Playing with CNC Machines

Seems I’m becoming a bit enamored with CNC machinery. I’ve used the Tormach CNC Mill and WaterJet at the TechShop for several projects. I just love the precision and ease with which I can fabricate what’s needed. There’s just something very satisfying about directing a 50,000 psi water and garnet spray at a piece of stainless steel to cut out shapes.

Using a WaterJet to cut an old saw blade into the based for a fire column.

It would be fabulous to have these machines in my studio but it’d be rather cost prohibitive to make that happen right now. So in the mean time, I’ll start playing with CNC systems on a much smaller scale.

My first foray is to build a ShapeOko CNC mill. I received the kit from Inventables and started assembling it almost as I was pulling the pieces from the box. A couple of days later, I had a running CNC machine!

Of course, it wasn’t without issues. Seems that I wired the Y axis motor incorrectly and it moved backwards!

Much better but I did notice that the left side of the carriage drags a bit since the drive is only on the right side. I think I can add a second stepper motor to the left side to provide direct drive instead of transferring the movement across the carriage. Should be easy enough to do…

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