CNC brought to you by zip ties

Gimp skillz.

[lucassiglo21] let us know about his finished 3 axis CNC (Translation via Google). While home CNCs are nothing new, we really liked this masterpiece. The CNC is entirely custom, from the electronic control boards (connected to a PC via parallel port) to the physical mill (with an end result of 30x30x15cm workable area). Our favorite part is the use of screw/band clamp zip ties to hold the Dremel – a true showing of hacker geekyness. For those who haven’t seen a CNC drill a circle before (and honestly, who hasn’t?), check a video after the break.


  1. tehgringe says:

    Yes…I am in the process of scavenging parts to make my own CNC machine…was hoping to use
    but missed out in the last 30 seconds on ebay.

    This just convinces me that I should do this…good work…nice post.

  2. Paul Potter says:

    The electronics really look the part, and I like the look of the UI. Bonus points for going old school, and using the parallel port.

  3. atrain says:

    Neat way of connecting the steppers to the shafts! Anybody have any idea what the material under the pipe clamps is?

  4. Seb says:

    That’s brilliant! love the attention to detail in the wiring.

  5. Ken says:

    I’m not crazy about using Dremels as CNC spindles (too much play), but zip ties??? Is this really a worthy hack? I prefer a 3/4-16 hex nut brazed to an appropriate mounting bracket. A piece of angle iron works nicely for mounting my Dremel as a tool post grinding on my lathe. (note: I use the Dremel keyless chuck, a collet wrench might not fit with this setup).

    Paul: Parallel ports are not merely old school – they are plainly the best choice for controlling stepper motors directly from a computer. The parallel port is fast enough and does not suffer from latency issues that rule out, say, USB.

  6. Alexander says:

    @ken: Your way is not a hack. A hack is something quick and easy to prove a concept. At least my definition is, and I am going to assume that the people who run this site have a similar mindset.

    Not that your way isn’t good–that’s the problem. It’s too good!

    And the interface is most likely MachCNC ( because it looks almost exactly like it.

  7. Lucassiglo21 says:

    in fact, the dremel is incredibly well fastened to the z axis, even if it looks other way. it won’t move.

    the material that connects the steppers to the shafts is some kind of rubber hose i bought in a rubber store.

    it can move at 300mm/s and cut a 3mm thick wood.

  8. Fallen says:

    :) I like this. I’ve been wanting to set up my own CNC router. I just don’t really have the space(living in a student townhouse…can’t really do CNC stuff in the bedroom…)

    I’m not a fan of the zip ties, no matter how secure it seems. I just don’t see how it could be aligned accurately, and be held in that same alignment by zip ties. But if it works, then that’s great.

    What is the advantage of rubber between the shaft and stepper? does this cause backlash?

  9. Ken says:

    Fallen: There will always be some misalignment between stepper motor and lead nut, as well as runout in the stepper shaft and connector. When the table moves close to the motor, this can cause the lead screw to bind. One way to do this is with an oldham coupling [], but a bit of rubber hose is more than adequate for this build.

  10. Ken says:

    Alexander: I can’t argue that mechanical solutions ever qualify as hacks, but I’ll tell you this much: If using zip ties counts, then so does my approach. I see it as a hack because it is quick and dirty and uses the bolt in an unusual (and, I like to think, inventive) way.

    Perhaps you believe the use of an oxy-acetylene torch compromises my hackitude? Unless you have used a torch you might not see the possibilities it opens up for quick proof of concept builds.

  11. Paul Potter says:

    Ken: Yes, a friend of mine at college controlled a stepper motor that way, and used QBasic. Very simple to do. He used relays and opto isolators.

    Alexander: That is indeed the software.

  12. pixelwhip says:

    I’m sure most will agree with me in saying that both Gaffer Tape & Zip Ties are two amazingly simple yet essential items for crafty types..

  13. Walky says:

    It reminds me of my first CNC:

    Mine wasn’t as pretty or nicely built, but it worked somehow.

    One year later I moved to Probotix drivers/motors and linear bearings (WIP):

  14. Walky says:

    BTW, on my first image the Z axis wasn’t built yet (I still used zip ties when it was finished, though).

  15. Lucassiglo21 says:
  16. Walky says:

    ¿Usaste la cnc para fabricar esas piezas?


  17. Walky says:

    No te preocupes, auto-respondí mi pregunta viendo tu blog

    ¡Saludos y sigue así!

  18. Lucassiglo21 says:

    yes, would you prefer i write you in Spanish?

  19. Walky says:

    Oh no, no prob, english is fine too (saludos desde el otro lado de la cordillera :D)

  20. Lucassiglo21 says:

    en realidad mi idioma nativo es el español, lo que pasa es que la mayoría de la gente que lee el blog habla inglés y no van a entender.


  21. Walky says:

    Por lo mismo que dices, mejor inglés :D

  22. Matt says:

    Has anyone purchased linear bearings from There prices look good. And it is exactly what I need 20mm hardened steel shafts and bearings.

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