My name is Tony, I live in Bracknell. I've been interested in building a CNC router for some time. I started this particular journey a couple of years ago when I got hold of the plans for a "MiniMill", which was constructed from high density plastic. I enjoyed studying these plans but didnít get anywhere with it really, our family grew and there were other things that needed doing. Early this year I picked up the interest again and liked the look of the BuildYourOwnTools Wood machine. It appealed to me as I have no workshop to speak of and at the time had few tools and no machinery beyond a cordless drill. Having got into the process of studying the plans and cutting the wood, courtesy of B&Q to start with, and then a mains powered circular saw, I started to envisage how the machine would work. That was a few months ago. Since then I've been reading this forum and have been amazed at what you all have achieved.
To be honest I have to admit that I have made some of the basic CNC errors one can make, firstly I donít have a real use for the machine, I just would like to build one. Furthermore I donít have a clear detailed design and find that as I study the designs of others I'm constantly revising my mental plan. I've realised that I donít really know how to use CAD, have limited electronics knowledge and having seen some of what you guys have got up to, canít be satisfied with wood and want to machine Aluminium.
All is not lost however, I do have an engineering background and some 25 years ago was a skilled apprentice. I worked in mechanical maintenance in a large factory and completed my college work at just the right time to get into automation, which through a long and convoluted process took me from robotics (Fanuc and ABB) to controls, (bit of PLC, mainly software), to SCADA systems; which to this day was the most fun technology I ever worked with. I then moved out of the factory, into 'the offices' and on to the world of IT.
My key constraint is the lack of tools and so I've taken the pragmatic approach of starting with some basic components which I will fashion into a machine over time. The basic design concept is a movable gantry and I have purchased lead screws at 2x1.5M, 1x1M, 1x450mm.The Z is longer than I need but the ball screws are pre-machined and I'm happy to work with that. I'm also planning to use 15mm Hiwin Linear Rails and 4x3NM Nema 23 Motors driven by AM882 drivers and some power supplies that I believe will support that. I plan to use a Chinese water cooled spindle in the 1.5-2KW range. Essentially I have purchased the most expensive components up front to secure the budget and allow me to design a machine around them.
As I revise and complete my cache of parts I'm looking into the design process more. I plan on starting with the Z axis, mainly because itís a manageable size and I've found great detail within this forum to assimilate. I donít expect to be able to construct the machine quickly as the budget going forward will be restricted to what I can afford on a month by month basis.
My next steps are to keep studying and to get to grips with some basic CAD. I have TurboCad 18 which I have not used yet and Sketchup, which I am more attracted to as it feels less intimidating. I've seen some export tools that will take a Sketchup file and export it and I can always 'go pro' for the 8 hours when I feel I have something worth exporting.
I'm new to this forum and to the idea of building my own machine and although I realise that I have made some classic mistakes in getting excited (and spending some money) before I have a solid and verified design, I have also been really impressed with how you folks support each other and offer solid friendly advice. So I'll stop here for now and as I come back with some details, look forward to seeing what you think.
Welcome to the forum Tony, like you I am new to the forum & the world of building your own machine but have already had some great advice & learnt a lot, you will need to totally rethink things if you originally wanted to machine just wood but now looking at machining ally.
If you have any designs already the guys on this site will be happy to pull them apart for you lol
Seriously, if you look at some of the build threads you will see that people have had lots of help in getting designs right so the machine will be able to do the jobs they want it to.
Good luck with your build.