STEEL GANTRY CNC ROUTER

I built a computer numerically controlled (CNC) router from scratch. The design was my own and was based on what I had seen in the industry. It actually worked rather well, but some things were over-built and some things weren't strong enough. This always leads to a second router, but more on that on another page...

The steel I got from a local steel supplier. The hardware I got from MSC Industrial Supply. The linear motion rails I got from Bishop Weiscarver in California. The linear motion bearings were from a Chinese company (shipped FedEx and recieved that week). All the computer equipment, drivers, stepper motors, and software I got on the internet; I used no-name stepper motors and Gecko drivers.

Ultimately, this model was able to cut 4'x8' with about 6" of Z-axis travel. With conservative settings, I was able to rapid traverse at 600 inches per minute (the Z-axis was unfortunately much slower). I was also able to maintain really good accuracy: within 0.010" when taking it easy and about 1/32" when cutting 3/4" plywood with one pass.

I built this as a prototype to verify the design; the intent of this design was for a unit that would be used in a real production shop. In an industrial environment, you have to assume that the employees would throw sheets of plywood on top of it, would walk on top of the router to change the light bulb above it, and slam into it with a forklift. This is why the table is really overbuilt.

OCTOBER 2004

CNC Router

MARCH 2005

The prototype wooden head:

CNC Router

CNC Router

MARCH 2007

The aluminum head and a 1-1/2 horsepower Porter Cable router.

CNC Router

SEPTEMBER 2007

The Porter Cable router was a joke and was ultimately replaced by a three horsepower three phase Elte spindle with a VFD.

Here I am cutting parts for my dust collector:

CNC Router

CNC Router

Here's my whole setup... the 5 HP dust collector works very well.

At this point, I had incorporated all of the revisions and titled the plans "CNC TYPE 1A". This unit worked well in my personal shop, but I did not feel the design provided a competitive advantage over what could already be found in the marketplace. So I continued with design development...

CNC Router

And here is my router cutting parts for my next router.

CNC Router