Beginning 1st build

I have been pondering building a CNC setup for a couple years, and have even gathered several parts.

I’m gathering parts and materials for my first MPCNC build. I already have a 3d printer, a ramps 1.4 setup, a Chinese 52mm spindle with ER-11 collet, and a few bits. I had to order a power supply for the spindle, the bearings, and a few other bits, and a couple rolls of PLA(I chose red and black).

I do have a basic knowledge of Arduino, Fusion 360, and CNC in general, but no practical experience other than 6 months 3d printing with pla.

I have been scouring this forum and all other sources I can find for build threads, accessories, suggestions, etc. Just today I learned that in the US, and even here in the hills of Upper East Tennessee, 3/4" conduit is 23.5 mm, so I now know which size parts to print.

So, now you know where I’m coming from. I will be asking a bunch of questions, some may reflect my tender noobness, or a definite lack of proper research, so please be gentle with me. I usually ask questions when I can’t find THE definitive answer or don’t comprehend what I’ve already found or read.

Looking forward to the journey… I don’t know where it will take me, but I plan to enjoy the ride! I don’t even know what I will make with the MPCNC!

Oh, btw, is this the proper forum for noobs like me to ask their questions?

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And for my second question, what is the recommended first build size for someone just learning this system? I realize this system can be scaled up or down by just changing the length of the conduit pieces. think to start, I’d want to plot drawings, or something similarly simple while learning, but would like to easily move to simple sign making or engraving. I really don’t have a feel for how big to make the first iteration. What do you suggest?

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For my first build, I’m going with a 22"x22" MPCNC. It’s tiny, but I think it’ll work. The main reason for choosing that size is that I had an extra wooden end table I wanted to reuse and I don’t have garage for anything larger.

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Welcome Chuck, you’ll fit right in here.

The questions are welcome here. They are usually one thread per topic. If you want to document your build and ask questions while you’re doing it, that might be better in the builds section, but there isn’t strict moderation.

W.r.t. definitive answers, there’s often not one. And in the forums, it’s too easy to send a novice into the woods or patronize an expert, so the answers are often given as a range, or even more commonly, with just more information.

At the bottom, it says that 2’x2’ is a good starting place for wood milling. Keep the depth small like 2-3". Those are build area numbers, not total size. If you really want to do aluminum, you’ll want to make it smaller, and once you make a few things with sheet goods, you’ll want it bigger.

Have fun!

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No way…to fit in your gotta take a little ribbin’. We all make mistakes be sure to share them so we can laugh about it together. Some of the most fun threads are the mistakes, and near fires.

You have read plenty and sounds like just need to get dirty now.

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Thanks or all the responses. You guys in the same boat with me, just jump in. I am a 22 year USAF vet(retired in 1991), so my skin has become quite thick. “Been chewed out by Generals…” as they say. I take criticism well, as long as it is constructive and guiding.

I think I’ll go for 16" x 16" work area for the first build. I can easily expand when I’m ready.

I guess I’m fortunate in that I have a 2 car garage and only 1 car, plus I added an 8’ x 18’ insulated shop on the back of it. I’m isolated enough I don’t have to worry too much about making noise, smoke or dust, but the neighbors do get excited by loud explosions… After all, the closest neighbor bore the brunt of several nuisance complaints to the county Sherrif a few years ago when his teenaged son would play his stereo so loud I couldn’t hear my TV inside my house… But the son is grown and moved out on his own.

I have a home foundry and my small furnace makes lots of noise when running on propane, but there have been no complaints.

My first printed part, the pineapple coupler, is on the printer at the moment.


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I’m looking forward to seeing the final product, Chuck!

Daniel, I’ve printed the 7/16 pineapple coupler and the 4 small roller plates are on the printer now. Only have a small amount of black pla and blue pla on hand, so trying to print the smallest parts firs until new filament arrives…

Hard to judge how much filament is left, as I’ve only printed 2 rolls prior to what I have left. Need to invent, design. or find a good cheap linear measuring device to help keep track of filament useage.

I always use the same stuff so I am getting good a judging whats left but I have a friend that weighs them and writes it on the side then trusts the slicer to make a close guess to what the total weight will be of the part.

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I guess I could weigh the two partial spools and calculate a best guess as to how much is there. I as I said, I’ve only used 2 full spools so far. For those who have used many more spools of PLA, how standardized are the spools from different manufacturers? I only have 1 empty spool on hand, and of the 3 spools I have, no 2 are identical, even though the last 2, the black and blue I’m using came from the same source.

You’ll be unhappy to know that they are inconsistent. Even different sizes for the ID, OD and width. If they look the same, then they might be from the same spool manufacturer though. It’s a better guess than nothing. Unless you want to roll from your spool onto the empty one, just don’t let the end run loose, or you’ll get a tangle. Reminds me of cassette tapes, for some reason.

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Google is my friend… I googled “weight of empty filament spools” an was presented with this page :

Unfortunately, the listed spool weights vary all over the place, and my brands, Makerbot , ZLYTech , and WYZ Works are not listed…

I found this sits also:

Between the two, I mage a “gestimate calculation” that says I might have enough for a couple more parts…


Ain’t that the truth? I’ve got a Prusa clone that has a laser cut wood spool holder mounted above the printer with a set width - every spool I have fit nicely until I ordered a roll of black ABS once that was significantly wider than any other spool I’ve ever seen - had to jerry-rig a way to feed the filament since it wouldn’t fit on the spool holder and freely turn. Since then, I’ve made sure to keep a couple extra empty spools around - if I get an abnormally wide spool now, I simply reload the filament onto the spare. It’s a pain in the butt, but more reliable than trying my jerry-rig again.


I weigh each spool immediately after opening and sharpie the diameter and weight on it. (still check diameter every time I change spools)

I printed the 'TUSH - The Ultimate Spool Holder ’ from Thingiverse. Uses 608 bearings to roll the spool, and the spools sit on rollers on the table behind the printer. Only issue I have had, is when the spools get near the end, the pull of the extruder was enough to move the spools and the rollers around on the table. I fixed that by finding a parametric spool bushing and adding a piece of steel bar stock to the center of the spool for weight.

Well, I was printing the 4 feet, as I thought I had enough black filament left. Turned out I didn’t, and attempted to add the remaining bit of blue while the printer was running(don’t know how to pause with my configuration).

That was a failure, and I shut down the print in disgust!

As I don’t have enough filament to print anything else (on order, still a week to delivery), I will turn my efforts to cutting the Conduit to size. I have a Rigid tube cutter, old fashioned hand held type with rollers. Will that cut EMT?

I’ve decided on a 24" x 24" build size. I plan to start out with plotting, and cutting wood until I feel confident to try more difficult processes…

So, can anyone point me to a good pen holder for Sharpie fine point? Is a spring loaded type pen holder necessary?

It will cut emt. Just make sure it tracks well.

Ryan (allted on thingiverse) has a pen holder with some plastic springiness. The spring is pretty important. I started with a pen rubber banded on to the mpcnc. It worked ok, but it’s not pretty.

I must be getting old! I totally forgot I have a 4x6 bandsaw in the garage. All emt cut to length, including a couple screw-ups where I misread the measuring tape. Ended up using 3 and a part sticks of emt. Took the smaller lengths to my 7x lathe and cleaned up the burrs on the inside and ends. might take the 6 long pieces to my buddy’s shop to clean.

Now what to do? The filament is still about a week away. Oh, got the ramps board, I could load and test that…