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92 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An epic win for the hobbyist community!
I got my copy of the book today. I've spent maybe a half hour skimming the book, and my initial impression is that it is very thorough and complete. It goes through the basics of why / how the linear bearings will work, how to cut and drill the MDF, etc. Even a novice, that had only minimal experience with simple power tools could understand and follow these directions to...
Published on December 9, 2009 by Guido Kimble

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54 of 60 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Old edition (needs to be updated badly)
For those looking to buy a how to book, this one shows you how to build the authors first design. It will not help you build "your own" design but will help you build his original design.

If you look at the web site =(the book title buildyourcnc.com ) he is now 4 versions down the road, which is much improved over the design you get in the book.
(This book...
Published on August 1, 2010 by Smith


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92 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An epic win for the hobbyist community!, December 9, 2009
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This review is from: Build Your Own CNC Machine (Technology in Action) (Paperback)
I got my copy of the book today. I've spent maybe a half hour skimming the book, and my initial impression is that it is very thorough and complete. It goes through the basics of why / how the linear bearings will work, how to cut and drill the MDF, etc. Even a novice, that had only minimal experience with simple power tools could understand and follow these directions to completion.

Everything seems to be very well documented, and is supported by many photos, schematics, and drawings. The photos are clear, even though they are black and white. The color versions of most of the photos are even on the website, if you need them, as are some videos.

Each chapter includes some nice quick-glance features, like a "Summary of Work" and a list of what MDF parts you'll be working on next. This is a nice addition, to help "ground" what you're doing, and keep you understanding what is going on.

The second chapter, titled "Hardware and Tools" is going to help a lot of people, I think, because it sets an understanding for what tools the author assumes you will have access to, and skill using. The requirements are not much cause for concern, since they are all simple power tools you can pick up at almost any hardware store. One thing that I would liked to have seen, would be more specific listings of some of the tools. For instance, almost every hole in the machine is either 1/4", 7/16", 3/8", or 3/4". It probably wouldn't have been to hard to give a specific list of all the drillbits used during construction if you follow the book to the letter. However, it still says you need drill bits, of course, so a little reading will quickly let you figure out which ones.

One final thing I want to point out is that, as far as I can tell, there is no special hardware (besides the electronics) that are required. You can buy everything off the shelf, at pretty much any local hardware retailer (Lowes, Home Depot, True Value, etc.). This is great, and in stark contrast to some other stuff out there (like this book, read the reviews, http://www.amazon.com/CNC-Robotics-Build-Your-Workshop/dp/0071418288/ ) that requires special parts, or hopes you can find the same "suprlus"/recycled items that the author used.

I can't wait to get started! (And I'll be sure to let everyone know how it goes.)

--------UPDATE--------UPDATE---------

I just finished reading the book, and I think it very much lives up to it's purpose. With only common hand and power tools, you can build yourself an affordable CNC router.

The book is about 200 pages, but it's easy reading. It goes very quickly because almost every page is 1/2 covered by pictures, diagrams, or plans.

You should DEFINATELY read the whole book before you do anything. It's as much of a learning journey along with the author, as it is an instruction manual for getting the job done. Because of this, you read about and discover things as the author discovered them in the process. This makes it a bit backwards, as far as a manual goes, because the best way to do something is not always given up front. For instance, it is suggested in chapter 15 that you test drilling holes in scrap wood to figure out just how deeply you have to go in order to submerge the bolts below the surface, despite the fact that you've been drilling counterbored holes for this reason since chapter 8. Also, some of the dimesions in the plans are not real, and you are expected to replace them with more exact dimensions of your machine parts, as you created them, for a more appropriate fit. However, this should in no way discourage you from reading this great book. Just do so before you try to build the machine.

It's a great book, and I highly recommend it. I'll post a new update after I get my machine built.

--------UPDATE #2--------UPDATE #2---------

I decided to see exactly how much it would cost to build. I tried to find deals, or reasonably good prices, on all the pieces. The bare minimum for the machine, including router and a couple bits, is about $800. You will probably also need $100+ dollars worth of tools, unless you have some of the required odd ones already (1-1/8" forstner bit, 45-degree chamfer router bit, 5/16" tap, etc.). The computer needed to run it is not very powerful, but unless you can get a good used one from someone, expect to drop another $200-300. So all total, this is realistically a $1000-1500 project. (I kept track of accurate costs, but provided generalizations here.)

I have a final thought on the perspective of the book. When you read it, consider it a written documentary about someone building the machine, not an instruction manual for building it. There are lots of subtle things left out, but a competent person can figure them out. If you take this attitude towards it, you will save yourself frustration when you run into inconsistencies, errors, or omissions. I still fully recommend the book, and it will give you a great entry into CNC, but the role of the book has caused some people grief.
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Build Your Own CNC Machine, December 5, 2009
By 
Ken (Dallas, TX) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Build Your Own CNC Machine (Technology in Action) (Paperback)
I've had my copy of "Build Your Own CNC Machine" a week and have finished reading it. I've waited years for the cost of computer controlled tooling to become affordable for artisans and hobbyists. Even so, acquiring the needed information has always been daunting. I believe these authors have opened the gates wide and will impact many disciplines.

This book walks you through making a simple yet robust CNC machine that permits 3 axis, computer-precise milling in whatever your application, be it printed-circuit boards, violins, or aircraft parts. With this book knowledge of your own field may now be more limiting than your tooling.

The author's machine is made of medium-density fiberboard (MDF,) available in every home-improvement store. They use relatively easy joinery. The order of presentation and construction makes great sense. The author's techniques require reasonable accuracy but not high skill or tooling. Their website videos were made at a kitchen table with a few hand tools. The book is similar in approach but is clearly a refinement of their earlier writings. Motors, control circuitry, and the power supply are purchased, but the bottom line remains well under $1,000 and could even be much less if you have the needed skills.

I found the information in the book totally accessible and never lost in jargon or predispositions of a reader's skill. The authors are especially supportive. Their presentation clearly comes from substantial experience developing both the machine and the persons they've guided before. Every part of such a project involves "buy or build" decisions, which can make or break success . I believe the author's choices are excellent. This book is well worth buying, and there aren't others like it that I can find. I cannot thank them enough for what they've put into it.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Noble effort. A few deficiencies to be aware of., April 2, 2010
By 
Homer Simpson (Portland, OR USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Build Your Own CNC Machine (Technology in Action) (Paperback)
First I must thank the authors for putting this together. I'm sure it has consumed alot of time to develop this machine and the book that shows us how to make it. I'm also sure that they are not getting rich from this either, but do it because they are passionate about it.

I have wanted to build something like this for ages but just haven't done it, but when I saw the article in MAKE magazine I was inspired to buy the book and start the project.

The companion website, [...] is a huge help as well.

The only criticism I have is around the technical details. You will find several deficiencies, such as a complete and accurate bill of materials, and several errors or ommisions on the drawings. You can download these things from the website but there are several versions with contradictions between them.

Were the authors to make changes, I'd recommend that they add a section to the back of the book with a bill of material, possibly with suggested sites where each item may be purchased, at least for parts that are uncommon. In this section I'd provide a complete and accurate set of drawings. Consider this a cliff notes section where those with more of an engineering background or aptitude in this area could go and have all the information they need to complete the project. In the meantime, I'd clean up the website with the contradictory material.

Having said this, my complaints are minor and would, and have recommended the book to others.
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54 of 60 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Old edition (needs to be updated badly), August 1, 2010
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This review is from: Build Your Own CNC Machine (Technology in Action) (Paperback)
For those looking to buy a how to book, this one shows you how to build the authors first design. It will not help you build "your own" design but will help you build his original design.

If you look at the web site =(the book title buildyourcnc.com ) he is now 4 versions down the road, which is much improved over the design you get in the book.
(This book is WAY past the point of needing an update) also I feel the book is very "none technical" which makes the old design even more an issue.

The idea of building the design in the book is, well like stating "I want to build a 286 computer", why would you do it?

The web site related to the book is well done!, and has much more information than the book has!
I would Highly encourage the Author redo the book using the original, and some of his newer designs as well as other machine ref (fireball, probotics, etc etc. ). I would also encourage him to put effort into describing methods of alignment, (ref. [...]), and also put details in the new book showing how to improve the machines accuracy, and lastly the electrical is done ok in the book but is missing an overall wiring design or global overview of the control and stuff like e-stop, limit switches, pendants, and re-zero systems, etc.

Lastly the book does not cover some of what I was interested in.

Methods For correctly aligning rails for a CNC. (for lengths longer than 36")
Methods for setting the slave rail to the master rail
Best designs for lead screws and some dos and don'ts
Working with chain (what can be done)
Working with timing belts (what can be done)
Working with threaded rod (what can be done)
vendor listing for parts (lead screws, chain, backlash nuts, linear bearings etc.) Note his web site has some parts for sale and are +/- Ok for prices.
A good overview of the electrical. (drawings, descriptions, options)
A good over view of how to build MY CNC.

Maybe The book should have been named "Build a CNC out of MDF" there really should be another book that is___ How to build your own CNC ____which would help builders with there own designs of a CNC machine. see "[...]" for an example.

This book was a waste for me, as I am not interested in building his original design.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You're really not going to build this, July 13, 2010
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This review is from: Build Your Own CNC Machine (Technology in Action) (Paperback)
To set the stage, I have one of the author's CNC machines. I bought his Blacktoe 4.0 kit and built it. I understand what is going into this machine.

The book serves as a good foundation for how the machine works. I do not regret buying it. Realistically, the only people who are going to really build a CNC from this book are those who are extremely adept at mechanics and they will end up with a machine that works, but is crude compared to his latest designs. Reading it gave me the confidence to build the kit as I have close to zero mechanical ability. I rate it 4 stars (not 5) as Patrick's own state of development has made the book obsolete. Read it for the principles he teaches, but don't think you're really going to build a CNC from this book for $800 in a weekend. It will cost more and take longer :)

I bought this book from Amazon - the flag was not set to say so.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read the book, built the machine, it works., May 24, 2011
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I echo what others have said. This is a quick read. I am also happy to say that I have built the machine and it works. I've now cutting parts, making engraved panels, and quite proud of the coolest machine/power tool I have ever owned sitting in my garage.

First I'll start with the...

Caveats:

- Visit the websites the book recommends you visit.
- You'll need to read the entire book. In fact I recommend several times. If you are like me you'll inadvertently do this. So, cut once, measure twice, and read thrice. In the opposite order.
- You only need to be a good woodworker once, then you can start cutting better parts. But "whoa to you" if you don't take care to square things up. The lumber requirements (4x 24x48x.75 MDF) are forgiving so you can re-cut pieces that you were careless on.
- The total cost is closer to 1500$. You can nickle and dime your way through the structure and you will with multiple trips to your local big box store, but the electronics are an expensive purchase. No getting around it.
- In some of the chapters you are going to have to wing it or at least you will feel like you are. Now, you do get an explanation of what to do...but the custom measuring is going to be entirely up to you.
- If you aren't buying custom ACME/Hi-Lead screws from somewhere...just go right to the 1/2" 13TPI threaded rod deals from your big box store. You can use smaller sizes, but you shouldn't.

My details:

I was able to build my machine in about 2 months. I found many used items that were required including the computer, monitor, Craftsman chamfer bits and router on craigslist. I didn't have a table saw...so I created a circular saw jig which served me well. I didn't have a drill press...so I eyeballed it. When I had the machine build I was able to make parts and cut stuff completely with open source software. Linux EMC2, PyCAM, and HeeksCAD. Regardless, my machine works. It really really really works. It's as cool as I thought it would be. This book helped me 90% of the way.

The book:

It really does explain how to build a working CNC machine from the ground up with wood, bolts, and fairly common items. It's not the latest DIY model. There are easier and probably better ways to skin the cats this book skins...but those ways are more costly. You should no doubt investigate those options. Be informed. However, if you need to ease your way into a CNC machine either because of budget or time or because you like to do things yourself...this is the book for you...this is the machine for you.

Pre-requisites:

- You should be able to read, study, and study pictures.
- You should be someone who is able to push through the last 10%. Several times. There will be times where you wonder what have I gotten myself into and the fog will descend upon you before you know it. STOP! Go back and read. Then keep building.
- You should watch the online videos of the author building the machine in his living room and bathroom for motivation.
- You should have a modest set of tools in your man cave and know how to use them. Safety glasses, masks, T-square, measuring tape, screw driver, socket sets, clamps, saw. Power versions of tools are better if you are of an inpatient humor.
- You should be able to keep your eye on the prize. A working CNC machine of your very own.

The book:

The book is well written, there are some inaccuracies (basically you should look on the internets for the errata notes and an updated shopping list), there is humor throughout, and timely recommendations to read the entire chapter/book before you begin (already!). It barely covers what you need to know about CAD, CAM, and the electronics...but while you are waiting for parts to arrive in the mail you can look around the net and use that time to get yourself acquainted with what is available. This book is about building the machine. This machine. Which is now ubiquitously called in the community the "book machine".

Recommendations:

I bought the kindle version. However, in hindsight, I maybe should have bought the paper book version...because I could have had it out in the garage with me. I was too worried about getting my kindle all MDF particle dusty. However, with frequent trips back into the house to double check things on the kindle...I was still able to build the machine with the kindle version. I recommend this book and the machine that you can ultimately build from it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cornucopia of Delights For Todays Maker: Electronic, Mechanical, Robotic and Software, March 14, 2010
This review is from: Build Your Own CNC Machine (Technology in Action) (Paperback)
Other reviewers have recounted the praises of this guide as a DIY guide to inexpensively (~$800.00) creating a machine that normally sells for up to $10,000.00 and which allows makers to create their own computer machined materials (even another CNC machine if that is their goal); I would like to touch on other benefits of this excellent volume. In particular, learning the process of creating a machine which moves in three dimensions under software control is applicable in many "Maker-friendly" and exciting applications. It is a natural fit for the aspiring robotics hobbyist, and it is no accident that James Floyd Kelly one of this book's co-authors also has written many fine volumes on the Lego NXT Mindstorms System. The technologies of stepper motors, exact three-dimensional staged motion, and software-based metrology and motion control will be invaluable to any microcontroller, electronics, mechatronics or robotics enthusiast. In addition the excellent description and high contrast photographs of this construction process is invaluable to hobbyists such as myself who are only marginally familiar with a machine shop but aspire to making systems that involve computers, electronics, and moving precisely machined parts. It goes without saying that this description, careful instruction, and illustration will meet the needs of the hobbyist who actually constructs this powerful and relatively economical machine tool.

This is an excellent and instructive volume for the hobbyist, maker or DIY'er whether their aim is to build "your very own, fully-functional automated machine that cuts, carves, engraves and drills" or whether they wish to acquire a powerful range of skills that can assist in robotics, mechatronics, microcontroller-based applications.

--Ira Laefsky
MSE/MBA Maker & IT/New Product Consultant
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Overview, September 21, 2010
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This review is from: Build Your Own CNC Machine (Technology in Action) (Paperback)
I've been interested in CNC machines for a while but haven't really known where to start. This book gave a good overview of how it can be done. So far I'm about half way through and it has been a nice step-by-step narrative of how to build the machine on the cover. It is very easy to read and there are lots of pictures. There isn't much discussion on the design process, instead focusing on building the design they have come up with.

The physical quality of the book is pretty low and the pictures are low resolution, the schematic pictures even have compression artifacts. The companion web page has all the photos in color at a slightly higher resolution. Speaking of the web page, the organization is very hard to figure out, but if you can manage there are many videos showing various parts of the build.

Overall I'm liking this book a lot and plan to use it when I'm ready to start making a machine.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is the best book anywhere for DIY CNC, November 6, 2010
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This review is from: Build Your Own CNC Machine (Technology in Action) (Paperback)
So you are looking at this book because you want your very own CNC Router. You like building things out of wood. Maybe you played with Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, an Erector Set or LEGO's when you were a kid. Through the years the tinkering stuck with you and now you want to make precision "things" on your very own CNC Router. This book is for you. I must warn you, however, you will be hooked after reading through this book. Buy it. You won't be sorry. The book uses the Bosch PR10E Colt Single-Speed Palm-Grip Router router but you can opt for something else if you like. DISCLAIMER: This book is not perfect. There are mistakes in it but the authors have a wonderful website devoted to the book with video sections on each chapter. They also have a Forum where you can discuss the book with others who have built this very same machine. After checking out their website (build your cnc dot com) you may just opt for one of their many kits. Get the book. Check out their website. Do some searching around the web and the tube site. Enjoy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CNC Build, March 14, 2010
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This review is from: Build Your Own CNC Machine (Technology in Action) (Paperback)
This is a very informative book on building your very own CNC machine. It is worth more that the price of the
book.
I am at the halfway point in the build and have found that the book kept me from making a lot of mistakes.
If anyone is looking to build a CNC machine, I strongly recommend this book.
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Build Your Own CNC Machine (Technology in Action)
Build Your Own CNC Machine (Technology in Action) by Patrick Hood-Daniel (Paperback - November 30, 2009)
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