Monday, June 24

Designing a DIY milling / routing / engraving machine

I’m in the process of designing a new CNC milling machine (gantry-style)

After searching the internet for open-source designs, I couldn’t find a design that meet my requirements

  • Below 3000$ cdn
  • At least 36″ x 24″ work area
  • Extremely rigid frame
  • Must be able to work with wood, plastic, aluminium and steel
  • > 6″ clearance on the Z axis
  •  Long lasting mechanic (no plastic wheels to wear down)
  • Open source so I can tweak and upgrade
  • Readily available hardware

I’ve found many designs on and but nothing that meet all my requirements.  I decided that the risk of building a machine that wasn’t strong enough and would need  to be replaced in a year outweighted the complexity of a new design


I started to design my own, based on a lot of observations that I found on existing designs.  My current design goals are :

  • Budget (hoping)
  • Rigidity
  • Use linear rails on X/Y axis, SBR rails on Z axis
  • ball scews on all axis, settle on RM1605 as I found the smaller pitch will allow more resolution (at the cost of travel speed)
  • Aluminium plates – 12mm thick
  • NEMA23 @ 425oz on all axis
  • Cable guides on XY axis
  • Limit switches on all axis for homing / mechanical protection
  • Quick-change tool holder to easily swap head tool (router, spindle, laser, cutter / pen holder etc)
  • Include possibility of adding a vertical table on the end of the machine to work on vertical pieces
  • Allowance for future turning axis (turn table legs etc.)
  • Table bed to have T-nuts for clamp attachment etc (allow for future T-Slolt bed as an upgrade)


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