CNC Machine Safety

I was over at The CNC Report earlier today and a video  posted on the front page caught my eye.  Basically  a couple of kids messing around with a lathe and one of them literally gets thrown over and his foot caught in the chuck.  Big laughs all around.  I know the saying, boy’s will be boy’s, but this is no laughing matter.  That  kid was  lucky it was in low gear or he could have lost his foot.  You can see the idiocy below:



Okay, so do I sound like your old shop teacher yet?

Hey, I was young once.  I’d watch safety video’s like this one and crack jokes with the rest of the guys.  Outside joking in the classroom I took this stuff seriously.  Getting lackadaisical around these machines can cost you an appendage or even your life.  Whether you’re working on a CNC machine or lathe in a large shop or just pursuing a CNC hobby, we all have to be mindful of what we are doing and to never treat our machines as play toys.

CNC Machine Safety Pointers


Since I’m harping on safety you can find a pdf with general safety do’s and don’ts here: SAFETY.  While many of these are common sense I’d like to emphasize one of them that some people, particularly some of the newer guys out there, don’t seem to get.

Never Wear Gloves.

Your Turn:

How about you?  Do you have a recommended CNC Machine safety pointer you’d like to share?  If so, let me know in the comments!



DIY CNC: Woodworking

Unidentified shop, Seattle Central Community C...

Unidentified shop, Seattle Central Community College Wood Construction Facility. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being a Haas CNC machine operator whom has mostly worked with steel and aluminum I often forget about our brothers and sisters who work with wood.  Scouring among the trove of DIY CNC projects, video’s,  and CNC hobby sites this weekend I realized this glaring absence of mind.  Many a person’s first introduction to the tools of our trade are right in the local high school wood shop.  For the adventurous at-home DIYers, wood is a relatively cheap way to begin learning and wetting those chops.

Mick Martin Woodworking

For those interested in working with wood I’d like to direct you to Mick Martin’s site.  Whether you’re a salty veteran of the wood shop or a new DIY CNC acolyte, you can surely find something of value at Mr. Martin’s site.

Woodworking, CNC, and laser engraver projects, as well as CNC video tutorials covering everything from installing WinCNC to using a keypad, this blog shares a real passion.

CNC Machine Documentation

English: An example of a 5-Axis waterjet cutti...

English: An example of a 5-Axis waterjet cutting head used to cut complex 3-Dimensional parts on a CNC waterjet cutting machine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m sure most of the more seasoned CNC machinists and operators out there have their go to places when looking for CNC machine manuals and the like.  We’ve all encountered a situation where we needed a quick reference after the shop brings in a used CNC, or that “new guy” misplaced the manual.  Though if you’re relatively new to the field, just starting out, or simply doing some investigating after being inspired by a DIY CNC project, you may not yet know where to go.

You’d think these companies, especially in this day and age, would make their manuals readily available on-line, but they seem to be few and far between.  Sure, there are plenty of shady looking websites where you can pay but we know we don’t want to do that.  Really, what good is a manual if you don’t own the machine.  Here are two places that are a sure fire bet  that’ll give you up to date information, specs, manuals, you name it.

CNC Machine Manuals and More

Just as the name say’s, I’m a Haas guy even though this site has a broad reach.  So naturally I’ll often drop into Haas Automation’s site.  You’ve got to be impressed with a company that has this much coverage.  YouTube channels, manuals, News, Facebook pages, etc.  More than I care to parse myself but I’m sure it’s all very useful.  What I wanted to specifically point out are the : Haas Automation Manual Updates. Great resource for our Haas folks out there.

Keeping with the broad reach of this site: has a huge collection of Fadal manuals on line for your convenience   Fadal CNC machine parts manuals, operator and quick reference manuals, maintanence manuals, and more.  Hey, for our CNC brothers in Mexico they have manuals available in Spanish as well.

Forums.  Don’t forget to check the CNC forums.  There are a lot of persons looking for and sharing manuals on just about all of the CNC machine and DIY CNC hobby forums.

Your Turn

How about yourself, do have a favorite place to locate CNC machine manuals?  Let us know in the comments below!  To all my stateside brothers and sisters, have a great Memorial Weekend and remember to take some time to observe those that have made the ultimate sacrifice for our well-being.


Update:  From the G+ CNC Machining and Manufacturing Community I’ve an addition to the list:  CNC where you can look up  CNC Machine Alarms and error Codes for Fanuc, Mitsubishi, Yasnac and more.

CNC Machine Manufacturing in the USA

I try to hit a number of CNC machine related forums a few times a week.  I enjoy reading the insights, opinions, and suggestions of others on various forum threads.  As you can imagine a common topic of conversation is the state of manufacturing in the USA.

A CNC Turning Center in the FAME Lab in the Le...

A CNC Turning Center in the FAME Lab in the Leonhard Building at Penn State. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the  CNC machinists, operators, and programmers, to the set-up persons and CNC repairs tech, we take pride in knowing that just about any product made here state-side that lands in a persons hands has been machined at some point.  Manufacturing has also been one of the great mainstay’s of this country’s middle-class, and the common refrain for quite some time has been that manufacturing is dead. I often read the lament from forum poster’s that we’re a dying breed. While manufacturing has seen it’s shares of ups and downs, I believe it’s on the way up.  Again.  I believe it’s a fairly optimistic time. More and more companies are realizing that there are too many trade-offs by off-shoring their production.   More and more people are fore-going the common route of working for a company, purchasing a used CNC machine and other shop equipment and going it their own.  With the technological advances (3D printing and DIY CNC anyone?), coupled with a home grown college tuition system that seems bent on disenfranchising a whole generation, I’m seeing more and more young persons moving toward CNC programming and machining. A couple of articles I’d like to point you toward:

The Insourcing Boom

This is a very in-depth and excellent article describing our recent manufacturing past here in the states: the outsourcing boom, the decline in manufacturing jobs, and the subsequent realization that the trade-offs of outsourcing are many.  GE serves as a prime example in this article of realizing that outsourcing is the old, inefficient  and poorly imagined way of conducting manufacturing in the US.

Skilled workers needed to run high-tech CNC machines

Like the title says…skilled workers needed.  Us older guys are going to want to retire at some point.

Your Turn:

How about you?  Do you believe manufacturing, specifically CNC Machine manufacturing, in the USA is on the rise?  Believe we’re a dying breed?  What are your thoughts on the newest CNC up and comers?  Leave your thoughts below!

An American DIY CNC Success Story

As I’ve said in a previous post, DIY CNC is an attitude that starts on day one and it informs the person that we are.  It’s more than a CNC hobby.  It’s a character thing, a willingness to work hard, to follow our inspiration, and be willing to believe in our ideas and ourselves.  I’d say that DIY is very American.  Running a CNC machine with skill and expertise takes years of hard work and learning.  Running your own shop is a whole other ballgame not for the timid of heart.

To celebrate this glorious Friday I’d like to share a story I came across over at the Practical Machinist forums.  This is a very American DIY CNC success story about a man who had the drive and determination to go out on his own and build, as he says, his “piece of Heaven”.  Heaven indeed.

“David N” tells about growing up on a farm with a father who was a jack of all trades.  This mechanical aptitude was imparted to his children and to our story-teller.  He tells about working in a CNC machine shop as a teenager and by age 22 heading out on his own.  He covers the years of hard work and effort building his client list and shares with us the process of building his brand new shop.  Great photo’s of the process included.

I won’t say more so as not to spoil this amazing story.  See for yourself.  You’ll understand why he calls this his piece of Heaven.  I surely did.

Have to admit…loved those Haas CNC machines as well.

David N’s Thread:  My Piece of Heaven Part 2

DIY CNC Intro Kits and Projects

I believe one of the biggest benefits of promoting DIY CNC is getting the young-in’s interested in CNC machining and manufacturing.  What could start as a CNC hobby could also easily transform into a productive career.  That being said, quite a few of the posts and CNC tutorials here at Paul’s Haas Resources are likely out of reach for the kids: cost, level of experience, complexity, etc.  With that in mind I went out and dug around for some relatively inexpensive CNC kits and DIY builds that, with a little parental assistance, can have the young one’s experiencing their first CNC projects.

For the hardcore out there: these are not super-heavy duty machines.  They’re likely not cutting metal.  They’re for more simple projects and parts and would serve as great introductions to CNC machining.

Great Intro DIY CNC Kits and Projects

Desktop CNC Mill Kits – Shapeoko:  Here we have five kits ranging from 225$ to 999$.  The least priced kit requires the buyer to supply their own electronics, so if you’re capable this is a great deal.  Even at 999$ the Premium 220v kit is competitively priced.  The site demonstrates the mill, projects and accessories, faq, and explanation of this open source kit.

Zen Toolworks CNC DIY KIT 7×7:  This is an entry level kit, though note that it does not include 3 Axis Stepper Motor Driver and spindle/cutter and mounting brackets (both available at Zen Toolworks), DC power supply, and CNC control software.  It does appear sturdy and if you purchased all the needed parts you’d be in a similar price range as the Shapeoko.

 DIY CNC Router Plans : How to Build:  This is an in process project that the author states , “…decided to build one using drawer slides as my rails, an Arduino as my micro-controller, and try to keep everything within the $300 mark.”  Site includes video’s of the process beginning with design and goes forward from there.  While I wouldn’t expect this Router to the most robust this could be a very pleasant and engaging project to share with the interested young one.

DIY MDF CNC:  The Young man here built this MDF CNC machine in the spare bedroom of his apartment and later shared it with everyone at the Detroit Maker Faire.  The site include pictures following the construction and includes the option of purchasing the project plans for 40.00$.  Could be about the cheapest approach of them all.

The Cool Tool:  This one was suggested to me and looks great as an intro for the very young.  A variety of child safe kits that appear reasonably priced.

These are just a few places to start and to give you an idea.  Don’t forget the children!  Well, how about you, do you have any recommendations for DIY CNC kits that would be appropriate for introducing the kids to DIY CNC machining?

DIY CNC: Router Build By Jason Beam

Here at Paul’s Haas Resources I’ve been talking a lot about DIY CNC.  I believe it’s important to promote DIY CNC for a number of reasons.  

  • It is inspiring: Just take a look at any of the DIY CNC projects I’ve posted (and the one I’ve posted below) for examples.  These are not flimsy CNC hobby projects; they’re robust, multi-faceted, and quite amazing.  
  • It Illustrates Passion:  It doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to figure that a lot of these people punch the clock daily as CNC machine operators.   For some, that may be it, but what I feel it illustrates is a very real and tangible passion for the “work”.  It say’s something when you see a person building their own CNC machine, putting together CNC tutorials, and sharing their projects with a community after hours.
  • Depth and Interest:  The DIY community build interest and explore the depth of what is attainable with CNC machining.  For someone considering CNC manufacturing for a career, it’s nice to know that for all intensive purposes, only a lack of imagination can keep you from creating something incredible.  


DIY CNC Video Router Series By Jason Beam


I came across Jason Beams CNC router build series earlier today and found it inspiring and in-depth.  I felt it might be nice to change the flow a bit and hunt down some CNC video tutorials. These were impressive.  There are at present 21 videos spanning the life of the build and testing, with the last video representing the 41st day since he began. There are also some short, though equally impressive, videos that showcase the design of the CNC router.  Well worth taking the time for a visit!



With all of these inspiring DIY persons out there bringing their visions to life, I’ve just go to ask:  What do you have in the works for your DIY CNC project?  Drop me a line in the comments and let me know!