Updated Router Milling Machine new version

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Project by Mark55 posted 01-16-2013 05:41 PM 13369 views 34 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here it is; my revised improved Router milling machine. For those of you who did not see my other machine look at my past projects for a quick review. This is the streamlined improved updated version. I will have some videos of it posted soon so check back if you would like to see them.

This machine is a culmination of 5 years of experimenting with the concept and use of the machine. I am absolutely amazed at its capabilities. I have built 5 of these over the past few years and improved each as I went along. My main goal was to build it for a half way reasonable cost and still have an accurate machine.

The table is 22” by 48” and has 30” of movement right to left, 17” of movement front to back and the head has 15” of movement up and down. The head has an plunge feature operated by foot pedal. The head can also rotate up to 90 degrees either way. There is a rotating table feature and lathe feature not shown.

The table is driven with # 35 chain and 13 tooth sprockets. This pushes the table a little more than 2” with one turn of the handle which is needed for wood routing. Threaded rod was too slow about an 1/8 inch per turn. It is amazingly tight there is no backlash or slop in the cranks and the table is tight too.
There are stops on the table to set your cut distance and stops on the plunge feature for depth.
Because it is so big the table actually unhooks from the main machine for transportation purposes and to get it through doors.

There are many improvements on this machine. Any time you build something like this you have to take into consideration rigidity and the ability to keep all moving parts smooth and tight to keep accuracy to your work.
I solved the rigidity problem by making the frame out of 3/4 ” plywood laminated together sometimes as much as 3 layers thick and all joints are overlapped and glued. This thing is solid and has no twist what so ever.

The next big issue was the slide rails. For this I had 2 problems, because there is so much travel on the rails I needed something strong so it could handle the weight of what is being put on the table unlike a CNC machine the only weight is the router and mechanics.
Dealing with a cost issue I did not want to spend a ton of money on heavy steel rod because there is about 20 feet of it total. So I tried using 1 1/2” emc electrical conduit then sanded and polished the tubes so they were slick, this worked pretty good.
Next, the slide bearings, the obvious would be linear bearings but to get some (12) that size would be a small fortune and would not fit the slides tubes and the bottom ones would be running in saw dust a lot and could be a problem.

Anytime you build a machine out of wood you have to take into consideration expansion and contraction of the wood and how it will affect moving parts and I had that problem in some of my previous machines.
So what I did was found a manufacture that sold their 3/4” thick plastic scraps. I used this stuff for many parts. Anything you see on the machine that is black is the plastic. I machined my slide bearings and slide tube holders out of the same material, this keeps expansion and contraction to a minimum and because it is the same material it is constant with each other and it has worked really well.

I even make my own bushings for the rods for all the cranks. The reason being every type that that I have bought there was either a problem holding them in the wood or they were too sloppy. The ones I make are tight and fasten to the wood with screws because I machine a big flange on them. (By the way I machined most of the parts on my original machine).

I have shown it in woodworking clubs and to many that would like to have one. I wrestled with plans for it for a long time because I knew it wasn’t quite ready yet. It had some bugs that I have since worked out and now I am ready to release it as a kit with plans. I want other people to enjoy this thing, it opens up a whole new world to woodworking. I hope to have it ready in about 3 to 4 weeks.

-- Mark, Newton, NC.

20 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118309 posts in 4917 days

#1 posted 01-16-2013 05:56 PM

Wow what a design and build,great job.


View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 4577 days

#2 posted 01-16-2013 06:17 PM

You’ve created the most useful machine I’ve seen on lumberjocks. I’m impressed!

-- Hal, Tennessee

View Hawken's profile


27 posts in 3305 days

#3 posted 01-16-2013 07:44 PM

WOW! That is an impressive piece of work! I cannot begin to imagine the capabilities you have created for yourself with that job! I bow! I will be looking for the plans when you are ready for release!

-- Who is John Galt?

View BigDawg's profile


52 posts in 5060 days

#4 posted 01-16-2013 07:45 PM

When you start to sell them let us know. That is some of the best engineering I have seen. Well done.

-- Shawn DuGay, Wallingford, CT

View Julian's profile


1676 posts in 4030 days

#5 posted 01-16-2013 08:07 PM

That looks like an amazing machine. I hope you post projects that you will make with your router milling machine.
Thanks for sharing.

-- Julian

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 4438 days

#6 posted 01-16-2013 09:00 PM

Have you thought about turning it into a CNC?

View Johnboy8's profile


24 posts in 3300 days

#7 posted 01-16-2013 10:51 PM

what a nice machine ,,might have to make one

-- John

View Mark55's profile


164 posts in 3404 days

#8 posted 01-16-2013 11:47 PM

I wanted to post the story on how this thing developed. I cant remember what I wanted to make but I needed to mill something. Anyway I had a small drill press vise with x and y axis with about 3 inches of travel each way. I found out that you should not mill with a drill press, because of the tapered shaft there is a good chance that the chuck will drop out of the press and it did. Besides the drill press is too slow for routing. So this set the wheels in motion for my first machine.

-- Mark, Newton, NC.

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 4438 days

#9 posted 01-17-2013 12:17 AM

A drill press, using any side pressure is a bad thing. The bearings are not made for any side pressure, but only for keeping concentricity to the spindle. The Morse taper is another problem. It’s good for holding a tool in the vertical plane, but was not designed or intended for side thrust.
Anyway, great project and I look forward to your kit and plans publication.

View Mark55's profile


164 posts in 3404 days

#10 posted 01-17-2013 12:53 AM

Jim C, Thanks for the thumbs up. To be honest I want to keep it as a manual machine. I would love a CNC someday myself as a separate machine but this is too much fun the way it is.

Julian, If you look at some of my past projects you can see just a few of the things I have done with it.

Thanks everyone else for the kind words I will keep everyone informed on the progress of the kit/plans.

-- Mark, Newton, NC.

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

8458 posts in 4693 days

#11 posted 01-17-2013 01:16 AM

WOW! This is a serious looking machine! Nice work!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View MJCD's profile


617 posts in 3711 days

#12 posted 01-17-2013 02:36 AM


This has to be a quiet triumph for you – it takes immense perseverance to have a dream, build several iterations of it – never getting quite all of it; then, finally, all of the pieces come together. I tip my hat to a professional.

When you have the time; and if you want to, can you share some of the dimensions, plans, equipment parts? I’m planning to build Wandel’s Pantorouter in late February, depending on when my bandsaw arrives – your invention holds similar promise for us mortals.


View Dan Krager's profile

Dan Krager

4835 posts in 3574 days

#13 posted 01-17-2013 03:27 AM

Mark, I am so thoroughly intrigued with this setup. You have done an outstanding job designing it with inexpensive materials. In the past I have thought about modifying a junk Bridgeport milling machine, but it was just too big and clumsy.
When you have the plans ready, I’ll be on the buyers list!
BTW, I thought about offering to help with the plans by doing it in Sketch-up. While I am trained as an ANSI draftsman, Sketch-up has been my go to model builder. Maybe several people could do a piece of the machine and that would “protect” you, because no one would have the entire model until you put the pieces together yourself.

-- DanK All my life I've wanted to be someone. I see now I should have been more specific.

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3767 days

#14 posted 01-17-2013 06:41 AM

I want to see the finished product, Your example is outstanding.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View 559dustdesigns's profile


633 posts in 4508 days

#15 posted 01-17-2013 07:19 AM

I second all the positive encouraging comments before me. About five years back Grizzly offered what the called a Wood Mill. It was basically a milling machine with a higher rpm spindle motor. They even showed it in the catalog with an optional rotory table. That monster was about $3500, too much for me. Your machine looks very useful, I’d strongly consider pur having your kit with plans once they are completed. Thank you for sharing

-- Aaron - central California "If you haven't got the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?"

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