Build a CNC Router From Scratch (Part 2): Complete Video Tutorial




About: I'm an Urban Designer for Downtown Houston. My formal education is from University of Miami, Bachelor of Architecture, and Masters at University of California, Berkeley in Urban Design. Prior to that, I wa...

If you haven't seen part 1, your CNC may look like a three legged dog. This is a multi-part instructable that demonstrates how to build a CNC Router (a computer controlled router) from scratch.

CNC Machines can come in many shapes and sizes. Just look at these cool instructables on building a CNC. This is a cool new instructable how to make a CNC using pipes, which blew me away. There is also this one that includes plans.

This instructable is based on a logical process of construction where measurements are made during certain steps to achieve any size CNC machine. Whether you want to build a mini mill for PCBs, or a large sign making device. It's up to you. With power tools, I believe that this machine can be made in one weekend. I built mine within two weeks with kids, wife and a job. I just wish I had a table saw to replace my miter box (you see me cranking away in the videos). The cool aspect of this build is that you can put the thing together as you create the pieces.

So, we left off with the z-axis assembly and now we can get started with the y-axis.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Make the Y-Axis Bearing Supports

Generally, the bearings, and supports are designed to hug the rail supports, using compression around two aluminum angles and a piece of MDF. This gives the machine it's rigidity.

First I will cut the y-axis rail support piece by taking a 7" wide piece and chamfering the four long edges to receive aluminum angles. The 7" measurement will dictate the z-axis travel. If you want more z-axis travel, use a wider piece. We will need this piece to make other measurements.

The two bearing supports for the y-axis will be cut about 5" to 6" in length using a 4" piece of MDF. These two pieces will slide along what I call the y-axis rail support. The bearing supports will hold the bearings with grooves cut out of the MDF.

Step 2: Measuring and Completing the Y-axis Assembly

This is the critical part. A quick and dry assembly with a clamp is necessary to measure for the y-axis back support and the z-axis rail support. The z-axis rail support was chamfered in part 1 and now we will cut that piece to the correct length. The length of one of the support pieces (z-rail support, or the y-axis back support) pieces should be slightly shorter (about 1/32") that the other so the whole assembly can be tightened around the rail support.

Step 3: The Z-Axis Transmission Nut

To get the z-axis moving with some sort of mechanism, a nut and a screw will be used. This video will show you how partly this is done. Also, I sow you a good technique to hold the nut in a piece of MDF. For the motor to be able to turn a screw and move the z-axis assembly up and down, the holes that are drill need to have a pretty good alignment.

First, you will get a glimpse of how the y-axis assembly will be positioned around the y-axis rail support piece.

Step 4: X-Axis Cutting Surface and Stands

Let's get to the meat of this project and skip ahead to the X-Axis for a minute (well, actually 8 minutes). It's important to mention that the x-axis rail support (the table or cutting surface) should have a double ply of MDF, if it is made as large as mine. My table measures about 2' x 4' which could be cut down a little if the application is for small sized projects. However, MDF is real cheap, so douple plying it should break the bank.

Note: if you do go the route of doubling the MDF, a larger aluminum angle will be necessary. Mine measured 1 1/4" x 1/8".

Step 5: Finishin Up on the Z-Axis Assembly

It's time to get a lead screw into the z-axis assembly to complete the mechanical portion of the linear movement. I will also get started on the x-axis rails in this video.

In the next part, we will start working on the gantry assembly.

Be the First to Share


    • CNC Contest

      CNC Contest
    • Make it Move

      Make it Move
    • Teacher Contest

      Teacher Contest

    15 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    hey phooddaniel, was following your tut, but it stops at the end of part 2... is there a follow up on this tutorial?

    kind regards



    10 years ago on Introduction

    I see you referring to the website quite a bit. Is that site yours? Just curious. If it is why the tutorials? IS it to help customers assemble the kits or make their own kits? By the way, I love the way you are putting this together. It makes it far easier to follow when you use very basic tools rather than professional tools that most of us may not have. You should host a show on TV because you make it very easy to follow and understand without actually speaking. You are very good at these tutorials. Look forward to following you through the whole process

    2 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Sorry for the WAY late response. Yes, this is my site. It get very deep into the detail with instructions on how to build the CNC machine and many more videos. Thanks for the Kudos.


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 1

    I have seen a few methods from various builders of this project. My favorite is mechanically securing the angle from each end. First, bore a hole from the inside corner of the aluminum angles on each end. Then, affix the angle on the table (or other pieces that will receive an angle) with long clamps, or the mechanism itself. Drill through the wood using the newly bored holes and then drill a transverse hold for the cross dowel. Glue can also be used; however, try to find a glue that woks well with these two materials. Epoxy will be too brittle. Wood glue may not bond to the aluminum over time. Maybe silicone would work, but I haven't tried it.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Hey phoodaniel, went to website, love your yz axes, do you have a picture of the z axis assembly and part of the y rails, not by the gantry sides? Want to incorporate the yz part into my cnc, just with slightly different x. Thanks!


    10 years ago on Step 1

    How did u secure the alum angles, the bearings and support, to the MDF?


    10 years ago on Step 5

    Thanks to the author for the great instructable. Nice work indeed! To the prior poster, "vaibhav", I believe that the remainder can be found at


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    I do plan on adding one (a chopper board) in the near future. The videos will include the entire process of etching (the old fashioned way), soldering, testing, and running. At the website, I include videos on the hobbycnc chopper board assembly. The home brew board will be an additional resource. My intent is to provide as many alternatives as possible.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    I have looked at that controller many times. I can't anticipate a problem with using it, but I would like to see if I can design my own using an Allegro chip. Thoughts?


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    No, just want to build linisteppers. I am not expert on microchips but I learning fast. I have a chip programmer in construction. In Romania is easy to find Microchip components. Another choice is Atmel but in time ...