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In this Instructable you will:

  • Setup the Sherline CNC Mini Mill,
  • Generate the g-code necessary for cutting out your name, and
  • Cut out your name in a block of wood!

Step 1: Gather the Supplies

You will need:

  • A relatively small (3x6") piece of wood or plastic to cut
  • Two "step-ladder" clamps
  • A crescent wrench
  • The allen wrench with the red handle
  • A 1/8" endmill

Step 2: Clamp Your Workpiece to the Mill

  1. Place your workpiece on the mill and line up the back faces (Picture 1)
  2. Slide one of the step-ladder clamps into the Tee-Slot on the mill (Picture 2)
  3. Loosen the bolt so that you can slide in the ladder block so that the clamping block is slightly angled DOWN towards the workpiece (Picture 3)
  4. Tighten the clamp nut with the crescent wrench. It needs to be snug but not so tight that the clamp is digging significantly into the wood! (Picture 4)
  5. Attach the second clamp on the other side of the wood, and slotted into the other Tee-Slot on the mill. (Picture 5)

Step 3: Insert the Endmill

  1. Insert the endmill into the holder, ensuring the flat place on the shank is ligned up with the setscrew (Picture 1)
  2. Tighten the setscrew with the allen wrench with the red handle (Picutre 2)

Step 4: Make a New File in Cut2D

  1. Open up Cut2D. In the left sidebar, press "Create a New File" (Picutre 1)
  2. Enter in the approximate width, length, and thickness of your workpiece (Picture 2)
  3. Make sure the "Z Zero" is set to the top of the workpiece
  4. Make sure the "XY Origin Position" is set to the bottom left
  5. Make sure "Use Origin Offset" is NOT checked
  6. Make sure your units are in inches
  7. Press Ok

Step 5: Write Your Name With Cut2D

  1. In the left sidebar under "Create Vectors", select "Draw Text Within a Vector Box" (The "T" icon with a box around it) (Picture 1)
  2. Type in your name (or an expletive) and choose a font. Press "Apply" at the bottom left of the sidebar to update the view. (Picture 2)
  3. IMPORTANT: By default, the "Bounding Box Dimensions" are the full size of your workpiece. You must visualize where you placed your clamps and where the cutter is going to cut in order to make sure that the cutter does not cut the clamps. To be extra sure you do not cut the clamps, change the "Bounding Box Dimensions" to be 1 inch narrower than your workpiece. Press "Apply" (Picture 3)
  4. Press "Close" at the bottom right of the sidebar when you are happy with your text.

Step 6: Create Toolpaths With Cut2D

  1. At the top right of the screen, press the "Toolpaths" button to open up the Toolpaths Panel. Press the little pushpin to keep the panel open. (Picture 1)
  2. Under "Toolpath Operations", press the top right icon (the big "T") to "Create a Quick Engraving Toolpath"
  3. For the tool, press "Select". In the popup menu, select "End Mill (0.125 inch)" from the list on the left. Press "OK" at the bottom of the popup. (Picture 2)
  4. Ensure the "Depth/Pressure" is set to 0.15 inches. (Picture 3)
  5. Ensure the mode is set to "Fill".
  6. Set the "Stepover" to 0.1 inches.
  7. Set the mode to "Hatch".
  8. Ensure you have selected the vector of your name, it should be pink if it is selected.
  9. Press "Calculate", you should see some lines now within your name.
  10. Press "Close" in the Toolpaths panel at the bottom right (you may need to scroll)

Step 7: Export Your Toolpaths to G-Code

  1. In the "Toolpaths" panel on the right side, click the icon underneath the big T to "Save the Toolpath".
  2. At the bottom of the panel, press "Save Toolpath(s) to File"
  3. Name your file and save it to the Desktop.

Step 8: Setup Mach3 and Zero the Mill

  1. Open up Mach 3
  2. Press the big red flashing "Reset" button
  3. Load your g-code file from the desktop (File > Load G-Code) You should now see your name in the black preivew box at the top right, and your code displayed in the top left box. (Picture 1)
  4. Turn on the power to the mini mill's stepper motors with the switch on the back of the black box that they are connected to. (Picture 2) You should hear the motors lock up. If they do not, the power box may be unplugged.
  5. Go back to Mach3. You can now use the arrow keys and the Page Up and Page Down keys to manually move the mill around. Position the cutter at the top of the workpiece, in the left corner that is closest to you. (Picutre 3)
  6. In Mach3, press "Ref All Home", a veritcal button to the left of the coordinates. Then press "Zero X", "Zero Y", and "Zero Z". All of the coordinates should now be at +0.0000. (Picture 4)

Step 9: Turn on the Mill and Cut Out Your Name!

  1. Ensure your safety glasses are on.
  2. Turn on the spindle with the switch on the front of the motor (Picture 1) Spin the dial to find a moderate speed about 50% to 75% of the maximum.
  3. In Mach3, press "Cycle Start" (the big Green button above the Reset button)
  4. Enjoy the magic! (Picture 2)
  5. IMPORTANT: If anything goes wrong, press the Stop button and then turn off the motor.

Step 10: Finish Up

  1. Once the code is complete, the mill will return back to X and Y zero, and a positive Z.
  2. Turn off the motor and remove the endmill
  3. Loosen the clamps and remove your workpiece! You may want to sand up the edges a bit.
  4. Turn off the stepper motor power supply
  5. Cleanup your work area and shutdown the computer

<p>Wow that a cool project! Well done explaining the intricacies, and thanks for sharing!</p>

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