supply to buy — you can easily substitute parts but
you’ll need to read the documentation carefully to
match it up to our wiring instructions. Basic soldering
skills are helpful, but not required; you can easily skip
the soldering by using wire nuts to connect wires.
When you’re done, you’ll bolt the stepper motors
onto their respective axes (Figure K) and connect
them to the lead screws. Next, you’ll mount your
router to the router plate, follow our instructions for
installing and configuring the Mach3 software, and
then put your new CNC machine through a few tests
to verify movement along the three axes.
Building my own CNC machine was just as enjoyable as using it. During the assembly, I learned
some new woodworking techniques, became more
proficient with a table saw, and learned to love
the Forstner bit (which I highly recommend for
counterbores and drilling holes in general).
I’ve also started to dig deeper into the use of
CAD software for designing, and CAM software for
converting my designs into G-code, the instructions
that Mach3 uses to control the motors and direct
The most surprising thing I’ve learned after
completing this project, however, is that I am the
real limit to my CNC machine — the machine is
just waiting for me to learn new techniques and
methods to push its capabilities further. You’ll find,
as I have, that after building your CNC machine,
the real work is just beginning.
James Floyd Kelly ( email@example.com) is a freelance
writer in Atlanta. He is the editor-in-chief of the Lego
Mindstorms NXT blog, The NXT Step ( thenxtstep.com).