Building a cnc router

This is a log about building a cnc router from scratch. This started in 2008 with a desire to solve milling a very simple shape that at the time was done using a wood router in a jig.
But it was clear that having a cnc would bring benefits to a big part of all my manufacturing.

The aim was to build a fast and precise machine.
The only experience I had at the start was building machines and general engineering. I had no experience whatsoever in cnc, no real experience in linux and no experience in milling other than a tiny bit of routing wood.
I had no formal training in engineering, all my knowledge comes from trial and error.

Well, mostly error.


The system is running! What a thrill!
Here is a video of the first result. Below that one that shows the current speed.

As with most builders, the first file that was milled is the name of the software...

Current speed:


Starting the project

I have decided to build a cnc router for the windvane self steering business.

There are two reasons for me to take this path.

- The parts that I buy in are either too good or not good enough. They do not fit the diy kit approach like I want it to. By making these parts myself they will become cheaper in two ways, I can leave them in the material which makes packing easier and such a small router is a lot cheaper than the heavy ones that are used by my suppliers now.
- I get more machine for my money by building it myself. It will be bigger and faster than what you can buy ready made. And I want the new challenge!

It will be a gantry robot fitted with a standard router. The frame will be made from 40 mm plywood which I have lying around. I have a circular saw that I think can give the precision I need.

The outline:
- Built for speed. So high stiffness, strong motors, ballscrew drive.
- Using Linux
- Primarily for wood and plastic (HMPE, HPL)
- Should fit trough a standard door
- Use drivers and motors bought as a set, I'm no electronics whizz

The Y axis is a bit of a challenge. I hope to build it so that the total width of the machine is no more than 800 mm so it will fit through a standard door without disassembly or tilting.

This is a work in progress. The way the information is presented here will get more organised as the build continues.

At the moment that I start this project I have built quite a few machines and custom tooling but I am a complete novice at all things cnc. I do have a little experience in setting up linux from a few years back but I was never able to get a usable system.