While stumbling around the deep dark Internet, I stumbled over CNC Routing.
The most loved DIY CNC machine of the past seemed to Joe’s 2006 CNC router.
The plans were free but you had to take measurements off a 3D model that was not for me. Also, I then discovered lead screws. Five start lead screws, for example, are expensive - $200 dollars plus. Don’t take my word for it - Google them. I wanted simple lead screws.
The site above is run by Patrick Hood Daniel. I discovered his scratch build Combo#1 plans.
This is the direction I decided to go. Scratch building from plans was better for me as kit shipping from the USA to Australia was just plan expensive and not feasible.
I paid for the plans and they arrived on A3 size sheets slightly later. I then found what looks like the same plans on the Net on the buildyourcnc.com site. Are they the same plans, maybe but I am not sure. They sure look the same but I would have to check every bit and byte character on the page and I have not. I do know this design has evolved a little as well with refinements. I think the refinements include a change in dimensions to some parts and more reinforcing here and there but I am not sure exactly what the refinements are.
The plans came with a DVD containing 73 short video clips but it was the whole build. To me that was worth the money, sort of. Be warned, it looks slack to see his children in the video build but it’s all there. Kids gotta learn too.
Then I discovered Patrick’s book on amazon written in 2009. (I am not in any way affiliated with Patrick Hood Daniel.)
It was written with the help of other authors and testers and it is good. Amazon reviews may tell you differently. They are right. It will give you a headache. Info in the videos, book, website etc does not always agree so you need to study the lot and make decisions.
Here’s some links -
The book has errata here:
And there are more videos here on Patrick’s youtube channel:
Other builds of this machine are here:
Derek of the website below wrote to me and said overall the machine was good.
A forum thread on this machine
So, in the end it seemed an easy cheap build. For example, the two 6’ long ½” UNC 13 teeth per inch (tpi) lead screws cost me $44. Look, I know if won’t be as efficient but it is a starting out machine and I am just a hobby machinist with minimal use. I could always use it to build a better machine.
The first problem was that plans called for 3/4" (19.050mm) mdf which does not exist at that thickness in Australia so I used 19mm plywood.
I went for steel angle on the rails as I read feedback on Amazon that the aluminium rails were prone to wear from the ball bearings on the Bearing Rail Assemblies.
The bearing rail assemblies (BRA's) made from 3/4 x 3/4 aluminium angle. They run on the anodized steel rain you see on the sides of the table.
I put rails on the bottom of the table to square up the ends.
I used a manufactured square box loaded with lead to keep it still to hold the sides in place so I could fit them alone.
Patrick calls for bolts and cross dowels to construct the machine, much like an Ikea flat pack. I used screws and epoxy of course. What else would an amateur boatbuilder use.
I found it helpful to mark each part with it's name and dimensions on masking tape and attach it to the piece. It saved time checking back to the plans all the time.
I had to redesign the z axis a little to suit my Makita Router/Trimmer.
The overall look of the machine. I have to finish Z-axis, recess the bolts you see sticking through the sides, etc. (The x-axis is length of the table, the y-axis the width and the z-axis the up and down.) The blue rails are painted mild steel. I made the z-axis lower than the plans.
Overall the build was quick and easy. If you are careful measuring and cutting everything will square up with a dash of common-sense. I made the machine in about two weeks part-time. The design is clever, the joinery simple, but the presentation of the design could be clearer and more consistant throughout. For example, the bearing support holes are 1"-7/8" in one place and 3/4" in another but this is explained if you search for explanations. The housings need to be 7/8" for sure at the stepper motor end of the axes or the nuts will not go in the hole against the bearing. The rails are 1-1/4" and 1" in different places in the plans and book but that is explained too. I think there is an error in the z-axis side plans - the holes for the angle should be 1-5/16" and not 1-1/2" apart or the angle will not be held by the bolts (the holes on the right are correct but the left ones need moving over - it will make sense if you download the plans from the link above). I would not like to attempt to drill bolt and cross dowel holes as per the plans as keeping them true would be hard.
I am keen to see how it works after I fit the axes and electronics, etc. One of my first jobs for it will be the frames of a model boat. This machine is a 2' x 4' (cutting area is 20 x 40 inches) but you can build machines 4' x 8' to cut boat panels etc. You could make cool name plates for your boat.
For the electronics I chose Hobby CNC Australia but the shipping to the USA would be too expensive. He is a nice helpful bloke who takes the time to write long assisting emails.
For software I will use Coreldraw, draftsight (CAD for drawing), CUT2D (CAM for creating the tool paths for the actual cutting from the drawing) and Linuxcnc as the post processor which sends the data to the stepper motors. Linuxcnc also comes as a little package with the Ubuntu Linux operating system which I installed on an old desktop windows machine and I wiped windows off in the process. I need to make sure all this works together in testing but it should.
Further detail on my build log. There is little feedback on how the machines works - good or bad - and I will correct that in posts on my build log.
Thanks Patrick for this design.