View Full Version : Joes 4x4 cnc router build thread

10-02-2009, 02:06 PM
Well I finally nailed my decision on which machine to go with. This build is going to stretch a little past my original idea of a $1500 budget by possibly a grand (ended up nearly 2 grand over) from what I can tell in my research.

This morning I made the commitment by purchasing the plans which will give me access to Joe's forum. From there I will most likely purchase the MDF/HDPE from Joe and go through the bill of materials to start sourcing parts.

Here is the link to the machine I will be building. (http://joescnc.com/themachines-hybrid.php)

Current state of build

I will be using this thread as my build log.
$ Tracking - Bold = received

$100 Plans (PDF file) - joescnc.com
$41.36 Plans (printed 24x36, 27 sheets) - blueprintcopies.com
$435 HDPE and MDF parts kit - joescnc.com
$195.32 Leadscrews - 3x1/2"-6' 8-8 1 TPI, 1x1/2"-3' 10-5 2 TPI - http://www.mcmaster.com/#99030a202/=3x5vpf
$298.40 Aluminum extrusions & T-Nuts - 8020inc on eBay
$511.21 CNC 4 Axis Package with 425 oz-in motor and KL-4030 Bipolar
Driver with 36V/8.8A Power Supply - http://www.kelinginc.net/CNCNEMA23Package.html
$183.50 Hi-Speed Deluxe Anti-backlash kit - http://www.dumpstercnc.com/
$282.99 Bearings flanged and v-groove - http://www.vxb.com
$92.62 Bushings -
$11.99 E-Stop Switch - eBay
$175 Mach3 - http://www.machsupport.com
$200 Bolts, I ordered quite a few extra stuff, could have been under $100 - Budget Bolt
$95 Iron, Angle 6- 1/8" x 3/4" x 3/4" x 72" SS - B&B Surplus, Bakersfield CA
$8.00 Aluminum, Flat 1- 1/8" x 1" x 36" - Home Depot
$150 UniStrut, Bolts & Clamps - Home Depot
6- 1-5/8" x 1-5/8" x 5', 12GA
1- 1-5/8" x 13/16" x 64", 14GA
2- 1-5/8" x 13/16" x 26", 14GA
12- 90 Angle Bracket - 2 Hole
22- 1/2" Spring Nut
22- 1/4" Lock Nut
$344 Router & Bits - Amazon
$33 for 100' Wire; Motor (22ga 4 security wire) and Limit - Home Depot
$20.61 Limit switches x 12 (only need 6) - eBay
E Chain (IGUS Cable Carrier)
$20 2 1/2x7' Dust collector hose (rigid shop vac extension hose) - Home Depot
1/2"x6"x12" acrylic & Carpet runner
Paralell port printer cable (have)
Steel for base (have)
Electronics enclosure (build from materials on hand)
$30 RoVER (router on verification) - Joes forum member

$3228 Total spent so far


10-02-2009, 03:14 PM

I like what I see with regards to rigidity. It doesn't compare to something built for machining metal, obviously, but that's not what it's for.

I'm not really sure about the steel angle those V-bearings are riding on. It's cheap and simple, but mill products aren't typically very accurate. Maybe I'm missing some detail of the design that adjusts for this.

Anyway, it looks like a neat machine, and I'm looking forward to seeing it come together.

10-02-2009, 04:09 PM

Looks like a good serviceable CNC router. It definitely looks like a good little toy. Oops tool. And it will do your new cabinets real well.


I think that you simply don't get repeatability in the +or- 0.0005 range with the router. +or- 0.001 would be doable with that kind of set up. It may have only +or- 0.005 repeatability. But at less than 1/160th of an inch of inaccuracy that beats the heck out of anything that I can do free hand. (I'm looking at using cold rolled mild steel key stock for my ways.) It should do 3D Bas-relief quite well.

10-02-2009, 05:21 PM
Interesting thread, I'll definitely follow up.

Looks good for a startup CNC and if you can make it better in strength it should be OK.


10-02-2009, 08:00 PM
Well, at some point, the runout in the router spindle becomes your biggest source of error, because routers aren't typically made to extreme precision.

But I've seen angle stock that had visible warp over an 8' long piece. Even if it's rolled perfectly, thin stock like that can get warped in storage or transport pretty easily. Over a 4' run, there might be as much as 0.050" error, or even more. Granted, you can probably get stock much better than this, but if you don't have something accurate to check the stock against, you won't know unless it's visibly off.

Thicker stock is a lot less likely to warp from improper storage, but plain CRS is still limited to about +0.002" per foot or more, and you could still get a bad piece. And precision ground stuff is, of course, expensive. You could go the Gingery way and scrape the stock flat, or borrow somebody's milling machine, if you wanted more accuracy.

Repeatability wouldn't be the concern in this case--that comes down to the moving parts. If the ways are warped, it'll be consistently wrong. (You could potentially correct in software if you measured the deviation, but that's an ugly, ugly way to fix it.)

Also, I don't know enough about those V-bearings' internal structure to say whether they're good or not, but I can't help but wonder how much they deflect with lateral loading. Normally, you would need a pair of preloaded angular-contact ball bearings to take lateral forces without deflecting.

10-02-2009, 11:34 PM
I think the V bearings have double rows of balls to cope with the radial / side loads, what concerns me about this design is the fact the vee runs on an edge of the angle Thin squareish side lobe rather than a 90 degree bearing surface, and the points of contact are small so easily worn? Unless I've misread the photos.

I would have thought this small contact point would lead to quick wear and constant need to correct that?

Why not cast the carriage and gantry side plates? One pattern could be made for amost of the pieces and humidity drift etc could be avoided.

10-02-2009, 11:37 PM

Good point.

Holding two pieces up to each other and then reversing them you should be able to see if they are out of line. And with three of them you should be able to see a bow in the middle. Correcting by bending? Shimming? Or by just not buying the pretzels? Checking will require that it be properly supported.

Yip I agree with you on the angle contact preloaded bearings. I don't know about the V ground bearings. Not to mention that the steel angle will/may have some wobble issues all by itself. I'm looking at using (Ford) car roller cam followers. Cheap readily available and really High-Q. I don't know about being seal-able.

Grinding cold rolled steel is asking for it to warp as there is internal stresses in the steel.

Good luck W3 I know you'll end up with a good unit. ;)

10-03-2009, 12:12 AM

Good point. I was thinking about rail road rails. They wear in. The steel rails may benefit from being run in along there hole length. The bearings are or should be hardened steel so shouldn't be the part to wear.

I'm looking at doing lost foam. I want to cast it all out of Al. Doing the ways the Gingery way. But with cold rolled key stock for the ways.

I want a CNC router for cutting out Aluminum aircraft parts. (How you do that is by scoring the Al and then fatigue fracturing it. Pop can top works the same way.) So I'm going to be building a really big PC board mill. 4' X 8' minimum. (4' X 10' will get you an 18' wingspan 50% P-51) Z accuracy is the most important for this application. For cutting 0.063 Al sheet you need to actually remove some metal I want a V that is 0.005 inch deep +or- 0.001 for 0.010 you just need to touch it with a scribe. ( Don't dent it.) More pressure for stuff in between these two extremes.

10-03-2009, 12:13 AM
Wear probably isn't a huge deal because it's a rolling, not a sliding contact. Also, it is possible to adjust for wear, so even if it's annoying to have to take up the play every fifty hours of runtime or whatever, it doesn't necessarily reduce the machine's performance. A bigger contact surface would be a plus, though.

Visual inspection isn't necessarily foolproof when the errors involved are small. Some thin feeler gauges might do the trick.

The angle is probably okay in terms of stiffness for this relatively light-duty situation, because the lever arm is so short and it's well-supported. It wouldn't hurt to go for thicker material, though, which would also decrease storage warping problems.

The surface grinding would only remove a few thousandths of an inch, though it would still be good practice to anneal, normalize, and ideally flame or induction harden the surface (after a rough grinding so the hard part isn't ground away), then grind it to final dimensions.

10-03-2009, 12:33 AM
The rails are a pretty cheap and easily replaceable part. I am not gonna worry too much about them from the start other than making sure I use straight stuff to begin with checking using a 6' straightedge.

Once it is up and running I will think about having some rails made up for higher accuracy if I see a need. This isnt a mill though and we are not talking .0001, heck .005 would surpass my expectations over a sixteen square foot working surface and even .01 would be fine.

I see where some people have run their machines through 100s of thousands of inches with no complaints of wear on the rails. The gantry is about 90lbs so while not exactly featherweight it isnt really heavy when talking about steel on steel.

I ordered my paper prints today from blueprintcopies.com about $27 + shipping and started making a material/supplier/cost list. I dont think Joe wants the complete BOM posted around so I wont be detailing that too much but I will be posting some of the larger item buys as I go along. Next week is gonna be a big shopping trip through the www.


10-03-2009, 12:35 AM
How about a LONG flat with sand paper on it. Put a 45 on the edges? Just a bit would go a long way?

10-03-2009, 03:18 AM
My thinking was that using two points of contact in a 90 degree vee (the edge of a side of steel for arguments sake) leaves a small easilly worn contact point. even if the rail is shimmed or adjusted there is still the potential for a fast bedding in period. All that said it seems the design has be proved, it was just the first gut reaction to the set up.

10-05-2009, 11:30 PM
Doing the $ tracking in the first post of this thread. Just over $1500 spent so far. I have another $700 or so in the antibacklash nuts/couplers from dumpster, the bolts kit from boltdepot bearings from VXB and unistrut then it will be pretty much little stuff like limit switches, wire and other misc. items.

Will start posting some pictures once I have my base welded up and some parts to show.


EDIT*** whoops, forgot about the router :oops:

10-06-2009, 12:46 AM
Good choice, looking at your expectations im sure your gonna be happy with the result and joe has sold quite a few of these now so im guessing he knows his stuff about now.

On the topic of rails and wear etc, if you use the machine uneavenly like at the ends and just cutting out small bits in one end of the machine the rails will be worn uneavenly. This cannot be adjusted, if you do the machine will jamb where the rails are not as worn. (You can spring load one pair of bearings to overcome this but then your machine really rides around on high and low spots duplicating it into the workpiece)

Iw built something similar using flatstock and ballbearings and there was alot of wear, altough there was alot of preload put on the bearings aswell. The point of contact was around 10mm wide. This was some soft steel so the trick would probably be to harden your rails, if you have the need that is.

Really cheap V rollers are fitted with just a regular ballbearing and the better ones and normaly used in this hobby use a double row angular contact ballbearing. They are usually not preloaded but made with a very small play.

10-06-2009, 02:51 AM
Yeah, I understand the rails are a weak point after hundreds of thousands of passes. The thing is though they are sitting right up on top, east to pull and replace. I am hoping that long before they begin to cause any problems I have a top quality replacement.

I know I am going to be thrilled with it once it begins cutting. The only thing that is gonna be a real bummer is waiting to be able to afford aspire and the model sets.

I am anxious to see what I can do with modeling on my own. I have always taken to mediums well and think I may just be able to make a buck or two selling models.

This whole thing has me on fire, I am so excited about it that I am already dreaming the plans and I have barely looked at the pdf's... once I get the 24x36 prints it will be all over :)


10-06-2009, 04:59 AM
Do you have any programing experiance? currently using a cad drawing program or a cam program? I am just curious. If so carry on, If not I will help all I can to get you up & running.
Also, have you settled on control software yet? I am using EMC2 on my hobby machines But I have not test driven the Mach software that seems to be the most popular. Its good to see some one so reved up on a project. keep up the progress.

10-06-2009, 07:32 PM
Nothing more than playing with Autocad a little years ago and of course SketchUp. I do however pick up on things very quickly and know how to pray to google for answers. Thats not to say I would ever turn down help. I think I can round up a copy of solidworks but in the future I am leaning towards buying Vetric Aspire.

For machine control I believe I will be going with Mach3. It does seem to be popular and there is a lot of useful info on the 4x4 forum specific to it.


10-06-2009, 09:29 PM
w3 I have used solidworks and it is a wonderfull program to use

Junk Works
10-07-2009, 12:57 AM
I'm going to have to get off my lazy bum this winter and finish my CNC Router. It has been an off and on project for the past 2-3 years!!! We moved and got busy with other things... :roll:

Good Luck to you W3. Don't forget to keep us posted.
Jon :D

10-07-2009, 02:19 AM
Don't forget to keep us posted.

I certainly will, this thread will detail my entire build. I have been updating the first post with purchases, up to $2152.39 spent so far. only three fairly large purchases to go, boltdepot kit for all of the bolts and washers, mach3 and of course the router then it will just be some small stuff like limit switches and wire, some unistrut and things like that unless I have missed something.

Shipping and all it looks like I am going to come in just over $2500. I really had to scrape to do this but I think it is going to so worth it in terms of what the machine will do not only for my casting but also the many other things I will be able to use it for.

I am going to try to make up a wood router mount just to get it running and cut a pattern for the mount. This will save me $60 + shipping in not buying the mount from K2CNC. I am also going to be re-making much (or all) of the HDPE/MDF parts as aluminum castings which I think will make the machine both stronger and lighter (gantry), may even be a market for a aluminum kit though I wouldnt step on Joes toes if he is not cool with it.


10-07-2009, 04:13 PM
Sell the parts to him?

10-11-2009, 05:38 PM
That is one thought pie_row, the other is to completely redesign the machine and sell my own. I mean the whole concept of the 4x4 is built around the MDF and HDPE parts. If those are all eliminated then it is a very different machine, plus with my thoughts on how to construct the castings they would have adjustment built in that is currently done with shims.

Will just have to wait for that stage to come but as I said I would not do anything without the blessing of the Big Man, really this is not a large market item and for the complexity of the castings and machining I doubt there would be much room for a lot of profit compared to a thousand other things that could be made having access to both a wood carving machine and casting.

I have read several more threads in the private forum on machining aluminum and all I can say is I am quite impressed. Taking .03 passes with very nice surface finishes is not impossible and with the addition of cast parts and hardened v rails the increased rigidity and accuracy the final results should improve more. The last thing that would give a big bump in accuracy would be a real spindle to reduce runout. With all of this done I would think some professional grade parts could be processed.


***OH, I have received my printed plans, v-bearings, bolts, drive screws and mach3... waiting on the rest with pretty much everything ordered other than the router and some tooling but it is in my amazon shopping cart awaiting additional funding :)

10-11-2009, 07:58 PM


I've seen someone build a home brew spindle out of an RE16 colet(?) router extension.

DIY can be done.

10-12-2009, 04:30 AM
You know pie_row, a couple hundred dollars worth of bearings and an aluminum casting could maybe give a $100 router the accuracy of a $2000 spindle and even if you went through a few router motors in the time the spindle motor would have held up you would still be ahead.

I am certainly going to keep this idea in mind for the future... who knows maybe I will find some killer ceramic bearings on eBay for a song :)


10-12-2009, 06:17 PM
How much is an ER 16 router extension? Sowing machine motor ($20) they run quiet. Yip.

And if you can figure it out you can sell them for 2X your money

10-13-2009, 12:42 AM
My motors and controllers came in today, looking more and more like this is going to be a challenge to build, the mechanical stuff I am all good with but the electrical side is all new to me. I am sure I will get it all sorted though and there are quite a few others in the Joes forum using the same package so I know I can get someone to let me in on their setup if I get stuck.

Pie_row, I was just thinking of an extension for the router that would house the collet and a couple of really good bearings. I really dont see building a spindle with a sewing machine motor, those quality router spindles have 3+ HP.

My thought from your prior post was to eliminate the runout while still using the 2 1/4 HP hitachi router passing it through two good bearings before the collet as was done in one of the links you posted. The router is only $100 and I am sure its motor is not going to last forever but I believe its weakest link is in the quality of the bearings. If the motor lasted 1/10 as long as that in a $2K spindle then you would come out ahead buying 10 routers and have the same or close anyhow tolerance at the bit.

Thinking about it though it also kind of depends on what your machine is doing when the router goes. A high value workpiece or two or trashing the job after ten hours running on a complex piece would be setbacks that could add up to a professional spindle fast.

On another note, I have been giving some thought to a vacuum table setup. The picture represents one 9 hole unit (these would be repeated across the entire table surface but each 9 hole unit would operate automatically and independently from the others) controlled by a single valve (built into the layers of MDF). It would need to be tuned so that if a certain number of the holes were covered there would not be enough air to hold the ball up. There would be a weighted bypass to keep vacuum constant and to let the blower run at its peak even when no air is being drawn through the table.

4 Layers of 3/4" MDF from top to bottom.

Layer 1. Simple grid of 1/8" holes for table surface, can be surfaced down until too thin.
Layer 2. Collection well under the nine holes above, path to first hole in next layer and connection for second two holes in next layer.
Layer3. This is the meat, holes from left to right, air goes down first up second and down third. Ball and seat in middle hole.
Layer 4. Connection for holes one and two in layer 3 and outlet to vacuum box below.

I know it seems like a lot but really once the drawings are made up the cutting is done by the 4x4 leaving the hardest part of putting one ball in middle hole of each set. The lower three layers should never need any work and the top layer would just be replaced as it was surfaced away. I am also thinking reversing the flow on the vacuum from time to time might keep it cleaned out.

Anyone want to take a stab at why it wont work or tell me its a hair brained idea not worth pursuing?



10-13-2009, 03:02 AM
w3 what is it that you are planning to make with this machine?

10-13-2009, 05:26 PM
w3 what is it that you are planning to make with this machine?

Um... everything :) When I first began to set myself on a cnc machine it was for the purpose of making wooden (MDF) molds and core boxes for sand casting so I was initially looking at a smaller machine. As I looked around and realized this larger format was not too far out of my budget I began to think that cabinets and furniture would be in the realm of my future possibilities so I was drawn to the 4x4 by its size and cost along with the favorable indication that there was a good support community for it.

Once in the private forum I began to see more possibilities (and I will attest there is very good support there) seeing people are machining aluminum with good results. So now I am thinking I can make parts such as the trucks and carriages for my own machine (along with some mods that float through my head to make it even more versatile) to make it even more rigid, do some final machine work on my own castings. Then there is the also the signage market that I might be able to make a few bucks here and there in.


Patterns for casting
Cabinets and furniture
Decorative moldings and flourishes
Cut vinyl
Wood and acrylic toys, clocks, gears ect...

and probably about a million other things I have not thought of yet. I know that there will be limitations on just how good this machine will be when compared to one dedicated to the specific task but this setup is very flexible and looks to extremely accommodating in terms of adding improvements.

One thing I look forward to even though I have not busted a sweat in getting started putting this together yet (other than hauling boxes to the shop from the UPS truck) is building the next one which will certainly be of my own design using the knowledge gleaned from this one. I have always wanted to have a full sheet CNC machine since I first came across them years ago with the thought that it could be a nice income earner but the cost of those machines is almost unattainable without diving into debt and starting a real business that may or may not be able to support itself due to the startup costs.


10-13-2009, 07:01 PM
The other thread showed a BIG sowing machine motor. High Q through out is what you want, a router with run out will vibrate and that will find its way into the work. Upgrading the internal construction of the router may be worth looking into tho.

10-18-2009, 08:52 PM
Decided to go with the snap in Integral V Guides from pacific bearing

The Integral V linear guide system was
developed to reduce cost, increase application
flexibility and for ease of installation. The
rail consists of durable anodized aluminum
with a precision embedded hardened steel
raceway. Integral V components include various guide rails
and carriages; each having high load capacity, rigidity and
torque resistance. The Snap-In Series is an extremely
simple and robust linear guide system.

These will bump the cost of my rails about $150 for all 8 of them but between the precision/hardened steel and snap in ease I think it will all add up to big gains.


10-18-2009, 09:57 PM
Here's the link (http://www.pacific-bearing.com/IntegralVTechnology.aspx) if anybody else wants to look at it.

Those look very good--I think they'll be much more rigid and accurate than the angle-iron thing that was originally spec'ed. And $150 isn't bad at all considering the cost of the whole machine. Especially considering that with those, you shouldn't have much trouble with reasonably light milling of aluminum.

Looking forward to seeing some pictures of this thing coming together.

10-18-2009, 10:12 PM
those would do super in fact you have just given me an idea...

10-19-2009, 02:52 AM
Looking forward to seeing some pictures of this thing coming together.

And here is a start. I think I will label this this "Ugly CNC" I dont have much desire for a pretty paint job or that other stuff a lot of the guys building this go for. I want precision and reliability... thats all.

Progress today, built the base, 1.5"x3" heavy wall tubing. This is quite stout and great pains were taken to ensue square and plumb even though the shop floor is quite literally made from dirt. I mixed this concrete by hand, by myself using sand dug from my property and cement. The shop is 24' square and this base dominates the spot I cleared in the middle. You can see a section of 8020 just sitting along the Y axis, I will weld some tabs for bolting it on next.


Close up of the 8020 rail, the V Glide will snap into this to prove the rolling surface for the X gantry.


In this shot you can see the majority of the expense of this build, The motors and controllers, power supply and breakout board. Behind that the prints. Also note my lucky find of bolt bins, I have somewhere around 30 or so of these that I scored for $3 each from a hardware store that was getting new ones. The bins contain the bolts, bearings, bushings and anti backlash nuts.


10-19-2009, 03:49 AM
We too scored a bunch of Part bins like that, I think we got something like 200 of them (bins) and probably 2000 little containers that sit in the bins (10 containers to a bin) for like 100 bucks. Bought it from a copier dealership that was going out of business (retirement, not due to bad business)

10-25-2009, 08:58 PM

I been thinking about your high speed spindle for you CNC router. Todd has the answer for the motor. RC model airplane motor with controller. Good stuff. That with the router extension and some good bearings should set you up fine.

10-26-2009, 01:36 AM
Pie_row, I am going with the hitachi router to get things started. From there I may look into building my own spindle, the idea is intriguing but the cost simplicity of the router wins out for getting build done. I am still waiting on my kit from Joe, been three weeks now and he had told me it was a two week lead so I am getting antsy.

I havent really done much more with the base thought I did add some 1" tube corner supports all around for extra stiffness because when I moved it some of the measurements were a little out... it doesnt budge now :)


10-26-2009, 02:22 AM
OK I am looking at buying a router myself for doing some stuff with. (and part of that will be to build a router replacement. It was for down the road when you are up grading that I mentioned the RC moter idea I didn't want to forget to do it that is to mention it) I know the feeling I'm getting something for X-mass and I want it now!!!

10-26-2009, 07:26 AM
No problem pie_row, I am glad you brought forward so much information on the spindle as it will certainly help to cement it into my mind.

Got a PM from Joe on his forum and he tells me that my kit is going on the road tomorrow so I should have it by the end of next week.


10-28-2009, 05:42 AM
I ended up going with the angle for the tracks. It seems one of the hybrid forum members got some of the snapin rail and it just doenst fit so well. The product itself is in preproduction and on its way back to engineering so I am just sticking to plan for now. It can easily be modified at a later date if needed. I did end up with SS 1/8 x 3/4 x 3/4 rather than plain mill rolled. When I went to the steel yard today and looked at what they had it just looked terrible. I saw better pieces at lowes but they only had two. B&B has another yard across the street for specialty metals so I went over there and looked at the stainless and it was great, ok, maybe not precision tool steel but I got rails not and they are pretty straight, as they get locked down to the 8020 every 6 inches it should true them up pretty well.

Now that bad part, I have to drill holes every 6 inches down 48 feet of stainless. This is going to be a ling slow process with lots of bit changes I know, I bought a ten pack :) tomorrow I make holes...

Also i finally got around to ordering my router and bits today. This is the last big purchase and the total is hovering around $3200, more than I had planned but I keep telling myself it is going to be so worth it.

On a final note, a couple of the users of joes forum designed and built a power on circuit that uses a sensor to determine if there is power going to the router. They call it RoVER (router on verification) and they wrote a brain for mach3 so that if the router aint spinning the axis's aint movin'. They were offering at nearly cost ($30 shipped) and I figured for the price of one of the Amana bits I bought today (less actually) it was a must have on the build. You can override it for manually moving the router with the shuttle.

So it is getting close folks. Should start seeing lots of pics and progress in here soon with the trucks and motor mount kits from joe due in any day and the rest of the parts in my shop. I am hopeful for my thanksgivng deadline for a cut piece which will give me a month to make Christmas presents.


10-30-2009, 04:01 AM
Progress, things are gonna move fast now I hope, Joes kit arrived and I unboxed and compared to the print to check that everything was there.

Here are some pics...

Drilling the rails

WD40 doing its job

Some chip shots, I was impressed with the way this $0.49 Harbor Freight bit did, many of the holes came out in one continuous spiral. 72 holes through 1/8" 304 8 holes through the 8020 mounts below (1/4" carbon), drilled out 12 unistrut locking nuts and the bit is still ready for more (and I bought a ten pack thinking I would use them all)

The 8020 mounts welded to the bed, two T Nuts in each one. These are the 1/4" carbon mentioned being drilled above. 1 1/2" x 1/4" flat bar that was a concrete form stake in its prior life and volunteered to become part of this build.

The rails slide on using these T Nuts

Attaching the rails to the 8020. I used my 5 foot level as a straight edge by clamping it either at the ends or in the middle away from whichever way had a bow then pushed the rail to the level so it was straight and screwed it down.

Closeup looking down a rail

10-30-2009, 04:16 AM
Drilled out these unistrut nuts that go in the strut and hold the bed up the the rail. The little piece of strut that was left over from the X support under the bed made a perfect fixture for drilling.

Here is the bed hung, it is bolted up from the bottom into the 8020, in the side of the 8020 with the angle bracket and down through the angle into the unistrut. Locks together quite nicely.

Easy winner of favorite tool of the day :) Cant tell you how many times I pulled over on the side of the road and pulled this out when someone was getting ready to change a tire, off on done...

Here is my kit from joe and my prints.

More to as I make more progress, tomorrow I will get as far as I can in assembling the X and Y trucks along with the Z slide and motor/bearing mounts. Quite a bit of threading to be done in the HDPE along with drilling for the threaded holes so I really dont know how long it will take me as I will have to set up drilling fixtures for a lot of it. I am hoping I will have them all done tomorrow though with a coat of sealer on the MDF, Saturday is gonna be kind of a dead day for me because of a Halloween party so Sunday will be the next day to gear up and there is a race on Sunday so might not get too much done then (gotta watch the race, I am in a $600 pool ($50 each for the twelve chasers, winner take all) and I have Jimmy Johnson, if he wins the series I get V-Carve Pro)


10-30-2009, 01:11 PM
Around 80 holes? :o
5 foot level? :o
And tons of materials to work with... 8)

Nicely done. :wink:


10-30-2009, 01:36 PM
Sorry typo, that is a 6 foot level. Dont know why it would be a surprise though as they are quite common in the construction trade. Anyone who has ever hung a door should have one, I think this cost about $50.

Yes 80 holes, 72 in 1/8" stainless, 8 and 1/4" carbon steel plus stripper the threads out of 12 steel locking nuts and still going. Today I will be pulling the threads out of 8 more nuts (grade 5) and using the same bit. I may retire it to the trash can then as I will have to change to 13/64ths to drill for tapping the HDPE parts, then again I might nail it up on the wall somewhere a proof if someone ever tells me not to buy bits at HF.

Material on hand is something that comes with living rural. Pull onto the highway in front of my house and one direction is 20 miles and the other is 25 before you get to a stop sign :wink: nearest hardware store (small one) is 25 miles and home depot is about 50. Also having some land so there is a back 40 to stash things in helps to keep peace with the wide but over the years she has saw how many times something broke and I was able to fix it by by pulling a part off of some old thing I hauled out there that she no longer teases me about my "junk yard".


10-30-2009, 03:08 PM
6 foot level? I have a small one 8"... :)
80 holes with a cheap drill?! That's probably a Guinness Record!


10-30-2009, 03:22 PM
Also having some land so there is a back 40 to stash things in helps to keep peace with the wide but over the years she has saw how many times something broke and I was able to fix it by by pulling a part off of some old thing I hauled out there that she no longer teases me about my "junk yard".


Man, w3, your wife will do some harm if she finds out you called her the "WIDE" :lol:
Some are typos and others are mental slips. :?

10-30-2009, 03:48 PM
I also have to give props to the WD40, obviously doing its job quite well along with the press itself, an oldie but a goodie, makes a lot of difference.

I ordered a couple more bits

V carving bit
Amana Tool 45733 CNC Sign Making and Lettering 3-Flute Carbide Tipped Router Bit, 1/2-Inch Shank (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000P4UJXY/ref=ox_ya_oh_product)

Surfacing bit
CMT 801.817.11 Mortising Router Bit 1/2-Inch Shank, 1-1/4-Inch Cutting Diameter, 1/2-Inch Cutting Length (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000P4O4EE/ref=ox_ya_oh_product)

About $90 for the two with the amana being most of the cost. All I need now is a 1/16 and 1/8" ball nose with 1/4" shanks. If anyone has recommendations for these in solid carbide please post links.

I did find these http://www.beckwithdecor.com/index_files/Cutters.htm but the price is pretty steep for such small bits and was hoping to find something a little less. Total now at $3214, detailed breakdown in the first post of this thread.

10-30-2009, 03:51 PM
Also having some land so there is a back 40 to stash things in helps to keep peace with the wide but over the years she has saw how many times something broke and I was able to fix it by by pulling a part off of some old thing I hauled out there that she no longer teases me about my "junk yard".


Man, w3, your wife will do some harm if she finds out you called her the "WIDE" :lol:
Some are typos and others are mental slips. :?

Freudian slip huh? Well she does have junk in the trunk but just enough for that honkytonk badonkadonk look, I am a very lucky man in many ways


EDIT*** Hmmm, one more bit, this one was really cheap at $14 shipped

AMANA Router Bit STRAIGHT PLUNGE Carbide 1/2 shk #45444 (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=110415734870&ssPageName=ADME:X:AAQ:US:1123)

10-30-2009, 07:56 PM
I could fill up a back 40 with useful stuff I mean junk to the rest of you all.

10-31-2009, 12:57 AM
Well the 18v impact was a favorite again today, along with the drill for opening the 13/64" inch holes made on the press to 1/4" and power tapping the HDPE. I got all of the MDF glued and clamped this morning then went to work on the HDPE. Around lunch time I decided to get a sealer on the wood so I dug around not wanting to get out the cup gun and found three very old rattle cans with varying amounts in them, one was clear, one was white and last one was John Deere yellow touchup paint, they are all three empty now and the wood looks pretty well sealed, might take a brush and some varnish around the cut edges and let them soak up a little more to keep the moisture out (not that humidity is all that terrible here).

Finished up the HDPE parts after my sealing job so no more tapping those buggers, kind of watching the paint dry now, next day on the build should make it look like a machine that can do something with the gantry up and at least rolling under human power.

Will try to get some pic a little later.


10-31-2009, 02:57 PM
W3 this is awesome. Great progress too. I can't wait to see this in action. I noticed you are way over budget much like all my projects! I think this one will be worth it.

10-31-2009, 03:30 PM
Robert, yes there were some things I did not account for like $250 in router bits which I could have scaled way back on and a few other ares where I spent extra like bolts, wire, limits switches and such.

I intend on casting all of the HDPE and MDF parts in aluminum after I get the machine up and running so between that and not needing plans building another would be almost half the cost. I have been thinking of modding in a 4th axis on this as a few have done but the more I think about it I will probably build a dedicated 4 axis machine with a turning length or greater than 4' which would be a hard limit adding it as a mod. That is going to be some time down the road though.

In the nearer future I can see building a small mill using sturdy aluminum castings, possibly replacing the aluminum castings with iron once I have the mill to do the machine work. All of this depends on how well my skills in solidworks come along but I am pretty confident there.

I did hang one of the Y trucks and spent some not so small minutes rolling it back and forth with my fingertip. I made a few passes while watching my watch and trying to gauge some different IPM speeds over four feet of track. 100 IPM is painfully slow taking 30 seconds it seems as if it hardly moving. Even at 5 seconds which would be 600 IPM covering the four feet felt like a reserved pace. I think something closer 1200 IPM is what I would like to eventually see but I dont think it is possible with the screw setup (because of whip at higher rpm) which means I will probably end up converting to rack and pinion down the road.

All in all it was quite satisfying to shove that single truck back and forth imagining the gantry with the X truck and Z slide all moving too, beautiful.


11-01-2009, 06:01 AM
W3, if you need any help with something in SolidWoks I can lend a hand. I wont take myself as an expert but I have been using it for a while and I know my way around in it.

11-01-2009, 03:18 PM
Got the X Truck mounted, not I can slide form corner to corner and Y smoothly follows. I am very impressed with how tight yet smooth flowing everything is.

Had a few field engineer things come up where bolt specs or holes did not quite work. Was a little disappointed with this as I would imagine the plans would have gone through a few revisions correcting such things but they were easily solved. Couple of things were kind of like "why do it like that" but hey, it does work.

Here is a present shot.

Halloween party last night and the race this morning so not a lot going to get done today. Not sure how long the control board is going to take me along with the wiring but I am hoping to cut some air by the end of this week and see chips fly by the end of next which will be a couple weeks sooner than I had hoped. If things go well this week it could accelerate even more but I want to pace myself as I can get over anxious on things like this and dont want bad things to happen by rushing it.

Biolit, someone else... todd I think, mentioned the same. I think when I get to that point I will open a 'solidworks, help and tips' thread. Pattern making or dw? Doesnt really seem like it would be off topic. Guess I would put it in pattern making, it could always be moved if anyone feels it is not appropriate.


11-01-2009, 03:57 PM
it would fit in pattern making as long as your questions are about making patterns :lol: :roll: :wink: sorry that was a lame joke :oops:

This is really great! So if it all comes together and your cutting next week, whats first on your "stuff I want to cut out" list?

11-01-2009, 05:41 PM
That list is so long I really dont know where to start. Off the top of my head though I am thinking it is going to be something for the wife ;) Probably download a ready to go file.

First serious thing I will need to do is a pattern for casting a router mount which means I will need to get busy drawing it up. I will have the router tomorrow so measurements can be taken from it. The machine will start out with a wooden mount I will make with the bandsaw and that will need to be replaced asap. That will be my fist money back project also as the aluminum mounts sell for for $60. My cast mount if it comes out nicely may be able to be sold competitively so it may even become a saleable item depending on how much time would be required per in a production run. Down the road from that will be any and all projects including signs and carvings to get the word out I am making chips for $'s. Probably offer a few free signs in strategic places to help with that.

Motor mount and truck casting patterns for the machine to replace all the wood and plastic will be high on my todo also as these will give me a ton of experience in designing parts and make the entire build that much better...

Really there is no end to this as the mind spins with possibilities.


11-01-2009, 10:56 PM
8) progress.

The todo list never "disappears" or lessens. It always gets bigger and bigger. Take me and metalcasting. 1 I cast and finish, 2 or 3 I add... :? but it's cool :wink:.


11-03-2009, 02:21 PM
whats first on your "stuff I want to cut out" list?

Another thing I had wanted to make but would never bother to do by hand is ingot matchplates.

I want to make a set of matchplates for making ingots that are labeled. Something like AL, CU, BRASS AL 50/Si 50 ect... these would be in the style of a Hershey candy bar with thin break off points and probably sized according to use. Like a AL 50/Si 50 would have break off points close to each other for getting small chunks while AL would be fairly large chunks (probably two sizes one for initial scrapping that is very large and a smaller one for pigging off extra metal from an actual pour).

Will also have my FoundDreaming on them and probably some interlocking design for stacking.

I know this is kind of silly but I figure why not make my ingots look like art?


11-03-2009, 03:09 PM
whats first on your "stuff I want to cut out" list?

Another thing I had wanted to make but would never bother to do by hand is ingot matchplates.

I want to make a set of matchplates for making ingots that are labeled. Something like AL, CU, BRASS AL 50/Si 50 ect... these would be in the style of a Hershey candy bar with thin break off points and probably sized according to use. Like a AL 50/Si 50 would have break off points close to each other for getting small chunks while AL would be fairly large chunks (probably two sizes one for initial scrapping that is very large and a smaller one for pigging off extra metal from an actual pour).

Will also have my FoundDreaming on them and probably some interlocking design for stacking.

I know this is kind of silly but I figure why not make my ingots look like art?


Sounds good to me! :roll:


11-04-2009, 11:25 AM
Personalized ingot molds could be another way to make a few $$ (around here, anyway).

11-04-2009, 04:05 PM
Personalized ingot molds could be another way to make a few $$ (around here, anyway).

There are quite a few things I have thought of making for the foundry. matchplates for making aluminum flasks is one. If things do work out as well as I believe they will I could see setting up a line of flask sizes and selling either the finished flasks or the plates. Aluminum flasks are so ridiculously expensive for what they are and I would want to make them affordable for us hobby types.

On from the flasks would be matchplates that fit the various flask sizes for all sorts of things that would be difficult to set up by hand, be fun to cast, hopefully useful and hold some possibility to profit from the castings. I will also look to keep this all as affordable as possible, will figure out pricing for things I make when I set up my website and of course offer deep discounts to BYMC'rs.

As I am thinking about my website here I am quite pleased with my choice of FoundDreaming.com, not only does it have the foundryman simile but it also sounds right up my alley for presenting creative projects.

Certainly I will be looking to get this machine to making some money to pay for itself and add to my software collection. Right now all I have is evaluation copies of solidworks and artcam, the artcam seems difficult at best but the solidworks plays like a song and I am sure I will be proficient in no time. I am in a pool for the race for the chase (NASCAR) and I have Jimmy Johnson, right now he has a 184 point lead over Mark Martin and just three races to go. The pool is $50 a car (12 cars in the chase) winner take all so thats $600, vCarve by vetric coincidentally is $599 so I am shouting 'go 48' every race. From vCarve you can upgrade to Aspire for $1450 (regular $1995) so that will be on the todo list as far as machine earnings.

I am still too stoked on this whole build. Yesterday one of my brothers came by for a couple hours and just kept smiling and saying that is incredible while having thoughts of his own of things that would come from this machine. Short background on this brother... an ex-marine during nam he never made it over there though he tried due to his training he wanted nothing more but this was towards the end and his superiors expressed concerns that they were trying to end the war and sending him with his current attitude would not be conducive to that end. So years roll by after and he is just a hard working guy with a big heart driving to work every morning til one day some low life heading the opposite direction pops out from behind a concrete truck waiting to make a left turn off the highway slams him head on. The lowlife walked away with a sprained arm and not even so much as a search of his car or a drug test while my brother was airlifted to the hospital. Three months and a couple million dollars of medical bills later he came home. Now he has one leg and a host of other medical issues, living meagerly on SS and swap meeting for extra cash. Sorry I didnt mean to make this a long depressing story but suffice it to say for the last 12 years I have done all I can to help him along and I have in my mind this machine is going to go a long ways to that end in producing things he can put together for next to nothing and sell at a nice profit... so you can see I certainly do have great aspirations of things to come.

Guess I better close this up before I have to go back and put an index in and look for a publisher.

I did get a couple fo the screws in yesterday along with getting the rails on the Z slide. I have a few adjustments I will need to make in getting things to line up perfectly, finish the Z and wire it all up. Today is shot because I have to go to town but I am hoping some time next week I will be under power.


11-04-2009, 07:00 PM
deep discounts to BYMC'rs.


sounds great!!! :wink:

I reeeaaaalllly like the flask idea by the way. Not that the ingot mold isnt a good idea, just I personally wouldnt pay for one. Dont let me discourage you, I do see the merit in it, just not for me specifically.

11-04-2009, 10:39 PM
Different strokes for different folks 4cf, just like with what I plan on doing with the flasks. I will double shrink size the patterns so I can use the wood pattern to make an aluminum matchplate. From that I will offer either the matchplates or castings. Some people would rather just get the flasks ready to bolt together while others would certainly want to be able to cast their own as they could cast as many as they want for the same price., a set of matchplates of a few different sizes and you could mix and match to make all kinds of different flasks, cheeks and all. Also when I start getting to the point where I can sell project matchplates they will all be made to fit my flasks :)


11-04-2009, 11:21 PM
now you are thinking

11-05-2009, 12:19 AM
Here is an ingot pattern that i think has a classic look. haven't put in the draft and the extrusion is a bit exaggerated to show the design concept.


11-05-2009, 03:44 PM
Here is an ingot pattern that i think has a classic look. haven't put in the draft and the extrusion is a bit exaggerated to show the design concept.

That's an interesting .

But you mean
Ήφαιστος :P , i believe, not
Ηψαιστοζ :( .
Copy-paste and font issues i think...


11-05-2009, 04:52 PM
3D I got the characters from the math1 font. i just kept hitting keys until i got what looked right not knowing the Greek alphabet i quit when it looked close.
looking again the second character should be a j and the last a shift v in that font.

11-07-2009, 12:22 AM

This is one thing I'll be doing with a CNC router/mill once I get one. http://krsuper2.com/ribs1.html

One thing you can do is to put the stuff into the ribs before you glass them up and then cut them out exactly where you put the stuff in them. And you can use a sharpy in the router to draw with.

11-07-2009, 01:33 AM
Finished the Z slide and built the router mount today. Used an old oak table leaf as the donor for the router mount. Doesnt look pretty but then then this is ugly cnc so no biggie. This marks the end of the mechanical portion of the build, next up is electrical. Cant imagine this will take me more than a day or two so it is looking good for breathing some life into this soon.

The Z really killed me today, the holes in the X carriage were 1/4" off to line up with the Z slide as built. I finally ended up using drilled out 1/4" nuts as spacers to bring the Z wheels out further. I dont like this solution as it means more 1/4" bolt hanging out there off the X carraige and this is going to be a weak point.

Started drawing up some sketches of the castings I will be making to replace the current wood and pe. So far I have decided on reducing the gantry height by 2.5", adding a second 4080 cross member on the X axis approx. 6" behind the current 5010, spreading the wheel base by 12" on the top rails (Y and X), going to a single bearing on the bottom rail, eliminating all of the bushings using 1/4" bolts on wheels and going with 3/8" bolts and a spring bolt jack system for tension adjustment.

Last thing I am mulling over is buying taps for the acme screws and making my own ABL nuts out of brass and aluminum so i can incorporate them into a captured location much like the Y axis is now. Doing this I can reduce the distance all of the trucks and the Z slide ride from there respective rails. Closing these gaps will further add to rigidity.


11-08-2009, 01:38 AM
Got an idea from Joe on making my own taps for acme threads. I can use a piece of the rod I have for this, taper and flute them then case hardened and I have taps.

On to the build. I finished all of the 'construction' parts of the build yesterday and got started on the wiring today.

The last bit on the build side was the Z slide and router mount


I just have all the electronics laid out on a board right now, will screw them down and slide the board under the table. I will be cutting parts for an enclosure so they will be open for a little while. Have the echain and wire run to the motors but still need to wire the motors. Will be setting up a computer tomorrow and hope to be running the breakin program. Looking like Monday might be the first cut, of course that will be be surfacing the table after tramming the router, if that all goes well then maybe I will be able to cut something for real.


You can see in the picture the go juice that has gotten this to all go together, that along with my three pound single jack is about all I need to build anything. :)


11-08-2009, 10:13 AM
looking good w3.

11-08-2009, 10:29 AM
very inspiring w3

11-08-2009, 11:13 PM
Looking good I see a thin cast piese to be in the pix ;)

11-09-2009, 12:23 AM
Finished all of the motor and driver wiring and started working on putting together the computer that will run the mach. While fishing through boxes of old wires looking for a printer cable I found I only had db25 to centronics cables and I need a db25 male to male in order to hook my computer to the break out board.

My wife was on the road with some friends so I got here to stop at best buy, no luck on the cable so I called office depot and they told me they had it for $29, I was very clear on what I needed even describing to him it has to have pins in each end. Well suffice it to say when the wife got there all they had was db25 to centronics also, no adapter either. So now I will be ordering a cable on eBay (ten bucks) and will have to wait a couple of days before I can hook it up. Kicking myself for not getting out the cable sooner but I never thought about not being able to simply buy one somewhere.

Will spend the next couple of days setting up xp and mach, maybe even run the limit switch wires though not sure I want to hook them up right away. I would like to have the machine running so if there are any interference issues with the limit wiring I am not chasing too many variables.

Also gives me time to do a few things I was putting off trying to get the fun stuff done like leveling bolts and plumbing in a dust collector.

So anyhow, looks like it will be mid week before I get to say "its alive"


11-09-2009, 02:08 PM

11-10-2009, 07:23 PM
One of a few thoughts I have on making the trucks out of aluminum. This design starts as a .375" x 2" truss web in three pieces with 2* of draft reducing the outer thickness to ~ .25", mating surfaces would be machines perpendicular to upright surface. The round hubs are 18" apart and will be drilled for 3/8" bolts to mount wheels.

Third wheel on the bottom still needs a tension system worked out, either a jack bolt or a spring, leaning towards the bolt and making another piece that would slide up and down by adjusting a bolt, this piece would be locked by additional bolts into the Triangular casting. Adjustment for tilt if needed can be made by shimming the bottom wheel in or out on its axle (bolt).

Square casting on top will take the X extrusion on one side and an additional smaller (4080) extrusion on the other. X carriage will have three wheels in the same configuration on each beam. This piece will have four bolts into the middle piece with some adjustment for squaring the gantry. The X carriage motor mount/bearing mount will also be in the center of this piece.

Solidworks says this is 5.3 lbs of aluminum total.

The basic properties above will be followed in other designs of which I have several. I would like to bring the weight down a little but it isnt much of an issue, making it stronger would be great even if it comes at the expense of a pound or two. Trying to work out in my mind whether going with thinner (1/4") web and a full 1/4" fill on the back would be stronger than the current 3/8" web and will probably try this design with the 1/4" back to see how much weight it adds... wish I would have weighed the mdf trucks before assembling the machine but I think I read the entire gantry weighs around 90 lbs with the router/nuts/bolts/wheels/beam ect...



11-10-2009, 07:41 PM
If they all have the same draft angle just flip the top and bottom pieces around and the draft angles will cancel.

11-10-2009, 07:47 PM
I thought about inverting the middle piece like that cx and will probably give it a try. I was just thinking it would still need to be machined to get a good fit but maybe not... I have seen some pretty smooth stuff come out of this k-bond, light sanding and it could be the ticket. Thanks for reinforcing that idea as it will save a lot of work.

What do you think about the differences in strength between the open design or a solid on one side design and thinner webs? I am thinking that by having a full 1/4" plate on one side it will eliminate any flexing forces that may be put on the carriage.


11-10-2009, 09:51 PM
I would try it the way you have it and see if it flexes too much. You can always add shear webs later if it does.

11-10-2009, 10:02 PM
w3 you can use solidworks to do some stress testing on that part

11-11-2009, 01:52 AM
That's what I was going to suggest. I'd guess that the boxed-in version will be stronger, but intuition is awfully fallible when it comes to complex pieces like that. A little stress analysis would go a long way toward determining the best design.

11-12-2009, 03:36 AM
I looked at the stress tools in solidworks but I am so unfamiliar with it being such a beginner I am not sure what I was seeing. From what I could tell though it looks like less than .0003" deflection with the wheel points fixed and 10 lbs of force on the plane where the cross members ride.

Here are some new pics, I decided to go with a single piece casting to make things simpler. Weight on the large piece is just over 4 lbs and it is 15" High and 14" wide (center of the wheels) I think I can handle making this and it will be a pretty good test of what I have learned here.



Anon, I made the images 600 wide but they are a little taller than that, I didnt want to make them any smaller but as you can see by the file sizes they are highly optimized and very small files.


11-12-2009, 05:59 AM
Considering what your are making there I suggest that you cut it out of rigid foam and give it a good spray coat to seal it up and strengthen it for mold making. Foam will save you a lot of time and you can run it in the router without worrying about the inner webs breaking from too much feed during the run. My suggestions would be to make the inner radius all the size of the cutting bit of your choice including the fillets where the ribs make contact with the back plate. I know you want to give it draft but doing it with a 3 axis mill is going to take one of two things, either very shallow plunges of about .005 with a ball end mill or deeper plunges with sanding the part afterwards to remove the edges left behind.

As for the upper box that will hold the x z truss I suggest not trying to make the box the size of the truss but make it bigger and on key points extrude sections that will actually hold the truss. That way you do not have to change out bits to get smaller radius in the corners and your assurance of a fit will be greater. Just one question, why you have the box capped off?

A suggestion also for the adjuster on the bottom would be to make a T slot and use a bolt with nuts and washers. Adjustment would be with the bolt head in the T slot and it getting bolted to the adjuster followed by two more bolts that will hold it in place in the upper web. This way you do not have to worry about aligning the hole in the web with the one in the adjuster. Also increase the thickness of the web that will hold the adjuster bolt.

11-12-2009, 07:35 AM
One more with this design, this has the cutouts though I think I may have cut out too much. The back web is about an inch wide. Aluminum is really strong stuff though and I have silcon metal that I can add to make sure it has a high Si content. The Si makes it pour beautifully but the higher the content the worse it is to machine, makes it kind of brittle from what I understand. As long as it doesnt break though I would think this would be desirable because along with brittle comes rigid, less flex = mo better.

The cutouts took nearly half a pound off so the main piece is just over 3.5 lbs now and the whole assembly is just over 5 including the hardware currently installed.


Biolit, good suggestions and lots of food for thought. My intentions were to make this out of MDF and I think I can handle some light sanding on over .005" steps, also to note if it is somewhat stepped it is not going to hurt the design other than aesthetically. A few good coats of enamel will take out a lot of micro flaws. I am brand new to all of this so it will be a learning process no doubt.

I like the T slot idea a lot and will work that in and you are probably right about the tension web being thicker, it is pretty narrow though and over 1/8" thick where the bolt is. I was thinking about adding some level spots that do not have draft for getting the bolts to sit flat.

All of the interior fillets are 1/8 radius or larger so I had planned to use just a 1/4" ball nose for the whole cut. The radii on the top edges is 1/16" but that is rounding over so the same bit should work.

I am getting more amped every day about getting this thing finished and making things. Will be drawing up some clamps soon and of course the X carriage which is going to be a little more complicated than these side trucks as it will be on two rails and have the Z slide built into it.


11-13-2009, 01:36 AM
It moves... man I had so many problems trying to figure out the setup for mach3 to talk to my machine. I knew things were hooked up right because the estop worked but none of the motors would move. Being a total noob I had no idea of how to set up the mach to control the machine and most of the instruction I found was cryptic at best.

Anyhow I finally found some pictures that worked with my brain and got things moving. Z and X are great, maybe some tuning on the motors to bring speeds up but they look and sound smooth. Y is a an issue, it got too cold so I had to give up but the Y A slave relationship has a problem that needs to be resolved. The A moves but the Y doesnt, I have slaved the A to Y in mach and it seems wierd that the issue is with Y... I am thinking that I dont have something set right for Y and will hunt it out in the morning.

From the looks of things first cut will be this weekend, Prolly end up just running out some text, nothing too fancy right off but I can promise I have a ton of stuff coming. Once the machine is right it will be working overtime just to cover my own wants.

Spent some time drawing up flasks today, havent got to the point where I like them yet but they look pretty nice, I can imagine casting them in the next couple of weeks :)


11-13-2009, 03:20 AM
If your going to use a 1/4 on MDF you will have to take it slow at first. High speed steel can take a beating but if you go too fast its going to start bending and screw up your part or in worst case snap. MDF may be crap in general but its still dense. On your practice runs start slow and up the feed rate and look for deflection in the bit. Deeper the plunge the slower you will have to go.

I would have suggested a 3/8 bit of bigger but 1/4 should be fine. One other thing if your bit is long so that it can reach the bottom of the part without the holder catching it increases the chances of bit deflection and eating away at the walls of you part. One last suggestion is for the direction of cutting. For a nice smooth finish cut into the piece. If the part is on the top of the bit and rotation is c-clockwise then direction would be left.

11-13-2009, 09:53 PM
Yeah, it will take me a little time to get o know the quirks of making nice cuts but it so nice to be this close to being able to learn :) I go the issue solved with the YA not wanting to go over 10 IPM... grease, DUH!!!, I could have kicked my own @ss on that one. I han not seen anything about greasing the screws though so didnt think about it. Good thing I had a can of lithium for my mini lathe.

It is running smooth now at 120 IPM, just about done with the first run through the breakin wizard one of the guys in joes forum wrote. I have rapids off right now as they were binding it up again. Will try using them on the next run though. It really kicks with the rapids on when it doesnt bind.

Still waiting on my new computer. I ended up having to bring my desktop out to the shop for the machine so I bought a new one for my desk :) 3ghz P4 with 2GB, that should help me out some with solidworks and I will be bumping the ram up to 4GB as soon as I can afford it.

I am so glad I decided on this machine for my build and blowing the doors off my original budget. This is going to give me 10 times the capability of what was in my original budget ($1500).

I am split on my recommendation of the $100 for the plans of this build. On one side for a noob it is tough to beat the BOM and the help in joes forum but the plans themselves leave a lot to be desired. There are many things that just dont fit and you have to cut/grind to adapt. I would think that two years into this print there would be a couple of revisions but apparently this is the original plan, some things could be solved by simply making cutouts in the hdpe to accept the conflicts and those that couldnt should be noted.

All in all I would say anyone wanting to build a machine of this size would have money well spent for the plans though, simply for access to the forum and even those more experienced might find a wealth of developments/enhancements that that community is working on and sharing here.

So in the end fi you want to build this should you buy the plans, absolutely. just dont build it from them or at least be aware of the workarounds beforehand. I say buy the plans to become a part of joes forum and study there for a little while before you begin building.


11-14-2009, 12:03 AM
Is it the appropriate time to ask for a couple of pics? :oops:


11-14-2009, 12:41 AM
Is it the appropriate time to ask for a couple of pics? :oops:

what 3d said

11-14-2009, 12:57 AM
It pretty much looks like it did in the last pictures I posted. I have never done a youtube vid but I think I will give it a try. The breaking is pretty boring so none of that but maybe a hello world first cut vid?

I am working the speeds up, currently seeing 300 X and 200 YA, single axis X rapids at nearly 600 IPM and combined axis rapids of 550 IPM. This thing is really starting to kick.

Dont worry about the pics though, I will be posting plenty as I start to cut stuff and if the youtue thing works with my camera then i will be posting video too.


Ron Smith
11-14-2009, 07:37 AM
kewl, can't wait to se it when its finished, been wanting to make one for years now

Ron SS

11-14-2009, 11:49 AM
The breaking is pretty boring so none of that but maybe a hello world first cut vid?

Any vids you post will be great. Stuff that is "boring" to most people is fascinating to some of "us". Just seeing your machine in action after you've chronicled the build from day one will be neat. When I read and follow other peoples projects I feel like I am somehow involved. I share their excitement when they are successful and their pain when things go wrong. Seeing what others are doing motivates me to get off my a** and do stuff. Some of the things that I thought were beyond me turn into "Hey, if he can do it, so can I".

11-14-2009, 02:38 PM
I guess boring was the wrong word, it was still exciting to me the 300th trip around the able though it was simply moving in an X over and over. I just meant in general as there a million youtube vids of my machine moves.

I got it up to 200 IPM on the Y and 300 on the X, rapids were running at 550 IPM on the X. It sounded sweet and was absolutely flying.

going to head the hardware store this morning to get the mdf for the table to and some more grease. Wont get my new computer until Monday but I will probably put together something simple in solidworks on the shop computer just to cut something.

I am hopeful that by the end of next week I will be casting router/motor/bearing mounts and the Y trucks from patterns made on the machine. Next up is to begin designing the X carraige, I am thinking it will be three pieces though there will possibly be some small cross plate to tie in the bottom of the front and back wheel plates.

My Y trucks are going to reduce the overall height by about 3" as there will be no part of the machine lower than the vBearings on the X axis, that should be a big gain by itself in terms of stability, combined with the wider wheel stance, the two extrusion gantry and single piece aluminum Ys this is going to move this machine up a class in performance and beg for V rails and a high dollar or maybe even home made spindle to eliminate router runout.


Ron Smith
11-14-2009, 04:23 PM
It sounded sweet and was absolutely flying.

WOW put some wings on that sucker :lol: :lol:

sometimes I just can't help myself but to do that sort of thing, I sure hope everyone takes it a joke as my intention is to get a laugh or a smile out of y'all, or at least one of ya's

Ron SS

11-18-2009, 05:50 AM
Well first cut has been made, actually I did it a couple days ago but since I was computer poor I couldnt post it. Now I have my new desktop set up and I am back in business. I guess I had a youtube account for some time and had forgotten about it but was able to recover it. So here is the link to the w3neo channel... (http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=w3neo#g/u) just one video for now. This is the boring of the holes to bolt down the bed. I used mach3's built in hole wizard. There are six unistrut supports and I put five bolts in each. In the wizard I told it the rectangle was 46" x 45.375 and it calculated the even spacing and put holes where they needed to be.

First trip through was actually with a 1/4" drill bit going all the way through both layers of mdf. The run in the video was a 13/16" bit 1.1" deep (large enough for a 1/4" flat washer). Then a final run was made with a small bit and the router off and the mdf top removed. I followed the router and on each of the 30 location made a mark with a sharpie on the unistrut. Then I put the unistrut nuts in centered on the marks and replaced the top. I only had trouble getting two of the bolts in and that had to do with the unistrut not being perfectly space, the holes certainly were... a little help from the wife and I centered up the nuts from the bottom while she threaded them in and the table was bolted down.

Now you have witnessed the carnage, this thing is voracious, it will eat anything in its path of that I am certain. In the next day or two I am expecting to receive some really great software for getting this machine to make some oohs and awes. For the time being I am digging into solidcam trying to learn how to turn my solidworks drawings into gcode the machine can understand. This is a huge learning curve, not insurmountable but definitely going to be my new course of study for some months to come.

Still have a lot to do to this machine to make it how I want it like the cast trucks and mounts, dust collector computer and controls box ect... but it is now a working machine.

Hope you all have enjoyed the trip, I certainly have and I will continue to post some things in here from time to time but for the most part you can stick a fork in this project... "it's done"


11-18-2009, 11:54 AM
SWEET!! Did it run "bug-free" the first time? Sounds like everything was perfect (other than the 2 holes you mentioned). I know you spent some $$, but it seems like everthing came together super fast. Any idea how many hours you have into building it (not counting waiting on the postal system)?

11-18-2009, 03:06 PM
Yes, it did everything it was supposed to do though I did go through a couple of dry runs with the hole wizard to figure out how it wanted the inputs. Also speeds and feeds need some learning. I set the peck depth on that 13/16" bit at .2 and I think the z was on 50 IPM. It really push hard on it, I could see some flexing in the gantry beam as it pressed down. This could have been solved by either slowing down the Z travel or reducing the peck depth. Also I was playing with the router speed while it was going and had it too high at one point and burned a couple of holes.

My design for the gantry will not make this much stronger, with the second cross beam and all aluminum construction but also simplify the build giving better access to or even eliminating some frustrating to get at bolts. Casually looking over the machine I counted well over 100 bolts that will be eliminated.

At this point it has been 6 weeks since I ordered the plans and as you mentioned waiting was the biggest part of it all. A rough guess would be around a weeks worth of work (40 hrs). A lot of that was staring into space thinking about how to do something or fix something that wasnt working how the plan said it should or setting up a fixture to hold something. With a clear spot in a shop and all of the parts on hand I think I could build one in a weekend now if I had a helper at times to hold the other end of something from time to time..


11-18-2009, 03:50 PM
With a clear spot in a shop and all of the parts on hand I think I could build one in a weekend now if I had a helper at times to hold the other end of something from time to time.


Sounds to me like you just figured out your next business venture.

a machine on hand that can machine out parts to replicate itself. Hire a 2 man crew to do installs. give accreditation to the designer of the original plans, and start raking gin some $$ 8)

just kidding...but only sort of :wink:

Im really impressed by your build up W3...almost all projects of this scale Ive watched on forums hit a major delay either in planning, execution...or mostly stall financially. Youre timeline, plan and implementation all followed a reasonable pace and you clearly dealt with problems and executing their solutions efficiently. Kudos sir!

11-18-2009, 04:07 PM
Thanks 4cf, determination I guess, well that and the fact my wife would kill me had I spent all that money and not finished it ;) Financially it was a real stretch for us, I have had us close to nothing in the bank a few times in the last several weeks as I went considerably over my initial revised intentions of $2500.

With the extra router bits I got and two new (eBay refurbs, one for cad one for cam) computers and components for them I am now very close to $4000. As I said before I could trim a lot off this now that I have a machine for making parts and patterns but there are still some hard costs that would be in the $1500 to $2000 range minus computers.

I dont have any interest in selling these, I would much rather sell what they can make. Hire a couple of people to run them kicking parts off all day is more like it :)


11-18-2009, 06:32 PM
8) Sounds ready to make soooooome stuff! :wink:


11-18-2009, 06:38 PM
W3, can you post a shot of your bit selection?

I think I know what to make, but I for damm sure am not paying those prices for 1/4in bits.

I know I need a 5/10/15 degree detail cutter, a bulk material remover that leaves a smooth surface and a couple sizes of material removers in-between just to do a good job on plaques.

What am I not thinking of?

11-19-2009, 02:15 AM
Ck, I will try to remember to take a picture tomorrow when I am in the shop.

Good bits are expensive though and I bought by recommended names like whiteside and amana.

I dont know that you need all those degrees though, I want to find out what the taper is on the beckwith tapered ball nose bits, they have a set of 1/16" 1/8" and 1/4" (http://www.beckwithdecor.com/index_files/Cutters.htm) that look like they would put a nice taper for sand molding and leave a fillet at the bottom at the same time. Flats would have to have a small stepover though with a ball though. They are expensive but from what I hear they are top of the line.

A couple of bits I have you did not mention are a 60 and 90* V and you probably want a large flat cutter for spoilboard surfacing.

I am brand new at this so I cant really give better advice and a lot of it will depend on what you are wanting to do. For myself along with patternmaking I am going to be doing a lot of 3D carving.

First thing I need to get going on though is a dust collection system. I have a good shopvac just need to cobble something together to focus the suction right on the bit but stay out of the way at the same time. Most people make an acrylic dust shoe and have these huge 4" dust collector hoses on them and a brush skirt on the bottom. I have been thinking some other ways of doing it so that it does not block the view of the bit so much.


11-28-2009, 01:35 AM
Looks great! Love the video! I can't wait to see some complex patterns come off this. Are you happy with the kit you chose.? I may build one of these too. Can you recommend this one?

11-28-2009, 07:02 PM
Looks great! Love the video! I can't wait to see some complex patterns come off this. Are you happy with the kit you chose.? I may build one of these too. Can you recommend this one?

Robert, as I said in my review post I would certainly recommend this setup. I wasnt terribly thrilled with the plans as they are in need of revisions that were never applied as problems came to light and there are some modifications that would be well made right from the beginning like a welded steel base and the rack and pinion mod. This is a big machine so if you would never cut larger things and dont have much space a smaller machine might be better suited for say just making casting patterns. This machine can be scaled down. Ultimately I feel the real value in the cost of the plans is in the access joes forum where there is an active and ongoing development community dedicated to this platform.


11-30-2009, 02:31 PM
So far I have seen 3 types of mechanical connections to the axes. Lead screw, cog and belt, rack and pinion. Sounds like you would favor the last choice? Is that also the most expensive? I was thinking about building a machine that could work for a router or a plasma cutter. The table would probably be a water tank that could be drained and covered with a solid surface. I have not seen this but it seems do-able.

11-30-2009, 05:04 PM
The R&P is only slightly more expensive then the screw setup i have. By the time you add up the Dumpstercnc ABL nuts, the screws and the support bearings it is well over $400 going with the screw and I think the R&P is about $500 for this machine. I am definitely going to switch over to the R&P down the road for the speed benefits (barring any bad reports on positional accuracy and longevity that is).

I am planning to build a water tank that will bolt to my table for milling metals with a circulating bit coolant system. It is not going to be very big as i dont foresee myself casting huge parts, maybe two feet square. I have it in my head to cast this tank in aluminum an inch or so deep with a thick bottom that could be tapped into for holddown clamps. The removable table would probably work fine with the only issue being a true surface after removing and replacing it. Eventually I want to just build a smaller machine with a spindle that has the proper speed range for metals (using the screws off this one), a dedicated plasma machine would be nice too.

One thing I have come away from this build with is the knowledge that I can build cnc machines or cnc an existing machine. All of the black magic and voodoo has gone away with a clarity of the process.


01-24-2010, 11:14 PM
4cf asked for a wide shot of the router so here it is


Right now it is cutting the Y truck pattern which is the first part of quite a few I am getting ready to make patterns for. Here is a close up, that is a .25" endmill taking 66% stepover passes .1875 deep at about 250 IPM. This is the rough material removal and the next pass will be a 5 Deg tapered ballnose doing the cleanup at 20% stepover. Here is a closeup of the work being done on the table..


Lastly here is what I have been working on this last week since it has been raining pretty much non stop.


I have been through several revisions getting to this point and have been kind of stuck on the design for the Z slide and wheel tensioner for the slide which in turn has had me bound up on the structure that will top off the front truck of the X carriage to hold the motor and flange bearing for the Z axis. I finally got it all worked out in my head so now hopefully another day or two of drawing and transferring the drawings to cut files and and I will have all of my patterns ready to cut. If timing and weather cooperate I am hoping to have all the parts ready to install by the end of next week.

As much as I love this machine I am constantly frustrated with how flimsy it can be and this should put an end to any of that nonsense.


01-25-2010, 06:10 PM
hot damn W3, that router/vacuum mount, especially with the sweeps is drop dead sexy.

Im a little confused-ish about how the new slides/mounts will work. Your CNC nomenclature has me a bit turned around as Im still a bit of a machining newb. Is it possible to insert the router into your illustration so I have a better idea of the overall design? Or you could just cast it, assemble it, and post a pic then you dont have to draw anything at all :wink: :lol:

jokes aside, a VERY impressive machine, and doubly impressive you built it yourself from castings of patterns it cut!!!

01-25-2010, 06:58 PM
The third photo above is a drawing 4cf. I have the V bearing mounts and tension system worked out for the Z axis and will start drawing the Z slide soon.

As far as my terminology it could well be wrong as I am a total newb at this myself. What terms were vague?

I will post a final drawing with motors, bolts and all when I get done. I can even put the router mount on it as I already have those drawings. It will be a couple of weeks before I get all of the castings done and can do my tear down.

I will be casting the tall truck today if all works out and I will add pictures as I get parts cast. Right now I am going out to sand and get a primer coat on the pattern being cut in the picture above and to set up the cutting of a matchplate for the lower wheel slide, there will be three of these on the matchplate and will be sized for casting in my ODDF 12" iron flask.

01-26-2010, 05:25 PM
Looking great! Can't wait to see the castings. Did you cast that router mount also?
Am I correct in assuming that a 4x4 table is overkill for making patterns? I was thinking I would need say like a 24" x 36" table? Is there a reason to go bigger? I dont know much about CNC yet. Could your setup be easily down sized to a smaller table? I assume that would just be a software change. I'm sure there a alot of people here who would be interested in building a table like this using your castings when you have finalized it.

01-26-2010, 05:37 PM
Yes I made the router/vacuum mount, there is a thread around on that.

I went with the 4x4 for versatility Robert. I figured since I was going through a build might as well get something that was more multipurpose. I will be able to make new cabinets for my kitchen and bathrooms for with this size, also I can pretty large signs and have been kicking around the idea of cutting some blades for a windmill diagonally on the table. A few other advantages of the size I have come to find are being able to have multiple work locations. I can do a cutout and glue up for one piece then move to another corner and cut a piece while it is drying.


01-27-2010, 12:39 AM
I found your router mount thread. Very nice.
I see how versatile the 4 x 4 table will be. I noticed you purchased a 4 axis CNC package. Future use? Are you happy with the motors and drivers you chose? Sorry if some of my questions are redundant. There is sooo much valuable material on this forum I can't keep track of it all. Happy casting.

03-15-2010, 01:49 PM
hot damn W3, that router/vacuum mount, especially with the sweeps is drop dead sexy.

you said it lol. it looks awesome
for some reason I LOVE the fact that in some cases, you use the machine you're building to help you build it (if that makes any sense :lol: ) I think it's the same with the gingery lathe. looks really nice :D