Bill, I'm about 80% done with my build of a larger CNC router. The
frame is ~5' x 6' x 34" giving me a 4-1/2' x 4-1/2' working area.
I thought it would take a couple days for my buddy and me to build it,
but we're not done ten days later. I thought it would cost about $3k,
but it's edging upward toward $3.7k daily. It's powered by four
620oz/in steppers, a Hitachi 2-1/4HP router, Gecko G540 drive, and
SmoothStepper USB to parallel adapter. Art is done with BobCAD v24
and BobARTPro via Mach3. I used linear rails and bearings for the
axes, ballscrew for the Z axis, and chain drives for the X/Y axes.
I'm learning a -lot- during the build. Glenn (my buddy) has a machine
shop, so I've been able to use his mill (life-saver for the hole
patterns in the aluminum plates for the gantry and router (Y and Z
axes) mounts. He's taught me a whole lot about precision machining,
too. (It ain't nuttin' like wood, lemme tell ya.)
I considered a tabletop unit but figured I could get larger jobs and
pay it off (to profit with it) sooner with a larger machine. But I did
the research anyway.
I looked at CarveWright (proprietary, too pricy), ShopBot (pricy but
nice), CNC Shark (pricy but nice), K2 (pricy but nice), etc.
Had I gone with a smaller tabletop unit, it probably would have been a
ShopBot. There seems to be a larger base with fewer bad comments and
many more good comments on those.
Keep doing your homework, determine the need, uses, and sizes you will
produce, then buy the machine which fits your needs the best.
There have been some negatives in my build (Chinese linear bearing
vendors, local hardware store gouging), but if I had it to do over,
I'd probably build again vs. buy.
With every experience, you alone are painting your
own canvas, thought by thought, choice by choice.
-- Oprah Winfrey
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