Cnc Router It's Alive!!

JimDawson

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I've been a bit busy for the last couple of weeks, I've been working on 5 major projects all at the same time and haven't had as much time to spent on The Hobby Machinist as I would like. Here is one of the projects.

Some time ago I brought home a CNC router that a local company was retiring. I had previously done a controls retro fit on this machine so I really bought it just to strip the controls and other useful parts then was going to scrap the rest. The price of scrap is way down so I thought I would just sit on it for a while. I'm not sure I could have actually brought myself to actually scrap the aluminum. I use too much of it and the table alone is 48x96 by 1 inch thick, and it has a number of other heavy aluminum pieces on it also. This thing is 8 ft wide and about 14 feet long and weighs 5-6000#. Really too big for my shop.
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Last week a customer of mine asked me to bid on some plastic parts, a perfect job for a large router. I guess I was the low bidder, I got the job. So now I have to make the router go. First I had to find it under all of the stuff that had been stacked on top of it over several months. Any large flat surface becomes a junk collector.;)

The next few problems are how to run the thing. It is all 3 phase and I have single phase. The spindle motor is 12HP. I don't have enough power in my shop to run that. The 3 HP vacuum pump is also 3 phase of course.

It turns out the the bearings in the spindle were pretty tired and a bit loose (OK, a lot loose), and rebuilding the 18,000 RPM spindle is an expensive proposition. So killing two birds with one stone I decided to put a Porter-Cable 7518 3 1/4 HP router motor on it. So that solves the problem of the spindle power also. Then I used the 15HP VFD that was used to run the spindle to now run the vacuum pump from a single phase feed. Seems to work fine. I just converted the control panel over to a single phase panel, a little rewiring and done!

EDIT: I forgot to include these pictures when I posted this.
This the inside of the computer and the VFD when I opened them up. The were still working. Working around wood processing for years I have seen worse.

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Here is the new motor mount in process, milling the pockets for the motor brackets. I counter sunk two hold down bolt holes so I could bolt it down to the t-slot. I only held it on the centerline because almost all extruded aluminum is cupped a bit. So first I bolted it down on the table, convex side down so I could flatten the concave side, it took about 0.015 to clean it up. If you start with the concave side down, you will just flatten it out with the bolts and when you release it, it will still be concave. Then I flipped it over, and bolted it down with a piece of 3/4 MDF as a backer board. Then cleaned up the other side. I countersink the screws deep enough that there is no chance of hitting them with the cutter during the cleanup. The backer board allows through drilling with plenty of drill clearance above the table. I like MDF because it's generally flat, dense, and holds up well to coolant in the short term.
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And the finished motor mount. I already had the mounting clamps, so I just needed them to fit the new mount plate. The mount plate is 14 x 8 x 1 6061. What you can't see in this picture is that the mount plate is bolted to the Z ram, and aligned in the mill so I could drill & ream the dowel pin hole (under the top of the router)

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The motor installed on the Z ram. Note the dowel pin just in back of the little red dot (edge of the power switch) in the picture center. It's centered on the 4 mounting bolt pattern to allow some rotation but not horizontal or vertical movement. I drilled the bolt holes just a bit loose to allow some rotational movement for alignment.

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Here is a side by side comparison of the old motor and the new. The 7518 is a pretty big router motor, about 10 3/4 inches tall, and weighs about 15 #, the old motor weighs at least 50#, maybe more.

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How to tram your router head. This is just a piece of welding rod with a 0.500 plug attached to the router end and the other end just ground to a point. It's about 20 inches long. The paper is just there for contrast in the picture. To use, just sweep the table with it as you are inching the Z down. Once it touches somewhere then adjust just like you would with a dial indicator. In this case I really lucked out, in the ''nod'' direction it was better than about 0.003, using paper as a feeler gauge. 0.003 in 40 inches is good enough for a router, and my mill for that matter. In the rotation plane it was off about 0.010, so loosen the mount bolts a bit and smack it with a dead blow hammer to align. Worked out great.

IMG_0358.jpg

The next step is to take a skin cut on the table top, just to make sure it's flat, then I will make a vacuum plenum out of some 1/4 MDF. You waffle cut one side of the MDF, then take a light skin cut on the other side and the vacuum goes right through the MDF. Makes a nice flat surface, and protects the 3/4 inch Delrin cover plastic unless you forget to set your Z zero correctly. As you can see, there have been some less than careful operators running this machine. The Delrin has been patched a time or two. I'm glad (I hope) they never got down into the aluminum table.

There is nothing proprietary about the job I'm going to run on it, so I'll post pictures and process of that one when I run it in the next week or so.
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Jim, your range of knowledge and skill inspires me. Keep it coming!
 

brav65

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Wow Jim, makes the little 36"x48" I am working on look like a toy. You are certainly inspirational with your skill set. I look forward to seeing more on this project.
 

David VanNorman

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Great router, good job thinking out what you had to do. Looks like a great set up.
 

Jastein

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Hey Jim: Gnarly Machine! How about a pic of the waffle cut MDF. The vacuum pulls right through the MDF. I'd like to see that in action.
 

JimDawson

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The new dust collector. This is a case of ''use what ya got'' to do the job. A couple of years ago I bought a large central vac unit for a project and that project ended so I have had this unit hanging on the rack ever since. This is a shop vac on steroids, 240 volt, twin dual stage blower motors. It will suck the chrome off of a trailer hitch ball. The only real problem is the limited capacity of the collection canister, only about 10 gallons. Due to the design of the vac, the collection canister is under vacuum so I can't put a bag on it. If it becomes an issue, I'll make an intermediate collection stage out of a 55 gal barrel.

IMG_0363.jpg

So over to the mill and make a chip management adapter to fit the router motor and the suction hose. A chunk of 3/4 inch UHMW will work fine. That's a 0.500, straight flute router bit. I didn't have a sharp spiral bit which would have been better suited for this job. The part is screwed down to a piece of particle board that I had used for a backer on another project, so it already had the countersunk holes for the t-slot bolts.

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And the finish pass. I just drilled the bolt hole with a hand drill and slotted the clamp end on the table saw.

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I couldn't find a brush for it on a Sunday, so I used some thin conveyor belting and screwed it to the shoe. I slit the belt about every 3/4 inch to get the flexibility needed.

IMG_0361.jpg

And the system overview. The vac is controlled by the computer and comes on when the head comes down to start cutting. I'm using M7, M9 codes (Mist Coolant, and Coolant Off) in the G-code to control it. I'm waiting for some tooling so I haven't had a chance to actually make chips and try it out yet.

IMG_0362.jpg
 

sgisler

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That is sweet, what a monster.
Quick question; what would one search for to find that bada$$ shopvac?


Stan,
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JimDawson

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Google Central Vacuum Systems. This one is a Vacuflo FC1550 I think. One warning! These things are expensive, I think I paid about $1100 for that one. I would not have bought it for shopvac service. I needed a high powered vacuum source for a specific use, and the specs on this worked for that project and I had an almost unlimited budget for that project. For that project I tried using 2 shopvacs and they weren't quite enough, so I went searching for something bigger & badder.
 

sgisler

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Great, thanks Jim for the info! Though my shop is not big, I thought it would be nice to have a central type vac with a portable intermediate stage collector.


Stan,
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JimDawson

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I got to make my first chips today with the poor old router!!!!! It seems to work fine, but a bit slow for a CNC router. I'm limited by the spindle HP, only 3.25 HP, vs, the original 12HP. The first order of business was to skin cut the table 0.005 just to make sure it was flat. It wasn't.... Up to 0.010 variation. Let's just say the previous operators were less than experienced. The power consumption is not too bad, about 5KW with everything running.

Below is the waffle cut MDF backer that I referenced above. Cut like this, it distributes the weight and provides a solid base for the work. It also provides vacuum channels for the hold down system. You waffle cut one side and take a skin cut on the other and the vacuum pulls right through the MDF. I found that the MDF that I'm using is not very consistent in the thickness. I'm down 0.035 (third pass) trying to clean it up. It started out as 1/4 thick, which turned out to be 0.214 actual. If I have to take any more I may run out of material in the channels. It's down to about 0.055 web thickness now. I have three zones corresponding to the vacuum control valves on the table and a 1.25 inch border around the edge.. This allows turning off the zones you are not using. This method will securely hold almost all flat materials.

You can also cover the unused area with just about anything, stretch wrap works great, or another piece of plywood or whatever. The edges are taped with some vinyl tape to seal them. I'm using a 1.25 bowl carving bit for these operations. 13,000 RPM, 100 IPM cutting speed, 0.120 DOC.
51Yz5eKcSwL._SY355_.jpg

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The vacuum zone control valves

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I also learned something about why the dust control shoes all have an inner chamber. That is all but mine...yet, that's the next project. Once the tool moves over to the edge of the work, you lose the suction and get sawdust all over. So I'll be redesigning my dust control shoe.

Here's what a real one looks like. I would use this one, but it is way too big for this spindle.

IMG_0372.jpg

I also found out that a 6 gallon dust collection canister is way too small, so pretty quick I need to build a 55 gal intermediate collection canister. I'll post pictures of that build when I do it.
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51Yz5eKcSwL._SY355_.jpg
 
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JimDawson

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I built the modification for the chip management shoe this morning.

Glued 2 pieces of 3/4 MDF together to get the height, then scrounged up a piece of 1/4 plastic of some kind for the base. Bolted the whole thing down on the mill table and started chewing. The most amazing thing about this picture is that the spindle is turning about 3000 RPM, it captured it with the flash with no motion blur at all. Not bad for a cheap point & shoot Cannon.

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And out pops the parts.
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The spacer in place:

IMG_0378.jpg


And the completed assembly

I used brad-lock T-nuts without the brads to keep everything compact. If I ever need to take it apart I'll have to drill the screws out, I assembled it with red LockTite. I didn't want it dripping parts in the middle of a cut.

IMG_0379.jpg

And this is how it looks installed. The bottom is just above the collet nut. If I ever run the Z down that far, I'm doing something wrong. It works great now. I should have copied every other shoe I've see to start with, but I didn't understand why they were built that way. I had to see for myself. Live & learn.

IMG_0384.jpg
 
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JimDawson

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I built the Enhanced Capacity Dust Management Unit this afternoon.

I bought a barrel with a removable top and a lever lock for easy servicing. Then I made up my mind that I was NOT going to make another trip into town for any hardware so I went scrounging through my stash of stuff to find enough bits and pieces to make it work.

Here's what I came up with out of my ABS plumbing supplies box. The main item that made things easy was a shower drain fitting, they screw together so mounting the bucket was easy.

IMG_0385.jpg

The Milwaukee Fuel had plenty of power to get through the barrel lid with a 3 inch hole saw. I didn't have to dig out my arm breaker Hole Shooter.

IMG_0387.jpg

and the 5 gal bucket mounted on the lid. The purpose of the bucket is the provide a low velocity airflow zone at the top of the barrel so hopefully as the sawdust swirls around it as it's dropping it won't be picked up and transported to the vacuum. We'll see how well this works, I may have to put a cone inside to get it to drop out better.

IMG_0388.jpg

And the inside view

IMG_0389.jpg

The inlet tube. I have probably had this kicking around for 20 years, hey, it might be useful some day. The only problem is that the adapter is glued into the end.

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No problem, that's what band saws are for.

IMG_0391.jpg

So how to secure the inlet tube through the lid? A Myers hub (an o-ringed electrical fitting) would be a good choice for this, but NO trips to the hardware for this project.

So I bored out an ABS coupling for a tight slip fit on the pipe so it would slide down the pipe and when glued in place will secure the tube.

IMG_0393.jpg

A little more glue to seal the gap and it's in place. But......There is another problem, I can't release the clamp, hits the outlet tube.

IMG_0394.jpg

Just cut on the mark.
IMG_0395.jpg

Here is the inner view of the inlet tube, it is installed kind of tangent to the barrel arc to get the sawdust to swirl.

IMG_0399.jpg

And here is the finished installation. I need to find some 55 gallon trash bags to put in the barrel to make disposal easier.

IMG_0397.jpg

I'll get to try it out tomorrow and see if it actually works. !!.
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JimDawson

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I started cutting out the UHMW parts today. I ran a number of test parts in some scrap UHMW to get the feed and speed correct for the tool bit I'm using. This was also the first test run with the Enhanced Capacity Dust Management Unit (see ^^^ above) It seems to work as planned, not bad for a collection of stuff I had sitting around the shop. I cleaned out the vacuum canister before I started, and at the end of the run today there was only one UHMW chip in the vacuum canister, it all went into the barrel. The UHMW is pretty dense compared to sawdust so we'll see if it works with that.
 

mattthemuppet2

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very cool Jim. That's going to seriously expand your capabilities and the kinds of jobs/ projects you'll be able to do. Looking forward to the output!
 

JimDawson

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When they do roll call on “calling all machinist”. You get to go in front of the line!
I've never really considered myself to be a machinist, more of of problem solver who sometimes uses machine tools as part of the process. There are a lot of folks out there who are much better at machining than I am. I have a natural feel for running machine tools so I'm lucky in that regard.
 

bpratl

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Very impressive restoration project. You obviously have a lot of talent and thanks for sharing.
 

Downunder Bob

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I built the Enhanced Capacity Dust Management Unit this afternoon.

I bought a barrel with a removable top and a lever lock for easy servicing. Then I made up my mind that I was NOT going to make another trip into town for any hardware so I went scrounging through my stash of stuff to find enough bits and pieces to make it work.

Here's what I came up with out of my ABS plumbing supplies box. The main item that made things easy was a shower drain fitting, they screw together so mounting the bucket was easy.

View attachment 110460

The Milwaukee Fuel had plenty of power to get through the barrel lid with a 3 inch hole saw. I didn't have to dig out my arm breaker Hole Shooter.

View attachment 110461

and the 5 gal bucket mounted on the lid. The purpose of the bucket is the provide a low velocity airflow zone at the top of the barrel so hopefully as the sawdust swirls around it as it's dropping it won't be picked up and transported to the vacuum. We'll see how well this works, I may have to put a cone inside to get it to drop out better.

View attachment 110462

And the inside view

View attachment 110464

The inlet tube. I have probably had this kicking around for 20 years, hey, it might be useful some day. The only problem is that the adapter is glued into the end.

View attachment 110465

No problem, that's what band saws are for.

View attachment 110466

So how to secure the inlet tube through the lid? A Myers hub (an o-ringed electrical fitting) would be a good choice for this, but NO trips to the hardware for this project.

So I bored out an ABS coupling for a tight slip fit on the pipe so it would slide down the pipe and when glued in place will secure the tube.

View attachment 110471

A little more glue to seal the gap and it's in place. But......There is another problem, I can't release the clamp, hits the outlet tube.

View attachment 110472

Just cut on the mark.
View attachment 110473

Here is the inner view of the inlet tube, it is installed kind of tangent to the barrel arc to get the sawdust to swirl.

View attachment 110474

And here is the finished installation. I need to find some 55 gallon trash bags to put in the barrel to make disposal easier.

View attachment 110475

I'll get to try it out tomorrow and see if it actually works. !!.
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Nice one, I built one about ten years ago, virtually same design but much smaller. As I don't have a shop vac I wanted something for when cleaning the shop which is really just a corner in the car garage, which is connected to the house, I try to avoid dragging bits off the floor into the house.

I used a 25lt. (5gal) drum for the main container, and a 5lt. (1gal) drum for the inner bucket, likewise PVC plumbing fittings that were lying around the shop. I didn't have the same problem with the lid clamp as mine clamps to outside of the drum. I just hook it up to the house ducted vac system. The drum saves filling up the house system.

I do very little woodwork, mostly metal. However a couple of years ago the clamp broke, (too much use) and I discovered you just don't need it. Once you start the suction there is no way you can get that lid off.

Be careful if you put a trash bag inside the drum that no air can get down between the drum and trash bag or it will suck the whole bag out through the drum outlet. dont ask how I know., but I don't use a bag anymore. Still emptying a 5 gal bucket is abit different from a 55gal one.

It works very well, the only problem is It does get some carry over with very fine dust, but still, way better than filling up the vac cannister, and or getting small bits of metal through the house, which may be fatal for me.
 
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middle.road

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So now I have to go back and read this novel about a surplus router...?

(dang it looks real interesting at a glance! :grin: )

Nothing like that seems to pop up in East TN.
 
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