EX. 06 Just Milling Around

Foreward: this is the week where I realized time-lapses are cool


For this weekend we had to use the CNC Mill to create a new piece for our own CNC machine. It could be a large piece done on the Mill in Higgins (4′ x 8′) or a small thing done on the Roland Machine. Our design was rather simple. We were tired of jigging up some system to get our machine attached to the Vinyl Cutter, so we made an outfeed table which doubles as a place to hold it!

Basically, we wanted to turn this:


Into this:



This is how the table looks alone:



Let’s get into the How!

Things you will need are:



40″x48″ of .5″ MDF

2″ Long .25″ Flat Endmill, upcut or downcut work.

Safety Glasses



See Rhino File Here

See NC Files Here


After preparing the file, I quickly ran over to the CNC Mill. As I have been a monitor there for quite some time, I ran the file myself and processed it during the cutting. If you are not familiar with the machine, DO NOT BE NEAR IT WHILE OPERATING.


And the pieces are cut! Time for the woodshop.

Many of the pieces didn’t cut all the way through, and left a little bit of skin. However, due to the nature of MDF, this is easily treated. img_8118
Just use a BoxCutter!
After trimming the pieces, I noticed that the .5″ MDF was actually closer to .6″, and so the super precise CNC mill job needed to be altered. This is called machining with tolerances, and I should have been more thoughtful when making my mill file…but I was rushing. img_8123
Here are the tools to get it to fit juuuuuusssssttt right.

Chisel, Hammer, Pen, Triangle with measuring marks.

Watch me work!
 I tested my cut slots as well, and the same tolerance issue was present.  img_8130
 This time we’ll fix this with a file.  img_8131
 Watch me work again!
 As you can see in the last video, I also ran a little dry fit run. There was only one last issue to fix. That little nub will be a problem for the support triangle. img_8138
So we bust out a smaller chisel and have at it! Nicely enough, this chisel is .5″ wide img_8139
And then we take a little bit of glue, a hammer, and a block, and get this thing put together, no nails or screws necessary.

Make sure you use a block to distribute the force of the hammer blow, or else you’ll hurt the mdf with the metal hammer.

Here’s a fun video to wrap up with



I quickly took the exciting new piece over to the Vinyl Cutter…only to find I missed one key thing! The height of the outfeed table legs are doubled before they slide onto the vinyl cutter rail, which means it doesn’t fit.



But that’s okay…I just took the vinyl cutter off the base, slid the outfeed table on, and then re-attached the cutter to its base. Less easy access as I had planned for, but I needed to get out of studio and it still works great! Also, because of a little sneaky design of mine, the table never really needs to be removed. There is a slit between the table and the cutter, so that if you don’t want to use the outfeed table for some reason, you can sneak paper down the slit instead.


very clean.

Final Product one more time
Final Product one more time

Problems that are holding us back from creating the perfect station for generative drawings of generative drawings:

Pen Holder redesign. This is spoken to more fully in the prototyping page. image1
Stand for the gantry itself. Currently stacking masses and counterweights to pull this off. image2
Longer wires for the limit switch. And also, soldered. We had not taken into account the fact that, if both carriages are mocing, any wiring connecting the two must reach both extents and hold contact. image3