For a long time I have wanted to built one of the most useful machines to have in the shop: the CNC router. It approaches the possibilities of a laser cutter, without the cost of an expensive ventilation system, power supply and powerful laser hardware. So I decided to built it! There is lots of instructions to find on the internet about building one with basic materials and tools. However, I found it difficult to source the right parts without even knowing how, when, and for what purpose I buy them. “Is this a fitting component?” I heard my self asking this question with each purchase. I went ahead and bought the parts one by one and slowly combined them to a machine.
In this post (and more to follow) I will give you a description (with pictures!) of each step of the process of building and provide a guide which will help you understand which components to buy and – most important – with what purpose you spent your hard earned money. I hope this guide will make it a lot easier for you to build this machine.
Let’s get started!
Ehhh, yeah. Where do we actually start? Let me point out the three parts of the machine. All CNC routers – and lots of other CNC machinery – consist of three parts: the mechanical frame; the electronic drive; and the software. In this post I will discuss each part separately to make things more understandable.
Design of the mechanical frame
There is multiple ways of coming up with a functioning mechanical design, but the method I prefer is find lots of reference images first, make sketches and then virtually build the machine using SketchUp. I decided to use the most popular and basic design and adapt it in a way that I would be able to build it with the tools I have available, which are just the basic woodworking tools.The final design of this machine is pictured below.
Download the design in the SketchUp 3D Warehouse.
I went ahead by first sawing the parts for the base and install the axles. Then I assembled the bridge and installed the linear bearing on the base axles. I made pockets for the bearings for the threaded rods and connected the threaded rods to base through the bearing and connecting it with locknuts. This process was repeated for the bridge axles and threaded rod and for the vertical axis. But my advice would be: take your time with each step and work carefully. You will not regret this!
Take your time with each step and work carefully.
List of materials
- 18mm plywood (7 layer multiplex)
- 10mm solid steel bar for axles
- 8mm threaded rods (I used brass for less friction)
- M8 locknuts
- 10mm linear bearings (Google for LM10UU)
- 8mm ball bearings (Google for 608ZZ)
The following post will contain details about the electronic components like motors, Arduino, firmware, and power supply.
“Science is about knowing; engineering is about doing.” ~ Henry Petroski