Birth of a 4-axis CNC machine #2: Putting it together - a start, anyways.

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Blog entry by DS posted 10-29-2012 06:48 PM 2352 reads 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: T-slot comes home Part 2 of Birth of a 4-axis CNC machine series Part 3: How lovely are the feet! »

Well, as promised, here are some more pics of the process.


First thing I had to do was tap the end screw holes for the corner brackets. I could have used these with the t-slot connectors and not had to tap anything, but I wanted the brackets to do double-duty as end caps too.

I didn’t have an appropriate tap, so I used my dremel tool to cut a groove across the threads of a screw, being careful to leave a good cutting edge on the leading edge of the threads.

With a little 3-in-1 oil and my power drill, it worked out nicely.


It didn’t take too long to get it put together to this point. I have about 2 1/2 hours into it so far.

It’s beginning to take shape;

I’m pretty sure I will need to add some sort of levelling legs underneath it in order to set it level and true.
Right now the thing has a twist in it and is put together mostly to solidify the vision I have in my head for this.
The leveling legs will likely add another 4” to 6” in height to this which will put it right about where it should be.

I won’t bother to true it up until that part is done.

There will be another frame inset inside this one that will hold the 4th axis motor and tailstock.
It will be hinged at the head and have an adjustable height on the tail end—probably with some all thread. (Details pending, of course) This will allow for tapered work. (The infamous pseudo-5th axis.)

The side panels will probably be filled in for rigidity, but I want to be sure that the bearings and pinon gears will have the required room for mounting before I do that part.

The current overall size is 28”W X 68”L X 28”H

Thanks for following along. Stay tuned.

I have a dining table project coming up which may provide funds to buy the next batch of parts. That could be as soon as Thanksgiving. We’ll see how it goes.

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

10 comments so far

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10122 posts in 4078 days

#1 posted 10-29-2012 07:01 PM

Yes… It’s starting to take shape!

Looks like a rugged, SQUARE chasis…

Very good…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View SPalm's profile


5320 posts in 3907 days

#2 posted 10-29-2012 07:05 PM


That seems like a nice size. Long enough to do panels, yet it won’t take up the whole shop.
Have you thought about being able to add a vertical vise for dovetails etc? Kinda silly, but fun.
Color me jealous.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View oldnovice's profile


6898 posts in 3393 days

#3 posted 10-29-2012 07:32 PM

Looking good!

From my experience, if you the Tslot or 80/20 connectors there won’t me any twist as long as the ends are square!

Extrusion are a very good solution for this kind of build. I have seen a lot of CNCs made out of MDF but they don’t look as good as yours will!

What is the final cutting area size or did I miss when you mentioned that?

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View DS's profile


2926 posts in 2446 days

#4 posted 10-29-2012 08:04 PM

Well, all of the brackets and connectors have a little give in them – not to say that they flex, but rather, you can tighten the brackets in a crooked position if you’re not careful.

Since I assembled this on the tailgate of my pickup truck, (a la “Mere Mortal” style), I didn’t spend much time truing things up yet.

When I true it up, it will simply be a matter of loosening most of the screws half a turn and then setting the legs with a level, then tightening them up as I go.

My garage floor is anything BUT level, so there is really not a good reference there.

The extrusions I have came with a set of wheels, (two fixed and two 360 degree).
They would put this at a good height, but the importance of a good level reference surface cannot be over-stated here. This is a machine that will be set in place and not moved again.
“Roll-around” capability is NOT a typical requirement of a CNC machine!

Speaking of which, I haven’t decided on the final location in my garage for this guy yet. That is going to take some re-arranging.

I’m not exactly sure of the final cutting size, but I am aiming to turn up to 16” diameter by 48” long.
Flat stock would be nice at a minimum 24” wide X 48” long, but it will probably come up short on the width due to overhead of the spindle.

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

View boxcarmarty's profile


16299 posts in 2385 days

#5 posted 10-29-2012 10:53 PM

Don’t take too long DS, You got me on the edge of my seat and I’m fixin’ to fall off…..

-- My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

View oldnovice's profile


6898 posts in 3393 days

#6 posted 10-29-2012 11:41 PM

16” diameter x 48” long … that’s quite a log! How much HP is going to be on this axis?

I know this is going to be awesome to see working, a lot like the Legacy CNC videos except much LARGER!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2865 days

#7 posted 10-29-2012 11:53 PM

Nice set off legs you have there DS.
I am liking this project as well.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View DS's profile


2926 posts in 2446 days

#8 posted 10-30-2012 03:11 PM

I doubt this will ever see a log that big. (Though I turned some 14” X 42” pedistals a couple years ago that would be perfect for this machine—I found the pic on my phone, so here it is.)

Mostly I want to be able to carve custom corbels and turn some longer legs. 16” diameter covers the corbels—not likely to be more than 20” long. 48” covers most turnings I might do—most likely not more than 6” in diameter.

Still, the 4th axis will be geared down and not spinning very fast, while the X, Y and Z axis’ will have fairly good sized steppers, max’ing out at 3.5A per axis.

This machine will not be used to process panels, but could make onlays, corbels, rope and twist turnings and other fancy-dancy accoutrements for cabinetry.

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

View DIYaholic's profile


19623 posts in 2700 days

#9 posted 10-30-2012 04:00 PM

I’m sure your are familiar with, but figured I’d provide the link anyway. A wonderful site for anything and all things CNC. I actually was reseaching a cnc build there and discovered LJs, so here I am. I WILL eventually build my CNC, just as soon as I overcome my procrastination and finish my WW shop set up.

Following along…...

-- 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 oldnovice's profile


6898 posts in 3393 days

#10 posted 10-30-2012 05:09 PM

As soon as my CNC arrives I am joining that group, specifically the Shopbot group.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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