Goes to show that one man’s trash is another Maker’s treasure!
Computer-controlled tools are a welcome addition to any garage; however, they usually cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. On the other hand, you could just build your own CNC router using chipboard (aka particle board) recycled from an old piece of furniture, motors from an optical drive, a PC power supply, and, of course, an Arduino Uno (ATmega328).
Norbert “HomoFaciens” Heinz describes the build on his site and in the excellent 0.6 video below, as well improvements he made to it in the following 0.6.1 video.
The DIY CNC router is meant for mostly two-dimensional parts as the vertical axis is controlled by a normal hobby servo. The horizontal axes are each controlled with 3mm threaded rods that rotate inside of brass nuts that are soldered in place using a candle (seriously). These rods are handled by the optical drive motors with encoders made from optical sensors and disks with teeth cut out of metal.
It’s really an amazing display of what one can do with simple tools and materials, and an incredible amount of ingenuity! If that wasn’t impressive enough, he also wrote the control software, consisting of an Arduino Sketch and a Linux program that transmits motor commands over USB.
For another interesting trash build, check out this router made from PC parts. It’s available as a kit, so you won’t have to cut up your furniture to make it!