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Über dieses Buch

Do you like to build things? Are you ever frustrated at having to compromise your designs to fit whatever parts happen to be available? Would you like to fabricate your own parts? Build Your Own CNC Machine is the book to get you started. CNC expert Patrick Hood-Daniel and best-selling author James Kelly team up to show you how to construct your very own CNC machine. Then they go on to show you how to use it, how to document your designs in computer-aided design (CAD) programs, and how to output your designs as specifications and tool paths that feed into the CNC machine, controlling it as it builds whatever parts your imagination can dream up.

Don't be intimidated by abbreviations like CNC and terms like computer-aided design. Patrick and James have chosen a CNC-machine design that is simple to fabricate. You need only basic woodworking skills and a budget of perhaps $500 to $1,000 to spend on the wood, a router, and various other parts that you'll need. With some patience and some follow-through, you'll soon be up and running with a really fun machine that'll unleash your creativity and turn your imagination into physical reality.

The authors go on to show you how to test your machine, including configuring the software. Provides links for learning how to design and mill whatever you can dream up The perfect parent/child project that is also suitable for scouting groups, clubs, school shop classes, and other organizations that benefit from projects that foster skills development and teamwork No unusual tools needed beyond a circular saw and what you likely already have in your home toolbox Teaches you to design and mill your very own wooden and aluminum parts, toys, gadgets—whatever you can dream up



Chapter 1. Your CNC Machine

Chances are if you’ve picked up this book (or purchased a copy), then you’re probably somewhat familiar with the term CNC. But maybe not. CNC is an abbreviation for computer numerical control. A CNC machine, then, is a machine that carves out objects in three dimensions from a solid block of material. CNC machines are commonly used in industry to produce small parts such as bicycle stems and tools. Low-cost CNC machines are increasingly used by serious hobbyists, especially woodworkers, to carve creations out of materials such as wood and aluminum.

Chapter 2. Hardware and Tools

You probably won’t believe this, but the CNC machine described in this book can be built with a total of four tools (mitre box, mitre saw, tap, and electric drill/screwdriver) and a few miscellaneous items such as drill bits, tape measure, and the bolts, nuts, washers, and other small items. What this means for you is that you can realistically build your own CNC machine with a minimal amount of tool purchases. It may take a little longer to build using just the tools we’ve listed than if you have a fancy workshop at your disposal, but build it you can—visit and you can watch over 30 videos showing you a CNC machine built using this small collection of tools.

Chapter 3. Tips and Advice

So you’ve made the decision to build your own CNC machine. Congratulations. The remaining chapters in this book will provide you with the information to do just that. But before we begin, let’s take some time to talk about this project because, frankly, it’s a big one! The authors of this book have gone through this process (and in some instances, more than once), and there’s a lot of lessons that have been learned—often from mistakes!

Chapter 4. Movement Using Rails

Your CNC machine isn’t a static device. It will be using motors and other hardware to move up, down, left, right, back, and forth. This movement will need to be as smooth as possible. Imagine trying to cut or drill something by hand while someone behind you keeps pushing, pulling, and jostling you. It would be extremely difficult. Like most people, you’d do your best cutting and drilling without any outside interference.

Chapter 5. Joining Methods

If the title of the chapter seems strange, let us explain. The CNC machine you’ll be building is made up of 26 varying-sized pieces of MDF material. Those pieces have to somehow be connected in such a way that the machine doesn’t fall apart. Keep in mind that your CNC machine will be moving— the z-axis will be moving up and down and side to side on both the y-axis and the x-axis. Often these movements will start and stop quickly. Your CNC machine must be able to withstand the twisting and bending and other stresses required for its operation. Wood glue simply won’t do, and the mechanical way of fastening has the added benefit of disassembly. This is a machine, so we’re going to treat it like a machine.

Chapter 6. The Electronics

Your CNC machine consists of two parts: the MDF (and the bolts, bearing, nuts, and other hardware) and the electronics. The majority of the chapters in this book will cover the building of the CNC machine—cutting, drilling, and bolting together various MDF pieces to make the physical frame of the machine. The other part of the machine is the electronics. Three motors will be used to move the router and allow your CNC machine to do the job you want it to perform. These motors are controlled using some additional electronics, which we’ll talk about shortly. It is these electronics that will connect to your computer and receive instructions from the special software you’ll be using to tell the machine where to cut, drill, and perform other actions.

Chapter 7. X-Axis, Part 1

Back in Chapter 1, we introduced you to the general concept of the CNC machine. You learned about the various axes that are used to get the machine’s router bit to the material for cutting and drilling. And in Chapter 2, you got a brief overview of the CNC machine you’ll be building.

Chapter 8. X-Axis, Part 2

In this chapter, we’ll continue working on constructing the largest part of your CNC machine—the table. You’re going to drill a variety of holes in the two halves that make up the tabletop, including holes for cross dowels that will allow you to later connect the legs to the table.

Chapter 9. X-Axis, Part 3

You’ll reach an important milestone in this chapter—the completion of the CNC machine table. The table is the largest portion of your CNC machine, and if you’ve followed the instructions in Chapters 7 and 8, you’re ready to finish up the work required to assemble it.

Chapter 10. Y-Axis, Part 1

Now that you have the largest part of your CNC machine built—the table—you’ve completed what we refer to as the x-axis. In order for the router to do its work, you’ve got two more axes to complete: the y-axis and the z-axis.

Chapter 11. Y-Axis, Part 2

You’ve completed cutting and drilling the gantry sides, so now it’s time to work on the MDF pieces that will allow you to complete the y-axis frame that will wrap around the tabletop. This will consist of cutting a piece that will be mounted under the tabletop (with its surface parallel to the surface the final CNC machine will sit on) and two pieces that will be mounted above the tabletop.

Chapter 12. Y-Axis, Part 3

Now that you have the gantry sides (Parts Q and R) bolted to the Gantry Bottom Support (Part P), it’s time to finish up the y-axis frame by adding the Y-Axis Rail Support. Consisting of two pieces of MDF bolted together, these two pieces will provide stability and rigidity to your CNC machine.

Chapter 13. Preparing for the Z-Axis

You should now have a better understanding of how the various axes are going to be used to get the machine’s router bit to the material for cutting and drilling. Up to this point, you’ve built the x-axis and y-axis, including the y-axis frame that will move forward and backward on the x-axis aluminum rails.

Chapter 14. Z-Axis, Part 1

You’re almost done with the cutting and drilling of MDF. The remaining part of the CNC machine that you’re going to need to assemble is the z-axis frame. The z-axis frame will not only hold the router you’ll install, but it will also give it side-to-side and up-and-down mobility. (The front-to-back motion is supplied by the y-axis frame that rides on the x-axis tabletop.)

Chapter 15. Z-Axis, Part 2

In Chapter 14, you cut a few of the parts required to build the z-axis. In this chapter, you’re going to drill some holes in a few of those pieces, take a few measurements, and cut the remaining parts required for the z-axis.

Chapter 16. Z-Axis, Part 3

In Chapters 14 and 15 you cut and drilled three of the parts required to build the z-axis and then mounted two bearing-rail assemblies (BRAs). In this chapter, you’re going to finish the assembly of the z-axis using the custom measurements you took back in Chapter 13 and another custom measurement you’ll perform shortly.

Chapter 17. Mounting the Electronics

You’re almost done with the building and construction phase of your CNC machine. At this point, your machine has lead screws inserted through all three axes. You can turn these by hand (or use a drill) and watch as the individual axes move up and down, side to side, and front to back. But now it’s time to bring your machine to life. Back in Chapter 6, you wired up the electronics and motors; in this chapter, you’ll be mounting those motors to your machine.

Chapter 18. Software and Testing

Now that you have your motors attached to your CNC machine, it’s time to test! We’ll start out by telling you where to download the special software you’ll be using to control the CNC machine. Next, we’ll show you how to properly configure the software. And finally, we’ll give you some simple tests you can perform to verify you’ve wired up everything properly and that your CNC machine is ready for bigger and better things.

Chapter 19. Where to Go from Here

You have your brand new DIY CNC machine sitting in front of you, waiting to be put to use. If you’re familiar with CNC technology, you may already be moving forward with whatever CAD and CAM software you’re familiar with—but it’s more likely you’re scratching your head wondering what to do now.


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