MDF CNC Router

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Project by Sam Fladung posted 02-27-2011 04:21 AM 9675 views 14 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a CNC Router that I built based off of the book “Build Your Own CNC Machine”. The bulk of the machine is built out of Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF). The bearing rails are build out of 6061 aluminum angle. The machine is driven by 3 stepper motors using 1/2-10 Acme screws. The machine table is approximately 2’x4’ and the usable area several inches less than that.

One of the first operations after doing a few test cuts was to have it drill holes every 2 inches to provide a good way to clamp pieces to the table. You can see this operation in the second picture.

The third and fourth pictures show two of the first pieces I cut using the machine. They are cut with a half inch V-Groove router bit to about 3/8” depth.


9 comments so far

View SignWave's profile


472 posts in 3577 days

#1 posted 02-27-2011 04:31 AM

Looks good to me. I just got a copy of that book and am looking at other builds for inspiration. What kind of motors and controllers are you using?

-- Barry,

View Sam Fladung's profile

Sam Fladung

15 posts in 3982 days

#2 posted 02-27-2011 04:40 AM

I used the G540 3 axis package with 48V/7.3A power supply and 387 oz-in motor from . I’m running it using the Mach3 controller on a dedicated desktop computer. It was definitely a fun project to build. If you do decide to build one, there is one part that is incorrect in the book (see ).


View bigike's profile


4057 posts in 3830 days

#3 posted 02-27-2011 07:07 AM


-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View ianlee74's profile


153 posts in 3490 days

#4 posted 02-27-2011 07:16 AM

Congrats. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time now. It’s a good combo of all my hobbies/profession (woodworking, computers, & electronics). What did it end up costing you to build?

-- Ian, Tennessee

View Sodabowski's profile


2388 posts in 3375 days

#5 posted 02-27-2011 02:46 PM

I suppose that you of course started by surfacing the table to true it prior to drilling the holes?

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View DIYaholic's profile


19878 posts in 3217 days

#6 posted 02-28-2011 04:06 AM

Nice machine and great motivation.
I’ve been researching cnc routers @ I’m currently setting up my basement shop with the intention of building a cnc router. If you have not visited, it is a great site with tons of valuable information and people with a wealth of knowledge willing to help. What do you plan on creating with your machine?

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Sam Fladung's profile

Sam Fladung

15 posts in 3982 days

#7 posted 02-28-2011 04:39 AM

Ian- The main cost was the stepper motors and controllers along with the software. If you are doing simple cuts (under 500 lines of code you can use the free version of the software).

Cost breakdown (approximations): 4×2’x4’‘3/4 MDF sheet $40
Aluminum Angle $30
Bolts and Cross dowels $20
Router Already owned $0
Bearings $24
Lead screws and nuts: $25
Shaft collars and couplers $30
Motors and controllers $460
Desktop PC Already had $0
Mach3 Controller software and Cambam Cam software(free to try, but need to purchase for full features) $315.00

Total: Just under $1000.

I also installed the motors using connectors at the ends so that I can switch them between machines. I have plans to attempt a CNC lathe at some point in the future and I should be able to shift the motors/ controllers/ software between them (as long as I don’t need to use both at once).

Thomas- I actually didn’t surface the table. The MDF was just about dead flat and I carefully squared the gantry as I installed it. I preferred keeping the factory finish on the mdf to any minor leveling that a squaring operation would have accomplished. I also keep a piece of scrap sheet (currently OSB) on top of the table so that when I cut through a piece it doesn’t leave scars in the table. If I need a section to be perfectly flat for certain operations I will probably make an auxiliary table to place on top that I can adjust. The main spot where I see this being needed is in attempting to cut my own printed circuit boards (where measurements are in the mills).

Randy- Thanks for the site. I have checked out cnc zone before and it does indeed have a wealth of information. As to what I plan to make: I posted a routed tray that I made with the machine . I also plan to use it to engrave text and patterns into workpieces for signs etc. I also did a test engraving into a piece of marble floor tile using a tungsten carbide bit. It worked very well as long as I did multiple passes. A couple of other ideas I have for it are building a jig on the end of the machine (x axis) to let me bore into the end of pieces for doing cross dowel joints. I think I can also rig it up to cut dovetail joints using a similar setup. Other things I am considering are Printed Circuit Boards (I need to take a bit more play out of the machine to get the fine accuracy required), a Chinese checkers set, engraved bookmarks. I also used it in making a lathe steady rest, which I hope to finish and post in the next couple of weeks.


View Paulo in Texas's profile

Paulo in Texas

131 posts in 3231 days

#8 posted 03-01-2011 12:00 AM

$1,000 for a CNC is a heckuva deal! I saw your heart project, can’t wait to see more.

View cwdance1's profile


1160 posts in 3801 days

#9 posted 03-01-2011 12:40 AM

Great job, looks like you got the hard part over. I have a lot of fun makiing things on mine.

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