Toolbox CNC Controller

I’ve been debating on what to put all of the electronics in, and several weekends ago I bought this old toolbox at a garage sale for $2. Turns out it holds everything, plus I still have room for the tool tray. I imagine I’ll store some CNC tools in there…Dial Caliper, Router Wrenches, etc.

I’ve posted a ton of pictures below of the build in case you want to do something similar. You will also notice some pictures of a laptop cooler. I found this at the local Fry’s on sale for about $5. I managed to dismantle this and retrieve 2 5v fans (with temperature and speed control.) Fan Grates, USB Cables, 5v power supply, plus a USB Hub.

I used the fans to help cool the toolbox and I plan on installing the USB hub into the toolbox as well. I also used XLR or Mic connectors to attach the steppers to the electronics. I had a difficult time finding these from a domestic supplier. I ended up buying from Futurlec, which ships from somewhere in Asia. It was a great price and exactly what I needed. I would certainly buy from them again. These connectors are great as they allow you to screw in the connector which hopefully prevents yanking them out while the steppers are running, which appears to be very bad for the electronics.


Just posting some more pictures of the build. The following pics show the Lower Torsion Box assembly. I also show how I attached the ends to the Torsion Box. I decided to bolt them on for now. I will likely glue and bolt them on later.The Torsion Box was just assembled with wood glue and staples. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.


I took these pictures some time ago, but just now posting. These are basically the construction of the X axis assembly along with some of the bearing blocks.

Lots on the forum are tapping the mdf and using screws, I decided to go with Conformant Screws. I’ve used these on other projects involving MDF and the work really well. You just need to make sure you drill the holes straight. has a great starter set. I’d recommend that for this project or any other involving MDF boxes.

CNC Part 2

It’s been a busy weekend and I got quite a bit of work done on the machine. I completed the lower torsion box as well as completed the adjustment blocks.

I’ll be posting a bill of materials, but for those that are interested I started this project with a 4×8 sheet of 1/2 MDF from local Menards as well as 4×8 sheet of 3/4 MDF (about $35 total). After cutting the parts, I have plenty left over for testing the machine. As others have suggested on the CNC Zone, I made the adjustment blocks out of cutting board material.

I found a great deal on scrap material from The Cutting Board Factory’s Specials Page. This was a great site and they delivered exactly what I needed with lots to spare for about $20.

Cutting the MDF was pretty easy. Just took my time and carefuly cut all of the pieces in the plan with a table saw. Having a table saw makes this a pretty quick process, but the great thing about this plan is it can easily be done with a few clamps, good straight edge, and a circular saw.

I also cut the HDPE (Cutting board) material on the table saw as well. To make the Adjustment blocks I carefully measured, marked, and center punched all of the holes. In retrospect this was wasted work as eventually I just went to my Dad’s house and used his Drill Press. Having a drill press makes this really easy as you can setup the fence so that you can just slide the part in and drill all the repetitive holes quickly. If you don’t have access to a drill press, I suggest you carefully measure and center punch the holes so you drill doesn’t wander much.

According to the plans I tapped all of the Adjustment holes with a tap and die set that I bought at the local Harbor Freight. This was a really inexpensive kit and it has paid for itself the very first use. I was able to buy all the bolts and nuts at my local Menards, but also considered buying them at Bolt Depot.

Please check back often as I’ll be posting more pictures and things I’ve learned along the way.

CNC Router Part 1

I’ve been studying this for quite some time, but I’ve finally decided to build my own CNC Router. It combines many of my hobbies; Woodworking, Computers, and Electronics. It is by far the geekiest thing that I have ever done.

My thanks go to all the kind folks at The CNC Zone. I’ve been lurking there for months now, and information there has given me the confidence to go forward. I’ll be building the JGRO machine.