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  1. #1

    My First CNC Build

    Hello Everyone! New member here!

    So where do I begin...I've been a hobbyist wood worker my whole life and I want to build a cnc router machine to enhance my projects.
    I've have been researching diy cnc machines for a couple a weeks and I have to say I'm overwhelmed with the options and opinions of everyone and every product out there.
    Let me start with my build specs. I want a work area of 4ftx4ft and it will be on an existing workbench, so I can basically go to hardware store and get a 4x8 board cut it in half and let the machine start cutting what I need. But like everyone I have a budget, and honestly the lower the better.

    So lets just start with the frame first and you guys can help me with electrical components later.
    I originally wanted to make my frame, gantry arms, z axis cross beam, basically the whole frame out of wood. Then I thought, let me do this the right way the first time. Wood is great, but not for everything.
    My concern is the flex of wood and I want a precise cutting machine!
    So i thought, okay, let see what's out there made from aluminum, its light and strong with the right thickness, and I came across regular aluminum flat bar 3/8-1/2 thick that I would use to make the gantry arms and the cross beam, but Its kind of pricey! So then I looked into T Slot from like 8020.com, and that website has so many options I don't know where to start, but I'm concerned about that flexing as well, I do like their linear bearing that can substitute buying linear rails for the gantry arm attachment but also kind of pricey. And steel is too heavy so I haven't even really considered it.

    So guys please help me with a material to build this frame that is strong but on the cheaper side.

  2. #2
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    Jul 2018
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    3479

    Re: My First CNC Build

    Hi Chris - Nothing wrong with timber or plywood for a machine if you understand it and can work with it. There are commercial plywood machines and many hobbyists build very good plywood machines. So I say go with the wood. Peter

    https://www.cnc-holzfraese.de

  3. #3
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    Dec 2003
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    1022

    Re: My First CNC Build

    As peteeng has posted,nothing wrong with using wood if the builder has a good grasp of structural principles.Some of the initial proposals we see for metal machines are entirely lacking in structural integrity in two out of three axes and the "designers" are blissfully unaware of it.They also slip into the first post something like -"mainly for wood and light alloy ,but I might cut steel one day".Which they might attempt but not succeed in doing anything other than leaving a ragged edge on a piece of steel and nothing of any use.

    There are examples here and in other places of wooden machines working and you can even sandwich a wooden core with metal glued on the faces if you need to.Just don't expect us not to laugh if you build a massive box beam for the gantry and fit honking great steppers on all axes but hold the gantry beam in the air with a single web of 1/2 inch ply and no triangulation.With a bit of careful thought you can build a better and bigger machine for the same outlay as one of the low cost machines.They tend to get glowing endorsements from people that have never seen or used any other machine and use a hand held router and jigsaw for comparison and it would be a poor machine that couldn't outperform that combination.

  4. #4
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    Feb 2005
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    736

    Re: My First CNC Build

    You really need some definitive budget. What do you believe is "on the cheaper side" ?
    Halfnutz

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)

  5. #5
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    3479

    Re: My First CNC Build

    Hi Chris - All motherhood statements have conflicts. $$$, space, precision (all these conflict) . You say you have a bench, but the machine takes up space more then you think and therefore the bench may not be big enough for a 4x4 machine. So You need to start drawing up your machine to resolve some of these spaces. Do you have CAD or a drawing Board? Start drawing...and think about the motion side, belts, ballscrews, leadscrews, rack and pinion, monkeys....Peter

  6. #6
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    Apr 2004
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    5419

    Re: My First CNC Build

    That aluminum extrusion stuff is expensive, and not as stiff as you'd think. It also requires expensive hardware to put it together, and that tends to work loose over time. If you know how to build things out of wood, then I agree with the others - make a plywood router that's as stiff as you can make it. Look up "stress skin" construction; it's used for building houses, but is adaptable to building machines as well. Basically, you laminate rigid foam with plywood on the outside, making strong panels with depth to them. The greater the outside dimensions, the stiffer each panel will be. I think a gantry built this way can out-perform one built with aluminum extrusions or those aluminum bars, as well as being cheaper.
    Andrew Werby
    Website

  7. #7

    Re: My First CNC Build

    I was thinking 500 dollars, but as I research the electronic components of higher quality I think i need to spend more.

  8. #8
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    1294

    Re: My First CNC Build

    Take a step back. What woodworking machine can you get for $500?

    And you want a 4ft by 4ft CNC router (woodcutting robot) for that.
    7xCNC.com - CNC info for the minilathe (7x10, 7x12, 7x14, 7x16)

  9. #9

    Re: My First CNC Build

    Yeah I agree, space is no issue, the bench is 5x6.
    These are the linear rails and ball screws I was thinking of getting.
    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005...28434295%22%7D

    Im still deciding on stepper motors, I would rather have more power than less. Nema 23 motors seem to be the standard with these diy builds.

  10. #10
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    Re: My First CNC Build

    Since you will need some CAD proficiency to generate the files to work from,could I suggest you begin by creating a CAD file of the proposed machine?Then with regard to cost,what control software do you intend to use once complete?There are free solutions and there are paid for solutions and it won't take too much effort to shatter your budget.Breakout boards,power supplies,spindle and steppers need to be factored in too and while you may have an extractor that can be switched to the machine,you may need to adapt it.A comprehensive design will be helpful.

  11. #11
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    Re: My First CNC Build

    Might I suggest reading through the entire "Big Bamboo" thread, which is currently here on the top page of this sub forum.

    Very successful build made out of bamboo plywood. Jerry goes through the challenges of building with wood and how he overcame those challenges. The end results of his build are outstanding. He often posts images of the latest projects built with that machine.

    Use that as a starting point for your build and for an idea of the budget to do it right.

    John Z

    Sent from my SM-G991U using Tapatalk

  12. #12

    Re: My First CNC Build

    So I came across someone locally selling 1/2in thick x 7in wide flat bar aluminum and its around 20 feet of it. So I think because of the price I can get it for and its cheap, I will make most my machine out of that. I like how rigid the material is and the price is great, and its not that heavy even though I don't care about weight anyway. and I know exactly how I'm going to make it in my head.

    So now the foundation solved. I wanna run my components through you guys. I've been doing my research, and I want the machine to be even more machine then I need because I know that will take me in a fun direction with new materials, mostly aluminum.

    Stepper Motors, I picked these high torque because not only do I want my machine to rip through material quick with no struggle, The machine is made of aluminum and I need some strong motors to move that weight.
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PNEPW4C...ustomerReviews

    Controller/Stepper Driver, I like how much power is in this controller, it has 6amp stepper drivers for high torque motors, It has Bluetooth connectivity, its plug and play and i want simple as can be.
    https://www.spark-concepts.com/cnc-xpro-v5/

    Spindle, So I'm actually down to two spindles. I want it to be very powerful and somewhat quiet. and im leaning towards the one with the kit because then I don't have to make a spindle holder and it has the power converter
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08DTHDSMV...ustomerReviews
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LNBOCDA...ustomerReviews

    Linear Rail/Ballscrew, so this is part I'm least sure about. I think these are good enough from what I'm reading about the bearings they use. But I will continue looking because I don't think this is a cheap option any way because I have to spend almost 300 bucks for the x and y axis alone.
    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005...28434295%22%7D

    There's one component, I haven't researched too much about, and its the chain on top of the cross beam of the z-axis? Like this in the link below. What the purpose of it? Is it necessary?
    https://www.amazon.com/Black-Plastic...77591575&psc=1

  13. #13
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    Re: My First CNC Build

    With 20ft of that aluminum flat bar, you have enough to build your gantry and that is about it if you are intent on a 4ft x 4ft cutting area.

    This stepper motors will work, but at 3.8mh, they will lose speed rapidly unless you can run high voltage controllers. Look for steppers under 2.0mh and you will have better results. Ignore voltage, current, even torque to a point. You want to look at the torque curve. Steppers lose torque fast and few are usable above 500rpm without proper controllers.

    Look for ballscrews with 10mm or more travel per rotation if you value speed.

    Go with a router for your spindle. I doubt you will be happy with either "spindle" you linked unless all you want to do is engraving. Or get one from G-penney.

    Overall, my recommendation is still to read the entire big bamboo thread. Get that aluminum flat bar. No matter what you build, that will be useful to have on hand.

    John Z

    Sent from my SM-G991U using Tapatalk

  14. #14
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    Re: My First CNC Build

    The aluminum bar should come in handy, but it's not the only structural material you'll need. Those motors want about 60 volts to run at full speed. You're kidding yourself if you think they'll run well on 24 volts, which is the max that controller can handle. I don't think much of those wimpy spindles either, unless all you want to do is engrave on plastic or something. Really, you need to expand your shopping horizon beyond Amazon and these sellers who have no clue about this stuff.
    Andrew Werby
    Website

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