Introduction: How to Make an Arduino Powered CNC Machine

Picture of How to Make an Arduino Powered CNC Machine

Step-by-step instructions on how to build a low cost CNC machine controlled with an Arduino Uno!

Step 1: Fabricating a Base and X-Axis Sled

Roller skate wheels will be used to create the X-Axis sled. A combination of 2in and 1in steel tubing will form the base of the machine.

Step 2: Building the Y-Axis

Using bearings from roller-skate wheels to create the Y-Axis sled. The gantry is built using 2in square tubing.

Step 3: Z-Axis

Fabricating the Z-Axis using drawer sliders found at home improvement store.

Step 4: Lead Screws and Motors

Installing two Acme lead screws for the X and Y axes, and a cheap threaded rod for the Z Axis. Mounting the stepper motors in position.

Step 5: Configuring Arduino, GRBL, Easel and Steppers.

Uploading and configuring GRBL on an Arduino Uno. Calibrating stepper motors and using 'Easel' as the g-code sender.


amadikari (author)2017-01-23

sir, It is a very nice project.I also like to do this project so can you send me the programming codes

ngondkar123 (author)2016-02-04

Which type of motor are used in this project

nema 17

garethllewelyn (author)2016-01-12

Super, would be nice to find a way to join without welding...

Triffic `ble.

There's brazing (basically soldering), nuts 'n bolts, 80/20 is popular, even mapp gas/ally/those aluminum welding sticks might work.

Get creative, that's what he did.

Life would be bland without welding...;)

Ralphxyz (author)2016-01-12

I can not believe you do not use a mask or at least goggles when you are welding.

AbsorberOfLight (author)Ralphxyz2016-01-12

Sometimes I do;)

Ralphxyz (author)AbsorberOfLight2016-01-13

obviously you are a experienced welder and know what you can get away with.

There are a lot of of non welders that are looking at you for inspiration to learn welding and you are setting a horrible example for a new person just learning welding.

I really appreciated the project, most of the videos seem to be repeats.

AbsorberOfLight (author)Ralphxyz2016-01-14

I see your point. Thanks.

markps (author)AbsorberOfLight2016-01-30

Welding without protective shades will give you several problems, from conjunctivitis to retinal scaring, and it is progressive. It may take years before you notice or end up developing cataracts.

Also the repeated exposure of the invisible UV light from 200 to 400 nm can give you skin cancer on any exposed skin.

RyanG10 (author)2016-01-29

Very nice instructable; I'm inspired to build one of my own. I'm just curious what kind of tolerances you are able to achieve with your gantry system? Have you tested this?

АлександрГ3 (author)2016-01-16

Greetings from Ukraine!

Great job! You are my inspirer! =)

bonymorales (author)2016-01-12


I'm instructables member since 2009 and your CNC it's one of the best that I know. It's a wonderful project with great results. It could be possible to add some instructions ?. Would be very helpful to build one of these.

Thanks a lot for sharing. Cheers from Mexico.

Muchas gracias amigo. I'm not sure what you mean by instructions?

I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

I refer to written instructions (for someone like me who likes to read) and in my opinion will be the ideal complement for someone to replicate your CNC relying on the excellent videos that you published.

Greetings from Monclova, Coahuila, Mexico

Traducción al Español.

Le agradezco que se tome el tiempo de responder.Me refiero a instrucciones escritas (para alguien como yo que me gusta leer) y en mi opinión será el complemento ideal para que alguien pueda replicar tu CNC apoyándose en los excelentes videos que publicó.

Saludos from Monclova,Coahuila México

Bverysharp (author)2016-01-13

A fabulous build. Excellent results with the pen!

Thanks, I love doing stuff with the pen and also with a sharpie.

stumitch (author)2016-01-12

wow. I mean, seriously man. I have been messing with my home built cnc for months and you just answered almost every question I had. Well done!

AbsorberOfLight (author)stumitch2016-01-14

Thanks man

ChristopheD5 (author)2016-01-12

excellent job and videos !!! GREAT !!! I want a CNC :) but I'm not capable to do it so well :)

Thanks for sharing !

Not with that attitude;) Thanks for watching!

jvandeyacht (author)2016-01-12

For those asking for exact measurements and such: The size of the framing doesn't really matter. you can make it 14 inches or 41 inches across and long, shouldn't ever need anything taller than 12 or 16 inches. For the rest of it, you can fab as you go, sometimes it is better that way. I was more concerned about setup and software. For the Author: This ible is awesome and gives me everything I need to go-do. Thanks.

That's right you could build this the size of a garage! Thanks for your comment.

KerryW1 (author)2016-01-14

Amazing, amazing job. I like your presentation skills and sense of humor. You are the modern day Leonardo Da Vinci of machinists! I'm also a wannabe welder. Any idea how much it weighs?

AlexE2 (author)2016-01-12

Surprising those stepper motors are so small yet can move kilos of metal so smoothly! Were they hot as hell? Please tell here when they go to motor heaven (hope in a long time).to decide which motors I will use (have NEMA 17) for my project. KUDOS

AbsorberOfLight (author)AlexE22016-01-12

I was surprised too. I've had them running for hours and they don't get that hot. My drivers get really hot (about 120f) but they stay at that temperature and keep going!

AlexE2 (author)AbsorberOfLight2016-01-13

I ordered 3 easy drivers for my Arduino and will look for metal and screws to make mine :D Are you going to add a plasma cutter? I am looking forward for that tutorial! I have a "cheap" microwire welder (no gas) that spits lots so no hope to be near to your standards but will try anyway. Please share when you upgrade drivers, if needed.

ChristopheD5 (author)2016-01-12

excellent job and videos !!! GREAT !!! I want a CNC :) but I'm not capable to do it so well :)

Thanks for sharing !

Thank you my friend:)

seamster (author)2016-01-08

This is super impressive!

If you felt inclined to add a bit of written description to each of your steps, that would be helpful. (For those that may not want to watch every video, some written details allow people to quickly grasp what an awesome machine you've made, and get a feel for what went into it.) Just a tip! ;)

This REALLY makes me want quit putting off learning to weld!

jsheak (author)seamster2016-01-09

If you check out his videos he does go pretty in depth. I checked out you youtube channel last week ... great job.

GlenGH. (author)jsheak2016-01-12

The project and the videos are all well done and the final product is just amazing.

For me thou I could not watch any of the videos that were produced with the camera mounted to the body. Theses videos made me feel sick and gave me headaches, from all the movement and the distortion form the cameras lenses. Written instructions would be handy touch.

AbsorberOfLight (author)GlenGH.2016-01-12

Thank you man, yes I agree about the body camera. I switched to my iPhone for the rest of the videos and people seemed to like it more.

Roundpegprops (author)2016-01-11

Honestly, one of the best walk through building process of a CNC I've ever seen. This definitely gives me more confidence when it comes to building my own. Thank you!

Thank you I appreciate your kind words.

jimjimbobim (author)2016-01-12

What kind of welder is that? I want to learn to weld and you made it look easy. Is that something I could teach my self (with videos,books, etc.) or do I need to take a class?

It's a Lincoln MIG Welder. I've had it for about 12 years and I love it, paid about $400 bucks for it. If you want to get into welding just go out and buy a basic MIG welder and get welding. Oh and maybe get a mask and some gloves;)

itsmescotty (author)jimjimbobim2016-01-12

welding is a little knowledge and a LOT of practice. I could arc and torch weld before I took a job welding on submarines. For the program I was hired for I had to attend their welding school. No class room just a booth. They showed me how then I sat down and and cladded plate after plate 8 hours a day for weeks. Hundreds of pounds of 11018 1/8" rods before they did a coupon test.

I entered the apprentice program which WAS classroom and I finally learned about the weld process and metallurgy. I ended up a TIG pipe welder with structural, pressure vessel, nuclear, X-ray UT type ratings.

lapenta (author)2016-01-12

very nice CNC. I actually had seen your project on youtube and followed the series...
I just think that is not low cost, even though you're stating that spent $ 250 on materials, you've used maybe thousand dollars worth of tools.
Anyway, that's an impressive project and neat execution, and I do believe it is low cost compared to commercial solution. Congratulations and thanks for sharing!

AbsorberOfLight (author)lapenta2016-01-12

This is true, though you could make a cnc out of wood with basic tools.

JohnM248 (author)2016-01-12

I watched this from start to finish. You are a genius! Get stuff! I can't wait to show my son. I like you back story regarding how you learnt to weld. Vary fascinating! Thanks for your hard work it was most enjoyable to watch.

J and Kd

AbsorberOfLight (author)JohnM2482016-01-12

Thank you I appreciate your kind words.

stumitch (author)2016-01-12

which motors are they? Nema 23 270 oz maybe?

AbsorberOfLight (author)stumitch2016-01-12

Nema 17

dollarseed (author)2016-01-12

Thank you for getting into the details of customizing Easel. I too have a shop built unit that I would like to use their awesome program for, but the size of the lead screws, etc. are not the same as those on my X-Carve Thank you :)

TheThinker (author)2016-01-08

Videos don't show up on my Adroid app. :-(

KayjayUK (author)TheThinker2016-01-12

Easy answer to that is use a computer, that's what they're for, phones are for talking to people on. Having said that the project is awesome but it would be easier (and neater) to use extruded aluminium.

jimjimbobim (author)KayjayUK2016-01-12

Extruded aluminum is not as rigid. Also, the steel is less expensive and you don't need all the pricy little brackets

Ralphxyz (author)2016-01-12

oh, great project thank you!!

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