Category Archives: Machining

What tool to use for CNC mill or router?

Excellent three part series of articles talking about the right tools required along with many side articles providing more details.

How Can I Figure Out What Tool to Use On My CNC Mill Or Router? (Part 1 – Holes)

How Can I Figure Out What Tool to Use On My CNC Mill Or Router? (Part 2: 2D Profiling)

How Can I Figure Out What Tool to Use on My CNC Mill Or Router? (Part 3: Pocketing)




3D printing

I’ve had 3D printing on the brain for the past few weeks for some reason. I’ve been thinking about putting together a kit 3d printer to get started. I was thinking how I would like a relatively large work area (not the small limited 6″ or 8″ cubed that a lot of the cheaper printers provide.

Then last evening it came to me. The light bulb came on.
Use the milling machine as the printer! Just get a print head, and control it from the existing software (Mach3). The work area is huge, and the cost should be quite reasonable since I only need the extruding head. Between a good quality plastruder, and a temperature control board, it should be about $250 ($170 for the plastruder, stepper motor driver and $60 or so for the temp control board)

Feed speeds of a makerbot are around 40mm/s (2400mm/min). Currently I can do about 1000mm/min on my milling machine (which is 1/2 of the makerbot speeds) but with a ballscrew upgrade I should be able to do about 5000mm/min feed speeds (83mm/sec).
I have read about some kit 3D printers (like the Ultimaker) that can do 200-300 mm/sec feeds (12,000-18,000mm/min). I know my mill will never go that fast.


Mach3 as 3dprinter software (here)

Good info on whats required in order to use Mach3 as the river software (here)

Enclosure for CNC machine

I’ve been spending some time thinking about a method to enclose my CNC machine.
There are lots of ideas… (pictures). (another link) (enclosure build log 01)

One key thing is that I want easy access to the CNC table so I can easily add heavy items like vices, rotary tables, etc. And the encluse needs to be somewhat modular so that I can take parts of it off in case I want to work on/service the cnc machine.
The three sides (left, right and back) will be plywood construction. That part was easy.

The chip/coolant tray was the second hardest part to figure out, but I think I have a design for that.

Thirdly is the front door to the enclosure.  Since I have walls on the left and right side, the width is set. My initial thought was to make side-to-side sliding doors using full extension kitchen drawer slides. Depending on how large I wanted the opening to be, I could use either one sliding pane (per side) or two nested panes (per side) to allow more of an opening. For a door system that uses two nested doors per side, I would need  4 pairs of slides. Each pane needs 2 slides; one for a bottom track, and one for a top track.
But then I came across these Over The Top Slides.  I can make the door as wide as I want, and flip it up and push it over the top in one motion. Or if one door gets too heavy, split the door into two. Only drawback is that the slider only comes in 14″ lengths, which means it can only accommodate for 14″ of travel. Continue reading