Homebuilt CNC Router #3: Routing Large Mortises

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Blog entry by SPalm posted 04-14-2008 10:26 PM 16137 reads 9 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Simpler, Stronger, Prettier Part 3 of Homebuilt CNC Router series no next part

OK, I had 8 rather large mortises to cut for the feet and top of the trestles for a new workbench and thought my little tool would come in handy. It did a handsome job, so I thought I would share. I also did my first video, just the camera on a tripod, 5 minutes of routing. Boring unless you like this sort of thing.

I thought this would be a good time to explain some of the things that need to be decided, even for something this simple. Unlike hand routing, you actually have to state how fast and how deep to plunge, what the step-over or overlap is, and whether to climb or conventional cut.

So I chose: 1 inch per second feed rate, 1/2 inch per second plunge rate, 1/3 inch plunge per pass, 2 inch final depth, 40% step-over, and conventional. So routing a 2”x2.5”x2” mortise takes about 2.5 minutes each. I could push it faster, but it is actually removing quite a bit of wood even at this rate.

This is called Pocket routing, as opposed to Raster (carving), VCarve (signs), or Profile (cutting out) routing. I took off the dust skirt so you could see it work and hand held the vacuum.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

13 comments so far

View gator9t9's profile


331 posts in 3704 days

#1 posted 04-14-2008 10:38 PM

Pretty Darn neat …..oh yes ….
Mike Bonney Lake

-- Mike in Bonney Lake " If you are real real real good your whole life, You 'll be buried in a curly maple coffin when you die."

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3988 days

#2 posted 04-14-2008 10:39 PM

Very cool!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 3798 days

#3 posted 04-14-2008 10:57 PM

extremely cool

-- making sawdust....

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 3991 days

#4 posted 04-14-2008 11:00 PM

:) Cool

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View Max's profile


56000 posts in 4272 days

#5 posted 04-14-2008 11:00 PM

That is really slick…..

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3768 days

#6 posted 04-14-2008 11:46 PM

wow that is amazing. fantastic job!!!!

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3821 days

#7 posted 04-15-2008 12:05 AM


This is great. You have done well with this.

Thanks for sharing.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View jm82435's profile


1285 posts in 3741 days

#8 posted 04-15-2008 03:07 AM

Like staring into a fire, there is something mesmerizing about watching a CNC run. You have two motors driving your Y axis. Is this for rigidity? Does each require its own stepper controller? Where did you get your leadscrews and ant-backlash nuts? You are obviously a Vcarve Pro user now, have you used other Cam Software? Bobcad for example? We use EdgeCam at work ($$$), my buddy uses Bobcad. I am just getting my feet wet with my router (the 3 axis are moving- no spindle yet (I have a sharpie road runner ha ha)(still working up to a spiro-graph speaking of cool software)). For the capability and price points Vectric looks like a great deal. I can’t wait to try them out (the different Vectric flavors – Photo looks really cool). I love your design, I especially like the vertical vise on the end.

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

View Karson's profile


35121 posts in 4400 days

#9 posted 04-16-2008 03:10 AM

Great job. Cool video.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View greener's profile


5 posts in 3644 days

#10 posted 08-01-2008 04:57 AM

I knew that I recognized that name (spalm) from the cnczone. Great machine, thanks for sharing. I got mine finished and I’ve been playing with alot of the same sort of things. I’ll have to add some blog post of things that I’ve been playing with.

Nice to know that your here as well.


View jm540's profile


150 posts in 3418 days

#11 posted 02-27-2009 03:40 AM

I have been watching a guy I found googling build your own cnc router is this the same machine

-- jay Rambling on and on again

View Matt's profile


181 posts in 3372 days

#12 posted 03-04-2009 04:43 PM

I imagine he’s using 2 steppers on the Y-axis to avoid racking. My machine has belt drives and two motors on the Y. Fast, fast. Good job. Want to trade notes some time? I’m still a rookie at the CNC.

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

View Pete Jansen's profile

Pete Jansen

250 posts in 2921 days

#13 posted 06-27-2010 05:29 PM

He uses two motors on the “X” axis, the long one. You don’t need dual motors on the Y. It’s is a very nice machine for sure. Working on my second now.

-- Lovin' sawdust in beautiful Fort Collins, Colorado

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