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  1. #1
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    Oct 2013
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    DIY Router Build

    This is my first real post on CNCZone, however I am a long time lurker. I figured I would share what I am doing and hopefully what I have built so far isn't too tragic.

    The reason for building instead of buying is simply cost. I would love to have 60K to drop on a nice shop sabre, but sadly I don't have that kind of money.

    I am using a welded steel frame with epoxy beds for the linear rails. The steel is a mix of 6x12 and 3x6 1/4 hot rolled A500.

    I would love to post pictures, but it would seem I am not allowed yet due to my noob status.

    My goal is to create something that can cut wood and maybe some light aluminum work. I don't need to get too crazy with tolerances and precision. Somebody could spend a lifetime making a machine perfect. That said I do want some decent level of precision. Maybe say .002 per foot.

    You can follow along the build on my blog if anyone is interested.

    https://kawphi.com/blog/kawphi-maker-1

    This router named Karl is a 5x5 machine with a 6x8 frame.

    The base is Tig welded using a stacked beam design. The 6x12's had some 1/2 plate welded to the bottom with leveling feet added so I could make adjustments. They were then stacked and welded.

    Next up the 6x12s had some 1/2 plates welded to the top so the base and the machine bed can be separated. The machine bed is made from 3x6's that were leveled and brought into plane best I could using music wire.

    I also added some 1/4 x 2 flat steel to the tops of each linear rail mount to give me something to tap holes into. This flat steel was then made flatish by using the 3 plate method. I took a piece of 6 foot long 3x6 and used it to lap the welded steel plates using the 3 plate method. Next up I could have a true(ish) surface to drill and tap the holes. After those were done I poured epoxy onto the rail beds and finished those off by hand scraping the expoy beds. I am using 32mm rolled ball screws, 30mm rails and NEMA 34 clearpath motors.

    The gantry supports are made from 1/2 plates, 3x6 tubing and 2in flat steel in a I beam configuration.

    That is where I am at for now. I am about 40 days into this build and i am hoping to have it ready to roll in the next 30 days. If someone is looking for the designs, they are sadly in my head. I have built this machine entirely with no cad, no drawings. It's all in my head, so I figured the best way to get it out is in steel. I am not so great at the CAD's, so unless something is going into production, I don't really need it. (well I kinda do, but it's extra work I don't want to do).

  2. #2
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    Apr 2004
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    5208

    Re: DIY Router Build

    That's an impressive build, Kawfi! The steps you went through in flattening it are ones most people skip. Since you were making epoxy lands for your rails, do you think it was really necessary to flatten the steel first? (I'm hoping you'll say no, since I'm contemplating a similar issue in an upcoming build and hoping to get away with epoxy alone.) Your expectations sound pretty reasonable, considering how heavy-duty you're making this thing. What are you using for a gantry beam, more of the same 3"x6" tubing with more plate stuck on,and more epoxy on top of that? How much Z travel will it have, and what kind of spindle do you plan to use?

    As long as it's all in your head, I'd say get it down in CAD. If nothing else, it will be good practice, and it could help you clarify issues that haven't come up yet. Once you've got the machine up and running, you'll need those CAD skills to design all the parts you'll be able to produce.
    Andrew Werby
    Website

  3. #3
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    Jan 2008
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    1175

    Re: DIY Router Build

    Nice build.

    I used epoxy poured on steel tube for my gantry. I used West system with super slow hardener. I thought it was a good technique until I got better measuring tools. Then I found the movement along the gantry essentially had a wave in it.

    I pulled the gantry down and found that over the length it was out ~0.8mm and ~0.5mm across the width. Essentially it looked like a twisted bit of timber.

    I've just spent this week scraping and lapping the epoxy flat and into plane.

    I don't think I would rely on epoxy self leveling. It is easy to scrape because it is soft.

    I used to think epoxy was the solution for precision for DIY with limited tools but I don't think it is as good as people make out.

    Not sure what the answer is...

    Ultimately my machine worked fine already for standard wood projects. I wanted to build a precision MFT and when trying to align X and Y to perfect 90 degrees found my issue.

    One of the linear bearings is a bit crunchy and I will be looking into that - could be due to the non flat mounting of the rails previously.
    7xCNC.com - CNC info for the minilathe (7x10, 7x12, 7x14, 7x16)

  4. #4
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    Jul 2018
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    Re: DIY Router Build

    Hi Pippin - What thickness was the 105 cast to? I don't think epoxy is a good answer either but its good to know what people are doing and the results. Peter

  5. #5
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    Re: DIY Router Build

    I think about 3-4mm.

    I did read (after building my machine...) that you need 1/4" thick for self leveling. That's getting very thick. My experience does fit with thin pours not working well. I did it for my machine table frame leveling and it was no where near level in the parts the epoxy ended up thin. It did seem to work better where thicker.

    I made an area significantly wider than the rails so the meniscus effect on the form was not in play.
    7xCNC.com - CNC info for the minilathe (7x10, 7x12, 7x14, 7x16)

  6. #6
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    FANTASTIC !! - Re: DIY Router Build

    I nominate this for the most impressive best ever new router build anywhere.

    Using the 3-plate method intelligently and actually quantifying Your results, unlike 98% of people, puts You in a special category my friend.

    I deleted the rest of my technical post.

    You are building a big router and doing it fast and doing it supremely well.
    I am extremely impressed.

    Probably the same as when 3-bears did their first internet rooter and when my client did his own 0.04 mm carbide grinding bit.
    Yes, to grind carbon fiber electrodes, the bit went from us to Haas USA for tests in their factory mill.

    Your work is outstanding.
    It´s just as good as some of the best industrial customers in the world.

  7. #7
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    Jul 2018
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    Re: DIY Router Build

    Hi Pippin - Yes I think 6mm is a good thickness to allow for all the issues that "self levelling" epoxy has. But 6mm (1/4") of epoxy is quite soft for a rail foundation.

    This company does surface plates in 1/4" pours. https://www.precisionepoxy.com/aerospace-surface-plate

    With thin layers surface tension creates wrinkling and as the epoxy cures in "cells" each cell exotherms (heats up) expanding and pushes epoxy sideways creating waves or thicker spots then it starts to cool down and each cell shrinks slightly different. Its quite a juggle to get a level surface. Better to hand lap flat with a lap and good levels... I'm about to try some self levelling grout that may work better then the epoxy...Peter

  8. #8
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    Re: DIY Router Build

    Quote Originally Posted by awerby View Post
    That's an impressive build, Kawfi! The steps you went through in flattening it are ones most people skip. Since you were making epoxy lands for your rails, do you think it was really necessary to flatten the steel first? (I'm hoping you'll say no, since I'm contemplating a similar issue in an upcoming build and hoping to get away with epoxy alone.) Your expectations sound pretty reasonable, considering how heavy-duty you're making this thing. What are you using for a gantry beam, more of the same 3"x6" tubing with more plate stuck on,and more epoxy on top of that? How much Z travel will it have, and what kind of spindle do you plan to use?

    As long as it's all in your head, I'd say get it down in CAD. If nothing else, it will be good practice, and it could help you clarify issues that haven't come up yet. Once you've got the machine up and running, you'll need those CAD skills to design all the parts you'll be able to produce.

    I saw the need to flatten the rails because I did the rail alignments before I poured the epoxy. I wanted to ensure the rails would be straight(ish) and it really isn't all that much work. It honestly went pretty quick with 40 grit adhesive backed sandpaper.
    I hear you on the cad stuff. I would otherwise have done it right in CAD first, but this project needs to move quickly. Mainly because I have 90 days to return the parts I ordered (which I should have waited on ordering until I needed them).

    The gantry is made from 2 6x6 welded together. I could have used a 6x12, but the rigidity in the center wouldn't be as good. I plan to make a post pretty soon about the Y axis in depth to explain what has been done and why. For the Z axis I will end up with 12 usable inches of Z. Seems to be about the same number the big guys are using. As for spindle I got a KL-4500 ATC from John. He was so helpful with my mill I figured that if I was going to give anyone business he needed to be included.

  9. #9
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    Re: DIY Router Build

    I don't disagree on epoxy maybe not being the best surface, but getting the steel totally flat (which was my original plan) was taking too long. West system epoxy is not nearly as tough as what Precision Epoxy makes. When I talked to Mike he said their epoxy was 75K psi, so I would think that is rigid enough for router rails. The west system epoxy is only 11K in compression. I will find out for sure in about 20 days if its a suitable bed or not.

  10. #10
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    Re: DIY Router Build

    Pippin88 I have a very similar story. When I mounted the rails I was excited that I was done... which is laughable. I spent an entire day per rail making the epoxy flat within 005. I am sure if I spent more time and did better math on the epoxy I could have gotten better results from it. However during the process of the 3 plate method I ended up with a pretty flat 3x6 tube I could use to take it down quickly. The epoxy is just flat out easier to sand and work with. You end up doing the same hand scraping work with the west system method, but on a much softer material so it goes faster.

  11. #11
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    Re: FANTASTIC !! - Re: DIY Router Build

    Quote Originally Posted by hanermo View Post
    I nominate this for the most impressive best ever new router build anywhere.

    Using the 3-plate method intelligently and actually quantifying Your results, unlike 98% of people, puts You in a special category my friend.

    I deleted the rest of my technical post.

    You are building a big router and doing it fast and doing it supremely well.
    I am extremely impressed.

    Probably the same as when 3-bears did their first internet rooter and when my client did his own 0.04 mm carbide grinding bit.
    Yes, to grind carbon fiber electrodes, the bit went from us to Haas USA for tests in their factory mill.

    Your work is outstanding.
    It´s just as good as some of the best industrial customers in the world.
    Thank you for your kind words. I wish I had an aerospace mill to make this all flat and true... but they are pretty hard to come by if you don't have a cool half million in the bank. The hope is that I get something good enough to work with and I can always tinker on the precision of the machine. I have found that it's really hard to know where the issues are at precisely until you start cutting something. I can only measure 12in at a time with my precision level and that only tells me a small part of the overall story on a 6 foot run.

    Hopefully I can post pictures on the zone soon so everybody can see without having to go read my blog.

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