Introduction: Homemade Budget CNC

About: I like to make stuff. All kinds of stuff! ZepLabs HandCrafted Nikos Zepidis

Hello all,

I'm finally back !

With a project. A good one!

This time we are making a CNC machine. It's gonna be a budget one, open source, fully functional , reliable and sturdy (as it gets!) three axis , fixed gantry CNC machine for everyone.

If you dig around my channel or my account here , you'll find out that I've made a couple of similar machines in the past.I am happy to say that they work just fine to this day, both of them! But now, it's time to make a new one, which (unfortunately) I don't get to keep.....!

After a lot of experimenting with those thingys, I feel confident to say that this one will be able to mill some aluminum and give a descent result. Hopefully it 'll run like a clock, so I decided to name it "Quartz 3035". It is build of materials easy for anyone to find, and to work with, without requiring any sophisticated tooling.

Here's a video about the first part of it, presenting it and building the frame. Check it out and follow me to the next step right after, where I' ll have you a link to download the plans!

Step 1: Plans/Sketch-up File

I have already created a sketchup file on how the machine is going to look and you can find it here. It is on actual dimensions and you can download it anytime and measure anything you want on there. I 'll be updating that file through the build (which is not gonna take long at all, just saying!) and I'll try to provide full documentation in general, in case you want to build one for yourself! It includes lists of materials, links on the software and everything else you may need and I haven't thought about for the moment..

Step 2: The Make of the Frame

Roughly you are gonna need:

-1/3 sheet of plywood. I went with marine plywood (okoume), 25 mm thick. There's no particular reason to make it of marine plywood, especially since I 'm gonna paint it in the end..I am just making this for someplace special, so I wanted to use "the good stuff" , plus that I get a really good price for it! You can use any plywood, but prefer a quality one if you have a choice (baltic birch could be a nice choice too..)

-2.5 meters long Φ12 mm steel rod (shafts). I am using galvanized iron since thats what I found on the hardware store at the moment! (They are quite cheap too). A better choice might be inox though...

And thats all for now!

So, let's talk a bit about it.

Well, starting on this depends on the form of your lumber, if you are using a single piece of plywood or bought them already cut. In my case, I figured out the dimensions I was going to need on the larger pieces (like the bottom, and the sides) and I didn't bother too much on some smaller ones, bought some extra pieces to cut them into desired size. To start with, you are gonna need a baseboard of 52cm X 45 cm, the front/back pieces which are both 45cm X 6.5 cm (had to cut them on my own as the local hardware store won't cut anything with less than 10 cm wide) and two side pieces 52 X 25.

I took that curve for the side pieces from my sketchup file, and using a big print program and a common printer I tranfered it into several pieces of A4sized paper which I later taped together and made myself a very accurate template! Used this to trace that line one of the side pieces (52 X 25) and cut it on an upside down jigsaw.

A bandsaw would be great for this, but I dont have one for now... And you know how they say that the tools make the craftsman? Not the case really! If you think of it, the first person that made a precission mill, must have only had some hand tools and a ton of patience! (sort of). So just use a jigsaw if thats what you have in hand and make sure to cut just a tiny bit outside your line so we can later sand those parts till perfection!

Once you have your first side piece ready, you can use it to trace four piecesthe line on the second one and then repeat the whole process.

So now you should have four pieces, identical in pairs of two...Go ahead and clamp them together securely, we are gonna drill them holes for the axis! By clamping them together and making sure you are drilling vertical as it gets, you are making sure that the holes are gonna be on the same place on those pieces and you wont have any misallignements .Take your time to get it right, cause it will require much more effort to fix in case of a mistake!

Shafts I'm using are of a diameter of 12 mm so I 'm first using a drill bit of 10 mm and another of 11,8 to end with , and have a tight fit. Once you are done with those holes you can go ahead and fit those pieces together,all on the baseboard. Front and back pieces go under the baseboard, attached to the sidefaces, while side pieces go on top of it. This will give the machine some extra strenght and make it easier on you to get them square! We are just using some screws for now on them all...

Now for the gantry! You are gonna need two pieces of dimensions 42 X 12. The vertical piece is gonna lay 2 cm back from the holes you made on your side pieces earlier and is gonna plunge on each one of them side pieces for 1cm. The other piece of the gantry is gonna lay square to the first (vertical piece) and is going to plunge in it (at the lower end) and both the side pieces for 1cm also. You got it right! You have some measuring to do!

After having measured and tracked where the recesses on the side pieces need to be, of course you have to make them. If you have a router/ trimmer just go and grab that! If not, no worries at all. Just get a sharp chisel and roll your sleeves up. You 'll do some surgery there...

Made them already?? You are on fire... Now we need some openings ( big square holes) on the bottom piece and the gantry's vertical one. Size is not critical, but keep in mind that you 'll have to stick your hand in there now and then, to adjust the driving belt when we are all done here. You can use the dimensions I used, which you can find on the sketchup file I linked above. My hands are more or less like a lumberjack's, so I think yours will be able to fit in there too! Except you are a higher rank lumberjack mate!

Get a fostner/ spade bit and makea hole in each corner(inside of it). Then use the jigsaw to cut on the line from one hole to another. Then, go ahead and sand/ trim the sides to make it look just a bit prettier for now, and you are done there.Let's go assemble the whole structure. Don't glue anyhting there just yet though! And there you have it. The frame of your new, soon to be beloved,CNC machine!

But I think I got you tired enough for now..! So lets call it a day here, and I 'll be back in no time to get this thing up and running...The rewarding moment!

See you all, and thanks for reading/watching!