Joes Evolution DIY CNC
CNC Router Machines DIY Projects

My first DIY CNC Router | Work from Home

By on January 17, 2017

This post will be about my first DIY CNC machine. After a lot research I decided I wanted to create my work from home business around making CNC wood products. I looked into buying a Shop-Bot, Thermwood, or CAMaster 4 x 8 machine. I just had a hard time with the price tag.  I didn’t want to get into a 20k dollar machine without even knowing what products I was going to create.  So, I decided to build it myself. I would then be able to control exactly what parts went into building the machine and tailor it to my specific needs.

After doing a bit more research into DIY machines I chose to build a Joe’s Evo 5 x 9′ machine. Joe just came out with the Evo at that time and it seemed like the best option for what I wanted to do. Plus, the support in his forums was fantastic. You could find answers to everything you needed to know there, directly from other users and Joe himself.

The Evo’s Specs

  • A heavily braced 5 x 9′ wood stand
  • Porter Cable 7518 router with Precision Bits collets
  • Velox 8″ z-slide with 5 start screw
  • Nema 34’s on the X, Y and on the Z
  • 4-Gecko 203V’s
  • 70V 25amp Torridal Power Supply
  • PMDX-126 Breakout Board Rev C
  • Ethernet Smooth Stepper
  • PMDX-134 Driver Main Board
  • 5-Fuchs Proximity Switches
  • CNC Router Parts 34 Pro Drives for rack and pinion on the x and y
  • Extrusion kit from 8020
  • 3/4 inch X and Y Plates from Joe

All in, I’m just shy of $10,000 on building this.  I bought all the best parts I could afford at the time. The machine still has the original router, after 4 years running.  With numerous router brush and bearing changes it’s still running strong.

As for maintenance, I change the spoil board about five times, once a year. I started out with a Nema 23 on the Z slide, swapped that to a Nema 34, and have replaced the bearings on the Z slide a few times.  The angle iron top rails have been changed out once.  The CNCRouterparts reduction drives have been rebuilt twice. The V groove wheels have just been changed out. That’s about it.  After running this machine hard for the last 5 years and making thousands of signs and products with it, I feel the durability of this DIY machine compares to that of a commercial brand.  

A big upside to building the machine yourself is you have an intimate relationship with every part.  When there’s a funny sound coming from something, you have a good idea where to look, and how to repair it yourself.

 The ethernet smooth stepper and PMDX electronics with Gecko drivers was a large bill.  I believe, with all of the electronics and stepper motors, there’s almost $2,000 invested. I feel wholeheartedly in the “pay now or pay later” adage. The smooth stepper was a very smart addition to this package.  It gave me the capability to put the PC that ran that machine anywhere…just had to have a long enough cable. I made a 100 ft CAT6 ethernet cable and was able to put my CNC PC in my office.  The electronics went in the storage room to reduce the noise and heat in my office. I have never had an issue with connection quality.
In the four years that I’ve run this machine only one part burned up, and that was the PMDX-134 driver motherboard.  The load from the drivers burned out a connector. I placed a quick call to the fellow who runs PMDX and explained my situation.  He had a new board over-nighted to me that day and I was back cutting the following day. Awesome customer service !

Future rebuild

The machine is starting to show it’s age.  It works perfectly okay, but I would like it to be a bit better. So, in the near future we plan on changing out the iron v rail system to possibly Hiwin or NSK linear bearings on both the X and Y and extend the Y extrusions two feet. We will have to redesign the plates to accommodate the linear bearings and reposition the Nema reduction drives and gear rack. I would like to eliminate the riser that connects the Y plate to the X gantry extrusion.  This would be done by cutting the side plate from 1″ 6061 aluminum and having it cradle the X extrusion. Replacing the aged router with a much quieter and more powerful 3 or 4 kw air cooled spindle and VFD setup would be a good idea as well.
You can check out the Joe’s Evo here at his site, he’s been involved with CNC’s for over 10 years.
When we get around to rebuilding our Evo we’ll be sure to post and video the rebuild.
We hope you enjoyed this article.  If you have any questions feel free to comment below or email us.
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Thanks again,
Gerald, Kelli and little Sawyer


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