CNC Build Part 1 – Electronics Test

I started building a CNC router a number of years ago, but never really got around to finishing it. Kids, school, job, cars, and occasionally being in the same room as my wife sort of took priority.

While working on the table, I needed to plane some rough sawn lumber. But, I don’t have a planer.

So, I dug up part of the frame for the CNC, bolted up a sled, and did a pretty decent job of flattening the stock. (See pics in the previous post.)

Of course, that made me want to finish the CNC. I’ve assembled most of the frame, other than mounts for the motors, lead screws and nuts, limit switches and, oh yeah, I still have to build a Z axis. But, it’s a party.

See the video for some electronics test fun with an old laptop, Mach 3 and an XBOX controller.



More Table Fun

I needed to plane some rough-sawn lumber for the table top, and didn’t really want to pay someone to do it. There are a lot of videos and articles out there on how to do this, many of which require a planer ($$$$) and a jointer ($$$). I have neither of those, and I’m already over-budget on this project. If you happen to have some long, straight lumber, plywood and a slight excess of time, you can build a traditional router sled, as shown in this video by the Wood Whisperer:

174 – Flattening Workbenches and Wide Boards with a Router

(By the way, most of Marc’s videos are awesome. Sometimes I just leave his YouTube channel playing in the background when I’m working in the shop.)

It’s a great solution, but I didn’t really have the time or patience to build that.

Fortunately, I have a bunch of parts for a CNC machine that I never finished building many years ago. So, I made this out of the X/Y axis setup:

(The router lines scraped right off. I suspect they’re a side effect of a slightly uneven table.)

The rails keep the router flat enough for wood, though I’d like some more support if I were machining aluminum or any precision parts. It does generate a LOT of debris, which reminded me that I really need to put together some sort of dust collection system.

I was able to route a bowed, twisted 7′ x 11″ x 2.5″ board down to a perfectly – and I mean perfectly – flat usable piece in about 15 minutes. A larger router bit would’ve sped up the process significantly.

This experience, of course, makes me want to finish the CNC build, so I found the motors, controller board, amplifiers and other misc. bits in the garage where they’ve been for the past six years. I hope to get the Z axis done in the next week or two – not a lot of time with a new baby in the house – source some lead screws, fabricate mounts and get everything up and running soon. Should be fun!

Here’s the assembled, ultra-heavy table top before sanding:

Note that it’s not glued yet. The house is 172 feet from the shop, and this thing is heavy. I’ll glue it up when it’s in its final resting place.