A CNC Turning Center in the FAME Lab in the Leonhard Building at Penn State. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When it comes to CNC machine resources there is nothing better than having the internet at your fingertips. Whether you’re into DIY CNC, looking for used CNC machines and replacement parts, sharpening your g-code skills, or pondering the pursuit of a CNC hobby, you’ll find a wealth of valuable information.
If you’ve been following me for some time you know that there are a number of sites and locations I’ll periodically tout. The Practical Machinist immediately comes to mind as a wonderful forum and valuable CNC machine resource for the machinist/operator and CNC hobbyist alike. Another blog that I frequent, and which I’ve linked in the sidebar some time ago is the CNC Cookbook blog.
The CNC Cookbook blog posts are interesting, in-depth, and accessible to all CNC machine enthusiasts. Bob Warfield covers a variety of topics from cookbooks on using his G-Wizard G-Code editor to advancements in 3-d printing. With 20,000 and counting members you know you can’t go wrong by dropping in for a visit.
DIY CNC Machine Resources
Which brings me to mentioning a recent post/cookbook Mr. Warfield put together over at CNC Cookbook:
This is the kind of resource you are going to want to take a look at especially if you are considering going the DIY CNC route and building your own. Mr. Warfield has put together an in-depth cookbook covering all the angles.
Since I’m touting the expertise over at the CNC Cookbook I thought I’d mention they’ve also cooked up an extensive G-code tutorial and course.
As the man say’s, every machinist should know g-code, and that means you as well. Jump on over and see what I’m shouting about!
If you’re a DIY CNC enthusiast, or maybe someone simply looking to get your feet wet with a CNC hobby, you’re probably looking for ideas and inspiration from time to time. While a full-fledged CNC machine opens the door to practically limitless options, those with smaller designs and home-builds often have limitations. Not to worry, there are plenty of exciting projects for you to get your CNC fix on. Some of these CNC tutorials and projects are definitely geared toward those just starting out and looking for simpler designs while learning the in’s and out’s of their machine. Others are more complex and geared toward the more salty veteran. Either way, there is something for everyone.
DIY CNC Projects
Vectric: Like it say’s, Free CNC Projects. These projects come with step-by-step instructions, documentation, and project files. Granted, this company is pushing their software, but they do offer free trial downloads. If you don’t want to go the opensource route, then this may be the way to go to test drive the software on relatively introductory projects.
Instructables: Hey, build your own CNC Mill or CNC router before you even begin worrying about making that wooden plaque for mom. Definitely for the more industrious and tinker type. Downloadable e-books for those who find paying a little under two bucks a month worth it.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
I feel like I’ve been on a roll here the past week when it comes to promoting DIY CNC machining. I don’t know whether I’m getting better at Google search or if Google just “knows” what I’m looking for. Either way, I’ve found yet another great site to recommend to you for the DIY CNC aficionado’s out there.
I came across DIY CNC Guy.com today while parsing through a number of DIY sites. This is a well organized ( not bad on the eyes either) site filled with varied content related to DIY CNC.
A quick perusal of the site:
DIY CNC plans and projects
CNC machine tutorials
Tools, products, and software
3D printing, build-kits, resources, and more
Whether it’s a love of the DIY CNC hobby or just the love of machining, it’s blog’s and website’s like the a-fore-mentioned that can grab ahold of you and inspire. I’ve had plenty of days when the job felt like a grind and the love I had for CNC machining felt like it was slipping away: used CNC machines going down and needing repair, parts getting scrapped, customers cancelling orders, etc. Thankfully those times were short blips on my life’s radar, but I can only imagine how different those times might have been had I had some personal projects of my own going on.
How about you? As we head into the weekend to unwind and enjoy ourselves, are you striking up a new DIY CNC project? If so, let me know. I’d be happy to showcase your work if you’d like to share!
It’s no small thing to run a CNC machine. It takes years of hard work to build the experience necessary to hit the shop clock each morning and keep production moving. It’s not just learning to program G code, or swap out tooling. It’s learning the in’s and out’s of a machine, knowing how to do in-house CNC repairs and replacements. Normally, you’re not going to find yourself running a new CNC machine, but a used CNC machine that’s had it’s share of wear and tear. It takes a certain kind of person to become truly adept at CNC operation: dedicated, patient, curious, industrious, the list goes on.
But it’s a whole other animal who constructs an in-home CNC CO2 Laser!
I was over at the Reddit CNC subreddit yesterday when I came across the thread of guy who was sharing his laser cut stainless steel creations. These baby’s were impressive. He included a link to his personal website and mentioned the site contained in-depth specifics on the creation of his CNC CO2 Laser. I didn’t hesitate to check it out and I highly recommend anyone interested in DIY CNC (heck, anyone interested in cool DIY projects period) to check it out as well.
I’m blown away! The site is a complete breakdown of the process and construction of the laser (it took him 2 years to complete and an estimated 15k). Thorough documentation and photo’s are included on the site. This that DIY CNC attitude and passion I was talking about the other day and is an outstanding example of giving back to the DIY CNC community.
How about you? Working on an exciting DIY CNC project and want to share? Drop me a line and tell me about it!