January 24

DIY CNC Part 2: Table, Gantry, Bearing Subframes


With the research done, I plan to construct my CNC machine a little larger than what was specified in the MyDIYCNC Comprehensive Plans and Manual.    The original plans call for a 10″ x 18″ table with a working surface of approximately the size of a 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper.  For my build, I am going to construct it with wood and double the X and Y axis to give a a little larger working surface for the parts I plan to create.  The plans call for 1″ aluminum tube but I decided to go with wood as my initial build.  If I should encounter problems constructing the table or the gantry, wood seemed like a better and economical option.

I recently found another option for the build after I purchased the wood and constructed the base of the machine.  There is a company on eBay selling 80/20 aluminum extrusion already cut to the lengths I need to build my machine.  At this point I am going to continue the build with wood and potentially upgrade later.

The parts I am planning to use for this part of the build are:

1 –  2 x 4 x 10
4 – brackets
8- wood screws
1 – 4 x 8 sheet of 1/2 inch plywood
1 – 1″ x 36″ aluminum angle
1- 2″ x 3.5″ aluminum angle
6 – Igus clip bearings, part # MCI-06-02

All the parts were obtained at Home Depot with the exception of the clip bearings.  The clip bearings were purchased through Igus.

I cut two 24″ pieces, and two 36″ pieces out of the 2 x 4 I obtained at Home Depot.  The end to end dimension on the x axis would be 36 inches.  This was done so I could eliminate having to make three additional cuts to the rods I ordered.  The steel rods and threaded rods come in 36″ lengths and are used to transport the x table and the y and z carriages.  Using a carpenter square and clamps I made sure the “box” was square and screwed the four brackets into position on the inside of the frame.

Base for CNC Machine

Once the frame was built, I cut the gantry out of the 1/2 inch plywood following the specs in the MyDIYCNC Comprehensive Plans and Manual.  I was able to find a piece of 1/2 plywood marked down 70% at Home Depot and have them cut the plywood into two 6″ strips.  Home Depot generally marks down wood if it has some defect and they will provide the first two cuts for free.  Although the wood I purchased had a defect in it, I had them cut the two 6 inch strips out of the best part of the wood avoiding the defected ends.  Clamping both pieces together, I drilled the holes according to the specs found in the plans.


Once both gantry uprights were cut and drilled, I moved onto cutting and drilling the linear bearing subframes.  The subframes are made from the 1″ aluminum angle.  Six are needed to transport the x table, y and z axis carriages.  Cutting and drilling these in pairs is best in order to keep the parts line up nicely. The subframes were cut and drilled to spec.

Starting with a pilot hole, the subframes were drilled in 1/16 increments to the specifications in the plans.
Z Subframe drilled to spec
X and Y Subframe drilled to spec

To finish the bearing subframes I took a small bastard file and took off any sharp burrs around the frames and around the holes.  Once the subframes were finished, I installed the clip bearings into the subframes.  The clip bearings are finger pressed into place and care is needed to make sure any burrs from the holes are filed off.

iGlide Clip Bearings installed on subframe
iGlide Clip Bearings installed on subframe
X, Y, and Z Subframes with iGlide Clip Bearings installed

The Z axis NEMA motor mount was built with 2 inch aluminum angle cut and drilled to the specs found in the build plans.  I found a small piece of 2 inch aluminum angle at my friends shop when drilling the X, Y, and Z bearing subframes.  I took the 2 inch angle, cut and drilled it to spec.  The mounting plate will hold the Z axis NEMA motor.

Z axis NEMA motor mount


Well that completes the first part of the build.  In the next post I will be building the z  and y carriage.  Below is a link to the aluminum extrusion I found on eBay.

Happy Building!



Aluminum extrusion on eBay 80/20





January 23

DIY CNC Part 1: Research

You ask yourself what is a CNC?  Well, CNC could stand for Chicken Noodle Coalition but I really am not interested in creating a chicken noodle coalition, however I am interested in building a machine to automate the process of cutting RC parts for my growing fleet of aerial platforms.  A CNC machine stands for Computer Numerical Control and is used for the automation of tools to cut, weld, drill, and/or to print objects in 3d.  Yes, star trek has arrived on scene and you can now print up any thing your heart desires like AR15 parts, but that is another DIY project for another day.

The system basically uses a computer which sends commands to a tool, like a Dremel, telling the tool what direction to cut, weld, draw, drill, or print.   There are desktop type machines for the hobbyist and industrial type machines but regardless of the size, they all function similar in that they generally operate on the x,y,and z axis to create the product.

To give you an idea of the difference between price gouging and what is available out there, I present this brief example.  I recently needed a part for one of my aerial platforms.  After several days of browsing on the internet I was not impressed and quite honestly I was extremely fired up about the cost of the part.  Who would think a little part cut out of carbon fiber would cost over $150.00 dollars?  Sure carbon fiber is nice, but after pricing the materials to make the part, it was clear to me what steps I should take.

Epoxy sheet $8 bucks, miscellaneous parts $20 bucks and so for approximately $30 dollars in parts,  I could make the part which would work and function as required, and save around $120 dollars in the process.  That kind of savings could purchase quite a few materials for my CNC machine.  A CNC machine used to make your own parts can have the effect of saving you a fist full of dollars in the long run.

Now keep in mind, I have never owned nor operated a CNC machine so building one is certainly going to be a challenging task but I hope to learn a few things along the way which I plan on sharing with you.  When I told a buddy I was building one his response was “good luck finding the parts.”  Sounded like the first challenge to me.

There are many sources of information and plans on the internet on how to build a DIY CNC machine and many choices on buying one.  I thought about just purchasing a kit but this would do nothing for me other than making it easy to get it up and running.  I wanted to understand the process so if I had any troubles with the machine I could easily troubleshoot the problems.

The first step was deciding what I wanted to build and I landed on a company page who sells an eBook with some good information at a reasonable price.  The $14 dollars for the eBook was reasonable and the startup company was located in the US who got the funding to develop their desktop CNC machines through Kickstarter.  I personally always try and support small US companies and often browse and support projects on Kickstarter.

The eBook was detailed enough to provide me with information on how to go about getting the parts and building the machine.  A link to the eBook can be found below.  Reading the book, it was clear I would be able to obtain most of the parts through Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware and other sources and now the journey begins on the build.


January 23

Welcome to the DIY Poor Man’s Method

The projects here are more of a lets see if I could do this type of  thing.  Often the projects I begin working on begin as such and turn into somewhat of a gateway drug leading me down another path of creativity.

I have so many DIY projects and I often get asked what drives you to do it.  It is quite simple.  I like to stay engaged with new challenges and the rewards of discovery when a project starts out as an idea and flourishes into something I can actually use.  I also don’t like to get raked over the coals having to pay high prices for something which I believe I can make at a third of the cost.  Knowledge is power and often times a person is paying not for the product, but the knowledge.

The poor man’s method is a term my grandfather often used to tell me when we would work together fixing his old green tractor which was notorious for breaking down.   Occasionally, he would also tell me “you have to be smarter than the bolt.” Little did I know these terms would be somewhat engrained in my brain and I found myself always looking to create, fix, and understanding how things worked. He was a great jack of all trades and I learned quite a bit about the DIY method.

I hope this site will be of use to some of you looking for a way to create, fix, and understand various projects I may present here and hopefully provide alternatives on how to do it yourself in an economical way.  After all, if you could save a buck or two and get the same results without sacrificing quality I think it is well worth the effort.

Welcome to the DIY The Poor Man’s Method