My First CNC Machine




About: I am a bit of geek who loved to make things himself or make things better. making it myself gives me great satisfaction especially if i can do it better and cheaper

This CNC was created using parts bought though the Kickstarter project

Here is the Ended Kickstarted Project

The Design was built using Aluminium profiles and 3rd printed parts.

The great part of the design of this is that the Accuracy required for the project is designed in by using 3D printed parts. This was crucial for me as I don't own any equipment that would allow me to drill and cut accurately. the whole project was completed USING HAND TOOLS ONLY!

Step 1: Parts List

<---Main Parts--->

8 x 3/4" Linear Rod Rail Shaft Support For Cnc ***

4 x 3/4" rails 2x12" 2x24" ***

2 screw rails 1x12" 1x24"

(alternative lead screws

CNC Z Axis

ACME Nut Bracket

Linear Bushing slide

Rounter Mount

Stepper Motors

Motor Coupler (3/8" to 1/4")

<---Emergency Stops--->

Microswitches x6

Crimp Connectors

Sockets x4

Plugs to fit socket x4 (order some spare too)


<---Aluminium Profiles--->

Ordered from These parts from Metallin ordered cut to size and drilled. I Ordered all my parts cut to the correct length as I don't have a suitable method for cutting accurately

60x30 = 12" + 0.375" + 0.375" = 12.75" = 323.8mm x 2 (gantry bottom+ top)

60x30 = 24.75" + 0.375" + 0.375" = 628.65mm x 2 (Table length) with hole each end to attach universal connector

60x30 = 12" = 304.8mm x 2 (verticals) (Order End caps also x4)

120x30 = 12" = 304.8mm x 2 (ends) (Order End caps also x4)

T-Slot Nut 6 St M6

Standard Connector Set 6


bearing 3/8 x 7/8

Step 2: Design 3D Printed Parts

Using a 3d CAD software i designed the Brackets that would hold the Guide rails in place.

I also needed a part to mount one Stepper motor on the side of the Gantry.

The great thing about this is by having this part printed the accuracy of the design is printed in and does not have to be hand drilled in the workshop

I used software to design my parts and then sent them off to a 3D printer service to have the printed (

my 3D print STL files can be downloaded here

Step 3: Drill Clarence Holes Fro Lead Screws

Drill holes in the Side Profiles and End profiles.

Because the Accuracy this 3D printed into the design the holes just have to be larger than the screws (3/8")


Using a Tap set tap out the holes were required so you can use the T fasteners

then just take your time and screw all the parts together.

Step 5: Fit Emergency Stops

Using the switches Screw them in place so they will activate when the CNC machine reaches the end of its travel.

Wire the cables so it is NC (Normally Closed) that was if there is a short circit the CNC machine will fail to a safer position.

I had to add additional wiring to my control box for the Emergency stops.

Step 6: Calculate Steps Per MM for Mach3 Settings

Now I used this website ( to calculate the correct Steps Per mm

the step angle of my stepper motors is 1.8°

the stepper motors are connected directly to the Lead screws so gear ratio is 1:1

and the CNC controller is set to 1/4 Stepping

my results were as follows

for the Z axis

9.53mm (2.11mm Lead) ACME Lead Screw

Steps per mm 379.47

for the X and Y axis

9.53mm (5.08mm Lead) x 381mm ACME Lead Screw

Steps per mm 157.48

Step 7: FINISH

I finished the design by adding a MDF work surface. This allows the bench surface to be easily replaced and flexible for fixing items to the base.

The last step is to connect it to a computer with a parallel port and run :)

Get a copy of the user manual for Mach3 (soon to be Mach4) spend lots of time reading and understanding the documentation.

Good luck and have lots of fun.

Step 8: Extra Step - Build Enclosure

Ok so its finished but it cant stay on my living room floor Until i get a bigger home!

So I needed to build a case so i can move it safely and look after all the kit

I built a rough box (using what material i had laying about) so the electronics could sit inside in a relatively dust free environment

The Machine can then sit on the top and the wires pass through to the machine.

Step 9: First Cutting Run

Its is a reasonable First effort BUT there are some learnings....


1. There is Backlash/play in the Y axis casing errors. It is currently fitted with just a normal ACME Nut. I have placed an order for an AntiBacklash Nut so i can replace it.

2. The Gantry wobbles when moving in the Y Axis at high speed. This is because it is unbalanced. I have ordered a larger piece of Aluminium Profile so I can place the Centre of gravity in-between the two sleeves on the rails. additionally this will allow me to stiffen up my gantry more but will loose some cutting area.

3. I was initially receiving false Limit switch activations. The cause was traced to noise on the Limit switch signals. the reason for this I am unsure but it could be because I have not used Shielded Cables. To overcome this i have added some DeBouncing Code to the computer software to overcome this.

Step 10: Adding Router Speed Control and Emergency Stop Switch

I have used the UK equivalent to the Colt router which is a fixed speed router. This has given me an new problem... Spindle Speed control.

So what I have done is install the Kemo AC Power Control Module inline with an emergency stop.

I also connected one of the parallel port pins through the emergency stop.

this means in an Emergency when I press the button a stop signal is sent to the CNC controller and cuts the power to the Router.


The speed controler cannot tell you how fast the spindle is spinning.

additionally on some fixed speed routers the cooling is dependent on the router running at full speed. thus running the motor slowly for an extended period can cause the motor to overheat and burn out.

CNC Challenge

First Prize in the
CNC Challenge



    • Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest

      Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest
    • Beauty Tips Contest

      Beauty Tips Contest
    • Sensors Contest

      Sensors Contest

    35 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    You may want to look at LinuxCNC as your software... it's free and very configurable. I've been doing quite a bit with it lately... adding probe routines, special function keys, etc.


    1 reply


    I have just started using LinuxCNC as an alternitive because i cant install windows on my PC. (Not sure why its not working)


    1 year ago

    Can you send pdf files of cnc machine


    1 year ago

    Çok iyi iş, Solidworks & pdf Dosyalarını paylaşabilir misin?


    1 year ago

    Very Good work, can you share de Solidworks Files?

    richard westerfield

    3 years ago

    to bad this was built in England the cost would be to much to have the parts shipped over here other wise a nice build

    thank you

    Richard Westerfield

    1 reply

    Thanks for your comment

    Some of the parts were ordered from america.


    I hope this helps


    3 years ago

    How fast did it take you to put that cnc machining equipment together? By the looks of it seems like it would be simple to put one together. I'm guessing this will be something to try out and show to my father.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Well if you had purchased all the pieces and It could be easily built within a day.
    I think i built most of mine in a day. I ordered the aluminium profiles cut to size so it was very easy to assemble the main components.

    I has to wait for some switches , a computer to run it etc which slows things down.


    3 years ago on Introduction

    for that amount of money you could have bought a complete cnc ! This is diy not assemble out of box-structable!

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    It is true for the money I spent in the long term I could have bought one.
    But I set out in the beginning from knowing nothing about a CNC machine to build my own from scratch. This project took me almost 7 years in planning and saving money and eventually building.

    I have enjoyed making some mistakes along the way and have learnt much.

    If you wish an out of the box instructable i suggest you look at other projects.


    since i bought all my stuff from

    looking at the comparison it looks good. its also 4 axis which is great.



    4 years ago

    Exceptional work!!
    I would really like to see how well the machine works on Aluminum. Could you please post some photos for that!
    Also if you could throw some light on what kind of modifications does one need to make to enable the machine to mill and drill other harder metals?

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago

    thanks for you comment. i have yet to machine some aluminium. I am considering making it larger as my X axis is currently limited in the amount of machining space.

    but when I do machine some aluminium i shall be sure to post a video.

    as for machining harder metals..... I am not totally sure but you most certainly will have to consider some sort of coolant!. with my current design this would not be possible as all the electronics are underneath.

    You may also may need to build the machine more solidly to allow extra rigidity