Milling the y-axis end plates:

A project log for Building a Shapeoko 3 from Scratch

Let's find out if I can use my little X-carve to build a bigger and better CNC router.

Caleb PetersCaleb Peters 04/28/2016 at 15:510 Comments

I have a feeling from now on the project will have slow but steady progress. So with that, let's take a look at the bit of progress I did get accomplished.
I've done quite a bit of milling aluminum on my little X-carve, so cutting out a few profiles for the bolts to attach the end plates to the y-axis extrusions and the table frame really isn't anything groundbreaking.

2X 3" x 8" 1/4" thick 6061 aluminum plate
2X 5" x 8" 1/4" thick 6061 aluminum plate

Feeds and Speeds:
Depth of cut = 0.3mm
Spindle speed = 13000 RPM
Feed rate = 160mm/min
Plunge rate = 100mm/min

Build process:
The build process was very straightforward. This is due in part to the fact that I used material that was already at the desired final dimensions. Essentially, all I had to do was mill eight small profile operations for the 1/4" screws to attach the plates to the rails and frame.

Since I was doing multiples of the same job, I bolted three stacks of washers to my table in order to allow me to quickly square up the pieces of material in the same place multiple times.
The stacks of washers did take a bit of work to get right. Mostly because each one is slightly different, and they like to shift around, but with a little bit of work I think it turned out quite serviceable.
As I said earlier, I've done quite a bit of aluminum milling on my X-carve. In the past I've exclusively used a 1/8" carbide single flute bit. However, in the case of this project, I decided to try out one of destiny tool's 1/8" Viper end mill. I'm not going to hold you in suspense, it was a great decision! These little things rock for one reason or another. To go over its specs, it's a high helix 1/8" three flute carbide end mill with a coat they refer to as "stealth." When milling aluminum in the past, I've always used WD-40 or some sort of cutting oil. Although, I found that this end mill worked exceptionally well when I stopped using cutting oil and just placed the vacuum nozzle close to where the bit was milling. But, enough of me gushing about the fancy end mill.
It only took two hours to mill out all four plates, and I have to say I think they turned out quite nice. Fitting the plates onto the ends of the two y-axis rails was a pretty good test of whether or not I placed the threaded holes at the ends of the rails accurately, and at least for now it looks good enough to work.