View Full Version : Additions/Modifications to David Steele's Solsylva CNC

01-04-2007, 10:18 AM
I was just reading the thread Joe2006 Build by dighsx and really enjoyed his video and his tips on his build of the Joe2006 machine. I thought this would be a good place to start a thread on tips for the Solsylva CNC. I know a lot of people have modified their Solsylva machines that could help the rest of us beginners.

This is my tip:
I have cut a piece of 1/2" cold water thin wall pvc pipe down one edge to just make an opening to slip over the leadscrews. After cutting the pipe I run a piece of sandpaper down the cut edges to make sure there was not any rough spots for the lead nut to catch on. The 1/2" is just large enough to cover the leadscrews and also have enough room for the lead nut to run through. The pvc definitely protects the threads from damage and also keeps the dust from collecting on them. The length of the pipe has to be exact as the only thing holding it in place is just the pressure of the pipe between the ends of the gantry. It is easy to slip the pipe over the lead nut and threaded rod if the router in run all the way to one end of the carriage. I have run my machine for hours and have not had any problems. I have included pictures and a link to see exactly what I am talking about. I left some of my wires down to show that the pvc pipe could also be a safety device to keep the moving parts of the threaded rods enclosed. Could possibly keep something from getting entangled in the leadscrews.

Hopefully more people will add their hints, tips and suggestions to this thread.

link: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4034696960954784815

01-04-2007, 11:28 AM
that is a good tip for people, i know if you reach over a machine and have a loose shirt on it can get tangled in the leadscrew and wrap around it and you will loose steps and mess up your part (Ask me how I know)... lol

I see you are cutting the end pieces of my CNC Model 2006, looks cool it prob. took a little while to cut them.


01-04-2007, 10:05 PM
Thats a great idea... I'll try to work it into my build.

Don't have any how-to mods from my machine yet, but they will be described in my build log here...


01-17-2007, 04:47 PM
Come on guys, not getting much help here. I know a lot of you have modified your Solsylva machines. I have seen many by looking around the different threads on this forum. This thread was for all of us to be able to look up changes in this one thread without searching through the whole forum. Enter your changes -good or bad. The readers can decide whether they want to change their machines or not. I see a lot of folks making a new build and this would definitely help them. They might add our changes from the beginning of their build and not have to modify their machines later.

I have added another modification to mine. I added a 1x6" shelf over the end of the machine to cover the x-axis motor, belts, and pulleys. This basically serves the same purpose as the pvc pipe in the #1 thread - to protect the belts and pulleys from us and to protect us from the belts and pulleys. I made a groove lengthways in the 1x6 to make sure the belts or pulleys did not ride on the board. I have attached a few pictures to help describe what I am talking about.

01-17-2007, 05:07 PM
Doug, first great idea and great thread. I can see this becoming a valuable resource.

Second, :cheers: thanks for sharing your ideas. Im building at the moment and will likely incorporate them into my machine.

I dont have any alterations yet except for one that didnt work! :( I suggest that people dont try to make their own hex coupler nuts by welding regular nuts together! It doesn't work...:mad:

I know a few others have great suggestions. Buzz made a selection of removable mounting plates for his Z carriage to allow him to use router/pen/touch probe etc and just change the plate quickly and easily. Im probably going to incorporate something similar into my build. I'll direct him to this thread, but if he hasn't posted when Im finished I'll surely put up a picture of my alterations.


01-17-2007, 05:18 PM
I really have to remember my digicam, i made a lot of mods, mainly a whole new base for it and replaced leadscrew with trapezium. But its easier to show with some pictures. Be right back:-)

01-17-2007, 11:32 PM
I have only done a couple of small mods. One is a place to keep my wrench for my router. The next thing I did was drill a couple of holes to keep my bits in. I use only 1/8 and 1/4 right now so I only drilled one hole for each. I had backlash in my Y axis and wanted an AB nut. What I did was buy a 1/2 coupler and a couple of set screws. I drilled and tapped the set screws for 5/16. This size still alows you to use an allen wrench to install the set screws. The nut is now big enough that when you drill the mounting holes you do not have to worry about the screws hitting your leadscrew. I then just drilled and tapped a couple of holes to run in a screw to lock down the 1/2 setscrews. It was kind of a pain to set up and it had to be "broke in" but once done it works great.


01-18-2007, 10:08 AM
Both good ideas.

thanks Dwayne

01-23-2007, 12:53 PM
My build is a Joe's type but using the dual screw belt drive (ala Solsylva) on the X, ACME 1/2-10 screws.

The woodworking parts of my construction and are largely complete and assembled, Z screw in-place, now working on the X and Y screws and drive mounting.

In considering the pulley arrangement it occurred to me that you should be able to squeeze more speed out of these things with a different pulley diameter ratio... a bigger gear at the motor. I accept there must be a torque tradeoff.

I remember reading a post about a two start screw being faster, don't know what a 2 start screw looks like but I'd have to assume it has a coarser pitch.

So is that workable?

One thing I have done on my tabletop that may be of interest is to include a 3"x12" opening so I can work the ends of boards, for example dovetails or fingerjoints. May not work but it's worth a try ain't it? I incorporated "T" nuts (went with 1/4-20 but should've gone heavier) inside the opening to accept threaded rod type clamping from the front of the machine.


01-23-2007, 07:12 PM
I thought about the dual screw on a Joe's router. Do you have any pictures?


01-23-2007, 08:28 PM

Not yet, probably won't make any significant progress for another week... still figuring it out really. I'll keep you in mind.


01-23-2007, 10:02 PM
I have received my Solsylva plans but haven't started building. I don't know a thing about cnc besides what I've been reading on here the last couple of weeks so this might sound either stupid or just too obvious but I'll throw it out anyway. Keep in mind that I have no intention of trying this, at least not until I become a pro like some of you guys on here. How hard would it be to install a lathe spindle or even a stepper driven 'spindle' on the x axis on this machine. Since the cutting table is open with the outboard driven gantry, it seem like one could raise the supported EMT rails to allow the gantry to clear a workpiece down the center of the x axis. Place some bearings on both end of the crossbars and rig up something to hold a round piece of stock for a simple cnc lathe. Better yet, add another stepper motor to allow you to turn any work piece into position as directed. Sorry if this is ridiculous.

01-24-2007, 12:32 AM
Anything is do-able...all you need is time and money. What I have found on my Sosylva is that working down inside a frame is not the most comfortable. You could add spacers and raise it if you wanted but on this machine it might be easier to have an open bottom and set the machine over what you want to add. I really think you ought to use this machine to build and become familiar with the whole CNC process. Then build a machine of your design specific to your needs. You will be suprised how much you learn doing just that.


01-25-2007, 11:29 PM
I have lots of alterations that I have done to the table. You can monitor them at http://www.cncmachine.phillipsfamily.ca.

The machine is still heavily under construction and will probably not be completed for atleast another month.

01-26-2007, 06:23 PM
My alterations thus far are not very neat, nor very impressive, but they make a big differance to my table.

First I had built as per the plan measurements, and this didnt leave me with enough space under my spindle. So I simply made leg extensions out of 3/4" MDF blocks which can be added to or taken away as the need arises. Im using 1.5" of extension as standard. The second pic shows my table bed, and sacrificial board, and workpiece in place, which still leaves my spindle with plenty of room.

Next one I cant take credit for. Its a standard method used and Buzz mentioned it to me. I made a sacrificial board for my table and machined it to level. Its held to my bed using some screws and washers sunken into it so that the screws were out of the way when surfacing.

01-29-2007, 08:55 AM
The sacrifice board is usually the board you do your over cut into to alot cutting all the way through the workpiece, since you machines a new flat surface, why not attach the sacrify board to that piece, This way you do not need to machine the sacrifice board everytime. Maybe thats what you are doing and just called that machined piece the sacrifice board by mistake?


08-14-2007, 04:36 AM
This is a late posting but I have only just finished this router and have decided to share my mod's as it might giver someone else some idea's
Here are the changes I have made to my Solsylva router.
The first photo shows the largest mod which is the dual Y drive axis has been replaced with a single center drive similar to the Joes router (I had spent most of my money on the Xylotex stepper motors and some magic beans so didn't have enough for the belt drive). Photo 3 shows the torsion box under the table and in the middle can just be seen the support for my homemade antibacklash nut.

This also paved the way for the removal of the single most annoying thing about this design. The board that the Y axis motor mounts to. If I hadn't put the router on a table I wouldn't have had this problem, but as soon as I did I could no-longer see what I was doing. I had always planed to put it on a table so it was no problem. Photo 4 shows how I was able to remove the front without causing the side to flap about.

Picture 2 shows A peice of 2" square timber with a 1" grove cut in it. The cables have been cable tied half way along it and it keeps the cables tidy as the Z axis moves along the gantry. It works very well and cost alot less than energy chain. This also serves to add stiffness to the gantry.

So has these mod's helped?

The main problem with going single drive on the Y axis is racking. This has been eliminated by the Torsion box under the table, the addition of corner blocks visible in photo 1 between the X rail and the Y bearings. Also the blocks placed on top of this and then the wooden cable support put on top of this.

The mods have also improved speed allowing me to reach 53" per minute cutting speed which is the most these motors will run at using a 10mm lead screw at 1/8 setting on the motors. At a later date I will try 1/4 stepping and see how fast it will really go.

Without a doubt this machine is really good and I am well pleased with it. (Untill my next one ;))

Hope this helps.

04-08-2008, 05:53 PM
Early days on my build (link (http://www.cnczone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=55512)) but the two changes I am going to make are:

- Overall reduction of the width and length of the machine. This is essentially the next sized belt down in the range available from Stock Drive Products. It makes the machine a few inches narrower and therefore compatible with the boot of my (second) trusty Vauxhall Cavalier

- Mounting the x-axis drive motor at the back of the machine. This will hopefully keep the drivebelt out of the way of my pinkies. It will also be integrated into the base. The castors I have to fit are slightly taller than the motor assembly height, so it will be possible to wheel the machine vertically with the motor spindle clear of the ground.

That's it for now!

04-13-2008, 05:46 AM
Hi Everyone,

Another mod has recently been made to my machine shown in post 17 of this Thread. After a bit of usage of my machine I noticed that Racking had returned, although it caused no problem when cutting. More importantly I found my X Axis was not square to my Y Axis and no amount of persuasion would adjust this. Had I made mine dual leadscrew I would not have had either problem but there is no point crying over spilt milk. I do not regret removing the front board that the Y axis motor sits on and if i was to build another I would still remove it even though it caused me problems.

Fortunately I came across the thread below which uses wire and pulleys to both square and stop racking on the the X Axis. I will not reproduce the mod here as it is better explained in the link below and is well worth reading from start to finish.

Needless to say the installation of this mod has fixed my problems (Even though I caused them.)

Posts about my machine start at post 57