How to Build a CHEAP Wood 3-Axis CNC Milling Table

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initial design for cnc diy

initial design for cnc base with moving x-axis

Ever since I saw a CNC machine for the first time, I wanted one.  They are the perfect combination of precision technology and raw wood-chewing power. But, they’re expensive, and I’m cheap, so I decided to do the next best thing: Design and teach myself how to build my own affordable CNC router table. I am building it out of affordable materials, like wood, screws, “all-thread” rods as actuators, and drawer slides as my linear rails.  I know it’s not ideal for high-precision (and I’ve already caught a lot of flak from many “armchair engineers”), but if it can do even a fraction of what I hope it will do, I will be VERY happy. This is a learning experience for me, and I will document as much as I can. I will have to combine my experience in woodworking, conceptual design, and learn how to properly align 3 stepper motors for true, calibrated 3-axis cnc production. Nema17 Stepper Motors and driverNEMA 17 stepper motor I plan to control all three NEMA 17 stepper motors with an arduino UNO microcontroller and stepper motor drivers. I hope to use the free open-source CNC g-code parser, called GRBL, and I want to keep this build under $300.  So far, I’m at about $240, and I’m using new parts, mainly from Adafruit, SparkFun, Ebay, and hardware stores.  I have almost everything I need, so I MAY come in under budget (yeah, like that will happen!) I started first by researching online. I read about DIY CNC projects on Instructables, CNC forums, and various other spots on the interwebs, and decided on making my design move on heavy duty drawer slides. Here is a quick video of the CNC moving along its X-axis. Note: I have not yet built this machine–it is in its infancy, but I encourage ANYONE to just pony up a couple bucks and get your hands dirty with this DIY project. Have a question or constructive comment? Throw out your two cents! > Go to Part 2 of the Cheap DIY CNC Project

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Jason Sipe Jason Sipe (68 Posts)

Jason Sipe is an artist, craftsman and writer. He has spent the last 20 years working in the art and media fields. He now turns to this blog and helping others learn about creating art as his main focus.


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