For those of you who know me well, you will no doubt be aware of my current obsessive affliction or CNC maker hobby. This all started a while back when I decided to design and build a DIY CNC machine. Armed with no prior building or maker knowledge and only an electric screwdriver and a pair of pliers, I ignorantly forged ahead – without the slightest clue of the major undertaking I was embarking upon.

In the following Screencast Tutorial, I take you through the complete process – from design to fabrication of a 3D art piece. The software I used to design and create the toolpaths as well as output the machine GCODE is called Vectric Aspire which is particularly well suited to 2.5D CNC Wood router projects that do not require parametric design or modeling. Vectric software is Windows only – since all my machines are Mac’s I run it in a virtual machine and it performs remarkably well.

If you plan on doing rapid prototyping and/or machining metal on a CNC Lathe, Mill or require more than 3 axes of movement then I would highly recommend using the awesome Autodesk Fusion360 which is free for students and hobbyists. It is also cross platform cloud based and developed natively for Apple Mac’s as well as for Windows.

This screencast tutorial includes actual video footage of the physical part being made on the CNC machine as well as an overview on carbide tooling (cutting bits) used. The CNC machine is being controlled using the Open Source LinuxCNC software, which I highly recommend albeit having a pretty steep initial learning curve. It can simultaneously control up to 9 axes of motion and can be used for 3D printers, CNC Mills, Lathes, Plasma / Laser cutters and even Robotic arms.

I particularly enjoy making stuff out of recycled material that would otherwise land up in a dumpster. This new piece of CNC art was previously the seat of an old broken oak chair. This video includes mistakes made and a lesson I learned the hard way.

I hope you enjoy!