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My new improved homemade router milling machine.

27600 Views 16 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Mark55
Here it is; my revised improved Router milling machine. For those of you who did not see my other machine look at my past posts under Mark Sternberg for a quick review. This is the streamlined improved updated version.

This machine is a culmination of 5 years of experimenting with the concept and use of the machine. I am absolutely amazed at its capabilities. I have built 5 of these over the past few years and improved each as I went along. My main goal was to build it for a half way reasonable cost and still have an accurate machine.

The table is 22” by 48” and has 30” of movement right to left, 17” of movement front to back and the head has 15” of movement up and down. The head has an plunge feature operated by foot pedal. The head can also rotate up to 90 degrees either way. There is a rotating table feature and lathe feature not shown.

The table is driven with # 35 chain and 13 tooth sprockets. This pushes the table a little more than 2” with one turn of the handle which is needed for wood routing. Threaded rod was too slow about an 1/8 inch per turn. It is amazingly tight there is no backlash or slop in the cranks and the table is tight too.
There are stops on the table to set your cut distance and stops on the plunge feature for depth.
Because it is so big the table actually unhooks from the main machine for transportation purposes and to get it through doors.

There are many improvements on this machine. Any time you build something like this you have to take into consideration rigidity and the ability to keep all moving parts smooth and tight to keep accuracy to your work.
I solved the rigidity problem by making the frame out of 3/4 ” plywood laminated together sometimes as much as 3 layers thick and all joints are overlapped and glued. This thing is solid and has no twist what so ever.

The next big issue was the slide rails. For this I had 2 problems, because there is so much travel on the rails I needed something strong so it could handle the weight of what is being put on the table unlike a CNC machine the only weight is the router and mechanics.
Dealing with a cost issue I did not want to spend a ton of money on heavy steel rod because there is about 20 feet of it total. So I tried using 1 1/2” emc electrical conduit then sanded and polished the tubes so they were slick, this worked pretty good.
Next, the slide bearings, the obvious would be linear bearings but to get some (12) that size would be a small fortune and would not fit the slides tubes and the bottom ones would be running in saw dust a lot and could be a problem.

Anytime you build a machine out of wood you have to take into consideration expansion and contraction of the wood and how it will affect moving parts and I had that problem in some of my previous machines.
So what I did was found a manufacture that sold their 3/4” thick plastic scraps. I used this stuff for many parts. Anything you see on the machine that is black is the plastic. I machined my slide bearings and slide tube holders out of the same material, this keeps expansion and contraction to a minimum and because it is the same material it is constant with each other and it has worked really well.

I have pretty much worked the bugs out of it. Although it is a wood based machine it is very tight the way I have it designed. Any time you have joints or moving parts you risk movement. Is it as tight as a big cast iron machine? No! But it is well within tolerances of say a slide miter saw. The only thing that can cause an error in a cut is, if you try to cut to heavy and the bit tries to climb. If the bit is sharp and you cut within the guidelines of how you should cut in normal routing it works great.

I even make my own bushings for the rods for all the cranks. The reason being every type that that I have bought there was either a problem holding them in the wood or they were too sloppy. The ones I make are tight and fasten to the wood with screws because I machine a big flange on them. (By the way I machined most of the parts on my original machine).

I do not have any videos of this one yet but you can see my old version that this was based on on you tube.

This is the introduction to the machine.
Router based wood milling machine introduction - YouTube

This is an example cutting a cube within a cube to show versatility.
Router wood milling machine cutting out a cube within a cube - YouTube

The pictures included are, the new machine, a picture of the first machine I built 5 years ago and a couple clocks I milled from chunks of wood. An end grain cutting board I surface milled and cut the outside diameter circle and last is a ported speaker to set a phone in.


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Very nice... I'll take one!
Hi Mark

Welcome back. All I can do is compliment you on some stunning work - all that needs now is a 2- or 3-axis CNC controller..... Only kidding, but it does remind me of the overhead routers with X-Y tables you used to see in patternmakers shops not too many years back (before CNC took over from the 1990s onwards)


Great machine, Mark.
Good work! Reminds me of routing with my radial arm saw, but with many more possibilities with that X-Y table.

On your new current version- The disk behind the router mount, at the front of the vertical travel tool table....

Am I noting that it also rotates / swings, so you can tilt the router?
Nice Mark. That looks like a lot of hours of work. It certainly opens up other routing opportunities.
Thanks everyone.
Phil , I love cnc machines but this one is too much fun the way it is.

MAFoElffen, Yes the head does swivel up to 90 degrees either way and you can plunge with it at an angle with the foot pedal.

Chuck, You have no idea how much time I have into this but it was pure enjoyment and discovery. You are right it does open up a whole new world to routing.
Very nice work Mark, did you make a plan of it or only in your head.
Thrinfo, I have been working on plans for a while. I hope to be done in the next week or so. There are a lot of parts and detail to it so it taking me longer than I hoped.
Neat machine Mark.
Neat machine Mark.
I think the machine would be improved greatly by using Baltic Birch plywood instead of particle board in construction of this machine.
This is one sharp machine, has a great set-up and a lot of capabilities. Fit for a skilled and talented wood worker. Great job!
Bruce, There is no partial board anywhere on the machine. It is all plywood except for the table top,that is MDF. I use that because it is smooth for sliding and turning things on the table.
Hi Mark

One question, well two - how do you control the Z-axis movement (rise and fall of the motor/cutter) and do you use a multi-depth turret for multiple-depth routing?


If you look at the front of the machine, the lowest handle in the front raises and lowers the back of the turret. It has 15" of movement up and down, It is raised and lowered by threaded rod. It moves very slow, I usually use this to get close to my material, then I use the foot pedal that operates the front of the turrets plunge feature ( the part the router is hooked to).
For depth control I use a stop collar on the slide rod on the plunge feature to set my depths. If I have multiple depths I am cutting, I make shims or blocks to fill in between the stop collar so I don't have to keep resetting it.
The front plunge feature is operated by a foot pedal that connects to a cable that goes almost all the way up the back of the machine. Then the last 2.5' I use automotive choke cable to move it. I use this because the head swivels and this was the best and simplest way I came up with to operate it so I that I could use the plunge feature at any angle.
Does that make sense?
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Does that make sense?
Yes, perfect sense, Mark. In many ways it really does operate like a patternmaker's pin router. Once again my compliments on your skillfullness


I use it for a pattern router from time to time. I just line up my bit with a pin insert on the table and lock the table from moving.
Thanks for the thumbs up.
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