Zen toolworks has a very interesting product that allows you to convert a basic router to a CNC computer controlled router. This is a DIY kit for creating CNC carving machine. This kit creates a CNC carving machine to do relief carving, letter cutting, inlay and other woodworking projects. Instructions for putting this kit together are online and there are plenty of pictures and a few videos showing the machine being assembled. The kit also comes with a CD that has videos.
This Zen CNC DIY kit comes with all of the mechanical parts that you need and 3 stepper motors. You need to remember that the machine does not come with any cutting (carving) tool or driver (controller) boards for the stepper motors. If you need a carving tool (router) to go with the kit, Zen Toolworks sells a spindle motor and bracket kit separately for around $70.00. This kit is a perfect fit for this machine. Stepper motor driver boards are available from several places on the internet. There is plenty of support for this kit via google and discussion boards. As far as the driver boards, you can build your own from instructions that are available online. Your level of expertise and knowledge about electronics will determine how you assemble the kit.
I general, people are very satisfied with this kit and its capabilities. It rarely gets a bad review. The kit comes in two sizes. A 7″ x 7″ and a 12″ x 12″. The kits run $330 and $600 respectively. As stated before, a motor kit adds about $70.
The body of the machine is constructed with high density PVC material. Steel guide rods, linear bearings and stainless steel hardware are utilized to assemble all the moving parts. New Nema 17 motors are included for all three axis. The installation easy and all you need is a bench vise and a power screw driver. There are online videos available and an install instruction CD is included in the package. Assembling the CNC router takes around 3-4 hours. It is amazing what you can create with this little machine. It is sturdy, precise and within any budget. The video below shows the machine in use.
Steven Cole (Economics, MBA – University of West Florida , Graduate Certificate – Stanford University) 22 years in the safety industry.