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  1. #1
    Hi CNCers,

    I'm looking around for some detailed plans to build a CNC machine. I've got good wood, metalworking, electronics and computer skills but this will be my first machine so the more detail the better. I don't mind paying for plans but anything over 30 I'm going to have to think carefully about it. These plans look good:

    24x48~Solsylva CNC Plans

    Can anyone vouch for these or suggest alternatives please? Plans specific for UK parts would be preferred.

    The primary application is cutting wooden parts for furniture, so the cutting envelope would have to be on the large-ish side - perhaps 2m x 1m x 0.2 m.

    Many thanks,
    Woodspiral.

  2. #2
    woodspiral, I started with a similar outlook, first I just wanted to buy a machine because I was more interested in using it than building it. After reviewing loads of commercial offerings I found them to be either too expensive or they lacked features I required, this ultimately led me to building a machine to my specification. Most plans I think are American and they seem to have different build techniques than we do in the UK, but that is not say one method is wrong. My suggestion is that you look through the build logs here, I know it gets to be a ball ache after a while, then cobble together the bits you like into your own design. The main reason is that you will learn far more by doing this and it will pay dividends later on I believe. All you need do is download the free Sketchup software and get going, once you overcome the initial hurdle of actually making a start it will come together quite quickly.
    It would be different if you were looking to buy a kit of parts but as it's only the plans you seek I'm inclined to think you could produce these just as well yourself.
    Last edited by EddyCurrent; 27-12-2013 at 09:16 PM.

  3. #3
    Agree 100% with Eddy thou I'm going to suggest you keep the size down to the minimum length you need because it gets quite a bit more involved building a good machine has the length increases and 2mtr+ machine I wouldn't recommend for a first time builder unless you either study in detail what's required for both design and components or seek advice from someone who's actually built a working machine at this length.!

    Like Eddy suggests I wouldn't waste time or money on plans has everything you need is here on the forum and most plans I've ever seen have been crap and designed to be made from wood which is a recipe for disaster and disappointment.

    Read some Threads then read again until you understand the pitfalls, post a build thread with what you have in mind and ask for advise on anything you don't understand.
    Don't Rush in with building or buying components until your 100% sure they are the correct for your needs.

  4. #4
    Hi woodspiral
    I too started with the Solsylvania plans but when I started to price it up for decent wood, aluminium excursions was cheaper and stronger! I completely agree with the previous posters and suggest you follow their advice. These guys have helped me greatly with the advice and help which has saved me from costly errors. I am now building a aluminium router and will post my build log shortly. I has taken me 2.5 years to get to this stage and there is still more to learn!
    Regards Mike

  5. #5
    Instead of buying plans, just make a plan:
    -read the build logs
    -learn Sketchup/free/ to draw your machine/ very simple to learn and extremely fast to draw using 5-6 buttons and mouse/
    -make a build thread

    One thing to say. Ok , i have to say it because its true- This is the best forum in internet for CNC. The knowledgeable and friendly people make it so. But mostly, you will see here far better designs than the typical "plans for sale", even than most of the commercial routers.

  6. #6
    Thanks very much for the replies. It's not really what I want to hear! This is for a professional application so I need to make a full-sized machine (2m x 1m x 0.2m approx) and I don't have time to make a smaller prototype. If I had tons of cash I'd buy a top end 5-axis machine, but my budget pretty limited, so it looks like a 3-axis self-build for me.

    My problem isn't really the design as such it's the choice of parts. I can use SketchUp and AutoCAD but that's not the problem. For example, given my desired machine size, one fundamental problem is to make two runners 2m long and 1m apart. These have to be absolutely level and parallel to each other. I need to know what type of materials are ideal for that and what kind of equipment and processes are used to install and measure them. That's obviously just the start. I read the CNC cookbook so I do have an idea of the various components.

    I'm thinking that perhaps instead of 'plans' I should have said 'plans/kit'. I looked briefly at this site here:

    www.cncrouterparts.com

    And judging from their specs and few blogs from people who've assembled their kits, it looks good (any views?)
    One issue is that they are US-based, but they would ship to the UK for a cost. Perhaps there is a company in the UK like that?

    In summary: not a huge amount of free time, limited budget, large-ish machine for commercial use.

    Thanks,
    Woodspiral.

  7. #7
    It's sounding like ebay is going to be your friend, a second hand ready built may be the best bet here.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by woodspiral View Post
    Thanks very much for the replies. It's not really what I want to hear! This is for a professional application so I need to make a full-sized machine (2m x 1m x 0.2m approx) and I don't have time to make a smaller prototype. If I had tons of cash I'd buy a top end 5-axis machine, but my budget pretty limited, so it looks like a 3-axis self-build for me.
    Maybe not want you want to hear but it's all good straight advice that's been learnt the hard way by me and others. I'm often contacted by silent watchers who have jumped straight in and not done the prep or homework only to fall foul buying wrong parts or choosing a weak trouble some design. . . . . If you continue and don't put in the ground work then I guarantee you you'll fall foul and be contacting some one within time.!!

    Quote Originally Posted by woodspiral View Post
    My problem isn't really the design as such it's the choice of parts. I can use SketchUp and AutoCAD but that's not the problem. For example, given my desired machine size, one fundamental problem is to make two runners 2m long and 1m apart. These have to be absolutely level and parallel to each other. I need to know what type of materials are ideal for that and what kind of equipment and processes are used to install and measure them. That's obviously just the start. I read the CNC cookbook so I do have an idea of the various components.
    Doesn't matter if you buy a Kit or build DIY your going to have to deal with getting the Rails parallel and on the same Plane. If your not prepared to do this then I suggest you just buy a Machine ready built because there are no kits that will bolt together(or weld) and ensure the rails are parallel and on same Plane.

    Aligning and getting rails aligned etc isn't difficult has it first appears and there are a few tricks which can be employed like having an adjustable top rail which gets shimmed or using epoxy resin. Because your only cutting wood then the tolerances are relatively low so it's quite easy and quick to get rails close enough just using shims.

    Quote Originally Posted by woodspiral View Post
    I'm thinking that perhaps instead of 'plans' I should have said 'plans/kit'. I looked briefly at this site here:

    [COLOR=#555555][FONT=arial]www.cncrouterparts.com

    And judging from their specs and few blogs from people who've assembled their kits, it looks good (any views?)
    One issue is that they are US-based, but they would ship to the UK for a cost.
    Now regards the CNC router parts machine then yes they work but they have there issues which don't get mentioned so much, like the rails clogging bearings and sticking Etc.!! . . . I certainly wouldn't call it commercial spec and not even Heavy duty DIY.! . . . . A much better machine with far more robust components can be built for less money.

    Regards Components then be careful when reading sites like Cnc cookbook because they are quite heavily Mill orientated and while routers use the same Kind of components the sizes and speeds they run at are much higher so are very different specs. Then you have other things to consider like best Linear motion for the Job, IE Ballscrews or Rack & pinion which again are very different spec to mills and critical to good performing machines.

    It's actually here where new users most commonly fall foul and buy the wrong parts for the job which leads to at best an under performing machine or worst one not fit for purpose. Next is weak design and trying to cut corners.!!

    So IMO given your Brief of Commercial duty and Low Budget then your only option is to self build but PLEASE PLEASE LISTEN and do the home work on the forum because if not then you'll waste valuable time and Money.!

    Good luck.
    Last edited by JAZZCNC; 29-12-2013 at 07:22 PM.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by JAZZCNC View Post
    If you continue and don't put in the ground work then I guarantee you you'll fall foul and be contacting some one within time.!!
    I was hoping that a set of instructions would exist for download or purchase that would describe in detail all the groundwork and pitfalls of the process.


    Quote Originally Posted by JAZZCNC View Post
    Doesn't matter if you buy a Kit or build DIY your going to have to deal with getting the Rails parallel and on the same Plane. If your not prepared to do this then I suggest you just buy a Machine ready built because there are no kits that will bolt together(or weld) and ensure the rails are parallel and on same Plane.
    I am prepared to build the machine, because I think I can end up with a better quality machine which I will fully understand and be able to maintain. I don't want to go the Ebay/secondhand route for a fully built machine as it will increase the cost for me and also will not learn as much in the process. I'm happy to spend time researching, designing and constructing, but since my time is rather limited I want to spend this time on a machine that is ready for light commercial use, with the cutting envelope size as described above. I don't really have time to make a small prototype. At the other end of the scale, I'm not so much in a desperate hurry that I need to rush out and buy a machine.

    Quote Originally Posted by JAZZCNC View Post
    Aligning and getting rails aligned etc isn't difficult has it first appears and there are a few tricks which can be employed like having an adjustable top rail which gets shimmed or using epoxy resin. Because your only cutting wood then the tolerances are relatively low so it's quite easy and quick to get rails close enough just using shims.
    Yes I watched a YouTube video about this, it seems fairly straightforward given time and some modest equipment.

    Quote Originally Posted by JAZZCNC View Post
    Now regards the CNC router parts machine then yes they work but they have there issues which don't get mentioned so much, like the rails clogging bearings and sticking Etc.!! . . . I certainly wouldn't call it commercial spec and not even Heavy duty DIY.! . . . . A much better machine with far more robust components can be built for less money.
    This is an extremely interesting observation. Firstly about quality and secondly about the cost. Again, I am motivated for getting the best from the investment and time and money. So given all the advice so far (if you guys are to be believed!) then it seems to make sense to start a build thread here, start researching and start designing. I can post my progress and invite people to give me some feedback.

    Quote Originally Posted by JAZZCNC View Post
    Regards Components then be careful when reading sites like Cnc cookbook because they are quite heavily Mill orientated and while routers use the same Kind of components the sizes and speeds they run at are much higher so are very different specs. Then you have other things to consider like best Linear motion for the Job, IE Ballscrews or Rack & pinion which again are very different spec to mills and critical to good performing machines.
    I meant the CNC Cookbook book by Edward Hess, not a website. The cnccookbook website seems to be maintained by a guy called Bob Warfield and therefore not related to the book.

    Quote Originally Posted by JAZZCNC View Post
    It's actually here where new users most commonly fall foul and buy the wrong parts for the job which leads to at best an under performing machine or worst one not fit for purpose. Next is weak design and trying to cut corners.!!
    I'll most likely design and build this in stages, so I can get feedback about choices before it's too late to correct.

    Quote Originally Posted by JAZZCNC View Post
    So IMO given your Brief of Commercial duty and Low Budget then your only option is to self build but PLEASE PLEASE LISTEN and do the home work on the forum because if not then you'll waste valuable time and Money.! Good luck.
    Noted! Thanks very much!
    Woodspiral.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by woodspiral View Post
    I meant the CNC Cookbook book by Edward Hess, not a website. The cnccookbook website seems to be maintained by a guy called Bob Warfield and therefore not related to the book.
    Ok yes I know the book. Not read it so can't comment but still stand by my advice to be careful and fully check out what you think is needed is actually what's needed for the size and style of machine your planning on building.!

    My concern with these books is that often the authors are just that "authors" and much is taken from research in industry, some times dated research and presuming perfect building conditions with little to NO hands on experience with DIY CNC.
    DIY Cnc is very different, very easy to get wrong or under estimate what's needed(Some also Actually over do it for there needs which is better but wasteful) which has to be built in very much less than perfect conditions so Advice from people who have actually built machines is price less IMO.

    Now here's another Warning regards Forums, (which if your used to forums and I'm teaching Dad to suck eggs then I apologise) and why your much better looking around the build logs to spot the tyre kicking "KNow-it-Alls" who have never actually built a machine but dish advise like expert builders can be just has misleading has a Dated unrealistic Book.!

    Edit: Ah ah forgot to say thankfully this forum doesn't have many of those types around other Than Jonathan and John S and Me. .

    Crack on and get reading.!!
    Last edited by JAZZCNC; 01-01-2014 at 10:35 PM.

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