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Forum topic by Bruce Macdonald posted 03-27-2019 05:19 PM 16010 views 7 times favorited 137 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Bruce Macdonald

43 posts in 4294 days

03-27-2019 05:19 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cnc router woodsmith

Hi all,
I am quite interested in the DIY CNC router featured in the current issue of Woodsmith magazine. It looks great and the components used all seem very good quality. My questions are:
a) Is anyone else considering this build?
b) Any reservations or concerns on the design?
c) Is there any downside to building your own CNC router? Tremendous cost savings and I think it would be a very cool project to make but is there any solid reasons why you wouldn’t go down this path?

Many thanks.

137 replies so far

View moke's profile


1851 posts in 3940 days

#1 posted 03-27-2019 05:29 PM

I saw that too, a couple days after the magazine came out I went to a seminar at Woodsmith, so I asked about it. The fellow that gave the seminar is not the fellow that worked on the project but said he saw it in the shop and thought is was neat, but did not know anything about it. He did say it was a two magazine article build. I failed to ask the cost of the motors/kit.
So think their should be more in the next issue.

-- Mike

View lew's profile


13386 posts in 4919 days

#2 posted 03-27-2019 10:30 PM

I looked at the the on-line parts list and was quite surprised at the cost of “their” sources. I think with a little digging you could find the electronics a bit cheaper.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Woodknack's profile


13567 posts in 3543 days

#3 posted 03-28-2019 12:57 AM

I hadn’t seen it yet.

The sources page is broken for me.

-- Rick M,

View DS's profile


3858 posts in 3584 days

#4 posted 03-29-2019 02:37 PM

The downside of building your own CNC is the lack of support from an overall manufacturer. You are basically on your own to ensure the proper function and usability of your machine.

This may not be a problem if you are the type of person to get in and figure things out. I’ve found that no matter how I build on my machine I can always come up with a better way down the road and I am too tempted to tear into it and rebuild it again.

Sometimes a situation will call for a turn-key machine that can become productive right away. The trade off is between time and money.

If the journey is about building a machine and you can spend time more than money, then there is no problem.
If the journey is about building projects on the machine right away, then plan on spending more money than time on a turn-key machine.

Additionally, you will find that the CAD and CAM software you use will determine the utility of whichever machine you have as much as, or more than, the specific hardware features of the machine.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View avsmusic1's profile


682 posts in 1848 days

#5 posted 03-29-2019 02:43 PM

Additionally, you will find that the CAD and CAM software you use will determine the utility of whichever machine you have as much as, or more than, the specific hardware features of the machine.

- DS

I can’t speak to the initial question, but i will say that I’ve seen DS’s last point made in nearly every single CNC convo I’ve heard or thread I’ve read

View mpsprunger's profile


38 posts in 3024 days

#6 posted 04-02-2019 10:19 AM

good project for good, tolerant, patient craftsman, CNC equipment requires these talents. Stepper motors are noise, the specs are very tight for accurate machining. The backlash in the leadscrew assemblies is critical. The possibility racking in the gantry always exists if anything is slightly off. It can be accomplished

View xeddog's profile


355 posts in 4171 days

#7 posted 04-03-2019 04:15 PM

I have been considering one for quite a while, having learned quite a bit about some of the basic mechanics and principles involved from my 3d printers. I don’t think I would need one as large the article describes, but maybe more like 18×24 inches, and using a palm router instead of a “real” router. I haven’t looked through the article in detail, but I did notice they said the cost of the project minus software (and I think also not including a router) was about $1300. I still have a lot of questions though.


View Lazyman's profile


7443 posts in 2551 days

#8 posted 04-03-2019 08:08 PM

I saw that article and have been considering building a CNC machine for a while now. Everytime I think about making one like the WS version, a little research always leads me back to buying a kit from OpenBuilds or possibly one of the Mill Right machines. While the challenge of making one from scratch sounds like fun, having never used one, it am not sure I would know what I don’t know.

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

View Bruce Macdonald's profile

Bruce Macdonald

43 posts in 4294 days

#9 posted 04-03-2019 08:38 PM

Well I’m going to jump in with both feet. I too looked at the OpenBuilds units. I think that DS really nailed it… if making the machine is as much of a goal as is making projects with the machine it’s a good fit. If you just need a CNC and are only considering building for the cost savings you might be approaching it the wrong way.
I’m a pretty methodical guy, attention to detail, etc so am feeling that this will be a big challenge to see if I can match the tolerances required. Probably won’t start until I see part 2 of the article but I’ve got a good idea now of what’s going to be entailed as well as some ideas to improve on the design already (adding drag chains, emergency stop button, limit switches, overhead gantry mounted LED, etc.)
Will definitely post pictures once I get rolling.

View diverlloyd's profile


4147 posts in 3021 days

#10 posted 04-03-2019 11:53 PM

Bruce I think you can cut a lot of the cost down but looking at for parts. I don’t catch what stepper motors they are using but banggood has lots of parts.

View Woodknack's profile


13567 posts in 3543 days

#11 posted 04-04-2019 01:00 AM

If I order from a place called it better come with pretty hair and a smile.

-- Rick M,

View diverlloyd's profile


4147 posts in 3021 days

#12 posted 04-04-2019 01:11 AM

Rick everytime I make a post about them usually add the “it’s not a adult site”. The name comes from the best bang for the buck and a good deal. It has been a safe site so far while using the PayPal option. I have been looking at a couple of their soldering stations and a lot extra laser burner parts. I’m very satisfied with the burner.

View Mike_D_S's profile


719 posts in 3378 days

#13 posted 04-04-2019 01:20 AM


One piece of advice I would have for a DIY builder is don’t skimp on the steppers, controllers, etc. If you like the process and want to go bigger you don’t want to have to buy the hardware a second time.

When I looked at a DIY build initially the cost differences for the hardware was fairly nominal.


-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

View Woodknack's profile


13567 posts in 3543 days

#14 posted 04-04-2019 07:38 AM

Lloyd, I’m just kiddin ya. But the first time you posted it on hot deals I did a double take.

-- Rick M,

View Tmanpdx's profile


26 posts in 875 days

#15 posted 04-04-2019 08:22 AM

I’m on my 2nd version of my own CNC and looking at the video, I think you will learn a lot but you will be ultimately disappointed with the accuracy & repeatability and without close loop servo controllers, you’re going to find that it will tear itself apart if you’re not there to stop it.

I learned the hard way. Spent $$ buying a basic kit from – without the controller & built my own. It’s based on 80/20 frame with linear guide rails. Found that because it was put together with bolts and screws, it was constantly getting out of alignment as even a small bit of movement compounded over the 4’x4’ area was enough to make things not accurate. The X Axis would get out of step & skew the gantry when something got hung up (ball screws can get gunk in them and they lock up) and if it wasn’t for me being there, it would have torn itself apart.

Looking at the woodsmith one, with it made of wood, I just don’t see how you’re going to have the accuracy to do anything worthwhile.

I do so much with my CNC, such as dado’s, dovetail slides, bowties to strengthen cracks in slabs, mortise & tennon, etc that I was going crazy with a few thousandths of an inch out (bowtie won’t fit), or dado’s that aren’t the same width 24” apart – so your casework is tight on oneside & loose on another.

So, I enlisted a friend of mine to use his Haas mill to make all new brackets with threaded inserts and I upgraded from the 1/2” ball screws to 1” ball screws and added servos to ensure it won’t get out of whack and lengthened the bed to 6’ instead of 4’, so now it’s a 4×6.

I was into this for about $6K initially, and then another $3-4K for the complete overhaul.

I can see the appeal of building your own. I learned an incredible amount, but the accuracy on a wood built CNC is going to only be able to those 3D relief carvings because they don’t need the accuracy & no one would be able to tell the difference. If you want to do anything that requires repeatability and accuracy (dado’s, butterflies, mortise & tenon, etc) you’re going to need to have a more stable & robust platform.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed my CNC. It allows me to do things like the past 3 days where I cranked out 20 charcuterie boards with the same handle on all of them. I use vacuum hold downs to make setup a lot easier (most of the 3 days was jointing, glueing & planing).

But I would really tell you to head over to cnczone & check out their builds. They are serious. It’s going to cost, but in the end you’ll have a robust & accurate CNC.

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