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Build a CNC Router from Scratch (Part 1): Complete Video Tutorial
by phooddaniel on August 4, 2007

Table of Contents
License: Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike (by-nc-sa) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Intro: Build a CNC Router from Scratch (Part 1): Complete Video Tutorial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

step 1: Linear Slide Bearings Video . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

step 2: Right Angle Joint Video . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

step 3: Z-Axis: Two Videos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Related Instructables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Comments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-a-CNC-Router-from-Scratch-Part-1%3a-Complete/

License: Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike (by-nc-sa)


Intro: Build a CNC Router from Scratch (Part 1): Complete Video Tutorial
Completely build a CNC router from the ground up without plans, just your hands, some cheap materials and basic tools, and common sense. Did I mention you don't
need plans? It's easy, and I guide you through a process of building that the measurements are derived through a logical approach, so all the pieces will fit and the
structure will be solid. Moreover, you'll be able to build a CNC with almost any dimension.
And when you finish Part 1, don't forget to head on over to Part 2 where I detail the z-axis and y-axis and I start on the Gantry.
A while back, I built a very shabby machine and I knew there must be a better design. You will be able to take advantage of what I've learned from a great depth of
research on the internet and personal building, testing and experimentation.
The instructable will be very long. I will probably take the cake on the length, so I'm separating the instructable into several parts. This is part 1 if you haven't already
determined that. It is this long due to the amount of detail I will be providing. Since we are discussing detail, I will also provide almost all of the detail via video. Pictures
say a thousand words, but video must be exponential. I really hope you enjoy this series and provide comments to help me improve and be more effective.
Even though there is another instructable on building a CNC router, it details a completely different approach and I feel that this video series will contribute to the
understanding of mechanical components and unique building methods.
What is a CNC router you ask? I will define it as a computer controlled router, where the router will move on three axes and the computer controls the motion for these
axes.
What you'll need:
95% of the structural components can be found at the local hardware store, like the MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard). Have the hardware store do most of the cutting,
you'll mostly need 4" widths by various lengths (you don't know the lengths yet because in this build, you can make almost any size CNC router). Don't get particle board.
Aluminum angle 3/4" and 1/8" thick.
A few basic tools like a screwdriver and a miter box saw. Both are pretty inexpensive and 4" width pieces usually fit into a miter box saw, especially if it plastic and the
miter box can flex a bit. A circular saw would be helpful, but use the hardware store cutting service to your advantage.
A couple of links that you may find useful for these types of builds are cnczone.com . My official build of this machine is here at my site BuildYourCNC.com with almost
all of the video step, but don't cheat and skip to a later step. The series is developed to follow a logical process to get measurements, etc.

Image Notes
1. Some of the basic tools needed.
2. Lubrication for the screws
3. The bed, my wife is very understanding!
4. The baby's crib.

step 1: Linear Slide Bearings Video


The CNC router would be useless without a way to move the router on the axis without play. Linear slide bearings are the answer. They enable a very stable and smooth
sliding motion without binding. this method of bearings has been used many times, so you can be sure they will work.
The slide bearings are one of the most important component to the CNC router, and it's good to get the concept down in the beginning. You will need about 6 of these in
the CNC build at varying sizes (the gantry slide bearings will need to be much longer than the y and z axes.
You will need regular skate bearing (609zz), 5/16" nuts, 5/16" x 3/4" bolts, various drill bits and a 5/16" tap/drill bit set.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-a-CNC-Router-from-Scratch-Part-1%3a-Complete/

step 2: Right Angle Joint Video


Another concept to get out of the way is the joint that is used throughout the build. I'm using 1/4" bolts and nuts. The bolts are 2.5" long to reach the nut. You simply drill a
3/4" hole to receive a nut and a transversal hole, the size of the 1/4" bolt. Since the screw is centered through the middle of the piece, the boards can be used to tension
things like the slide bearings. You'll understand this concept better throughout the later video tutorials.

If cross dowels are desired, I give some instructions how to use these.

step 3: Z-Axis: Two Videos


Now let's get started on the actual meat of the build. You will start with the z-axis. The z-axis is the axis that will move the router (or any other
cutting/extruding/drawing/spraying/heating tool) up and down.
Two linear slide bearings will be needed here at approximately 3.5" long. You will also need a piece of MDF 4" wide and a length that you will be able to cut several
pieces. You will also need a router for this step because the rails will be aluminum angles and the angles need 45 degree chamfers to be securely held in place. Who
knows, maybe you can use this tool as the main cutting tool for the CNC, so it's justified.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-a-CNC-Router-from-Scratch-Part-1%3a-Complete/

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Comments
50 comments Add Comment

rjasso says:

Jul 19, 2010. 5:23 PM REPLY


wow man great videos. cant wait to start to build my own cnc machine. im fifteen but my dad has all of the tools that i need. thanks again

phooddaniel says:

Jul 21, 2010. 10:20 AM REPLY

Good luck. Let me know if you have questions throughout the build.

portela22 says:

Jul 15, 2010. 9:13 AM REPLY

GOSTEI MUITO. PARABNS... FICOU MUITO BOM

Loooser says:

Jun 25, 2010. 6:15 AM REPLY

Did you try making a pcb with the mill?

phooddaniel says:

Jul 2, 2010. 6:55 AM REPLY

Yes, I have created PCB's with the machine.

abadfart says:

May 28, 2010. 6:00 PM REPLY

what steppers are you going to use

slowswim says:

Jan 11, 2010. 7:27 PM REPLY


a couple of quick questions. one: i see you're only using a single rail system for the x axis (as opposed to 'sandwiching' the bearing around two rails for the
y and z axis). why did you not use the same approach for the x axis as the y and z? do you think the machine would be more rigid if you used the
'sandwiching method'. second: how are you attaching the aluminum angles to the edges of the mdf? thanks!

phooddaniel says:

Jan 14, 2010. 12:51 PM REPLY


This method help reduce gantry racking since the piece underneath is in a bit of tension and the bearings are compressed against the rails towards the
center of the table rather than towards the center of each side.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-a-CNC-Router-from-Scratch-Part-1%3a-Complete/

ydeardorff says:

Dec 6, 2009. 9:47 PM REPLY


I am interested in making one of these as well. I love these instructables many thanks to their makers. But yes, how does one affix the work piece to the
table without drilling, screwing, or gluing it into the tabel itself? Then once the work piece is immobilized, how does one zero out the router, to the work piece
height, table height, as well as let the computer know the size, thickness, and location of the work piece on the table?
I plan on making positive halfs of molds to be vaccum formed later for cars.
Also, when cutting out pieces from a larger piece. How does one prevent the part from moving while its being cut out? As the piece becomes less in contact
with the parent piece, it can pop loose, and or chatter against the bit, damaging it. Possibly a solution would be to not cut all the way through?
Any help on this would be great!
Thanks

phooddaniel says:

Jan 14, 2010. 12:48 PM REPLY


There are many methods of clamping, or affixing the workpiece to the table. It's actually board enough to have an entire tutorial on the subject, but I will
give a few ideas.
Screw it to the table somehow: machine screws, at the edges using a block of wood to clamp the piece down.
Use wood screws. This will damage the table, so a sacrificial (spoil board) can be used.
For PCB, super glue and acetone to remove glue afterwards, or my favorite, carpet tape that leaves no residue.
Fence clamp at the edges,
Standard clamps at the corners.

speedhump says:

Nov 16, 2009. 3:50 PM REPLY

Maybe I missed this - but so far haven't seen the problem of a clever, universal means of fixing the work piece.

likes56 says:

Nov 2, 2009. 9:03 AM REPLY


hi' can ask what type of stepper motor your using and how much dose it cost...where having a project on making a 3axiscnc router.^_^.
Thanks...

phooddaniel says:
I use the one on my site: buildyourcnc.com/electronicscombo.aspx

Nov 2, 2009. 9:07 AM REPLY


These are 425 oz-in bi-polar stepping motors.

rock crawler says:

Aug 18, 2009. 10:19 PM REPLY


hey. i am 15 and really into rc cars and trucks. i was wondering if this could be used to mill derlin, aluminum, and other soft plastics and metals? any advice
would be greatly appreciated.

phooddaniel says:

Aug 19, 2009. 2:09 PM REPLY


Hi Rock Crawler, You will have no problem with Delrin, but aluminum is tricky. Aluminum has a relatively low melting point and this will cause a BUE
(Built Up Edge). Also, the tool may gum up. The way around this is to mill at extremely shallow depths per pass with a high feedrate. Adding a bit of
lubricant also helps, but it's good to practice and find that perfect balance with depths, speeds and feeds.

rock crawler says:

Sep 5, 2009. 3:35 PM REPLY

hi again, forgot to ask wether this will cut carbon fiber?

phooddaniel says:

Sep 6, 2009. 11:27 AM REPLY


I have never tried to cut carbon fiber. I would suppose with the right end mill (diamond coated) and an extremely shallow cut per pass, you should
be able to. The machine may require some reinforcements so there is absolutely no flexing when shear load is put on to the end mill.

rock crawler says:

Aug 20, 2009. 11:19 PM REPLY

cool! thanks for the quick reply. cant wait to get started on this project. peace.

chriswillb says:

Jul 30, 2009. 10:38 AM REPLY

There's no video

phooddaniel says:
Metacafe rejected the purely instructional video for some reason. I ported these videos to youtube. Here is the link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juvTRIwDcOI
Many thanks and my apologies for the inconvenience and my screaming children, Patrick

http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-a-CNC-Router-from-Scratch-Part-1%3a-Complete/

Jul 30, 2009. 4:04 PM REPLY

chriswillb says:

Jul 31, 2009. 3:46 AM REPLY

Oh thats ok, thank you for responding i'd probably prefer youtube anyway.

reggy_a says:

Jul 17, 2009. 10:58 AM REPLY


Hello all, Being a machinest for quite a few years I really don't have much of a problem building a 3 axis machine from sand. However I must admit to being
a complete novice of the fundamentals of CNC. I will be building my machine from steel and aluminum and the first question would be Is an acme thread or
v-thread sufficient for smooth movement of both x and y tables and also the z axis which would be on a column, or do I need to spend more money for ballscrews and anti-backlash nuts? Which controller, and step motors would I need for a machine of this caliber? I am assuming that they are offered in different
torques? Is there software available for the controller and 2 and 3-D cutting without having to spend big bucks for a CAD program with a dongle or hasp?
Sorry for the breezy message, but as you can see I know very little. Thanking you in advance is, Reggy

hisb79 says:

Apr 19, 2009. 4:33 PM REPLY


I cringed when I saw where your fingers were when you were using the hand drill with small drill bit. I have seen a bit break in the middle and the remaining
bit in the drill go straight through a thumb. It was my thumb when I was a kid :S

dedetc says:

Mar 28, 2009. 6:20 PM REPLY

Distance for drilling? Centered?

stuwegie says:

Mar 5, 2009. 10:35 AM REPLY

What is the width and thickness of the aluminium angle?

kvcummins says:

Mar 10, 2009. 9:14 AM REPLY

"Aluminum angle 3/4" and 1/8" thick."

stuwegie says:

Mar 5, 2009. 3:57 AM REPLY


These videos are excellent. Im fairly competent at building things however i also lack a proper work space and am constantly trying to improvise with the few
tools that i have. I managed to build a few electric guitars in my bedroom much to the dismay of my girlfriend as i got sawdust over pretty much everything in
the room. Im slowly collecting the parts i need to build this as without a band saw etc its not feasible to build the others on this site. Wish me luck with my
build.

jack8559 says:

Aug 14, 2008. 12:09 PM REPLY

How difficult would it be to make this project out of steel plate so I could mill metal objects?

bombmaker2 says:

Feb 22, 2009. 6:35 PM REPLY

i'd think it would be easier

hjartland says:

May 26, 2008. 1:32 AM REPLY


Dude I should be asleep but I just can not stop watching this. Thank you! My brain is slush rightnow, but I'll build this soon! You rock!

mortso says:

Apr 28, 2008. 2:47 PM REPLY


Dude... This is SO amazing! Your wife must be a saint. You need to sell these so you can afford a garage! I love the Baby Babble too! Sweet!

dimmaz88 says:

Feb 17, 2008. 9:14 AM REPLY

Hey, do you know how much this project will cost to complete?

phooddaniel says:

Mar 7, 2008. 1:55 PM REPLY

Depending on the controller that you use, it can be as low as $500, or so.

millingabout says:

Feb 12, 2008. 11:21 AM REPLY


I found this technique so interesting it was the first Instructable I tried! I found it time consuming to make. However, I am willing to write that off to
inexperience. I did find it to be very strong. My initial test joints used a 3/4" hole to receive the nut. However, a second test with a 1/2" hole worked just as
well. The difference that I found between the two tests was that as the "nut hole" gets smaller the accuracy of the placement of the "nut hole" and traversal
holes become more important. I was using 1/2" MDF, and tried counter sinking a flat head screw. Some loss of wood occurred on the board edge, but the
experiment largely worked. The loss of thickness (1/2" minus counter sink hole) on the MDF did not seem to affect the joint. My suspicion is that with a 3/4"
MDF board, edge loss won't be an issue. Thank you phooddaniel for inspiring me to try an Instructable!

http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-a-CNC-Router-from-Scratch-Part-1%3a-Complete/

phooddaniel says:

Mar 7, 2008. 1:53 PM REPLY

You're very welcome. These videos are intended to give that extra nudge.

fmlywomn says:

Jan 31, 2008. 2:21 PM REPLY

this is awesome, I will have to share this video with my husband and children. thanks....

bnlacava says:

Jan 4, 2008. 11:07 AM REPLY

i would hand-thread and use some lube

ivanirons says:

Dec 16, 2007. 5:36 PM REPLY


Great Instructable Dude! I am glad you video'd each step. Perfect for beginners to CNC.
I also instruct others. I have made a number of tutorials on various CNC Projects. I like to walk people through each step during the CNC Process. I get great
feedback from people just entering our cool CNC Hobby.
Here are the videos:
http://www.cncinformation.com/CNCBlog/
Then click on the link on the left.
Thanks for your contribution,
Ivan Irons
http://www.cncinformation.com

jaytrio says:

Nov 25, 2007. 6:27 AM REPLY

very good video thank you

atari130xe says:

Oct 6, 2007. 6:12 PM REPLY


Impresionante! Todo hecho sin grandes herramientas y en un pequeo espacio. He aprendido mucho mirando tus videos, yo estoy intentando construir
una maquina asi. Felicitaciones saludos desde Chile, atari130xe

phooddaniel says:

Oct 6, 2007. 6:45 PM REPLY


Gracias atari130exe, Te agradezco tus palabras tan gentiles. Ese pequeo espacio que mencionas es todo el espacio que mi esposa me da para
trabajar en casa, ella es Colombiana... que otra cosa se podr-a esperar... Ja ja. Un d-a la convencer de dejarme comprar herramientas mas
sofisticadas! Mantenme informado de la construccin de tu mquina y env-ame fotos a phooddaniel@berkeley.edu Suerte!

charmrus says:

Sep 12, 2007. 5:39 PM REPLY


just a hint...use wax on your cutting tools, ESPECIALLY your tap, when working with aluminum. makes them cut faster and last longer too.

phooddaniel says:

Sep 12, 2007. 6:47 PM REPLY


Awesome! Thanks for the tip. With the mountain of research that I do daily, that is one tip that I have not come across. Does it help with galvanized
steel? I broke my last one.

charmrus says:

Sep 12, 2007. 5:40 PM REPLY

it's also looking good. nice job

ferasmetib says:

Sep 10, 2007. 3:02 PM REPLY


any idea about the controling software on the softare at the pc? and the image processing on the image to convert it to an excutable form on the wood. is
there a free software or what? thanks you all nice people.

phooddaniel says:

Sep 10, 2007. 5:37 PM REPLY


I recommend Mach3 (Windows OS) and EMC2 (Linux OS). Mach3 has some good image processing tools and also toolpath utilitiy. I also like EMC2 for
its simplicity and good interface to the machine. I will be doing a tutorial in a later post.

Eriswerks says:

Sep 9, 2007. 12:26 PM REPLY


Thanks for the great instructable. The videos are really helpful in understanding how all of this fits together. I'm looking at step 3 on your website, where you
lay out the MDF cuts. When I add up the numbers in the diagram you have, it sure looks like you are cutting 51" of pieces out of a 48" sheet. Are the piece
sizes you have labeled there accurate?

http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-a-CNC-Router-from-Scratch-Part-1%3a-Complete/

phooddaniel says:

Sep 9, 2007. 3:10 PM REPLY


Interesting... I will have to look at that. I drew the shape on step 3 in CAD with precise measurements, but I will re-check. The main thing to remember is
that there will be a need for 4" strips longer than 24", that's why I have a few cut in the horizontal. Also, you will have stock left-over. Thank you greatly
for the recommendation, and having the desire to assist.

phooddaniel says:

Aug 30, 2007. 10:02 PM REPLY

Yes. There was a tiny little nook at the side of the bed (6' x 10') where most of the construction took place.

DanDaDad says:
did you build this in your bedroom?

http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-a-CNC-Router-from-Scratch-Part-1%3a-Complete/

Aug 29, 2007. 2:17 AM REPLY