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The Make blog notes this portable wooden CNC machine made by Nick Santillan. Nick wanted to experiment with CNC technology without the expense of outsourcing the jobs. He researched building his own and ordered some DIY plans, but, after nearly completing it, decided it was not up to his expectations. After more research and the purchase of better bearings, slides, and so on, he designed and built the wood-framed CNC machine shown above.

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I recently read The CNC Cookbook by E. Hess and thought I’d mention it here. The book contains most of the information needed to get started designing and building a small CNC machine, and is pretty easy to follow.

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If you desperately need a CNC router, or you’ve just got too much money, check out the Routermate. The photos on the web page fooled me at first, and I thought this was just a tool for carving letters into wood. But the videos on the site give a better idea of the machine’s power — it can drill and mill aluminum tubing and thick sheets of aluminum and wood.

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I could hear the Jetsons theme playing in my head while I wrote this — the future is here.  In a video on his website, Jay Leno demos a consumer-level 3D scanner, showing how it can be used in real-world applications such as automotive restoration.  He scans a broken steam valve and sends the data to a 3D printer for mock-up and to his CNC machine to mill the final part.

I was amazed that the 3D printer can even make models with moving parts.  Jay shows a wrench that was printed with perfectly moving parts already in place, just like the original metal one!

3D Printing [Jay Leno’s Garage] via Fabbaloo

 

The hexapod is a six-legged harbinger of doom. Micromagic’s little devil can only carve out little squares in foam now, but how long until he’s making copies of himself while you’re at lunch?

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Max Wilson's CNC Router

Not long ago CNC (which stands for computer numerical control, by the way) machines were so expensive that only large companies could own them. But we’re in the middle of a full-fledged CNC revolution, reaching all the way down to the grassroots level. Now a dedicated average Joe whip up a precise fabricating tool with little more than some plans, basic tools, and a PC.

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Imagine this: how cool would it be if you had a printer-like device that could “print” a picture from your computer onto a piece of marble tile, a slab of wood, or even a sheet of plate glass?  You don’t have to imagine: Epilog makes all kinds of laser etching and engraving equipment, and their smallest and most affordable model — the Mini 18 — would easily fit in your shop.

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Craftsman introduced the CompuCarve last year to great fanfare, but we have yet to try one out — or hear much from reliable sources who have.  We’re hoping some of you Toolmongers may have first-hand experience with one.

If you own (or have owned) one, let us know about your experiences in comments.  Is this as powerful a tool as it seems?  How difficult is it to use, and what are its realistic limitations?

Craftsman CompuCarve [Sears]

 
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Don’t have $100k to drop on an abrasivejet?  This CNC plasma cutter kit from Torchmate will give you at least a tiny bit of the ‘jet’s functionality at a fraction of the cost.  But this kit isn’t for beginners: you’ll need to bring your own steel — and fabrication skills.

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