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Category — Tooling

Excellent Advice on Procuring CNC Components from

A genuine great resource and build log: 5BearsCNC

November 24, 2014   Comments Off on Excellent Advice on Procuring CNC Components from

In my experience, the undisputed master of “Tooling Pr0n”

I’ve had this fantastic site bookmarked for some years now, and thought I’d put it up for future reference. It has, as it states on the main page:

…over 85 web pages containing 2658 different annotated photographs, 70 animations, plus 325 reference documents on metal machining tools, tooling, modifications, methods, & projects.  Most of the photographs herein are of newly received shop equipment & tools…



Envy, Lust, heck, yes! Those would be some of the thoughts I experience looking at it. Never mind the man’s resume. Fantastic.

Dr. Alan R. Pinkus

The Micro Machine Shop

I particulary enjoy his drill section; right up there with the metrology. Just fantastic.


November 14, 2014   Comments Off on In my experience, the undisputed master of “Tooling Pr0n”

General CNC Wood/Metal/Plastic/Composites Router Bit Information

Several decent links:

– This from the Fab Academy: Router Bit Basics

– Decent basic description of the material types used in the above: Onsrud Cutter Tools (

–’s description of various cutters: CNC Router Bits


Cutting MDF/Plywood/Laminates:

 – MDF is abrasive due to glue content and should be cut with at least carbide cutters. HSS will die very quickly with MDF, plywood and other similar materials.

  – Using a Compression Endmill is best on laminates. It cuts both up and down, which leaves both surfaces clean, but is designed so that it is done in ONE pass. If the machine cannot manage a single pass, another style of bit needs to be used.

– Next best is straight flute cutters. Upcutting alone (for good-one-side plywood would leave the bottom side clean, much better for clearing chips, but will mar the top surface and require extra cleaning up. In addition, an upcutting spiral bit can also (with aggressive feeds) actually pull the work material off the table if it is not secured well enough.

– A downcutting bit would save the top of the material, but risks re-cutting the chips and damaging the lower side.

– According to some sources, Plywood likes to splinter when cutting in climb milling, so conventional is better. Having said that, I have seen representatives state that one should do a test cut, and see which is a cleaner cut (the waste material or non-waste), and adjust the cutting method to accommodate that. In my own recent use, I had a better finish in climb (Home Depot 1/2 inch SPF plywood; had lots of voids). This site states Climb Milling is better with wood. *shrug*.

– It is said that high speed steel with cut smoother than carbide, but as with anything, that depends on feed rates, condition and type of tool; I have used straight flute carbide and had (to me) acceptable finish on plywood (conventional worked better with that bit, as climb caused splintering)

– Several sources state the same methodology should be used in wood as metal; use a rouging tool to remove the bulk of the material at a high rate of speed, and use a finishing tool to complete the job. This will extend the life of both tools, but will require more than one pass, and possibly more than one Gcode session.

April 22, 2014   Comments Off on General CNC Wood/Metal/Plastic/Composites Router Bit Information

Clamping Tips

Found these reading various forums, and thought they were significant enough to keep track of. In no particular order or sort:

– Spherical Clamping Washers: Clamp nut or cap screw is evenly loaded and clamping pressure is uniform, and square to the machine table.

– Insert newspaper between the mill table and the work-piece. It’s said to significantly increase the frictional resistance of work-piece shifting.

April 20, 2014   Comments Off on Clamping Tips

Drag Knife, Tangential Knife

Oooh! Sharp Objects! *coughs*

A Drag Knife. Name is fairly descriptive of its purpose. The Spindle drags the knife behind it, cutting through the surface material. The material has to be fairly thin (think X-Acto style blades) in order for this to work properly (having said that, some styles take a utility/boxcutter blade)


Thicker material you say? Plunge serrations needed? Enter the Tangential Knife.

Instead of freely rotating, a much stouter knife blade is held by a stepper motor, which is motion controlled to drag the blade through heavier materials.


WidgetWorks Drag Knife (for Vinyl)

Tormach’s Spring Loaded CNC Drag Knife (Carbide Blade, made by WidgetWorks 🙂 )

Rockcliff Machine – Drag Knife (three carbide blades, each of differing angle)

Donek Tools Drag Knife

VIDEO – Platform CNC, Making and Using a Drag Knife (YouTube) – Tangential Knife (NOT inexpensive)

Rockcliff Machines Project – Stepper Driven Tangential Knife



April 20, 2014   Comments Off on Drag Knife, Tangential Knife

CNC Plotting

Let’s re-invent the wheel, while we’re at it!

When I was a kid, plotters were the first printers I was exposed to (computer wise). I was in awe of them.

Well, I’ve got this CNC machine, just sitting around…

Two types of tools I’ve found for this job:

– Drag Pens

– Spring Loaded Pens

The drag pens, due to the build angle, automatically swivel to follow the movement of the spindle, and are (as far as I can tell) used on large, flat surfaces. The Spring Loaded Pens, on the other hand, have flexible Z axis movement under either a controlled weight or spring pressure, allowing the pen to move over irregular surfaces (cylinders, rough work).

Like the Spring Engravers, a mix of people building their own, and purchasing. One turn-off for me on the spring loaded I found for purchase is you are locked into their pens. Having said that, the company has been around for eight years or so, so not exactly a huge risk.

The best DIY spring loaded takes a simple click pen, and modifies it! Cost? The click pen *grin*



WidgetWorks Coilover Pen Holder, Thick Line (they nominally stock a thin line as well, but seem to be out at the moment)

Shopbot Forum Posting on the WidgetWorks unit

RockcliffMachine Drag Pen – Video of it HERE


The aforementioned Click Pen DIY

DIY Coil Over Pen for Plotting, by Grunblau Design (makers of my drool worthy next acquisition: Platform CNC) – DIY Pen Holders (Shows how to use a wooden block and dowel for a drag pen, and a compass, good thinking)

Floating Weight Style DIY for Sharpie Markers (Practical Machinist) – (Zip file with drawing at the bottom)


Example of (assumed) overkill (I think this was meant for a gantry type CNC): Artsoft Link to Forum Post, and in the same thread, the aforementioned Click Pen Modification




April 20, 2014   Comments Off on CNC Plotting