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Thread: My CNC Router Build - After some delay, great progress!

  1. #1
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    My CNC Router Build - After some delay, great progress!

    Ok so I was in Darren's thread about his CNC router and mentioned that I'm in the midst of building one myself. I'm on day 21 and have a rolling gantry going at this point. I'm waiting for my lead screws to come in before I can continue at this point.

    So I'm not 100% sure how to structure this post - so I'm just gonna do one post for each day of progress so you all can kinda follow along. I have been designing it for the last year and started on the thing about 3 months ago. Just getting nights and weekends and a few gaps in the progress just because life gets in the way, yanno.

    So here are some overview shots of the design. It was inspired by a Joe's 2006 design using a torsion box for the main table. I picked up some really cool linear bearings that I decided to use and made some pretty significant changes to Joe's original design. It's also mostly out of aluminum from that point on. This is because I have a really great place in town that I can buy aluminum stock by the pound and it's pretty cheap - for $3/lb I'm pretty happy to get just about all the plate, angle and shapes I want. They recently had a load of salvage channel that I snatched up and decided to design my gantry around. That's why all this design stuff for a year...

    Anywho ... pics!

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    The green rectangle is the total machinable area. I designed it with a 3" overhang past the end of the machine so I can fasten work vertically to it and machine the ends. Fancy dovetails, mortises, etc. I don't know how useful I'll find it, but it wasn't terribly tough to do and I had the extra rail length anyway.

    In case any of you are interested in more design stuff, I took a few videos from sketchup and posted them on youtube:

    http://www.youtube.com/playlist?acti...5F6DB18E65F718

    They're kinda random without context, but it does show some more detail of certain parts of the machine. Not everything in the videos made it to the final design but they're not too far off.


    OK! Next up - the Day 1 Fun


    ---

    Edit - it dawned on me that I didn't give much in the way of specifics for the machine. The total machining area ON the bed will be about 26" wide by about 56" long. There's a 3" overhang added to that end. The Z axis will have 7-1/2" of travel, with a full 6" of clearance under the gantry's lowest point. The lead screws I ordered are as follows:

    Z Axis - 3/4"-6tpi Acme Screws (6 turns per inch)
    X and Y Axis - 3/4"-.500" lead 4-start Acme Screws (2 turns per inch)

    I haven't chosen my steppers yet because I want to get things together first to see how much torque I'm gonna need for the whole mess. At the moment, the Keling kits are looking promising.

    My plan is to also use the machine to build a rotary 4th axis. Sorta like a mini lathe controlled by a stepper.

    I'm building this machine to be as rigid as I can muster without breaking the bank. My hope is that I'll be able to machine brass and aluminum with it as well as wood. I plan to use it to make patterns, jigs and rough out guitar parts when it's done. I also figure it can earn a living while i'm not using it as well once I get to learning it all.
    Last edited by Jason Beam; 03-27-2012 at 01:45 AM.
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  2. #2
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    Build Day 1

    The first day was spent cutting and welding up the base. This base is all made of 1.5" angle iron, 3/16" thick. I wanted 1/8" but my supplier was out and so I went with 3/16 instead.

    To spare you the tedium of my cutting and welding, I filmed about 7 hours of video and compressed it into a lot less time. It's kinda silly, but I'm a bit of a ham anyway ...



    I really like my metal cutting bandsaw and welder, for sure! I'm very lucky to have all these cool toys.
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  3. #3
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    Build Day 2

    Day two saw pretty much more of the same. This was a fun weekend. Once the steel was welded up, I got to painting it... first, more silly scurrying ...



    And a few pics of it in the shop after painting ...

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    This ends the first weekend ... Next up, I build the torsion box for the base...
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  4. #4
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    Build Day 3

    On day 3, the weekend following, I set about cutting up the MDF for the torsion box ... i'll spare you all the massive number of pics I took and show ya the finished product (I have a massive thread on another forum if you're interested in all the gory details, btw).

    No silly video this time - mostly because cutting MDF is dusty and boring. So just a couple pics for day 3:

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    This was the dry fit - The next day was glue-up day...
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  5. #5
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    Build Day 4

    So this day was glue-up day. Kinda anxious with so many cross lap joints and two heavy skins to apply ... i took it methodically and did the best I could alone - got a fair mess of glue in a few spots, but nowhere critical. I held it all together with brad nails and will apply a spoil board to the surface when it's all set so I'm not concerned about fasteners...

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    At this point, it weighs about 160lbs already - more to come!
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  6. #6
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    Build Day 5

    Day 5 was kinda boring ... I just stuck the ends on that will become the legs ...

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    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  7. #7
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    Build Day 6

    On day 6, I attached the outriggers to support the rails on the overhang. The pics don't show it, but there are two steel rods in each joint to keep things pinned together in addition to the large gluing surface and rabbets. It should be plenty strong for my needs...

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    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  8. #8
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    Build Days 7, 8 and 9

    These three days were finicky days - lots of figuring to get the rails mounted. I didn't like putting #10 bolts through 3" of MDF to try to hold the rails on and a few of the bolt holes lined up over some gusset ribs and some didn't. Shoulda planned that better. Instead, I found some 2x3 aluminum angle that was 1/4" thick without any inner fillet to get in my way. This was perfect - so I spent these three days getting the joinery and all the holes drilled for mounting it ...

    Day 7 - cutting and dry fitting everything:
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    Day 8 - Gluing, drilling and tapping - lots of tapping ...
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    Day 9 - bolting it on for another "Dry" fit ...
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    It was here that I ran into something that bothered me ... my "shelf" for the rails wasn't as flat as I would have liked. Out about .020"... not good enough for me .. the next few pics show some of that solution...
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  9. #9
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    Build Day 10 & 11

    This unevenness was bothersome to me so I glued on a strip of masonite and then flattened the shelf in reference to the top surface as that's the most critical relationship. Using an extended base and a bit of patience, I set about flattening it ...

    Weirdly, my day 10 pics only have one ... a "post flattening" shot ... kinda boring ...

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    Well day 11, I took the aluminum back off because I found a few more high spots - i needed a more solid fastening at the ends.
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    Threaded inserts didn't hold very well at all and they were lifting up. So I turned some aluminum "barrel bolts" out of some aluminum stock - then drilled and tapped them - made some holes and set 'em in.

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    That's it for day 11!
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  10. #10
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    Build Day 12

    Ok - so now things are parallel with the TOP surface .. on day 12, I pulled out a fancy tool to make sure they were parallel with each other ... my buddy's got one of these nifty devices... check it out:

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    So i used that to get the sides of the aluminum angle perfectly parallel and then cinched 'em down good ...
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    Repeated with the rails on ...
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    With a little tweaking and a lot of LocTite, those rails are within .004" of each other over the entire length. VERY parallel
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

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