View Full Version : A Lionclaw build (kit)

02-01-2007, 09:48 PM
After attempting to do a Joe 2 without sufficent tools and even less time, I cratered and bought Lionclaws Kit. Joe spoke very highly of the kit and since my budget is tight, it definitely fit.

My kit arrived this past Monday (1/29) after a looong ship via UPS. The driver must have used every truck stop between CA and PA.

I pulled the box into the kitchen right at the end of dinner (my wife thinks I am nuts) and cracked it open. I was caught off guard by the peanuts, but they attracted my sons (1 and 3) like moths to lamps over the highschool football stadium. 2 hours, 2 garbage bags and a vaccum full peanuts later, I still had not recovered the remaining stryofoan pieces from the kitchen. The kids definitely had fun, but I will certainly NOT do that again.

The kit itself is now in my basement with most of the torsion boxes dry fitted. I really like the look and weight of the Birch plywood. The MDF I was cutting really put out the dust and certainly added up the weight.

I will be begin the build in earnest this weekend and will keep a log posted here.

Many thanks to Lionclaw for his hard work and an excellent design.

Brian G.

02-02-2007, 11:08 AM
Hey Brian,

Good luck with your build. I just finished a Lionclaw, I cut the parts out on my JGRO. I agree, Lionclaw did an excellent job designing the machine, my hats off to him.


02-02-2007, 04:41 PM
Looking forward to following you build. I'am thinking of building one myself.

02-03-2007, 03:11 PM

I have the Prototype of Lionclaw's Router. Unfortunately, I haven't done any building yet as SWMBO (She who must be obeyed) had other plans (orders) for my time.

I'm now finished most of these and will start building next week--I willbe following your progress with bated breath<G>!


02-03-2007, 10:13 PM
I have been waiting all week and I finally got a chance to work on the kit. Got a good 6 hours in (including the father/son trip to Lowes). Due to the normal Dear interruptions, I was surprised at my progress.

Had a few snafus. I started with the Y axis torsion box. I was a bit slow on the assembly and everything was tight. As a result, the skins did not seat as well as I wanted because the glue was setting up quickly. This might need a rework in the future. Time will tell.

The lower gantry torsion box has 3 long rail - of course, I did not put the one with the bolt patterns in the middle. I guess I will be figuring out how to drill holes inside of the box.

The rest went together surprisingly easy. I had a finish nailer that I used to secure things as I went. This really helped with the X Axis Torsion box. Tacking the ribs at the end made a huge difference is keeping everything together. Wish I brought the nailer out for the Y axis.

Lionclaw adds caution when assembling the gantry panels. I had slippage on the first one and had to pull the nails out. When I got to the second one, I used some of my 1/4 inch bolts to hold the pieces together and true. worked like a charm. Used the same technique on the machine supports.

I always get some purchase wrong and today was not exception, I looked at the 1/2 inch gas pipe at Lowes and doubled checked the lengths. when I was sure of the length, I grabbed one out of the rack and checked it for true on the floor. When I got home, I tried to lay it into my finished Y axis, only to find I grabbed a 3/4 inch pipe. Bah.

One item I was surprised, the kit calls for several 4" pan head screws. Checked 2 stores already and the longest they carry is 3". What a drag. Off to HD tomorrow to check thier racks and back to lowes to switch the pipe. I think I will also pick up a sheet of Birch to make the X deck out of. I was going to use MDF, but the wood looks too good.

I really like the wood Lionclaw used. I am temped to simply coat the thing in Polyurethane. After doing a crappy job on the Y axis I had second thoughts. Probably will do it anyway since painting has its own hassles. Can't be afraid to show a wart or two (so long as it works).

All in all - I am happy. Time to order the electronics now.

Brian G.

02-04-2007, 06:48 PM
I am skinning my X torsion box. Lionclaw notes in his directions that when cutting this out of a 4X8 sheet, the top can use a single sheet and the bottom (unseen piece) can be pieced.

I am curious whether this will deafeat the torsion design if I simply butt the boards. Its my understanding that the lower skin will be in tension and therefore any seams would be a break in the skin. Since the top would be in compression this could easily be a pieced together skin. Acstetically (sp), this would not look as nice but it would be stronger.

Am I reading this right or does it matter?


Brian G.

02-04-2007, 07:26 PM
I haven't looked closely at the design, but for a torsion box to work properly you need 1 piece skins on both sides.

02-04-2007, 10:06 PM
Or join the pieces properly.

02-04-2007, 10:08 PM
I haven't looked closely at the design, but for a torsion box to work properly you need 1 piece skins on both sides.

Andy actually specifies a full sheet on both sides in his design. There was a comment in his instructions about conserving material when cutting a full sheet in his manual.

I was thinking that you could actually do this so long as the pieced sheet was on top (and less pleasing to look at). I believe that in most circumstances, the top skin is in compression and therefore the pieces would squeeze together and not comprise the concept. After thinking about it more, since there is alot of motion and mass being thrown around, this probably is not entirely true. Good thing is I have a full sheet of MDF in the shop I can make a full skin out of for the bottom. Its just been too cold out there this week to do anything.

Thanks for the reply Ger

Brian G.

02-04-2007, 10:11 PM
Or join the pieces properly.

I thought about pulling out my bisquit joiner but figured I would botch the job. I also thought about lap joining the boards, but then since this thing is out of view, MDF will take less time and not be readily noticeable.

Brian G.

02-11-2007, 08:17 PM
A headcold slowed me down the past week. I did finish the base and test assembled the gantry.

I skinned the bottom side of the table with 1/2" MDF. I was really amazed at how stiff this thing is now. I will definitely use more torsion boxes in the future. For the pipe rails, dumpster diving a nearby business on a sunday night netted 60' or so of schedule 120 galvanized 1" pipe. This stuff is dead on straight and very smooth. I haven't epoxied it in yet but the ribs hold these in tight without it.

The 1/2" rails for the Y axis when dry fitted are very tight as well. I am tempted to just leave these be and not epoxy them.

I plan on building the bearing rails this week on my lunch hour. One of my nearby operations has a grinder and drill press I can use.

I received all my other parts and electronics (still waiting for the AB nuts). The electronics are worrying me. I never really assembled anything electronic so this is my achilles heel. The Hobbycnc board seems easy. I took an old sound board and was playing with it removing some parts to get a feel for the heat from a 25 watt iron. For the life of me, I could not get the solder to melt consistently and as a result heated up the components. Perhaps a 35 watt iron would be better.

I will probably daisy chain to ATX power supplies as noted elswhere. I have one 200 watt unit (another dumpster find) and am on the hunt for a matching unit. For a computer, I plan to use an old pentium with the Ebuntu / EMC2 software. I always wanted to try Linux and figured this is a good time.

Time to rest up and hopefully see something turning within 2 weeks.

Brian G.

02-13-2007, 04:47 AM
It looks like you're making good progress Brian.

As you've probably noticed, the pipes for the Y rails don't necessarily have to be epoxied into place. I didn't epoxy them on my current machine, but they do shift ever so slightly in the grooves if enough pressure is applied to the Z carriage.

I just finished the new Y torsion box on my new machine last night, and I did epoxy the rails in after painting the box. If you go this route, I would highly recommend you epoxy the rails one at a time. Use an epoxy with a 5-minute or longer hardening time. I used a tooth pick to apply a very light and even coat to the half circles. I placed both rails in place(even the one without glue) and put bar clamps at every rib. I let the first dry and then glued the second the same way. Don't use too much glue, because most of it is going to squish out anyway. After I finished mine I measured it with my calipers and found the distance between the outer edges of the pipe varies by no more than 0.006" at any point along the 36" span.

Having lots of bar clamps really helped with my assembly. I've got a bunch of the 12" ones from harbor freight. They usually have them on sale for ~$4 each. I would only recommend their metal ones though, as I've already broken 2 of the plastic ones.

02-15-2007, 10:41 PM
Thanks Lionclaw. Since I bought the epoxy, I gues I will even get the Y rail. I should probably pick up a few more clamps - I have about 4 or so pipe claps and 2 old wood screw clamps. The base rail fits soo toght now, I could probably get away without any more than the 4 long clamps I have.

I cut my piece of al angle at work the other day and when I went to measure up the location of the holes, I realized the 8" rails was the distance between the mounting bolt holes and not the length of the angle whereas for the 7" bracket, it was the actual length of the angle. I should have measured twice. Oh well - time for another piece of angle.

I picked up a Canon copier at work that was being tossed and found a bunch of limit switches in it. I am hoping to figure a way to use them. Scavenged a bunch of other stuff including transformers and small steppers. I can see my shop filling with "collectables" now.

Hopefully I can get the bearings mounted this weekend and start finishing the electronics.


02-18-2007, 09:41 PM
Bearings Completed. All pieces assembled to test travel. Rails not epoxied (yet) but the ride is smooth with no twisting of the gantry possible.

Still to be done. Install acme rods, AB nuts, Motors, cable arm, Tool holder wrapup, build driver board, build a power supply, revive computer, learn linux, set up EMC2...... Cripes - I thought the hard part was over..

I was going to insert an image of the progress so far but for some reason I cannot get the attachment script window to function. Will add photos when it works again.

Itching to mount my old router.

Brian G.

07-21-2007, 09:47 PM
SHortly after my last post, I completed the major part of the build, assembled a HobbyCNC board, then proceeded onto the Brains side of the work.

I had a dumpster PC and after numerous tries, failed at getting anything to run on it.

Work interrupted as well as I took on a new job in April which had me flying every other week til last month. Fortunately, an emachine was available at work and now Coolcnc/EMC2 is up on it. It should be enough for now.

Only thing remaining is to mount the drive components, hook up the motors and test it all out. Perhaps next week....


11-24-2007, 08:57 AM
I thought I'd bump this thread. What's happening with your build? We need more updates.

11-28-2007, 08:40 PM
Haven't been back to the board in a few weeks and was surprissed to see this on the first page. Thanks for rekindling my interest Glider.

Progress has been slow but there is progress.

I originally got hung up with the computers. I was able to get a decent computer from work. Numerous attempts to load EMC/Ebuntu stopped me several times. It turned out there was a bad sector on the boot up region of the drive. THe Live CD couldn't deal with it but when I ran just an Ebuntu cd (no EMC), it found the bad sector and worked around it. I was then able to load EMC2 without trouble.

The machine is together minus one or two screwups (upsidedown Z carraige for one). All lead screws are installed, motors mounted, power cables installed, HobbyCNC board functional, powersupply installed. Computer is set as well. Last time to the garage, everything powered up and there was a perceptable humm from the steppers. I couldn't get anything to jog yet though.

I am plodding my way through the EMC2 configuration and waiting for it to come to life any day.

My wife keeps asking with the hopes of me making a bunch of star cutouts for Xmas.

I will post some pictures shortly.

11-28-2007, 10:49 PM
Spent an hour trying to get EMC2 to run. I selected the generic Stepper and with manual on a laptop, ran through each of the variables for the INI file.

Started EMC2 and am getting errors. Appears I do not have all the variables properly set. WIll have to reread the manual and try again tomorrow.

One question. With the steppers powered up and no commands, should they be putting out a noise that sounds like a motor turning but they are not? I double and triple checked the wiring as I installed it.

When I feel the motors, there is no perceptible vibration from any of em.

Off to bed - perhaps a "Jog" tomorrow.

11-29-2007, 08:16 AM
I use the Vectrics programs along with Mach3. I'm very happy with both. I'm not familiar with EMC2. How do they compare?

11-29-2007, 05:35 PM

The LiveCD did not work for me either, at all. I downloaded Ubuntu 6.06 LTS and installed it, then downloaded and installed EMC2 from Ubuntu with no problems. Ubuntu found my WildBlue modem through a LAN connection to a Linksys wireless G router and put me online in seconds. I wish it would do that through the Linksys wireless card, but no luck so far. I suppose haven't kicked it in the right place yet. Good luck reading that EMC2 manual. Drink lots of strong coffee. :)


11-29-2007, 08:46 PM
Regarding the software choices and comparison - I am a total noob with linux let alone EMC2 and CNC'n for that matter.

I chose the Linux path due to the "free" option so in that regards, its hand and feet over the Windows/Mach option. Getting over the learning curve had to happen no matter what so I figured I would do it cheaply at the least.

Sounds like you had similar issues short of the ND sector problems. Once the 6.06 booted, my jaw dropped. I had to have "No apic" specified and I also took of the quiet splash option. Ubuntu just loaded up like a dream. I then followed the instructions on Linuxcnc.org for the EMC2 only add in and 20 minutes later I was checking out the software. I did not have a wireless card in it (wish I did since the computer is out in the garage) so I had to bring it in for a lan connection.

Right now, I am trying to set my ini and hal files. I think I may have inadvertantly cut or commented a line out without realizing its importance. Using the error reports on EMC2's exit has been helpfull tracking down needed variables. Still not done (hands were too cold to type in the unheated garage) but will hopefully get it ticking later this evening.


Well - it was not so cold out this eve. Fixed two parameters that were commented out in the stepper_mm.ini file. Once done, EMC2 came right up. Proceeded to play with the interface and got no response from the steppers.

Everything "seemed' to be fine. THe only thing I did not check was the parallel cord. one other post mentioned a cord having only 3-4 pins working with the rest dummied out. Out came the multitester and the cord.

Pin 1 to Pin 1 - No continuity....... Hmmm
Pin 2 to Pin 2 - No continuity.......
Pin 2 to Pin 11 - Continuity!

Tried several other pins and found its mate somewhere else.... so it looks like I have a non standard cord. Trash bin for it and tomorrow I will pick up a new cord. Done for the night!

11-30-2007, 10:25 PM
Friday night

Grabbed an old parralel cable at work and just plugged it in. There was a noticable silence from the steppers. Fired up EMC - checked the jog keys......


I was sooo exicted - I couldn't believe its finally doing something.

There was alot of noise from the X axis so I think it needs some adjustment. I have a few odds and ends I need to wrap up before getting some chips flying but the hard part is almost over. Perhaps SUnday I will be able to get some test cuts in.

12-02-2007, 08:20 PM
So far my X axis is working fine. Y and Z appear to be binging so I plan on readjusting the leadscrews and backlash nuts. The wiiring needs another recheck to be sure.

Linux has been my challenge today. The computer and router are out in a seperate building. I have wifi from the house for access. I made the mistake of buying a Linksys G wireless router to gain access (pass gcode files though email from my work laptop with CAD). Turns out there is little support for linux from Linksys but some users have found workarounds. Unfortunately for me they result in system hangs that are unrecoverable. Reinstalling Linux for third time today. Hopefully thats the charm. Any suggestions on dealing with this are welcome. (Linux novice here)

I was playing with the Ini files several hours before noticing the configuration wizard. When I clicked on it, I got no response. I tried calling (Stepconf) it from terminal mode and the files could not be found. Hopefully the fresh load of Linux and EMC2 will correct the lost files.

Piddling with Linux the rest of the night and hopefully tomorrow eve I can get back to troubleshooting the machine and not Linux

12-05-2007, 10:15 PM
Figured out EMC2 enough to be dangerous - have the jog speeds faster than a snail now. X axis is great, Z axis the same. Y on the other hand....

It appears that I somehow assembled the Zaxis Carraige upside down. The first time I assembled it, the Y axis drive holes did not align. I flipped the carraige and bored out the other side for the Z axis mounts and reinstalled and the holes lined up.... Or so I thought. It appears that the acme thread is out of alignment by approximately 3/16ths of an inch or less. Enough that the axis binds and moving it requires constant jogging taps or placing a wrench on the end and spinning it (with power off).

SO at the moment, I appear to be dead in the water. Time to study the edrawings some more :(

12-06-2007, 12:43 AM

I have the same problem, my Y axis is also slightly out of alignment enough to cause it to whip even at low speeds because of this I can only get 25mm/sec rapids or 60ipm.Will have a good look at it on the weekend, I might make some more bearing mounts with longer slotted mounting holes.What rapids are you getting with with the Acme rod.
Keep up the good work with your build.

12-06-2007, 08:06 PM
After I calmed down a bit and looked at the drawings. I figured I can refabricate the Y AB nut bracket (1.5" X 2.25") with a hole in line with the current alingment. I intend rebuilding the carriage due to an backwards assembly got me in trouble in the first place. I am leaving the bearing points alone since the parts on the carriage seem to be more "adjustable than the end bearing points.

As to rapids. My X axis jogs along at almost 100in per min and appears very smooth. Z has a minor issue with the drill rods dropping out due to the upside down carraige. THat will be patched when the wife gets home and I can get in the garage.

Once I getthings mechanically settled, I will try some cuts at a lower rate. This is a hobby machine so speed is less important.

It will be nice to be forced to clean all the tools, instructions and other garbage off the surface for material that wants to be cut.

12-06-2007, 11:15 PM
I fixed the y axis until I can route a new one. I installed a new ABnut holding block - eyeballed the placement of the nut and put it in. The AB nut was very tight on its own so off with the cap and spring for now. Ran the y axis through its paces and it works (crosses fingers) so long as I do not jam the axis and strip the unsprung AB nut.

Tomorrow I will fix the Z axis (rods dropping to table and figure out how to get EMC2 to move 1 inch for one inch. Right now its doing 2x the distance it should.

12-08-2007, 09:09 PM
The machine is alive...

Just ran a trial set of stars (my wife wants to make some homemade ornaments for the tree) and it made my first cuts!

Ofcourse the Gcode was not proper heading to the second set of cuts and it plowed full depth to the next star. TIme for a G-code lesson.

THanks you all who got me started down this road from Joe, Andy, on down. Today I get to take the proverbial car out for some trial spins.


12-18-2007, 11:20 PM
Over the past few days I have been wrapping up loose ends, playing with different G-code files and generally wandering around wondering what to do next.

The dust generated from the MDF cutting is a huge problem so first thing was to build a vac shoe. Since I am using a Porter cable router head, the shoe Lionclaw included in his kit does not fit mine. I came up with a different design that mounts onn the router clap bracket and has a vaccum passage. My shop vac hose plugs in right next to the router (pictures tomorrow). This keeps the hose from putting and push/pull on the bracket.

Since the little shop vac has other uses, I remembered a neglected hoover parked in the attic. Plan is to make a knockout box with the vaccum moter mounted to the top of it. It will then suck air from the knockout box and blow it into some recycled baghouse bags (from stone crushing) as the final filter. Without the beater bar and the other obstructions, this motor pushes alot of air. Hopefully it will still do so with the attachments I propose.

I am ultimately going to be making terrain models with this unit for mining operations. I am holding off diving into these until I have a few small projects under my belt and I feel more comfortable with EMC2 and G-code. And theres that issue of tuning my motors..... More reading on the horizon.