Picture of How to make a mini milling machine- manual or CNC!
I think one of the best things about tools is that they can be used to make more tools! I decided to build a miniature milling machine for machining plastic parts, creating wax patterns and for drilling really small precise holes. I also wanted to design it so that I could convert it to CNC for machining circuit boards and for doing repetitive work.

The finished mill has a 11" x 18" footprint and is about 19" tall. Depending on the motor used it is capable of machining plastic, wax, wood and non ferrous metals. Right now my motor is a bit underpowered due to the power supply I had on hand. It's very quiet- I could use this inside the house at night and not wake up the little ones!

The X axis travel is 6 1/8"
The Y axis travel is 6 1/4"
The Z axis travel is 2 1/4"

If there are any questions about any of the drawings or something just doesn't make sense just ask! You can download larger images so the drawings will be much easier to read- just click on the "i" symbol in the upper left corner. I just added an exploded view sketch that helps show how all the parts fit together.

Follow along and build one for yourself!

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At the moment, I'm making a CNC machine to drill PCBs's holes but I'm having some problems related calibration because the measures from the gerber file (.drd) are in millimeters and I need to adjust it for the maximum resolution (X, Y) of the my machine. My work area is 208mm X 284mm and I'm using labview software to control this plant. Can you help me ? My address e-mail is: fabio.pinheiro.mail@gmail.com

Honus (author)  fabio.pinheirodesouza10 months ago
Unfortunately I don't have any experience with this or Labview. Have you tried the CNCZone forums? That's honestly probably the best place to go to get help with your problem.
TheCommander11 months ago
awesome project
padbravo1 year ago

What happened to your new milling cnc?
you only posted one picture of it (in construction status)

I am trying to make one... some ideas of yours? advices? pictures of yours?

Honus (author)  padbravo1 year ago
I'm still working on it- LOL! It got pushed on the back burner as I've been working on so many other projects. I'll eventually finish it. :)

can anyone please help me out with the details of electronics part??

i have purchased sanguino controller which uses atmega644p, but have no idea how to interface it with stepper motor (nema17). also we will be using eaglecad, pcb-gcode wizard and pronterface software(s) to make the pcb design, convert it in gcode and send the gcode to the controller respectively.

someone suggested us to use L293D stepper motor driver but we are not sure how to interface it with sanguino controller.

we are quite clear about the mechanical section but are unsure of the electronics one.

kindly help me out.

mmcgregor41 year ago
How long did you spend on this project? I'm trying get approval from my boss to build one of these for our prototyping workshop, he likes the component cost but wants to know how many labor hours I would spend building it .
Honus (author)  mmcgregor41 year ago
Maybe a couple of weeks at least? It's hard for me to remember since I built it a while ago.
haikin81 year ago
what a beautiful machine~ i love it. maybe i'll make one~ I have a old printer, maybe i can use it~
mambre2 years ago
Can u please tell me the spindle's minimum requirements for milling jewelry wax? I am building a cnc router for making master models from wax. The motor is 50watts 2500rpm 220volts. You have used 12v motor, how many watts is it and amperage?
Wax is really easy to mill. A motor this size, or anything over an amp or two should be able to handle it easily.
I have already bought a spindle motor from china and with proper settings it can handle even aluminum. It is 12-48v 300w 12000rpm with ER11 collet.
Honus (author)  mambre2 years ago
I no longer have that motor since I am building a new machine. 50 watts@2500 rpm sounds pretty low unless you are using a very small cutter at high rpm. The problem with using very small cutters at high rpm is vibration- minimizing vibration in the spindle is very important.

Have a look at this thread for building a low cost variable speed spindle using a RC brushless motor-
savant774 years ago
Awesome mill Honus! Did you figure out how accurate it turned out to be? I imagine it is only as accurate as the tools you used to build it with. I already have a tabletop manual mill, now you gave me the idea to try and make it a cnc mill for easy operation. Thanks so much for taking the time to document this for the community.
Honus (author)  savant774 years ago
After trying to mill circuit boards I just wasn't satisfied with the results so I started building a new CNC that is much more rigid- plus it will print 3D parts as well.
dlrik Honus2 years ago
What are the dimensions of the extruded aluminum?
Honus (author)  dlrik2 years ago
The extrusions measure 1"x3" and 2"x4". I really need to get going on this again...
nduetime Honus3 years ago
Any instructable on this?
Honus (author)  nduetime3 years ago
No yet- I'm still working on it.
how much did the linear rails cost
Honus (author)  hightekrednek23964 years ago
I don't remember the exact amount since I got them a year ago but I think they were around $600.
tissit2 years ago
The word is "Torx". :)
Honus (author)  tissit2 years ago
Yes- but most every wood screw company labels them as "Star" drive screws- I didn't want people saying "I can't find Torx screws- I can only find Star screws." LOL!
I recently obtained two small motors from a vacuum cleaner. one is about the size of a roll of Kodak film, the other is larger than a film canister. This also came with a 6V power supply. Seeing as how the vacuum cleaner didn't do well after years of use, could i use the motors for making my own mill or lathe? or maybe some other tools?
Honus (author)  EngineerJakit3 years ago
I honestly have no idea. Without having some specs on the motors it's impossible to say.
sixth893 years ago
can u teach me how to program..?
Honus (author)  sixth893 years ago
Sorry but I can't. You might have a look at CNCzone.com.
abo alkader3 years ago
good and useful idea
blue_hound3 years ago
Good link for CNC supplies.

blue_hound3 years ago
Cool. I noticed you had issues with accuracy with your build and started a much more expensive one. I was wondering if the slides were where you think yo lost accuracy. I was wondering to make the oversize and shim them to suit while using bolts through the outisde face of the aluminum to maintain the parallel integrity.
Here are my x & y slides retained on the spacer from the outside. I plan on making my delrin a bit oversize and shimming my rails to suit.
Progress with larger spacers due to my different aluminum C-Channel. Anyone need the old ones?
Honus (author)  blue_hound3 years ago
That looks great! Are the spacers Aluminum?
yes. I have some resources that you don't ; )
It seems my aluminum c-rails are 1/8" wall thickness instead of the called for 1/16. I am wondering if I need the plywood for the y-axis slide. It seems pretty rigid. I guess the design of the y-axis backlash mechanism would have to change to suit also....hmmmmmmm....
Honus (author)  blue_hound3 years ago
It probably won't be rigid enough without a base for the Y axis and the slide will bind under load. One thing you could do about the backlash mechanism is to use Delrin nuts for the lead screws instead as they take up a lot less space. Dumpster CNC sells them-
Honus (author)  blue_hound3 years ago
It actually had more to do with rigidity and vibration- that's why the new machine build is all aluminum and uses very rigid slides. The most difficult thing with this build is making sure the slides don't have any slop in them while still being able to slide with as little resistance as possible.
blue_hound3 years ago
I see the acem nut is only retained on one side. Is it necessary to make a retainer for the spring side or does the spring tension keep it in tune? thanks in advance.
Honus (author)  blue_hound3 years ago
The spring tension keeps in place- it can't rotate in the slot.
blue_hound3 years ago
Yet another question. I am thinking of using 1/4-20 ACME rod instead of 1/4-16 and was wondering if there was a particular reason you chose the 16. thanks.
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