CNC mill built from junk and hardware store parts

[Csshop] is setting a new bar for building an inexpensive CNC mill. Not only did he complete his build at a very low cost, but it seems to work quite well too. Check out the video after the break to see the device cut out thin wood parts for a toy plane.

The majority of the build uses scrap wood for the body of the mill. The business end of the device is a flexible rotary attachment for a Dremel tool which takes a lot of the weight and bulk out of the gantry assembly. Old flat bed scanners were gutted for the precision ground rod and bearings, as well as the three stepper motors used to drive the axes. An Arduino board controls the device, commanding the stepper motors via EasyDriver boards.

Once the hardware is assembled there’s still a fair amount of work to do. [Csshop] builds his designs in Google Sketchup, but some conversion is necessary to arrive at code that the Arduino will understand. He’s got a second project write-up that covers the software side of things.

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Rotary Wall Plug from Scrap

Rotary tools such as a Dremel are useful to have around for all sorts of tasks in a workshop, including cutting, polishing, and grinding. [Konstantin] sent us in his home made wall mount rotary tool based off of parts from a blender and an old bench top jigsaw. Unlike a Dremel where the motor is in the hand held part of the tool, this setup hides the blender motor (which provides the power) behind a wall panel, and is controlled via the blender’s speed settings buttons. We could see this configuration allowing for more delicate work due to the reduction of weight in hand, as well as the added bonus of a near impossibility of losing this tool. Overall an excellent re-purposing of leftover parts, be sure to check out [Konstantin]’s blog for more build info and photos.

Revive your tired Dremel battery pack

It turns out there’s nothing more than six Nickel Cadmium AA rechargeable batteries inside of that cordless Dremel battery pack. Yep, standard rechargeable AA’s that you can buy most anywhere, and now you can revive that aging battery pack by following [Stuuf’s] guide. Since you’re already at it, a few more bucks will yield a real upgrade by using the superior Nickel Metal Hydride batteries which should yield around three times as much use between charging. We totally understand having a battery pack, since the shape of the case is part of the handheld tool, and it should be easy to interchange the battery as one unit. We just wish that the battery pack had been designed to have the AA cells swapped out by the user once they had reached the end of the line.

Do you have other cordless tools in need of a pick-me-up? Check out this Makita battery pack repair hack for a point in the right direction.

[Thanks Bluewraith]

Cobbling together a CNC mill

[Howard Matthews] never throws anything away, and because of it he was able to build this CNC mill using parts that he already had on hand. He pulled stepper motors out of broken stage light, precision rod and bearings from old dot matrix printers, and other various bits from his junk bin. We’ve seen [Howie’s] handi-work before, and this project is just as fun as his Land Rover’s replacement speedometer. Some highlights include manufacturing the nuts for the precision rod, and building a rail system for the bed of the machine. The latter looks a bit suspect, as any milling debris on the rails will cause you Z-axis problems, but now that he has bootstrapped a working mill perhaps he’ll machine an upgrade.

Update: Fixed the link, added video after the break.

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Acrylic hackintosh housing

[Rui Gato] needed a powerful yet portable machine for his performances. If it’s on stage shouldn’t it look good too? We loved watching him construct an acrylic case for his setup. He’s skilled with a rotary tool and the work he put into the case fan grill alone is impressive. Video after the break.

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Brighten up your PCB drilling station

Being able to see what you’re doing can be the hardest part of drilling the through holes in those freshly etched printed circuit boards. We don’t know why we didn’t come up with this, but [Markus Gebhard] solved his shadowy woes with his 20-LED Dremel light ring. Honestly, how many times have we seen lights rings in photography without putting it together that a light ring is perfect for this purpose. So kudos to [Markus], now we’ve got to go and dig up some surface mount LEDs and uncork the copper chloride.

PCB drill press on a budget

An accurate drill press is an essential tool for making your own through-hole printed circuit boards at home. Reader [Josh Ashby] offers up a solid design using scrap bin materials.

A major issue with PCB drilling is that even the slightest horizontal play will snap the delicate carbide drill bit. Hobbyist-grade tools such as Dremel’s drill press attachment are usually too sloppy for this task, while a more precise instrument might set you back a couple hundred bucks.

[Josh’s] design uses a nylon “sled” moving vertically in an aluminum u-channel track. Most of these materials were salvaged or were acquired inexpensively from a local hardware store, and assembled in less than a day. Surprisingly, this low-tech approach has proven sufficiently smooth that he’s yet to break a bit while drilling. And the entire setup, including the knockoff Harbor Freight rotary tool, cost less than the wobbly name-brand accessory alone.