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Good CNC machine on a Budget (under $500)

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Forum topic by derhul posted 12-13-2018 03:41 PM 1530 views 1 time favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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derhul

5 posts in 368 days


12-13-2018 03:41 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cnc engraver budget hobby 50000 wood ash maple cherry walnut resource question carving tool shaping milling carving arts and crafts

Hello-

I’m wanting to get a decent hobby level CNC machine. As far as a size, something on the smaller side.

I make small wood boxes (gift, keepsake, jewelry )
1) Engrave my logo or custom messages on my boxes
2) will cut out the sides of boxes (that would otherwise be difficult by hand)
3) Cut out the center of boxes made from solid 2 to 3 inch thick hardwood blocks.

I’m want a machine that will:

I know, I know…I’m asking for the impossible at around $500.00 but I’m hoping you guys might have some feedback

Thanks in advance!


11 replies so far

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

3737 posts in 1841 days


#1 posted 12-13-2018 03:56 PM

I don’t have a CNC but I have done a little poking around. The cheapest I’ve seen is a Millright CNC starting right at about the $500 mark. It seems to get pretty good reviews. Looks like a cheap way to get either addicted or turned off without spending too much.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10669 posts in 4506 days


#2 posted 02-28-2019 09:44 PM

Here are a few Youtube Links that might get you pointed in a direction…

It really depends on how much you want to get your hands dirty with DIY… The more you can, the more you can save.

Strange Garage (author of several videos)...

DIY Builds .... DIY CNC Router for Under $900 - Free Plans Available

Dave Gatton CNC ... Lots of good stuff...

Other helpful links…

Dave Gatton Wiring the control system

Dave Gatton series on Building a CNC system

He also sells plans and you can make your parts; Cheapest way to go!
... or you can buy the main parts...

How to start CNC Machining for under $200 - Working with the T8 CNC engraver

Other places to buy stuff...

That should get you started…

I am also in the process of studying an economical way to get into CNC…

I am leaning toward Building it myself… (lots to study)...

I have decided, so far, to use FREE Software called Fusion 360: A s/w program that covers CADCAM… in other words, you can design projects and then let it generate the CNC code the the CNC system needs; called G-Code. This saves a bundle on s/w!!

There are other FREE s/w packages that help you do Simple things… Search Youtube…

You will find that the CNC system has basically the same things and will cost that much no matter what the size is that you want to build… Rails, bearings, motors, control electronics, software, router, etc., etc. Nickel-Diming you to death!

There are several ways of doing the same thing… making it hard to decide… requires Study and more Study…
One thing for sure still applies… “You get what you pay for”... By picking solid, accurate, parts, etc. to ensure a good accurate system, you will find it better to possibly pay a little more to use THIS approach/technique over another one.

I am STILL in the STUDY process… It is somewhat OVERWELMING!!

Have FUN!!

If anyone has other good Links on the subject, PLEASE post them, OK?

Thank you!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: http://www.WoodworkStuff.net ... My Small Gallery: https://www.ncwoodworker.net/forums/index.php

View Steve Peterson's profile

Steve Peterson

408 posts in 3536 days


#3 posted 02-28-2019 11:18 PM

A company called V1 Engineering has a design called a Mostly Printed CNC (MPCNC) router that appears to be in the $500 range. The design is loosely based on 3D printer components that have been upsized for CNC routing.

https://www.v1engineering.com/

-- Steve

View SignWave's profile

SignWave

472 posts in 3489 days


#4 posted 03-01-2019 05:51 PM

I recently built a MPCNC, and it meets the requirements for engraving and light milling, easily within the price constraint.

The only requirement that might cause you an issue (for any low-budget CNC machine) is milling out more than 2” deep in hardwood. This is going to require a long bit and put a lot of stress on the Z axis. Most budget machines use a smaller router or spindle that has a 1/4” (or 6mm) or smaller collet. Cutting that deep would be much better with a 1/2” tool, which means a more robust router and CNC machine.

-- Barry, http://BarrysWorkshop.com/

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10669 posts in 4506 days


#5 posted 03-01-2019 06:26 PM

  • C A U T I O N

Here is one that YOU DO NOT WANT!

Refunded : My Tormach Story*

IMHO ... This guy really got TOOK… This is really a BAD Company to stay away from! IMHO

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: http://www.WoodworkStuff.net ... My Small Gallery: https://www.ncwoodworker.net/forums/index.php

View KelleyCrafts's profile

KelleyCrafts

3822 posts in 1193 days


#6 posted 03-01-2019 06:34 PM

This one is a little more money but I’m considering it. Lots of great reviews out there and I don’t have to spend time planning and collecting materials to do the DIY one. I normally would go that route but time isn’t on my side lately.

BobsCNC

-- Dave - http://kelleycrafts.com/ - pen blanks - knife scales - turning tools

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10669 posts in 4506 days


#7 posted 03-01-2019 09:22 PM



This one is a little more money but I m considering it. Lots of great reviews out there and I don t have to spend time planning and collecting materials to do the DIY one. I normally would go that route but time isn t on my side lately.

BobsCNC

- KelleyCrafts

OK, after really studying these products, I feel that they are more like cardboard box materials trying to do a job for, at least, Wood or metal. It does not turn me on…

Threaded rod for bearings to ride on? Does NOT sound good…

This NON Acme threaded drive rods? NOT good.

This belt control for X & Y axis… Not good…

Grbl operating system… not as good as Mach3… by far…

The whole thing looks very weak & cheasy to me…

I would look elsewhere… You get what you pay for… This looks like a loser to me…

Good Luck…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: http://www.WoodworkStuff.net ... My Small Gallery: https://www.ncwoodworker.net/forums/index.php

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10669 posts in 4506 days


#8 posted 03-01-2019 09:31 PM



A company called V1 Engineering has a design called a Mostly Printed CNC (MPCNC) router that appears to be in the $500 range. The design is loosely based on 3D printer components that have been upsized for CNC routing.

https://www.v1engineering.com/

- Steve Peterson

Their products SCARE ME BIG TIME… Looks like a little more like heavy duty Tinker Toys… I can’t see this doing a decent job of even a small CNC job…
One of the Main structure joints broke and resorted to simple clamps to keep it running! Proving, to me, it was cheap junk to start with. Weak structure…

Good Luck… I would NOT touch this one…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: http://www.WoodworkStuff.net ... My Small Gallery: https://www.ncwoodworker.net/forums/index.php

View WearyTraveler's profile

WearyTraveler

6 posts in 1392 days


#9 posted 06-08-2019 03:55 PM


This one is a little more money but I m considering it. Lots of great reviews out there and I don t have to spend time planning and collecting materials to do the DIY one. I normally would go that route but time isn t on my side lately.

BobsCNC

- KelleyCrafts

OK, after really studying these products, I feel that they are more like cardboard box materials trying to do a job for, at least, Wood or metal. It does not turn me on…

Threaded rod for bearings to ride on? Does NOT sound good…

This NON Acme threaded drive rods? NOT good.

This belt control for X & Y axis… Not good…

Grbl operating system… not as good as Mach3… by far…

The whole thing looks very weak & cheasy to me…

I would look elsewhere… You get what you pay for… This looks like a loser to me…

Good Luck…

- Joe Lyddon

I bought a Bobscnc E3 a year or so ago. I was a bit skeptical because it was thin plywood etc… After assembly, it turned out to be a great little CNC. They’ve since come out with an E4 (larger cut area and spoilboard). True, it’s a low end cnc. But don’t knock it. It paid for itself in just a few craft shows.

They say buy your second “whatever” first, but if you’re not sure you want to get into the game, bobscnc is an inexpensive way to dip your toe into the water.

The only “complaint” I have about bobs is that the free design sw they talk about (F Engrave) is not very user friendly. But once I found “Easel” my cnc’ing took off.

Bob’s support and response time to questions was great. A piece I bought for an upgrade didn’t fit just right – so he quickly and free sent a replacement.

So – let’s not bash bob’s. It’s a great little cnc.

And for $600 you can’t go wrong…

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10669 posts in 4506 days


#10 posted 06-16-2019 07:30 AM


This one is a little more money but I m considering it. Lots of great reviews out there and I don t have to spend time planning and collecting materials to do the DIY one. I normally would go that route but time isn t on my side lately.

BobsCNC

- KelleyCrafts

OK, after really studying these products, I feel that they are more like cardboard box materials trying to do a job for, at least, Wood or metal. It does not turn me on…

Threaded rod for bearings to ride on? Does NOT sound good…

This NON Acme threaded drive rods? NOT good.

This belt control for X & Y axis… Not good…

Grbl operating system… not as good as Mach3… by far…

The whole thing looks very weak & cheasy to me…

I would look elsewhere… You get what you pay for… This looks like a loser to me…

Good Luck…

- Joe Lyddon

I bought a Bobscnc E3 a year or so ago. I was a bit skeptical because it was thin plywood etc… After assembly, it turned out to be a great little CNC. They’ve since come out with an E4 (larger cut area and spoilboard). True, it’s a low end cnc. But don’t knock it. It paid for itself in just a few craft shows.

They say buy your second “whatever” first, but if you’re not sure you want to get into the game, bobscnc is an inexpensive way to dip your toe into the water.

The only “complaint” I have about bobs is that the free design sw they talk about (F Engrave) is not very user friendly. But once I found “Easel” my cnc’ing took off.

Bob’s support and response time to questions was great. A piece I bought for an upgrade didn’t fit just right – so he quickly and free sent a replacement.

So – let’s not bash bob’s. It’s a great little cnc.

And for $600 you can’t go wrong…

- WearyTraveler

Hi Weary Traveler!

Very GOOD points… Is it still working good for you?

I have not yet decided on my first CNC system…

Your $600… is that the TOTAL COST? Including software and all of the electronic control equipment?

In the process of studying CNC I discovered 3D Printers!

It is actually AMAZING HOW THEY WORK!!

And it seems like they can DO THE IMPOSSIBLE!

You can actually Print (yep, that’s what they call it…)
Fancy name for Create and like a CNC router system except you have this little Control-Head spitting out Ultra Fine pieces of melted plastic starting from the BOTTOM of the subject… making Layers of Plastic in such a way as to CREATE a finished product… by the time it gets to the TOP!

It is simply AWESOME!

You can actually make a box that has a hinged lid (top) that actually works when done… Requiring NO installation at all! When I saw that, it blew my mind!
You can make a Round box with Threads around the top… and Make the TOP/Lid that also has the matching threads that fit top Perfectly!

It is actually AMAZING!

AND, what surprised me was the COST of such equipment!

The prices have gone DOWN BIG TIME in the last few years!

I BOUGHT ONE!! I got a Sidewander SX-1 by Artillery (no known as EVNOVO!
You have to get used to Metric!! It’s all Metric!!
This 3D Printer has a Bed of 300×300 mm (X & Y axsis) square and goes 400mm high (Z axsis) of working space!!

At a cost of about $430 !!! <===== TOTAL

It is awesome!!

AND to boot… one can use Fusion 360 to design the models for 3D Printers!!
You design the Model… and prepare a STL file… Basically the 3D image file.

Then, you feed that STL Image file into what is known as a SLICER (program) to get a GCODE file; the file which controls the printing device (like a router of a CNC system).

What the Slicer program does is reads the Image file from the Bottom up, grabs image data in a very small SLICE and outputs Gcode for that slice of the image… then it works on another slice of the image, outputting more Gcode… until it has reached the TOP!

Then, this Gcode image file is fed to the 3D Printer where it controls spitting out liquid plastic that dries almost instantly from an air fan blowing on it… everywhere there is part of the Image…

Mine is SO QUIET too!

There are websites where you can GET FREE 3D Printer files for various projects…

You get spools what they call Filaments (like plastic thread) 1.75mm in diameter… 1 KG Spools!
The average price per spool is about $20 and can go a LONG way making things… and it comes in various colors!
And get this! They actually have WOOD Filament (at about $35 per spool) where you sand and Finish the project like a real WOODEN project!

I am really excited with it!! No Dust Collection required…!! LOL
... and it’s SO QUIET… It can be running on a table in the same room as we watch TV in… and barely hear it!

This, IMHO, is one the GREATEST inventions since the WHEEL!!

If interested, I’ll post more about it and what I have made so far… Will have to be in the Coffee Shop section except for any WOOD project I Print! LOL

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: http://www.WoodworkStuff.net ... My Small Gallery: https://www.ncwoodworker.net/forums/index.php

View WearyTraveler's profile

WearyTraveler

6 posts in 1392 days


#11 posted 06-16-2019 12:29 PM

My little E3 is still grinding out signs. Still like it! It paid for itself in just a few months. And I’d still recommend it.

I ended up buying a Shark HD4. Cost WAY more than the E3 and it’ll be a while before it’s “in the black.”

My current plans are to use the HD4 for the big / fancy stuff and to fabricate a small bench in my craft show trailer for the E3. The HD4’s setup is too big to fit thru the door of my workshop so it’ll stay there. I’m anticipating taking the E3 to craft shows, allowing me to make custom stuff on site. Still a win – win and glad I bought it.

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