0.0).

Mine is printing with the ruler as black and unreadable. I wouldn't use the ruler anyway I would probably put a good metal ruler to the drawing and check the dimensions. I don't intend to make this project any time soon. It wouldn't be good to leave it sitting where the rain and the purple bird lime will get to it. So not for me but you might think of changing it to a outline style box instead. I also, rarely, print color.

I just spent about an hour writing this mini-instructable, hope it helps.
oomlout (author)  SacTownSue6 years ago
Thanks for the detailed writeup, I hope you will be okay with me including it when I next update this Instructable. This has proven to be quite a difficult element of this Instructable. It would be great if others could perhaps comment on how the printing has or hasn't worked for them so changes can be made in the future to make it less finicky. Thanks Stuart
No problem. I hope it solves the problem. I forgot to mention I only tested the smallest file and found the difference. It's basic info that can benefit everyone. It's the kind of thing that most don't want to be bothered with but at times like this extremely important. I ran into it when doing some simple one page patterns. Very frustrating. All my years of UNIX sysadmin are not wasted. One more thing, Stuart, if you are not changing "Fit to Page" to "None" during/before you create the PDF, try doing so. I could research this but I have other things to do and it may take a different environment to test it. If you want to do that with one of the small files I will test it for you.
btop6 years ago
I don't mean to be a pest, but do you have any idea as to when you will have finished the improvements, as i don't really want to start and then have an old version. Making its own parts would be awesome, but could you you use any other materials than MDF, as its not really the strongest wood available. Thanks in advance.
oomlout (author)  btop6 years ago
No worries, 1) I'm afraid I can't be too comital on how long it will be until I have the improvements made. But it will vary only slightly from it's current incarnation. 2)Any half inch sheet stock will work. I chose MDF because it was cheaper than my first choice (UHMW (Ultra High Molecular Weight Plastic)) and I am not a big fan of working with plywood (sliver issues in the past). Stuart
Can you say what software you use with this. Their is alot of soft out their but not all of it is good. Also hope you make that 3D digitizer.
oomlout (author)  joesweetmore6 years ago
I'm afraid I'm not too knowledgeable in this area. The best I can do is point you towards the helpful folks in the CNCZone DIY CNC forum (direct link).

alanfreefal6 years ago
is it just me or could i save like 200 dollars on this project if i just use some old screws lying around instead of the ones you use. it seems like you spent tons of money on just screws. btw, great project and great idea really good instructable
oomlout (author)  alanfreefal6 years ago
Too true, I must admit I have a certain affinity for shopping in the bolt aisle at Home Depot, you could probably achieve substantial savings by using bolts you already have lying around. Stuart
AzurusNova6 years ago
This is something I could really put to use. Great job here. When I get the money and space to make one of these, its going to be built.
dfukuba6 years ago
This is an amazing instructable! I have my own CNC mill, and have been wanting to make my own CNC router. This really gave me an understanding to how everything works. Thanks for this! I hope you get the laser cutter =)
bw_42576 years ago
very nice...can you post the drawings as dxf files?
oomlout (author)  bw_42576 years ago
I was thinking of doing this initially but wasn't sure anyone would be interested in them. I'll make them up this evening and post them a bit later. Stuart
oomlout (author)  oomlout6 years ago
I have run into a Bit of an issue in terms of the DXF files. I did the design in CorelDraw and while CorelDraw will output a DXF its functionality in this regard leaves much to be desired. As a result when I export to DXF the main pattern winds up being 200 MB. Not too convenient, therefore I've added the CorelDraw format files in a zip at step 4. Hope this is helpful Stuart
ruzter oomlout6 years ago
When you had the pieces cut on a CNC router what format of file did you submit? I have a friend with access to one and I thought dxf would be the way to go? p.s. thanks for the effort you are going to to reply to all these comments, good on ya!
oomlout (author)  ruzter6 years ago
My goodness that is awfully keen, I fear the machine I had access to used some rather antiquated software to generate toolpaths (however if your friend has a CAMTech plotter and could use a .RDY file I can supply you with that). But if you are wanting a file which works for just cutting the pieces I can remove a lot of the extraneous info and should be able to get the DXF file size down for you. I'll add this to the instructable in the next few days. Stuart
bw_4257 oomlout6 years ago
I found a pdf to dxf converter that sorta worked. I had to re-scale the drawing to match your ruler and I think this resulted in a bit of round off error...I couldn't open the corel draw files. I think I'll wait till you get a chance to post dxf files or if you add some dimensions to the pdf drawings I could help post dxf files. I'm planning on re-drawing your machine in Solid Works and then...who knows. Keep up the good work ;)
oomlout (author)  bw_42576 years ago
Sorry for the delay, I have posted a stripped down version of the drawing (removed the writing and cross hatches from the circles) in DXF version in Step 4. Hope it works for you and is along the lines of what you were looking for, if it leaves anything your interested in out do just drop me a line and I'll see what I can do Stuart
ruzter oomlout6 years ago
Hey Stuart, in the dxf file some of the hole center marks are missing. Any chance of getting those in? Sorry to be a pain. I guess this wouldn't be a problem but my version of corel draw is too old.
ruzter ruzter6 years ago
Duh, I just downloaded a trial version of the new Coreldraw, problem solved!
ruzter oomlout6 years ago
Thanks Stuart, I really appreciate your effort.
bw_4257 oomlout6 years ago
Thanks...If I end up making 3D models I'll post 'em...thanks for being so on the ball ;)
zachninme6 years ago
This project seems like its almost a RepRap. You can't build the motors and such, but I bet it could cut out its own wooden pieces.
oomlout (author)  zachninme6 years ago
I didn't have the goal of having it reproduce its pieces in mind for the initial design however I'm currently working on changing some of the pieces to achieve this goal. (a little reading of the RepRap website got my imagination running). We'll see how it goes Stuart
Foaming6 years ago
Stuart, Accumulating parts today and I have some questions. 1. Did you pick 8 mm because of the bearing? The bearings I have fit on the shank portion of 5/16. 2.#8 x 3 bolts. Are these hex head? 3. Belt clamps. What size? 1/4"? Timing belt is .25". 4. Coupling nut and threaded rod. 1/4" x 20? 5. FYI, Home Depot plated metal rod was less expensive. Any reason not to use it.
oomlout (author)  Foaming6 years ago
Hey quick answers to your questions 1) I chose the 8mm bolts because that's the ID of skate bearings (granted 5/16" is very close to 8mm) 2) hex head would be nice but I was only able to find machine screws (bolts with screw driver slots) these are used to attach the motors to the machine so the exact type is not particularly important 3) I used 1/8" belt clamps the 1/4" ones are a bit big 4)threaded rod in 1/4" sizes comes in 20 threads per inch (coarse) and 24 threads per inch (fine) forgot to add the "threads per inch" portion 5)nope no reason not to use it as long as it is 1/2" diameter Thanks for keeping the feedback coming I'm making notes of all these discrepancies and will update the Instructable in one fell swoop in the future. Stuart
clint_so6 years ago
hello, I have a question

I am getting ready to attempt this project, and I understand most of it until the moters and softwere

I already have Mastercam to create geometry and tool paths

But is there any ---->free(legal)<--- windows XP based software that will convert G-code into the data or whatever output needed to control the machine?

Honus clint_so6 years ago
You might try this:

I know it was used to drive this stepper motor/controller setup:

Hope this helps!

Great instructable!
oomlout (author)  clint_so6 years ago
I'm afraid my knowledge in these areas is not too great I would refer you to the great DIY community over at ( direct linkdirect link )

Can you post a DXF file of a completed item. Thanks
clint_so6 years ago
Oh I found what i needed on your instructions, don't know how i missed it, but it was in your step 3 of the software part. Thanks a ton for giving links to the mach 3 demo, I never would have been able to find that on my own. -clint
What version of Adobe reader are you using? I can't get it to print multiple pages. I've tried 6,7 and 8. Great instructable...
oomlout (author)  dbissonnette6 years ago
Hey: I'm using version eight, and that's the version I based the included instructions on. But it may be different in other versions. Hmmm perhaps someone else might be able to lend a hand here. If you do get it figured out would love to hear how I could change the instructions. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful Stuart
There's a way to bypass the problem entirely. Stuart -- can you print files to PDF? If not, I can do it at work after the holiday. Printing your tiles to PDF allows you to have a 35 page document instead of having a 1 page document that's tiled into 35 pieces. That might be more user friendly... although users would have to make sure that they printed with small margins to make pasting everything together easier.
oomlout (author)  jovial_cynic6 years ago
sorry dbissonnette I have since discovered that the printing of tiled pages is only available in the full version of Adobe Acrobat. To solve this I have taken jovial's advice and printed out the pages pre-tiled. If you go back to step 4 and download the new versions it is now 35 pages of 8.5"x11" rather than the earlier one page at 48"x48" Hope this helps Stuart
ah, cool. My advice is now officially a part of the process.
coolguy6 years ago
This could also be adapted to have an additional mount to insert a laser. Also, is there a smaller version milling bit that is adaptable to a dremel. Having a homebrew cnc machine capable of milling would be awesome.
xsmurf6 years ago
I say give the man the *lazer*! This is, as it's been said, one of, if not the, best instructable around. Plus he could use that laser cutter to make kits *wink*. He has my vote!
As mentioned elsewhere, this instructable is not an appropriate winner for the contest. Seriously, if all you need to to is swap out the dremel for a homebrew etching laser to have your very own laser engraving machine, you don't really need professional kit taking up precious garage space.

No, what this man needs is a business plan consultant, a few good manufacturers, some graphical design people to help with brochures, and a GREAT BIG free booth at Maker Faire to get people buying ready-to-build versions of this very excellent piece of equipment.


*ahem* Sorry bout that. Yeah, give him the engraving machine, or some well-developed celebrity, or both.
Oh dur, I just noticed that Make has already done an article on this instructible.
johann6 years ago
I love it!!! Thanks stu...Johan
Smartbomb6 years ago
This is perhaps the best instructable I've ever seen on this site. The pictures, instructions, writeup, etc... are incredibly clear and detailed. The machine looks very nice, but the Instructable itself is gold. Thank you.
Sorry to reply to my own post. 2 co-workers just came by my office & saw this and had the same response: "If I could get that as a kit, ready to go, I'd pluck down my money right now." One of the guys had visions of an IKEA-like flat pack arriving at his house -- "It'd be like Christmas in the summertime." Your instructable has brought out child-like excitement in a grown man :-)
There is a similar version already cut and parts available at ... I have not affiliation with Mike Beck, but he is providing parts at what looks to be a reasonable price for the effort it takes to put it all together. His basic package still needs a controller, steppers, and lead screws. I think he sells it all at additional cost. No, I don't have one of his kits.
Hey thanks for the link. I've seen some other CNC kits but not this one, and the price looks good too. So many possibilities, so little time.
I printed out the PDF files for the glue-on paper templates, and even when I set the print to 100%, the ruler doesn't align to a real-world ruler. Is that why yours ended up at 90%? How do you set it to actually print a true 100%?
oomlout (author)  jovial_cynic6 years ago
I was a tad worried reading this comment however I just tried printing it out again on this end and my ruler matched up. Not sure where the crux could be however I know there are multiple levels in which pages may be getting scaled when printing. I hope you can get it working and if it's an error in my instructions please shoot me a line so I can correct it. Best of luck Stuart
I printed the first page of the PDF and found the horizontal ruler was short about 1/8" of my "real-world" ruler while the vertical ruler was spot-on exact. I thought there might be some problem with my printer so I tried it on a different system with the same result.

This is a Great Instructable! I'm very tempted to give this one a try but not unless this can be understood.
oomlout (author)  BobsDogHouse6 years ago
Hey: Rather sorry went back to my drawings, I added the rulers at the last minute in response to my mistake and wasn't as careful as I was with the rest of the drawings. Turns out I accidentally drew a four inch ruler only 3.8" long (good measuring :) ). I have fixed it in the PDF and the Zip file as well. So if you redownload the new file (has REV2 added to the end now) all should be fixed. Sorry about that, I really appreciate the vigilence (perhaps too strong a word) but if you do continue, when you encounter anything else that looks a little fishy please just shoot out another comment, and I'll try my best to help. Stuart
Foaming oomlout6 years ago
Stuart, 1. Is the only drawing change the ruler? One of the items measured correctly so I suspected the ruler and printed. 2. What works good for glueing the paper? Some 3m spray on?
oomlout (author)  Foaming6 years ago
Hey: 1. I'm afraid I also moved the strip of holes for the groove on the right side of the base over 0.1". So it would probably make sense to reprint. (sorry) 2. I used a UHU (School glue) glue stick because it allowed me to put the sheet down and slide it around to fit. However I've also had bad experiences with spray adhesive in the past (unrelated to this project) which predispossed me to not use it but if you're comfortable with it it's probably the right choice Stuart
Foaming oomlout6 years ago
Stuart, Thanks for the quick reply. I will reprint.
Thanks! The only problems I see now are my own. The usual - time, skill, determination to finish and the most difficult one, approval from my boss (wife).
Delian6 years ago
Is this strong enought to engrave metal?
oomlout (author)  Delian6 years ago
I have every confidence that it is however I have plans to put it through a greater battery of tests later this week and I'll post the results so people can judge for themselves the level of "success". Stuart
jmengel6 years ago
This is an interesting project. My question is why go through the trouble and expense and use a dremel style 1/8" collet cutting head? The flex in 1/8" bits and the slop in a typical Dremel when side loaded when combined with the lack of position feedback (DRO) will make cutting nice patterns in materials tougher than pink foam problematic. You mention cutting plywood, what kind of results did you get? Thanks for sharing this.
oomlout (author)  jmengel6 years ago
I must admit I added the Dremel because I had it lying around. I'm more interested in additive machining (like Fab@home and RepRap) however I didn't have the time to build any extruder or material deposition tool just yet. You could adjust the mount to hold a dry wall router or something similar but it was cost and convenience that motivated the Dremel choice. I have plans to do some more serious tests in different materials later this week I'll post an addendum discussing the results. Stuart
dchall86 years ago
Okay this is good. Now if you will get together with this guy, miniaturize your 3-axis CNC machine and install his laser cutter, then they won't have to have a laser cutter contest.
'''Friend.In the Simply PERFECT lack of another one expression! Of one I wait in the manufacture, worthy of the Sculpture!My congratulations! Questions;Which the degree of possible work of Your CNC.... It could be worked with polyester I eliminate, for example?Which the possible drill finest of being connected?Very Obliged!Carlos Marmo Albishenko Rosembaum P.S. Pardon for English mines badly.'''
shouldn't a router be on the nescesary tools step?
this is what i ment
oomlout (author)  WesDoesStuff6 years ago
:) too true, I did end up cheating (see step 7) however these grooves can also be made be drilling quarter inch holes overlapping, it's a bit of an ordeal but if you don't have a router it works (did it on a set of pieces myself) Sorry for the misunderstanding Stuart
oomlout (author)  WesDoesStuff6 years ago
good idea, I've added it and appreciate the suggestions Stuart
refer to previously posted picture
ruzter6 years ago
More resources available at

I love cnc instructables!

ruzter ruzter6 years ago
whoops, I see you already had that link posted. Yes, I would like to see dxf files too. One tip is that if possible find hardware like nuts and bolts and a bolt supply store, they are often much cheaper.
I second the WOW best, and most detailed step by step with sourcing ideas instructable I have ever seen.

+1 Karma for you my friend
oomlout (author)  convictushome6 years ago
Thank you I must admit I did put some time into this :). I am just happy others seem to be enjoying the fruits of my labor, good luck to those who choose to endeavor upon producing one of their own) Stuart
WOW Amazing Instructable - well done! The documentation and details is very impressive. I'm interested in using a CNC machine to etch the tracks of PCBs and drill them. What kind of resolution does your design get and do you think it would be accurate enough for PCB work?
oomlout (author)  Andrew_Craigie6 years ago
I'm not sure but in terms of feeling I imagine it would serve quite well for thick traces and through hole components, but I'm a tad doubtful as to how it would perform when dealing with the tolerances required for surface mount components. (then again if you were very exact in your pieces and used a precsion head who knows) Stuart
drcrash6 years ago
Too cool.

But I guess you don't really need the laser cutter now, so the judges can give it to me. :-)

I'd be interested in more detail. In particular,

(1) how precise do your cuts and holes need to be---and which ones actually need to be that precise?

(2) what kind of accuracy do you actually get? I'm guessing that it's substantially less than the precision (resolution). (But I don't really need incredibly fine resolution.)

I'd also be interested in some compare/contrast with other CNC machine plans that are out there. (Accuracy, speed, build time, and cost.)

People who are interested in this may also be interested in vacuum forming. You can use CNC tools to make molds, and then produce a bunch of stuff quickly and cheaply by vacuum forming over/into them.

You can also make big molds in pieces with CNC, then vacuum form large objects on/in them. (A big vacuum former can be a whole lot cheaper than a big CNC machine.)

(I hope it's okay if I pimp my new web site: --- thinking about accessible CNC machines like yours was one of the things that motivated me.)

oomlout (author)  drcrash6 years ago
(1) I fear haven't analyzed the tolerances required in detail but I did aim to make it work using normal handyman level tolerances (ie. maybe a 1/16" or so on holes) and some are more important than others. I guess the main response to number one would probably be the more precise you are the better it'll fit together in the end. (2) Again I haven't done any exact measurements yet but to the eye the repeatability is excellent and certainly cannot be detected using a tape measure. (finally afraid I haven't looked into many other plans and the like but there might be others here able to help with that one)
cybrown6 years ago
This instructable is amazing. The pdfs are great! I am confused about one thing though - does anything (other than gravity) hold the carriage down onto the y-axis rails? Does the belt tension help with that at all? I am just wondering whether the carriage can lift off of the rails when the tool is pressed down into something harder than pink foam...
oomlout (author)  cybrown6 years ago
You are right to be concerned this was a major issue in early versions of this machine. The belts when tightened serve to pull down the gantry quite sufficiently I have also used it to cut MDF and light aluminum and lifting has not been a problem. Stuart
gamer6 years ago
how did u plug it up to the computer, i wanna do something simmular but more... how would i say that, less capable of doing what yours can do, i am way too lazy to build one that is that complicated. great idea. answer my question when you can. thanks
oomlout (author)  gamer6 years ago
I used a controller from it plugs into the parallel port on my computer and then the software ( or takes in a toolpath and converts it into a series of pulses that translate into the movement of the machine.

Hope that was helpful.
Kira_Koenig6 years ago
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, and THANK YOU I have always wanted to build one of these and now I can! Cheap, simple, and uses easily obtainable parts!

Great Instructable :D
activegeek6 years ago
So many have already said this, but this is an excellent instructable. I've wanted to build one of these for a while and this is what I needed to get started. Thank-you so much for the obvious time and effort that went into this.
potentato6 years ago
I'd really like to see someone offer this as a kit.
dchall86 years ago
This is a great step forward in DIY CNC. I'd like to see a CNC paper cutter for T-shirt stencils. Maybe someone will be inspired by this one to go smaller, cheaper, more precise. I'm giving this a well-deserved plus-up.
Abrie6 years ago
Excellent! I've been waiting for such instructions for years! I am definitely going to give it a try!
Dzwiedziu6 years ago
Simply great!
sedition6 years ago
Agreed. Great Instructable! BTW:
-Rubber Mallet (to provide "persuasion" when neccesary)
Made my coffee come out my nose...
John Smith6 years ago
SO cool. If I had the money, (and willingness to go through with it) I'd do it.

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