Manual Milling Machine/Surface Planner




Introduction: Manual Milling Machine/Surface Planner

About: Being a science student i love to indulge in projects related to engineering as i love to learn things practically...

We have recently started working on some Live river edge floating shelves. As we tackled through a bunch of problems we eventually got stucked in the middle of the project just as we are done moulding the boards along with the epoxy resign.

We needed a surface planner to plan the surface of borads and the problem is that we dont have one whereas the local shop owner that owns one doesnt knows how to operate it properly.

Well we would love to built the drum sander on our own but that might require some tools that we dont have right now. So instead we decided to built a Manual Milling machine that can help us to get the surface of the board planned as well as it will also be helpful for getting much more done than a usual drum sander.

Besides, this build is also about to get ourself into the built of CNC milling machine soon, so definatley a learning curve down the built...

Step 1: The Idea: Initiating the Built

The idea is to get going with the simplest design and the material thats commonly avliable at the local hardware store. After a couple of hours into brainstroming we decided to go with 1in and 1.25in aluminium tubing and MDF sheet. The rails are going to be self built so we started with the main beams.

There are two main beams facing each other measuring 22in wide. For moving the rails we decided to use geared DC motors and the ones that we have got are quiet compact and rated for 24v.

Step 2: The Main Frame

The main frame is made out of 0.75in square aluminium tubing oining the main beams. These tubes will also later be arranged repeatedly to form the flat bed.

First we cut the tubes to a length of 26in and later we trimmed each end at 45 degree angle so that the tubes can be easily mounted using 3mm rivits. Once we cut down all the tubes we started drilling holes using a wooden jig to speed up the process as there were a whole lot of them to be drilled.

Once we are done drilling the holes it was time to mount a pair of tubes on each side of one of the main beams. Now before we rivit the other end it was time to make the sliding assembly and slide it over the rails.

Step 3: Slides

The sliding assembly is made out of 10mm thick MDF sheet. First we have cut down all the required stripes on our table saw which were than later cut down to the required length.We glued the pieces together making sure that there is enough clrearance to let the slides easily run over the aluminium rails and dont wobble there.

Once the slides are in place we connected them using a pair of aluminium tubes with a piece of MDF sheet to act as a guide. Initially we plannes to move the x-axis using two geared motor mounted right in the centre facing each other,but there is a twist in that.

Step 4: Repositioning the Motors

As we tried to move the x-axis by applying the force to the support right in the centre,the slides started to lag on of of the end and we soon realized that we need to reposition the motors on either end use two threaded rods to drive the slides equally.

Now even that mechanism is not going to be perfect as the unequal load on either slided can make it slow down and thus causing the slided lo lag but with a feedback mechainsm we can resolve this issue, and all of that is going to be a lesson for building a CNC milling machine very soon.

So as we remounted the motors on either end, we made MDF blocks, drilled holes, made groves for the nuts to be glued in there and sandwitched them with MDF sheet to keep the nut in place.Now that threaded block is glued to either slide and a 10mm Stailnless threaded rod cut down to the required length is then mounted in place to drive the x-axis.

Step 5: Finishing the Bed

Next we attached the threaded rod to the geared motors using aluminium couplings. MDF feets we added to each end to lift the bed.

Once we assembled tha base frame we started to lay off all the tubes to form the bed of the machine. All the tubes were moiunted using a pair of 3mm rivits on each end. Not only these aluminium tubes were dead straight but with a bunch of them the whole structure was strengthened.

Step 6: The Beams

To built the beams for y and z-axis, we have used 1.25in square aluminium tubing. The tubes were cut to 10in length and then drilled with the required holes to mount them as well as mount the motor.

The beams were then mounted to the sliding rails using wood screws that seems to hold the properly.

Step 7: The Y-axis

For the router we have decided to use an inrunner brushless motor thats fitted with a 12mm endmill cutting tool. Now this motor is going to be mounted over the z-axis which is based on the y-axis assembly. So we cut down all the pieces required for that using MDF sheets.

Once we glued all the pieces together we have connected both beams using two aluminium tubes over which the y-axis assembly is going to move. Later we connected the screw to the motor using the aluminium coupler.

Step 8: The Z-axis

The z-axis is going to hold the router and will be used to determine the height of cut. So the slide is built as the previous ones but it offers the motor mount to secure the motor in place. The assembly offers a travel of 3.5 inches deep which is driven by the same geared motor.

Once all the parts are ready we assembled them together and with that being done the machine have the acess to all three axis.

Step 9: Wiring Everything

To drive all three axis we are going to use three DPDT switches which will help us to control the direction of moment. The two motors on the x-axis are connected in parallel and we made sure that both of the spins in the same direction while the rest of the two motors are connected to the other two switches.To drive the brushless motor we are going to use a brushless motor ESC and to control the speed we are going to use a servo tester.

To power both the router and the geared motors we have use a 12v lithium pollymer battery pack.

Step 10: Final Results

For the test run we are going to mill the surface if the live reiver edge boards that we are recently working on. They are mady out of epoxy and hardwood. The boards were mounted over the mdf sheet that is screwed across the base of the machine.The boards were held in place using hot glue.

At first the machine started milling perfectly but as we proceeded, the ESC fried as we were using an RC airplane version that doest have anything to cool it down. Later we replaced it with an RC car ESC that has integrated cooling system and that did the job perfectly.

Now this whole project is to let us learn about the challanges of building a CNC milling machine specifically building the structure. So the whole process was a good learning curve, yup the machine was not a perfect attemp but still it helped to get the boards flatten with a bit of post sanding.

I hope you liked the project.


DIY King

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    miguel angelR8
    miguel angelR8

    1 year ago

    Hi from Argentina. Will you upload the plans, list of materials, any other docs to be able to duplicate your job??? Its an awesome rapid-build prototype. Cheers!!


    1 year ago

    You should be able to eliminate binding if you connect the two lead screws with a basic timing belt such as XL profile.


    1 year ago

    Only one comment: shop vac kkkkkkk :]


    1 year ago

    Same question: What kind of glue wich you use for MDF?


    1 year ago on Step 9

    A very good instructable for learning some mechanics and procedures, but there are some problems. A lot actually, but particularly it's just not heavy enough nor stiff enough.

    This statement is just made up and has no validity. " Not only these aluminum tubes were dead straight but with a bunch of them the whole structure was strengthened."

    Anytime wood is introduced the precision is compromised. Wood of any sort won't hold a precision of more than .01 in.

    The motors are too small.
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    Reply 1 year ago

    Don't forget is to make a flat surface only. Is not for 3D job.


    Question 1 year ago on Step 3

    what kind of glue wich you use for MDF and other material?