CNC's and You. A Beginner's Perspective #1: Introducing the Duchess

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Blog entry by Matt posted 03-19-2009 05:12 AM 7315 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Ok, the name comes from a line Rob Riggle used on the Daily Show with John Stewart. He said he was going to go ‘fight crime’ with his ‘ladies’, Princess Marie and Duchess Larue. I got Duchess from that. Why? Because she’s my beautiful, pride and joy. I also treat her like royalty. Her very own $400.00 rolling Kobalt toolbox, PC 892 spindle, 2.4GHZ PC, and, coming soon, a 17 inch under cabinet LCD monitor. Yeah, I’m whipped.

I started by looking to build my own CNC router. Like a bad burrito, that feeling quickly passed for various reasons. I’m impatient. I didn’t want to go through the design, decisions, parts aquisition, decisions, engineering, decisions, and, most importantly, mistakes that go along with a build like that.

Instead, I started looking to the internet for a pre-built benchtop unit. After many, many, weeks of research and eliminating all of the Chinese made machines, I arrived at my decision. I went with a CNC from a small Michigan-based company called Romaxx. Their machine was getting rave reviews for being a solid, dependable, high quality product. Aside from the table, it’s made from top end steppers, drivers, breakout boards, and metals. Nearly all of the gantry and mounts are milled from solid, high-grade, aluminum. You can even get a tool aluminum top with tons of threaded 1/4-20 tapped holes for mounting a work piece but as all beginners get to experience referencing their Z axis incorrectly, the wood is good for starting. (The MDF table will usually get replaced very soon because of all the holes and other ‘mistakes’ that happen.) Yes, the machine will drill into it’s own table very quickly. See the big red button on the front? That’s the emergency stop. Yes, I used it. On my first cut! It works. haha

For those of you thinking about getting one, think long and hard. You have to be part programmer and part engineer. Having some experience around a machine shop doesn’t hurt either. The software alone ran me a tad over $500.00. The bits I have went about $300.00. (Still buying them. The 1/8th and smaller will break real easy if you ‘drag’ one). I’m using a PC 892 for the spindle. (Goodbye $200.00. You will be missed). Add in the price of the machine, with some ordered options, and you’re quickly ‘breathing’ on 4 grand. That’s before you make the first cuts. Ouch. I don’t regret it a bit. Having a quality unit lets me concentrate on learning to run it without as much fear of breaking something.

This weekend, I got around to installing the vacuum foot attachment (That thing around the collet with the brush). It’s hooked to a Grizzly 1hp DC that I practically ‘stole’ from someone. Maybe I’ll blog about that deal sometime. I love it when my friends upgrade things. I don’t mind getting the scraps. Depending on their budget, some scraps are better than my good tools!

Here is a couple of pictures of ‘The Duchess’ in action. She’s doing a test cut into 3/4 inch walnut. The pattern is a floral thing I created and plan to use on the doors of nice curly cherry cabinet re-face job I would like to get done in the next year.

Last is a link to a short video clip. It’s hosted on and you’ll need the Flash Player to watch it.

Here is a link to the video. It was just easier this way. Eventually, I’ll have a gallery of stuff on the blog I’m gradually getting ready for launch. :)

Matt's Awesome Shop Lady, The Duchess. Ain't she a 'stone cold fox'?

I would love to hear your comments or get some discussion going. If you have any questions, fire away! I get all the comments and updates on my iPhone. I’m not really as crazy as I sound. Ok, I am but it’s a ‘good crazy’. haha

Take care guys,

-- Matt - My Websites - - Hand Tools :: - Small Shops

6 comments so far

View kiwi1969's profile


608 posts in 3406 days

#1 posted 03-19-2009 05:58 AM

I used big Morbidelli,s for a few years. I just wonder if you,ll grow out of a bench top model and go for a larger one in a few years time when you realise what they are capable of. Nice unit anyway ,enjoy

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View Matt's profile


181 posts in 3336 days

#2 posted 03-19-2009 06:15 AM

Outgrow it? More than likely! I’m not ruling out a 4 foot+ machine in the next few years. However, I have more than enough various other projects on my list to hold that off for. At least a couple of years!

-- Matt - My Websites - - Hand Tools :: - Small Shops

View 93mwm's profile


59 posts in 3384 days

#3 posted 03-19-2009 07:53 AM

looks like more of a beast than a beauty ;-P

-- mwm! Before you criticise walk a mile in their shoes, and when you do criticise you will be a mile away and have their shoes!

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4278 days

#4 posted 03-19-2009 02:47 PM

So is this a hobby?

View Matt's profile


181 posts in 3336 days

#5 posted 03-22-2009 07:48 PM

It’s a hobby for now. I would be lying if I didn’t say that, ideally, I wouldn’t mind making a little money cutting things for folks. For myself, I like being able to make precision jigs and templates for my other woodworking projects. I want to start cutting some acrylic base plates for my routers and a multitude of other things like that. Maybe an acrylic router table insert. Might be cool.

-- Matt - My Websites - - Hand Tools :: - Small Shops

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4278 days

#6 posted 03-22-2009 07:56 PM

I’ve sure been intrigued by these. The price tag is a little intimidating. The learning curve for this technologically challenge old man is down right frightening. I’d feel more comfortable spending a day with my ex-wife, or doing my taxes!

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