View Full Version : My 3 Axis 3D CNC Machine with 4th Axis

03-30-2011, 04:25 PM
Will be posting pictures of my machine, I followed the plans of one on instructables.com

Mine has a 6" x 6" x 5 1/8" cutting area. The plans called for only 2"; z travel, but I modified it so that it would accept up to 5 1/8" objects; due to the design. This is my first machine and I was still learning, so I didn't change too many things due to the in experience, but now, if I could start over, I'd make it better. The parts for this machine were cut in the last few months before the end of my senior year at my highschool; I do not own much equipment other than: drill press with laser pointer, hand drills, chop saw, bandsaw, hand router, disc and belt sander, table top grinder, powered hand planer. I started building this machine during spring break of 2010, had to take time off of it due to summer jobs, then college came around, but January 2011 i have fewer classes, warmer weather, and more time to work on the machine, to get it finished and to finally MAKE SOMETHING!
Just a small intro; will post pictures soon.

The credit for the initial design of the machine goes to Honus; member of Instructables.

03-30-2011, 07:17 PM
Some of those pictures were pretty old. Here's a model of the machine that i made in sketchup. As you can see i also drew up a possible 4th axis arrangement.

As you can see the table is short, and causes the lathe chuck to take up some of the cutting area; but dont worry, when i was cutting out the parts, i made preporations to have an attachable lathe, so i cut out tables that were longer: 8" x 6" instead of the usual 6" x 6" table.

This will give me the area i need to be able to mount the lathe without compromising the amount of machine able area.

Also note that the size of the spindle isn't correct, the dremel i have will be longer.

03-30-2011, 09:51 PM
Awesome job! Glad to see your level of "git 'r done" in High School. It seems to me you are well in the minority in that regard.

Stick to it!!!

03-30-2011, 10:00 PM
Awesome job! Glad to see your level of "git 'r done" in High School. It seems to me you are well in the minority in that regard.

Stick to it!!!

The aluminum flex couplers i ordered finally arrived from 2weeks standard shipping!!! One step closer to victory!!!, but the last few weeks of college is upon me so i need to stay focus on that, then i have all the time i need in the 4 month summer! WOOO!

03-30-2011, 10:31 PM
Dust Box for cnc machine. I still deciding whether or not i need one.

Just bought this Playstation 2 aluminum case for $8 brand new! i can even put my powersupply on the left, and keep the driver board safe in the right compartment!

03-30-2011, 10:38 PM
Here are some of the ideas i have to mount the Dremel tool to my machine.

03-31-2011, 12:56 AM
What CAM software do you have in mind to generate your g-code for 3d?
Also by mounting the rotary axis on your table I think you may run into trouble due to the added weight on one end causing your x or y to bind or flex the rails.

03-31-2011, 01:04 AM
I'm just going to be using Heekscnc, or Cambam for now and see what i can do before i commit to other software. Also taking a look at the CNC Tookit for Gmax/3dsmax for the 4th axis gcode.

03-31-2011, 03:08 PM
Awesome job! Glad to see your level of "git 'r done" in High School. It seems to me you are well in the minority in that regard.

Stick to it!!!

Well, none of my friends believed id actually make it, can't wait till I get to prove them wrong; especially my brother that for some reason has a grudge against cnc machines, and rather buy one of those makerbot 3D printers.

08-19-2011, 04:22 AM
Finally finished the machine. I'm using a HobbyCNC Pro driver board, 35v 10A powersupply, 3 Amp Nema 23 steppers. A Dremel 4000 as the spindle, and i have 2 1/8" carbide endmills (one flat end, and one ball nose) for now.

It can cut balsa wood with a clean finish. This machine is for more 3D applications instead of the usual Plywood cutting tables.

I already have the designs for adding a 4th Axis using a 3" mini wood lathe chuck from Grizzly.

First CNC Test Cuts on wood Balsa Woo! - YouTube

First CNC Test Cuts on wood Balsa Woo! 2 - Second view of machine - YouTube

First CNC Test Cuts on wood Balsa Woo! 3 - Faster Feedrate - YouTube

08-20-2011, 03:08 AM
Here are some better photos. i realized i didnt have any real life pictures of it posted :o


Using a 1/8" Carbide endmill

Still working out some of the kinks. Turns out the Idle Current reduction circuit in the driverboard causes the z axis to lag and doesnt move up (i requires a coordinate to start the current up again, and then another to actually move, but if it is just one code ie. z +0.05 , then it just makes wierd noise and doesnt move; which causes it to be too low, and when the command tells it to go down again (to the next step down level), it ends up going too far since the computer THINKS that it is higher than it actually is.

Solution: disable the idle current reduction using Jumper #4. Jumper #4 dont need to be used on the x and y axis since they are moving alot more than the z axis, and dont gain anything by having the reduction on, since it never gets activated, since those axis are always moving within 10 seconds.

08-20-2011, 03:15 AM
I need to purchase a good shop power bar so that i dont have to stretch 4 extension cords around the side of the house.

08-20-2011, 04:24 AM
Hey, Great job!! I love what you did with the PS2 case!
Keep posting on what progress you make, I'd love to hear of some more ideas.

Don't be hatin on the Makerbot printers :p:p JK Just let your brother know that's a CNC machine too since it is computer controlled. he he

I'm working one a dust case for my Zentoolworks cnc this week. It'll look something like this.

08-23-2011, 12:42 AM
Great machine! I'm looking forward to seeing the 4th axis.

08-24-2011, 02:26 AM
How are you holding down that piece of Balsa? And what controller software are you running there?

08-24-2011, 06:16 PM
How are you holding down that piece of Balsa? And what controller software are you running there?

Simple double sided tape, it's actually very strong, you have to pry the wood apart with your hands to get it off.

I'm using EMC2 v2.4.4 with a HobbyCNC Pro 4 Axis Driver Board.

3Amp 125oz-in Nema 23 Steppers connected by 6 pin CB Radio plugs and 7 Feet long 6C 22Awg wire.

Spindle is a Dremel 4000 using a 1/8" Center cutting Endmill (1.5" total length with 0.5" Cutting Edge). Rpm is set to around 10,000rpm.

Feed rate at 20ipm.

Order of 100% free g-code creation:

Sketchup model-->STL Export Plugin-->HeeksCNC-->EMC2-->HobbyCNC Pro 4Axis Driver Board--> Stepper Motors-->Threaded Rod-->Table and Spindle Movement--> 3 Dimensional Object Milled.


08-30-2011, 02:06 AM
Here's a design of the 4th-Axis that i made a couple months ago.

I've used multiple Thrust bearings, Regular Roller skate type bearings, and Love-Joy couplers to make a system that will keep stress from effecting the stepper motor. Bearings support the stepper motor's shaft, and also that of the lathe chuck.

I will be using multiple layers of HDPE (about 1" thick or 3/4" Thick) for which i will mount the bearings and stepper motor.

Thrust bearings will keep the lathe chuck from moving horizontally

Here's the parts setup:

Thankyou for your interest.


01-10-2012, 01:24 AM
Hello again. Haven't been on for a while as i've been busy with school.

Here is the mount i designed for the 4th axis addon:


On the left, you can see a very shallow counter-bore. That is where the face of the stepper motor will rest. On the right, is a deeper counter-bore, where part of the lathe chuck will rest.

As you can see it is quite simple. I will be using 4 pieces of 3/4" HDPE or UHMW bolted together to make a 3" thick block where the bearings and couplers will sit. It is required to be made out of sheet, and not one solid block of plastic, due to the difference sizes of the parts; the bearings and couplers, you need access to the inner compartments.

I still have yet to come up with a way to program 4 axis g-code for this lathe attachment to be any use what-so-ever. Out of all the 100% free cam programs, Heekscnc is the best, but the problem is that even though it is Open Source, I do not have the programming skills required to create my own addon for the program. A shame.


01-10-2012, 09:14 PM
3D Face Rough Cuts

Not the best quality i know.


The balsa wood doesn't have that great of a resolution for the size of the object. Going to use Pine for the next test material.