MPCNC Router in the Ozarks

I’m going to tell my story and share my build. I’ve been wanting a 3D printer for a long while. Never was able to spend the time to figure them out to build my own and didn’t want to spend bucks on a commercial job. I’ve also been wanting a CNC router for quite a few years. Almost pulled the trigger on an X-Carve but the the Glowforge laser debuted. Got me sidetracked from some time. That is another story, but I lucked out and got an early pre-release so I was able to spend most of a year testing it out. My claim to fame is getting a gig showcasing the Glowforge at Bay Area Maker Faire 2017. What a kick. I met Angus from Maker’s Muse there and decided that I would watch all his videos and see what this 3D printing thing is capable of. So naturally I started watching Tom Sanladerer’s videos. Got impatient for the wait for the production Glowforge so I got a Prusa I3 MK2. Really was blown away at how I could make practical things to fix broken parts around the house. Added a Creality CR-10s to the stable. Having the laser and the 3D printers really allows me to make some neat things. Each has its strong points.

I never gave up on the CNC router thing and actually bought a tinyG and some steppers and messed around with the electronics and was thinking of a home built design. I wanted to understand the electronics and software first because that would be the biggest challenge for me.

I saw Tom Sanladerer’s short interview with Ryan at MRRF 2018 and knew that this was for me. I watched every YouTube on MPCNC I could find and read through the forum posts to get an understanding of how things went together. I had a few other projects to finish up but finally at the new year, I started printing the parts. Ordered the steppers and board from Ryan, sourced the rest as I could. Finally got all the parts I needed and with the help of my nephew and brother on one Saturday put the frame and Z axis up. It’s about 900mm x 900mm from side to side.

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I am not going to go into the problems that came up, they were minor. I can say that I wish I would have bought the wire harness too from Ryan. I had planned on rolling my own connectors, but my DuPont connector and crimper kit I ordered somehow got lost in shipping. So I did a lot of wire splicing and soldering. Amazing they all worked except for one pin that got pulled out of the end terminator for one of the end stops. I ended up putting the pin into the wrong slot of the 3 hole connector. Couldn’t figure out why my dual end stops were showing errors and there was some weird stuff when I tried to home. Got that taken care of. I mounted a pen and was off to figure out Estlcam. This isn’t trivial. I know may way around slicers and basic gcode and I use Onshape for 3D work, but breaking down things into operations is a bit more challenging. I’m still at a 2.0D level of CAM.

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I set up CNC.js and that makes things so much easier with my laptop to control everything. Did my first crowns and was pretty excited it all worked out well enough to make it recognizable. Was still working on my custom mount for a Craftsman multi-purpose rotary tool that I had which would also hold a pen and other such things. Fat sharpies are very forgiving.

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Got everything squared and the end stops tweaked for home and was ready for a good test. So I tried a couple designs that I traced with a pen and then went over with my Glowforge laser. The first with diagonals and circles demonstrates that the MPCNC is at least as accurate as my laser, if only off because I didn’t line up the design quite right.

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The second crown test is even better. Lined everything up. The laser cut perfectly over the CNC-ed crown. The only error is slight runout from the pen mount.

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So really just plugging things in and it works without any fiddling or anything.

Ryan’s design is solid. I still haven’t gotten it dirty. Ordered some endmills today from Ryan’s shop. I have a bunch of pink foam to practice on first. And am doing lots of sharpie art while I figure out Estlcam’s settings.








Awesome. Let’s see… Glow forge, MK3, CR10, MPCNC, Ozarks. You have enough to make your own 4 panel logo out of your maker machines just like the ozarks show!

Seriously though, welcome to the crew. I can’t wait to see your creations.

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I had to finally watch the intro to the series. I have not watched it. Maybe because it hits to close to home, mostly because I would be distracted by differences from the reality. I am at the Lake of the Ozarks where the show’s writer worked during summers at a resort I know well.

It looks like a good first project.

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The series has brought some renewed interest in life at the Lake.



I really enjoyed it. It certainly is not for the faint of heart, and the I can certainly imagine not liking it if you live there. I know I was frustrated whenever I said I was from Colorado in 2017 and the first though was, “legalized marijuana”.

But that show is good, and I like the logos at the begginning. They change each episode.

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…almost there…

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Got my end mills today from Ryan and a cutter tool.

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Printing the holder for the cutter tool now and hope to cut some paper tonight.


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I got my drag knife holder installed and tested. Still getting the Z movement figured out. I crash my head too often. So many buttons to click.

Need to study up on lead ins and how to design for the blade.

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I’ve worked on custom clamps that I can use for different tools like a dial indicator or drag knife.

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I got my t-slot channels yesterday but I still have to finish the torsion box. Don’t have all my woodworking tools at the house as they are at my farm about an hour away and I haven’t gotten out for a few weeks. The holiday weekend will be a big push to get it done and dirty.

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Got my box finished up. Used my Glowforge laser to skin the front plate. It really is handy to have the laser to do precision test cuts for fitment and then have a final, nice faceplate.

I haven’t worked a fan into the box yet, but am trying to scrounge a smaller fan. I have a 3" 12 volt that I can use, but it is a bit big. I really only have to reprint the base and add a bit of Z height in to the board posts. so I can stick the fan underneath the control board.

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Nice control box!


Try my drag knife mount and see if the flex makes things easier, Rigid mounts are not really the way to go with a drag knife unless your table is perfectly flat.

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I was wondering about some spring for the down force. I had looked at your mount and it seemed that it was a rigid setup. On closer look, are your horizontal connectors what is meant to flex?

I can stick a stiff spring up in the tube and screw the cartridge holding the knife up past the threads in my design.

Will print out your mount and see how it works. Thanks.

Yup. Torsion arms that allow motion in only the Z direction (under very minimal deflection). Just try it out, it is a quick print, it might give you some ideas to make a more compliant mount. It has to be able to move in the Z but most other mounts have a hard time allowing that and also constraining in X and Y.

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You can just see it flexing.



Finished the table and rearranged my office workshop to fit the MPCNC.

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Got the t-slots screwed down and spoil board afixed.

Got the router mounted. Going through the gcode Ryan posted for the sides of the display mount. It’s working fine with this router on it, a craftsman trim router.

It’s a bit late so I am waiting to attach the endmill tomorrow and try out some foam. Got the dust collector ready. I think I am set to get it dirty.

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So happy with the build. Very solid and accurate.

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Yes! Nice so glad it is getting some action.

I milled some pink foam and then some cypress. Used Ryan’s gcode. A touch nerve racking. Jogging with a mill attached requires a bit more attention.

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The cypress is perfect for a test piece. It is fine grained but not dense at all. Mills great.

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Goofed up in setting work coordinates. I thought I had it in the right spot to split the edge, but I wasn’t quite there. Let it continue though since I had already messed up a previous attempt in the cypress by moving something into the path of the gantry and that made it lose steps.

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The Craftsman trim router works great. It fits perfect into its cradle. Glad it has a shape that allows for precise vertical position.


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Obligatory first blood. These mills are sharp.

And video of the whole job on YouTube.



Cypress is also pretty rot resistant. Thanks for the tip.

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I really like Your bulid, such a clean and nice colors! Im very impress. Most of US bulids are super clean, I think proper tools there are much cheaper comparing to Europe, so You can affort better tools and of course You earn “bit” more :slight_smile: Hope sometimes will have proper workshop with proper tools.


By the way I know something about “sharp” end mills as well! Remember after job done allways remove it from router! Look at me, just wanted to wipe a table with cloth… (see attachmets for results, dont want to make it big :stuck_out_tongue: )

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Oh my. That is quite the wound. The picture definitely conveys the message. I left my bit on after I was done, just thinking that I should take it off so I don’t snag it on anything and snap it. Did not think that it is a hazard waiting to attack. I will make it my practice from no on to take the mill off when I am finished. Getting into the habit from the start should be good.

I definitely doubled the cost of my build getting the table built like this. About $125 for the plywood, conduit, and screws. Then I added the t-slots and removable spoil board. The aluminum was $40. I used threaded inserts to receive the bolts for attaching the spoil board. That was $30 for inserts.

Special tools were a new USB solder pen. That really works great. I had bought it in preparation for this build. Then I spend basically what the whole build cost buying a Dewalt sliding bevel compound miter. I had been saving up for it so that is quite the expensive tool. Even buying the conduit cutter was an expense, but it really does a great job.

Buying cable wrap and a box of shrink wrap and a big box of metric cap head bolts and nuts. It all adds up.

Finally I spent close to $100 on endmills.

Oh, and I bought a new shop vac.

I wish I would have kept all the receipts to give a total cost. It adds up quick.

I used a lot of gift cards to the hardware store, so that helped.

At least I didn’t have to buy a router. I had this one that I bought practically brand new at a garage sale for $25.

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Can you at least share where the garage was to help other people?!? :smiley:

I usually raise the router up so it doesn’t stick out, but I have a Low Rider, so thats easier to do.

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Impressive…! So much money was spent on Your MPCNC. To be honest, I’m totally different man. I spend maybe 60 pounds (about $ 75) for the whole machine and table. The most expensive were stepper motors :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Most of the parts come from scrap from the workplace. Like: scrap timbers, scrap board, coundits (recovered from an old machine they want to scrap). I asked my boss to order bearings to avoid tax (I want to pay for parts, but he gave me as a gift), wires I had from scrapped electrical boxes.

So I spend money only on filament, stepper motors, drv8825 and lcd for mks gen l.

I had a Katsu router arleady (I never wanted to spend so much on Makita, while Katsu works well and is 4x cheaper than makita), I arleady had a Mks gen L. Nuts, bolts and screws were for free :slight_smile:



What soldering iron do You have? I have TS100 and it is so lovely. I made adapter fit to DeWalt 18V batteries, it heat up to 350 in about 3-5 sec.


Edit: And there is difference between all clean builds (expensive) and builds like mine to cut costs as much as we can :smiley:


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