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Scratch Built CNC Micro Slant Bed Lathe

January Project of the Month [3]
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Active Member
Active Member
Jan 20, 2016
A few months ago, I realized that I am constantly needing fasteners and other small parts that halt a project in its tracks. Everything from your regular 1/4x20 screws to things like M12x1 lock nuts. I spend a lot of time trying to find these, pay too much for them or buy them in large quantities, then spend more time cutting them to length. I started thinking about a small lathe that would be able to make fasteners for me so that I didn't need to stop projects when I am on a roll and wait a few days to order a fastener or search hardware stores for them. So I started drawing and doing a few simulations and pricing things out and I think I came up with something that will work.

My requirements were:
-Single point threading in steel
-Turn at least 1" in diameter
-$250 or less
-Make a 3/8x16x1" socket head screw in 4 minutes

For the spindle, I am using 2 deep groove ball bearings, an aluminum housing, and a faceplate to mount a custom chuck. I haven't decided what kind of chuck I will use, but it will probably be an ER collet system. For the spindle motor, again not decided but I have been thinking about using a Nema 34 stepper. It isn't the ideal solution, but using a 3:1 pulley, I should be able to get enough speed and torque out of it and threading will be easy at low speeds.

Linear motion for the Z axis will be on a Rexroth 25mm linear rail I got for $30 shipped on eBay. It is 9.25" long and will give me roughly 5.5" of travel. It will use a Nema 23 stepper and an acme lead screw for motion. I want to make one from 12L14 just because I haven't done any acme threading before, but I may just buy ground leadscrew stock and make it with that.

The X axis is still up in the air. I haven't been able to find a pair of small linear rails for a decent price. I will keep looking though. It will either use a Nema 17 stepper or a smaller Nema 23. I will use a leadscrew on the X as well.

I don't need fast rapids for this machine since it will only have about 5" of Z travel and 3.5-5" of X travel. Cutting at 10 IPM with .01" coming off per pass, the 3/8x16x1" screw will need 10 passes to turn it down to thread size, each pass will take 6 seconds, so that will be about 1 minute 30 seconds to turn it to the right diameter. This leaves me 2 minutes 30 seconds for the threading and parting to meet my goal. I am either going to use some kind of gang tooling or a turret for tool changing. I haven't decided entirely yet.

So far my costs and estimated costs are:

I already have
-Spindle bearings - $20
-Z linear rail - $30
-Various stock - $15
-Thrust bearings - $10

Estimated costs to come
-Spindle motor - $40
-Z axis motor - $20
-X axis motor - $15
-X axis rails - $30
-Z axis leadscrew - $5
-X axis leadscrew - $5
-Power supply - $20
-Spindle motor driver - $30
-Z axis driver - $15
-X axis driver - $10
-Breakout board - $10

Motor for tool changer - $15
Driver for tool changer - $5

This has me a bit over budget, but my initial budget didn't include the tool changer. To get the budget reduced, I have a few ideas. First is with the spindle motor. I might pick up a treadmill for $20 or less and take the motor out of that. Then make an encoder. That would give me more power and cut the price down $50. I have also been thinking of using dovetails on the X axis instead of rails. This will cut the cost by about $25.

Here are some pictures. I welcome questions, criticism and suggestions if anyone has some.

Here is the 3D model of the machine. It is about 14" long.

Here is the spindle machining in progress.

Here is the mostly complete spindle. That is a AAA battery for scale.

Bearings on the spindle.

For the spindle housing, I JB welded 4 .75" pieces of aluminum together. They were cleaned thoroughly, degreased, and roughed up beforehand. They will secured to the base and the spindle bearings will squeeze them together. I am not worried about it pulling apart.

Then I squared it up on the mill.

Then mounted in the lathe 4 jaw to do the majority of the boring for the spindle. That would have been a pain in the butt doing that on the mill.

Here it is bored out before I cut the bearing seats. I did that with the CNC and they both fit well. I indicated on the bottom each time so that they will be perfectly perpendicular to the bottom.

Bearings seats done and spindle base mostly machined. I just need to drill the holes for the screws to mount it to the table.

Here is where it is now. pardon the mess, I was cleaning a set of nasty linear rails I got online and went out to snap that picture really quick. Once I find some suitable rails or figure out dovetails for the X, I can press on.


Active Member
Active Member
Jan 20, 2016
Quick update on this project.

I selected the X axis rails, they are going to be CPC 9mm rails with 3 bearings, 2 in the front and 1 in the rear. I also ordered the motors, I will be using 84 oz in Nema 17s which should have more than enough holding force and torque for the tiny cutting forces this lathe will see. I decided to go with the "600 watt" spindle motor from my X2 to run the spindle. That should have more than enough torque, and it will be pulleyed down from 6000 RPM to 2500 RPM. I am also going to hold off on a tool changer for now. It will use gang tooling and should have plenty of room for a profile and facing tool, a threading tool, a spot drill, and drill holder. That should cover everything I need this machine to do.

I have made the apron for the machine out of .5" aluminum plate and drilled and tapped it for the rail mounting and drilled and counterbored it for the M8 bearing screws. I messed up when generating the toolpath in fusion because I modeled the holes for 8mm which wouldn't give me any clearance. I set the radial stock to leave to -.025" to give me some clearance and it automatically set the axial offset to the same. I didn't realize it had done that so it cut the top face down for now reason. It looks bad, but it will never be seen and doesn't effect the functionality so I am just going to leave it. Please pardon the condition of the shop floor, everything was getting moved around to make room for a car oil change and stuff got jumbled.

Next up is the work on the base plate, drilling a bunch of holes, some tapped, some countersunk. Then I will make the plates that will set it at an angle and the bottom plate. After that it is just motor mounts, cross slide, and the toolholders.


Active Member
Active Member
Jan 20, 2016
I have made a bit of progress on this little project as well as gotten some more parts.

First, a latest model based on some design decisions and such. It now has a T slot table and will use gang tooling at least to start. That will give me enough room for a turning and facing tool, a threading tool, a parting tool, and 2 drills, while working with a part .6" or smaller. Given that this machine will mostly be making parts around .375", that will be fine.

I made the table out of aluminum and it has 4 parts and 9 screws in it. I cut the T slot parts from the bottom, then attached them to the bottom of the table and squared them up, and finished machining all of it once it was screwed together. You can't even tell that it is multiple pieces.

I made the 2 leadscrews out of 12L14 steel on my lathe. They are .5"x10 TPI threads. I went with a 60 degree screw just for ease of machining. I think they will work well enough for the purpose I have. If not, I will learn how to do an acme thread and get the thread guages for that and remake them. The stock only cost $1/foot so I can afford to make a few mistakes with them. If acme doesn't cut it, I will probably just get some 1204 ballscrews, but I don't think it will come to that. I also got 2 84 oz in nema 17 motors. For the small amount of force I need and the low speeds, I anticipate them doing the job just fine. I also decided on the "600 watt" motor from my X2 (it was replaced with a 1000 watt treadmill motor) to run the spindle. I will probably do a 3:1 reduction to get the top speed from 6000 to 2000 and bump up the torque a little bit.

I am halfway done with the chuck for the spindle now. It will be an ER20 collet with a backplate that attaches to the spindle face. I made it out of 2 pieces since I didn't have any 2.5" steel stock and I didn't want to spend a ton of time cutting it down. The backplate is aluminum and is threaded in the middle to accept a the chuck portion. It will be turned around and then the collet nut threads and the taper will be cut. The fit between the spindle face and backplate is excellent.

Here is where the little lathe is now. I propped it up on the mill motor so I could see what it would look like once it is slanted.

Here is another picture to show the scale.

I am still waiting on the drivers, breakout board, and a few belts. Hopefully those get here soon and I can get this thing moving.


Active Member
Active Member
Jan 20, 2016

Machine is pretty much done at this point. I have made the spindle lock nuts, the slant plates, the motor mounts, the pulleys for the motors as well as the spindle, the screw mounts, the bottom plate, a tensioning pulley, both X and Z lead screws and nuts.

Here it is all slanted up. This wasn't too difficult to do and to make sure they match, I just clamped them together while I machined them.

Here is the Z lead screw. It is 10 TPI and was made manually out of 12L14 on my PM1030 lathe. It has a little bit of backlash, but the nut and screw cost me in the range of $1.

I used the mill and lathe to make GT2 pulleys for both axes. It was relatively simple, just drill a bunch of small holes in a circle, then stick it in the lathe, make it round, then cut a groove.

Here are the motor mounts and nut mounts.

Here is the spindle end, you can see the pulleys on the motor and spindle, as well as the lock nuts on the spindle. This was before the tensioning pulley was made, but I don't have a picture of that. I was able to get the spindle motor to overload before the belt would slip so I think it will work.

I also finished the ER20 chuck and it has a bit too much runout. I will face off the mounting plate once I get the Z and X done and ready to cut.

Here it is all together with a mess of wires. This will all be cleaned up once I get everything tightened up and aligned right. When running the motors at 12v 1.25a, I got them to 60 IPM before they started to stall. I can drive them at 24v 2.2a which should double their torque.

I have to make a tool holder before I can try to cut anything, but all of the parts dedicated to the machine are done. I am working on a design for a turret now which will hold 6 tools.

So my costs where:
2 Nema 17 steppers: $23.40
2 stepper drivers: $2.94
2 GT2 belts: $2.24
Breakout board: $6.74
Spindle belt: $5.66
X axis rails: $31.60
Z axis rails: $29
4 thrust bearings: $3.20
Spindle bearings: $21
Leadscrews and nuts: $3
Stock for everything else: $30
Total: $158.78

Parts I had on hand or leftover:
Spindle motor from X2 mill
ER20 nut

Here is the turret I am designing. I am designing from scratch, but there I am drawing inspiration from the hlaps1990s videos on youtube.

Here is a model of it mounted up on the lathe.


Active User
Active Member
Feb 17, 2013
you are doing some seriously amazing work!

I am VERY interested in seeing how you get along with the toolchanger as well.

Thanks so much for sharing!


Active Member
Active Member
Jan 20, 2016
Figured it was time for another update.

I was out of town for 3 weeks over the holidays so I didn't get to work on the machine nearly as much as I wanted to.

I got the spindle tested and working, the axes moving consistently, and the drivers no longer overheat on me. I haven't tried pushing rapids yet, but I can get around 60 IPM without issues. I made a simple block tool holder to use while I work on the design for the turret.

Next steps for the machine are mostly electrical and visual. I need to build an electronics enclosure and try to shield it from the spindle somehow. Then I need to figure out a way to mount the spindle controls. Right now, anytime the motor is at 50% speed or starts pulling any sort of current, the steppers start jumping around and everything just goes haywire. I have also been considering a change in control for the machine. It doesn't need anything fancy so an arduino and a few buttons may be sufficient for it.

I also would like to clean it up and maybe paint it. There are some edges that aren't machined and some scuffs here and there that I don't like to look at. Maybe I can mess with that once I finish with the electronics. I have also been considering an enclosure, but that may not happen. I will be getting a new milling machine soon, so my efforts will likely be focused on that once this machine is functional.

Here is a picture of the enclosure I was working on. I have no idea how feasible it is, especially since I have zero experience working with sheet metal. AgJHqIQ.png

Here is a short video of the machine moving and making a few cuts. Its pretty clear what still needs to be worked out.
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