CNC Mill

A cnc mill designed to be able to machine aluminum

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This is the cnc mill which I have been building for a while. It has changed quite a bit over the past two years. Most of the parts are something I scavenged or traded for. The Frame is built from 3" x 3" extruded aluminum. My goal is to be able to machine plastics and aluminum.


3030 and 3015 series from 8020. This is 3" x 3" extruded aluminum, and 3" x 1.5" extruded aluminum. The frame is bolted together using standard 8020 hardware and joining plates.


280 OzIn 8-Wire Stepper Motors from Probotix, 1.8 degree, 200 steps per revolution, 3 Amp Current Per Phase, Nema 23, Dual Shaft.

Motor Drivers:

ProboStep VX. Microstepping chopper current driver.

  • 1 × Taig Spindle
  • 4 × Nema 23 Stepper Motors


    jupdyke11/10/2015 at 16:03 0 comments

    Here is a video description of the hardware, electronics and the software of my machine. Still a ways to go but it is moving. Hopefully I can make some chips with it soon.

  • Continued Progress

    jupdyke11/02/2015 at 19:48 0 comments

    I have been working on so many projects that the CNC mill has slowed a little. I needed to go across town to machine a part and I kept putting it off. But I finally was over there and did the machining for the new motor mount. As always pictures are more interesting.

    And the motor fits great. Now just gotta machine a few bolt holes and mount it together.

    With the cnc milling part completed it was fairly straightforward to put it in a manual 3 axis mill and finish up the main shape. I used the center hole as a reference and drilled the motor mounting holes, and cut the ends shorter.

    I also machined the width so that it would fit into my spindle mount and slide back and forth easily.

  • Small Update

    jupdyke09/18/2015 at 22:18 0 comments

    I got the screws I needed to assemble the spindle mount. So today I spent a little time getting the mount fully assembled and mounted on the mill. It fits very well and runs smooth. I am really happy with how the spindle mount turned out. I started building cnc machines about 7 years ago. The first one was made from wood and scrap. I made all the parts by hand on woodworking tools. This project has motivated me to learn to machine better parts. I learned how to use a manual mill, lathe, weld, powder coat, anodize and all sorts of other things.

    It is a really nice feeling when you bolt everything together and it fits great. I can't wait to get the motor mount machined and have this making chips.

  • New Spindle Mount

    jupdyke09/17/2015 at 21:26 2 comments

    I finally got around to machining a new spindle mount. I 3d printed one a while back to help figure out how everything would fit together. I knew I wanted an aluminum one, but I used the 3d printed version to get the spindle mounted, figure out the connection to the motor, hooking up the tachometer and working on the Z axis.

    Now that most of that is worked out it was time to make an aluminum one. I started with some 3/8" thick aluminum. Then cut it down to rough shape on the horizontal bandsaw. Next I finished the size and drilled all the holes. Most of the work was done on a manual mill using the normal vice. But to drill the holes in the end I clamped it to a right angle plate. Nothing too complex about the design. I will probably put some thread locker on the screws at some point. But I want to get it together and working before I do that.

    Plastic Version

    New Aluminum Version

    Side View

    Top View. I only have one bearing screwed on to test the fit. I am waiting for some screws to come in the mail.

    Here you can see the spindle encoder. I 3d printed a small bracket to hold the sensor in place. There is a small reflective sticker on the spindle shaft. This will give me an accurate feedback of the spindle RPM.

  • CNC Controller

    jupdyke09/15/2015 at 04:24 0 comments

    I did some work for a guy and in exchange he paid for the work by buying me a CNC kit from Probotix. The don't sell these stepper motor drivers any longer. But they work pretty well. I got the 4 axis kit because I was planning on using two stepper motors for the z axis. Now that the design has changed I will be able to have a 4th axis if I want. I wired it up and started to mount it into a project enclouser.

    I laser cut a front face plate for it and mounted some XLR connectors for the motors. This makes it easy to wire it up once and forget it. The plugs are keyed so you can only put them in one way.

    I added a terminal block in for the motor power and put a fuse on each of the motor controller and DB25 breakout board. The motors have a 3 amp fuse and the breakout has a much smaller one. It is important to put a fuse on each motor driver because they can draw up to 3 amps each. So with all the axis running I could easily be pulling around 12 amps. But you dont want 12 amps to go into any one board. All the motor controllers are heatsinked together with a peice of angle aluminum and some thermal paste.

  • Lessons Learned

    jupdyke09/15/2015 at 04:14 0 comments

    Well I really thought that I had a great design. It probably took me about 6 months to get the dang thing together enough to realize that the Z axis was just never gonna work that way. The stepper motors stalled and couldn't lift the Z axis at all. I had them directly coupled to the acme screws and that didn't work. Then I tried moving the motors to the side and connecting it with a set of pulleys and timing belt. This let me double my torque and it still stalled. It was a major set back. I really was upset. But sometimes you have to have a set back to move forward.

    I set the project aside for a while and after a break I came back and redesigned it. It is a little funny but the more I worked on this project, the more it looks like a traditional cnc mill. I guess I was reinventing the wheel and as I learned what wouldn't work it steered me more and more to the traditional designs. I guess other people figured it out before me. Maybe I was a little slow.

  • Another Try

    jupdyke09/15/2015 at 03:57 0 comments

    Based on what I learned with my first cnc I knew that I wanted something better. It had to be more rigid and more accurate. The size was not as big of deal as I once thought. My first cnc was 24"x24"x4", The x and y bed was bigger than I needed, but the Z was too small. It could only cut wood and plastic. I tried aluminum once and it was horrible. I also was not happy with using a palm router for the spindle. I didn't have control over the speed and it could only hold 1/4" bits.

    I did a lot of reading and redesigning. I started collecting parts for the new machine. I was lucky and salvaged some linear rails and some 3"x3" aluminum extrusion. I designed a machine around the parts I had. This was the first version of my design.

    Then I change the z axis design. I decided to have two motors and use the software to sync them.

    Then I started building it. WOW. I did not realize just how much work there was in this design.

  • Previous Version

    jupdyke09/15/2015 at 03:41 0 comments

    I have been working on this project for a long time. Several years ago I build a cnc router using 1" aluminum extrusion, the plastic bearings that slide over aluminum extrusion and a palm router. It was okay and I learned a lot. The biggest problem was that the frame was not very rigid and the flex in the frame made it hard to cut anything very accurate. The cheap bearings were also a problem. But I learned a ton. The whole things was my first real cnc project and I had not done much machining. I built my own stepper motor drivers as well. I was a poor college student and had to save money anywhere I could. When I moved I salvaged what I could and scrapped the rest.

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LetitiaRoob wrote 05/29/2020 at 06:08 point

I did not know that the CNC mills machine is built like this because I never happened to see a video like this about it. I have got masterpapers online for help in essays online. I am glad that you shared this article and enhanced my knowledge about it.

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Frank Turscak wrote 12/01/2018 at 05:30 point

I wonder if it would work with a 12-volt, 1 Watt  laser. I have an Anet A8 3dprinter that I'm dreaming of converting to laser or combo. There's a lot of good stuff online, but nothing has really grabbed me. :)

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Alex Rich wrote 09/24/2015 at 00:39 point
haha... incidentally, did you see Tormach's new milling machine, the 440? Thing looks ridiculous

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jupdyke wrote 09/24/2015 at 13:30 point


No I had not seen that. This is kinda what I was going for with my machine. I was shooting for a 12" cube for the working volume and the whole machine fitting inside a 24" cube. This weekend I am hoping to get across town and machine the motor mount Monday after work. If I get that motor mounted I think I should be able to try and make some chips. 

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Alex Rich wrote 09/24/2015 at 00:27 point

This thing is beautiful, I wish I had the time to do half the stuff you've been working on

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jupdyke wrote 09/24/2015 at 00:35 point

Thanks. I have been working on this project for a long time on and off. I probably have changed the design about 25 times. haha.

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radiusmike wrote 09/20/2015 at 03:11 point

Impressive.  With 2 custom-built CNC machines in my stable, I know how much work you went through to make this happen.  Mach3 is an excellent controller.  Will save you a lot of headaches and should interface with your solution well.  Just need an older desktop PC with an RS232 serial port (or a newer model with USB-to-RS232 converter), and you are good to go.  Count on some crashing here and there.  Make sure to turn off all sleep modes and other sundry Windows overhead that a real-time solution won't need.  Looking forward to seeing you cut aluminum soon.

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