My 36x45 Build

I began my MPCNC adventure just over a month ago. For several months, I was contemplating getting either the Shapeoko or the X-Carve for my personal makerspace. Originally, I just wanted something to have around to prototype a few parts and maybe mill some PCBs and maybe build some project kits for the cub scouts in my den. Then I kept telling myself that for a little more money I could go bigger. Originally I didn’t have plans to build anything bigger than the palm of my hand, I kept telling myself all of the things I could build and I didn’t want to limit myself. While doing my research and watching what others were doing, I stumbled across the MPCNC. Soon enough, I came up with the conclusion that I could build one bigger than the largest kit, include a laser, and build that new work bench I “needed” for less than the cheapest 12x12 X-Carve.

Once I decided to build, I pondered printing the parts myself, but I am impatient. Being a father of 6 that works a 9-5 with a 2 hour commute, it would take me more than a month to print. I also didn’t want to hunt down all of the right nuts and bolts or order everything individually off the internet and pay shipping for everything. The cost was a wash, so I ordered all of that from Vicious. Everything arrived within a couple of days, but I still didn’t decide on what size I wanted to build. I watched a ton of videos and looked at different things that others have made with their own CNC routers. Looking at the freezer door of my refrigerator one night, I thought that would a be a good size.

I set out to design a new work bench for my garage that would not just hold the machine, but also give me other space to work. My current work space consists of some shelves that have a surface where I use other tools and I can do soldering. One is a makeshift work bench that is made up of an old entertainment center and an old door for a table. I decided to incorporate that door into my plans where I could put it on a hinge and put it up if I needed more space. I also wanted it portable and I rent my house, so I wanted something easy to take down should I move. I ended up building a 36x80 workbench on wheels and will have a fold out door/table extension. I grew the original size for the plans of my MPCNC with this design.

I’ve pretty much limited my build time to weekends and wanted to share some of my progress. I have the main part of my workbench built, I still need to add the flip up extension. I have the hardware in place and started working on the electronics. Currently, I have the Y-Axis wired up, and should have all 3 axis wired up tomorrow.

The biggest build obstacles I had were…

  1. The conduit I bought was heavily galvanized and was thicker making everything tighter so I had to sand the parts a bit to fit.
  2. After about 2 weeks, 3 of my Roller F pieces cracked and I had to reprint. (I don't know if it was the drop in temperature, extra moisture in the air, the tighter fit or what)

Here are some pics of my build progress…

more pics

So the roller cracks are from over tightening the locks and the 1.25" bolts. Neither need to be very tight. The cross bars aren’t going anywhere and I would bet that the machine would actually work fine without the roller locks. Knowing how tight you have those I suggest you go around the whole machine and loosen all of the bolts and screws. Nothing on this machine needs to be tight at all. As counter intuitive as it sounds, most of the parts work better loose.

If I can get myself a larger work space I want to build a machine about this size maybe a touch bigger. I really want to give the plasma cutter a try and make some giant signs and things.

These were fairly loose and the cracks were not there until over a week later. The tops of the bolts were more flush than the bottoms which had a fairly decent sized gap. I have the nuts just tight enough to lock with the nylon. While moving the axis back and forth, a few nuts wiggled loose and fell out. I may just try some lock tite. Maybe with the bot heads being flush made it too tight.

I do not have those gaps on the middle Z assembly. Should those be that loose as well?

I did have a mad scientist moment where I wanted to build one large enough to carve out custom doors. (Imagine the money one could make!) Then I had to tell myself to slow down. I already went bigger than what I needed for circuit boards.

Video G Code Sharpie
I finally got some g code loaded. Set a bit too deep and sharpie was getting worked, but it’s a start. I hope to cut some foam this weekend, wood after that, and then the laser setup.

Here are some up close images of my build. For those not quite sure about how to hook something up, I hope these are helpful.

Up Close Build Images