All of my life I have always been intrigued by how things work;
especially mechanical and electrical things. As a child, I would
tear things apart, just to see how they worked and then
reassemble them. To this day I still tear things apart before
throwing them away just to see how they worked.
I have always loved working with my hands. I like working with
wood; I made all my own trim, interior doors, cabinets, while
building on to my first home. I had no prior wood working
training or experience but I can look at things, figure them out
and make them.
I also love to work with metal. There is just something about
welding that I like. I have taught myself to weld with
Oxygen/Acetylene, MIG and TIG processes. I also have taught
myself to machine using milling machines and lathes.
In the past I have made some signs and pet memorial plaques
with average wood working tools such as routers, etc as found in
most average shops. I wanted more consistency and more
elaborate control over the designing and making of the projects.
Being in the computer age now; there was only one place to
go...CNC. CNC stands for Computer Numeric Control which
means you design something on your computer with a program,
and the computer will control the process of what you are trying
to make In my case, a router rather than being used by
hand, is on a machine being controlled by a computer which is
the way most stuff is made today. Think of drawing a picture on
your computer and having your printer print out the picture.
This CNC machine is much the same but on a larger scale. It
allows one to make a product with more speed and accuracy and
the 50th one will look exactly like the 1st. CAD (computer aided
drawing) programs allow me to design some sophisticated
projects quickly, turn them into a language that an automated
machine can understand. I can tell it to make one or one
hundred and they will all be precisely the same.
CNC machines can be rather expensive as I found out when
looking into buying one. With my mechanical, welding and
machining skills, which I have acquired over the years, I decided
to build my own machine. I had no previous experience with CAD
programs or CNC. Thanks to the internet I was able to find and
join forums with people knowledgeable on the subject who built
their own machines, After being on the forums for months and
reading a lot, I finally came up with a plan for making my own
CNC machine and I did just that.
Now, I can design things on my computer, put a piece of material
into the machine, and have it cut out perfectly without any
attention from me during the cutting process.
Designing and making the CNC machine is one thing but now it
needs to be profitable. Although I have saved money by building
my own compared to buying a pre-made commercial machine,
the venture has still been costly. Now, it needs to be able to pay
for itself and its continuing operation.
Here are some pictures of my CNC machine and control center.
Our Three Munchkins
They inspire us with ideas
The pictures are all thumbnails. Click to enlarge
Nick in Work Mode
Nick in Play Mode