1. #1
    Hi all !

    I'm a cabinet maker by trade and have been making cabinets and kitchens for several years. I've also worked in electronics using a soldering iron etc and also in computer programming writing accounting software so I should be alright making a CNC, but I'd need help at times too I'm sure! I've never owned a CNC machine and so I've always deliberately made furniture that was hard to mass produce. So I make a lot of solid wood cabinets, from pine 8x4s mostly but also using beech for doors and faceframes,... the cabinets have 'in frame' type doors, and they're often handpainted.

    CNC wise I'd like to build a router for wood, as a hobby firstly but I'd also fully expect to use it in work once it was working. I already have some ideas for low cost cabinets made primarily from MDF but the CNC would obviously have many uses in a commercial workshop !

    The size of the CNC is tricky. I'd like it huge but that's unfeasible for the moment I think. So I'm thinking of having a working size of approx 1,100mm x 700mm, with a Z-axis of approx 125mm. (Which is tiny obviously... ) I'm not too fussy about the design and I'd happily use someones else design if they didn't mind! I'd like the X-axis to be infinite.. in other words that I can do one pass on my workpiece, and then move the workpiece using index points of some sort, and do a second pass. Working size of 2,200 x 700 in two passes in that case which would cover virtually all cabinet making jobs.

    I'm also considering mounting the CNC on a base 8x4 panel, and not on a massive base. I can make what I think is called a 'torsion box',.. which is basically two 8x4 sheets, about 4 inches apart, with bracing between them. This is pretty simple and would mean the machine could be stored or moved easily. My current workshop isn't huge at all.

    I'm more or less ready to start ordering my linear rails and ball-screws!! On the credit card of course, ha ha. Chai seems to be recommended so that's great. I checked him out and he seems very cheap. I know there may also be import charges.

    My main question is whether my size of 1,100mm x 700mm x 125mm is feasible and if there's a previous design of about that size that I could copy ! If it's bad ethics to want to copy a design then I'm sorry for mentioning it and I'll come up with my own. It's just reinventing the wheel and all that.

    My budget is what it takes, 1,500 to 2,000 I suppose.

    Cheers so

  2. #2
    Hi Joe and welcome
    Jazz or one of the guys will be along shortly but don't want to rain on your parade but the base won't work, far too flexible, Jazz has a machine mounted vertically which might be something to think about but i think you are going to have to consider a steel construction.

  3. #3
    Yes, a steel frame is a must if you want a good machine.

    Don't start buying ballscrews or rails yet - it's far too early. Which ballscrews and rails do you currently have in mind?
    Old router build log here. New router build log here. Lathe build log here.
    Electric motorbike project here.

  4. #4
    JAZZCNC's Avatar
    Lives in wakefield, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 11 Hours Ago Forum Superstar, has done so much to help others, they deserve a medal. Has been a member for 5-6 years. Has a total post count of 5,436. Received thanks 832 times, giving thanks to others 29 times.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan View Post
    Yes, a steel frame is a must if you want a good machine.

    Don't start buying ballscrews or rails yet - it's far too early. Which ballscrews and rails do you currently have in mind?
    100% agree here on both and just to add to it don't buy any electrics until ready to fit on machine and use.
    I'd also recommend you buy has you go along and start with building frame, then order screws when you have accurate references to work from. Nothing worse than compromising the machine because you've been restrained or limited by components you bought wrong.

    Going vertical will save loads of workshop space and it's easy to build cabinet around it to help contain mess, Think large wardrobe with clear folding doors and should give you an idea.?
    Honestly no down sides to being vertical only upsides.!! Less space needed, longer cutter life due to gravity helping clear chips, better surface finish again due to gravity and not re-cutting chips, less mess(without vacuum) has high percentage of chips fall before getting slung around room and even then most hit sides of machine and fall to ground.

    Has for design then don't copy mine has it wasn't intended for being vertical so can be made better if designing from scratch. It will soon be back on it's feet and up for sale after a re-fit with new screws, belts etc.

    If your wanting purely wood machine then it's easy enough design to get right just needs correct selection of ballscrews and electronics to achieve correct cutting feeds.
    Keep the base strong with low gantry sides or use the high side rail mounting you'll see on many designs on here along with shortest Z axis travel you can get away with and you won't have any troubles.

    Look a around at other builds and come back or throw your own design together and ask advice. PM me directly if you don't want to do it publicly.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by JAZZCNC; 19-09-2013 at 06:10 PM.

  5. #5
    alboy's Avatar
    Lives in Roscommon, Ireland. Last Activity: 8 Hours Ago Has been a member for 3-4 years. Has a total post count of 87. Received thanks 8 times, giving thanks to others 3 times. Referred 1 members to the community.
    Hi Joe,

    Nice to see someone else from the ROI. Looking at possibly building a machine myself. If you find anything useful in Ireland let me know, I can't find anything lol.


  6. #6

    Thanks all for replies.

    I'm not sure at all now what to do about the base. I really wanted to use a panel of some sort as I have access to panels and tools to work with wood, mdf etc. A panel could be made very rigid with bracing. My working size of 1,100 x 700 isn't huge I didn't think, and my spindle would be 3Kw max. I'll probably have to use some wood or mdf, plywood etc in the Y axis gantry and elsewhere as I don't think I'll be able to get machined aluminum or steel parts for everything. So I don't think I can achieve the nirvana of a shiny all chrome machine and so I was thinking I could compromise on the base a bit!

    I'm still thinking about the inclined version. It was strange at first to consider but it does seem quite good alright. Like a vertical panel saw which you might see in the big hardware stores. Have people noticed any problems with vertical CNCs? All backlash might be taken up by gravity in one direction, and doubled in the opposite direction.

    My general spec for the overall CNC is...

    used for routing softwoods primarily, and mdf.

    X Axis
    20mm or 25mm supported rails, with the bearing blocks spaced apart by about 375mm between the outside edges,.. rail length 1,500mm, working length = approx 1,100
    two 16mm ballscrews with two 3.1Nm motors directly coupled, both motors slaved electronically or through software rather than with a mechanical timing belt. OR perhaps one 20mm or 25mm ballscrew for the X axis but I prefer two.

    Y Axis (700mm working length so 950mm long maybe?) probably made with a few aluminum profiles, 60 x 30s as they has the correct hole spacing for 20mm supported rods, 16mm ballscrew, 3.1Nm motor directly coupled to the ballscrew. The gantry itself could be a combination of aluminum and wood, mdf etc.

    standard enough Z axis.

    Nema 23 motors, 3.1Nm, directly coupled to the ballscrews.
    AM882 stepper drivers with other high quality boards as appropriate,.. probably home made power supply if I can find good instructions.
    Limit and home switches on all axises.
    cable management system
    ad hoc clamp system for workpiece hold down to start.
    Emergency stop buttons.
    Perspex glazing in wood frame.

    I was originally thinking of using a high quality 1/2" wood router, like a Makita or a DeWalt, with motor load control and electronic speed control. Now I'm thinking of using a specialist CNC spindle, but only if it can be had for about 300 to 350 tops or thereabouts. If I had a specialist spindle I suppose I'd be expecting to have motor speed control in the software or else there's not much advantage over a woodwork router unless it was cheaper or better in some way.

    I've been looking at loads of designs. IF I search for DIY CNC in google and click on image you are shown hundreds of different designs. It's very hard to make decisions as there's so many competing ways to do things. Total budget perhaps 2,000 which I think should cover it.

    I've started some drawings but it's so hard to draw the whole machine. Not that I've got much further than the base! It is 3d of course though.


  7. #7
    I drew up a steel base, and a braced panel base.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The steel on the left would need additional mounting points for the ballscrews.

    Is it usual to drill and tap holes directly into the steel frame? It must be a lot of work to make a steel frame which is ground flat and is tapped for supported rails.

    I'd love to have a steel frame but I don't think I can go for it this time. I'll definitely ring a company about it though to price it up. If I thought I could have a suitable base made up for about 300 I'd be happy to pay for it.

    The base on the right is my suggested panel base.


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