Dremel Carver/Duplicator Like a Human Powered CNC Router




I'm an Industrial Designer working for Tom Vincent. I have been really interested in the green mo...
For the last few years I have seen all these cool CNC projects from affordable rapid-prototyping machines, to laser cutters, to hacked together CNC routers. One of these days when I have the funds, I will build one of these CNC machines but till then I thought I would do something more on my budget.

I have a Dremel and have been buying various router bits for it lately. I was thinking that I could buy one of those Dremel Router tables but, that would be kind of limiting. So then I thought what about building a Dremel Duplicator. It would have three axes and could be utilized much like a CNC Router with the added advantage of copying an existing object.

This is my exploration into building a Dremel Duplicator.

+ Revision 1.1 - 01.04.08 - Wood and Metal Pipe construction
+ Revision 1.2 - 01.06.08 - Axes improvements
+ Revision 1.3 - Coming Soon!

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Step 1: Design Intent

My original design intent was to create a Dremel duplicator/carver from readily available and inexpensive materials. This machine should be able to duplicate simple operations such as holes, channels, and outlines. Ideally this machine would also be able to manufacture complicated 3D objects. Future versions may include synchronized turntables and a mounting plate to hold items in place.

I had this all planned out: draft a simple CAD model to figure out dimensions, print out pieces to use as a template, cut and drill parts, assemble, document, post to contest and brag about how this machine cost less than $20 to build, was modular and reconfigurable. Seems pretty easy but it was anything but&

The main stumbling block in Rev 1.1 was that I did not have access to a drill press. The holes in this project need to be exactly aligned, which is really hard to do with a hand drill.

Rev. 1.2 will show a proof of concept.
Rev 1.3 will hopefully show a refined project.

Step 2: Rev 1.1 - Materials

You may have asked yourself, does this work?

And the answer is that it's a work in progress.

The biggest problem was that I used a hand drill because I did not have drill press. All of the holes were crooked and none of the axes aligned. So would this work if you had a drill press? Maybe, but I think you would still need to come up with an ingenious to increase the performance of the sliding axes. This may be achieved by adding ball bearings or using UHMDPE plastic.

At any rate I am going to include the printouts and construction documents in case you want build/modify this design. If you build one or have any suggestions please email me and/or attach a picture.

You can fast-forward to Rev 1.2 to see a working prototype if you like.

Rev. 1.1

+ (1) Dremel
+ (1) Phillips screw driver to be used as a Stylus
+ 20ft of 1x2 hemlock (mdf or plywood may be better because it will be less affected my expansion and contraction of natural wood)
+ 5' 11 3/8 of .5 Stainless steel pipe (electrical conduit would be fine)
+ (1)  3/4" or smaller pipe clamp ($0.79Hardware Sales)
+ (1) 1.25" pipe clamp ($1.29 Hardware Sales)
+ (1) 2.5-3" pipe clamp ($1.29Hardware Sales)
+ (16) 2.5" wood screws
+ (34) 1.5" wood screws
+ (7) .5" wood screws
+ (6) 8-32 x 1" screws (this is to lock the Dremel and stylus in place.)

Useful Tools:
+Safety glasses and ear plugs: Safetly First, attempt project at your own risk! I will not be held liable for any injury, medical expense or death as a result of think about, building or using the project once completed.''

+ Hand drill
+ Miter Saw (hand saw could also be used)
+ Drill press
+ Pipe cutter
+ Various drill bits including 1/8, 1/4, .5 or slightly larger
+ Tape measure
+ Ruler
+ Router bits for a Dremel

Step 3: Rev. 1.1 - CAD Model

I'm not an engineer, so this is a work in progress.

Step 4: Rev. 1.1 - Wood Pieces

I used 1x2's because its inexpensive and relative uniform. The materials will be updated soon, I'm working out a few bugs.

Step 5: Rev 1.1 - Metal Pieces

Metal pipes lengths:

Step 6: Rev 1.2

Finally some success! As you can tell from the videos, all of the axes are working properly.

Now I just need to work on the accuracy. The x axis (left and right motion) is quite choppy at the moment. Im going make the arm the entire length of the vertical support so that it can only move up and down. The new x axis will be the pipe that the Dremel is attached to. Another improvement will be the addition of skate board bearings on the rails which should improve tool fluency. So stay tuned!

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    57 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Judging from the gap between Rev 1.1 and Rev 1.2, I have a sneaking suspicion that Rev 1.3 isn't "coming soon." :) Having not built Rev 1.1 or 1.2 myself, but seeing room for improvements, I'm going to take a go at Rev 1.3 myself this weekend.

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Do post your results :) Just found this myself, got a 3d printer wich is great for fine detailed stuff, but for bulkier components cutting down wood etc from diagrams seems very much quicker approach!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    To eliminate the slide problem, there is a 'sliding' ball bearing you can use, called a ball bushing, simply enough. It is a tube with straight 'races' inside. The races contain ball bearings that roll through the races and return the other direction, but not touching the surface as they return. It allows radial and linear movement. They come in many sizes and give a good tight fit when used with the proper sized shaft.

    Ball bushing.jpg
    4 replies

    I just looked for the price of those bearings and they run right around 70.00 a piece. Now having stated that since he is working with a limited budget I would suggest roller blade bearings because they are much cheaper and can be implemented into this design. He would have to make slots above the area where the pipes ride for the bearings, but I am sure he can do this if he has a decent jig saw or even a decent hand saw. Love those bearings but boy they are expensive.


    Reply 3 years ago

    I know this is very old, However if your still wanting linear bearing I can help you out. I'm not sure what size rails you have but 8mm or 10mm Linear bearings can be had for under 20 shipped and thats a high estimate


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    You're a good man, kenbo0422. This piece of hardware will simplify a great deal the CNC I was planning to build. Thanks for this piece of tip.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I just recalled the name of it, lol, its a linear bearing. I think McMaster sells them.


    3 years ago

    Could you please change the video settings to "Public"? Thanks


    3 years ago

    Youtube videos are set to private.


    3 years ago

    muy buen diseƱo y practico felicitaciones saludos desde venezuela


    3 years ago

    One note on the stylus. You really need the stylus to match the size and shape of the router bit to cut exact dimensions. Maybe have a friend w/access to a 3D printer print a plastic copy of your bit?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    An idea to throw in the mix. My wife is a quilter and I have been researching free motion quilting rigs for her, and this might benefit from the way they control them. The sewing machine rests on a platform with handles on it and a stylus to trace the pattern, if you were to add some handles to the dremel holder, then you could watch where the point is, but actually move the dremel, that should take care of much of the slop issues. I saw a pic of one that a guy used a laser pointer mounted to the rack. I've been thinking about making something like this for my router.


    Can the duplication machine copy EVERYTHING, including game cases? Even if it doesn't, your duplication machine is COOL!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I love the idea! But I too wanted to see it in action. Bummer!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I am not trying to be mean or put anyone down But - - This is a joke right?

    They sell a version of this at M-- Wards.

    You can find a version in more places than I can find room to list here.
    It is called a pantograph -- (Google or Bing this) these sell for $29.00 and up.

    In drafting and art classes they show you how to make one with 4 yard sticks (or rulers) and a few thumb tacks and a rubber band.
    Dremel Sells a better one!!!