Almost ready to start my first cut but I have some questions and I'm not sure how to start cutting

I finally finished my frame, which folds up to the ceiling to save space.
Printed and installed my oversized corner anchors. Print files below.
Assembled my M4 without much issue.
Installed everything
and with some trial and error I managed to get a successful calibration.

One thing I didn’t completely understand during the calibration process is how to define the area the Maslow can cut. My frame is 2250 x 2250 (machine size?). My cut area, at this moment, is 1200 x 1700 (calibration area?). But when I use these values, the Maslow always goes outside the cutting area during the last calibration step.
So should I take the width or height of my cutting area minus the width of the sled to keep it inside the cutting area?

See a picture of the issue

Also, I noticed that the Maslow tilts a bit when it’s in the left top corner, at that moment it’s not fully supported by the frame, so that could be the reason.
I guess that that position is not even possible to do a cut, so maybe I shouldn’t care about that?
Or should I first fix this issue and make sure the Maslow stays inside my cutting area during calibration?

Anyway, I’m really happy I’m almost ready to start my first cut. But at this step, I’m a bit lost. When I followed the setup docs, it seems to stop at calibrating and controlling the Maslow with the web app, with very basic ‘how to run gcode’ info.
I found a lot of helpful info in the forums, but I want to double-check some things as I’m not sure what to do next. It would be great if there was an extra chapter in the setup docs with a dummy step-by-step guide to making your first cut.

If I understand it correctly, when I want to cut something, I first have to move the Z up and install the router bit?
To install the bit I have to remove the Maslow from the frame first?
Then when it’s installed, I have to lower the router until the bit touches the wood, and that would be my Z home position? Then, when I have uploaded my gcode file, how do I define the depth of the cut, and at what depth should I do multiple passes?

It’s a bit scary to just try and see what happens, I don’t want to damage anything now I got that far :slight_smile:
So it would be great if someone could help me.

Some images of my setup:

Calibration finished

Folded up

My printed anchors. If anyone is interested, I uploaded the print files below
They have a top part where I attach the belt ends into and a bottom spacer which fits into the corner of the frame and helps to keep the bolt in place.


Maslow corner anchor.3mf (106.7 KB)
Maslow corner anchor spacer.3mf (23.6 KB)

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Yes

you might be able to install the bit while the maslow is on the frame, with the Z axis raised high. otherwise you have to remove the machine from the frame

yes, and click home z, next raise the z axis a bit before you hit play

the depth of cut and the number of passes is all in the Gcode, if you did not make that yourself, you should ask the one that made the file
you should also know where the origin in the Gcode file is. when I make a G code file I usually put the origin in the lower left corner. when you have uploaded your G code file, and attached your material to the spoilboard, picture where on your material that origin has to be. Jog your maslow to that position, hit home, and you are good to go.

make your first cut in some scrap material, and try passes of a couple of millimeters deep, to get the feel for it. with my old maslow I used a 5mm bit, passes of 5mm deep, 14000rpm and a feedrate of 800mm/min (which was topspeed) and that worked for me even in birch ply

Good Luck, Arjen

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take a look at http://lang.hm/maslow/maslow4_frame.html (uncheck the auto-calculate box) and you will see that the work area you are defining seems to be questionable for that frame size, for both the angles between adjacent anchors (red) and angles between opposite anchors (white)

that is when the motors on the arm hit the top clamp on the router.

Now, in addition, as the sled gets really close to the edge, it can tip off, the solution to that is to have a wider spoilboard than your workpiece and put some material the same thickness as your workpiece against it so the sled is supported.

I’m not sure the current calibration respects the sizes that you enter (@bar ??)

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After you bring our Z axis down the the wood you set your “zero” position to Z. This is like the origin point where you start your job

This is set in the CAM software when your create your NC file

harder material will be smaller depths per pass than software materials. It will also depend on bit diameter, RPM and the feedrate too.

I recommend that when your run a new job, instead of starting a job where the Z zero is defined at the plane of the workpiece jog the Z up way higher above the workpiece then set Z zero there. Run the job with router turned off, just to see the tool working in the trajectory that you want then you can abort the job test, go back to your workpeice zero on all axis, lower the Z back down so it touches the workpiece, then properly now set Z zero. Now your job will run at a lower plane and actually cut your workpiece.

Also, start with cardboard or foam, soft material workpiece. You and all of us will break tons and tons of bits in the beginning. Its all part of the fun!! :wink:

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Note that hitting “stop” right now is sort of like “panic”, and it does require you to turn off, release tension, take the maslow 4 off. retract/extend again, then put it back on. It will remember “home” but maybe not Z home (at least I have seen I have to re-home Z after stop).

I’m going to work on a stop button in the UI that just aborts the gcode job and does not panic like it does now. I’m hoping to have time this weekend to get that PR’d for the next firmware /ui release.

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Thanks for all the feedback everyone. This is really helpful information!

I’m going to do some dry runs first with my current calibration and see how that goes.
Also a good tip to use cardboard for my first test runs.

Ah yes, about the “hitting stop”. I tried this when I noticed my M4 was going over the working area the first time. And getting it off the frame and fully restart the process was the only thing that seems to work, so it’s not that I was missing something :smiley:
A stop and resume button in the UI would be really helpful.

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It’s looking great! Fantastic work!

The area entered is based on the location of the router bit so the edges of the sled will extend past that area, but in theory the center of the sled should follow a box the size of the entered values.

I 100% agree that the docs are lacking there. Now that we’re getting more and more folks up and calibrated that’s the next thing on my todo list. I’m hoping to get a walk through of the process of taking a file and setting it up to cut out and then cutting it out this week as part of the weekly update. We’ve got some exciting stuff in the works there which will hopefully be ready by Wednesday.

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Funny you should mention… I"m working on this. not quite production ready (one firmware change to make it work better) but see M4 ESP32 UI for stop vs abort - #10 by ronlawrence3 if you want to try an experimental UI that just uses a “play” button that turns to “pause” when you are running, then back to play if you pause or stop. Make sure you save your downloaded version or re-load it if this doesn’t work for you. Also any feedback is appreciated…

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I don’t have an M4 yet, so I may be wrong on some things. forgive me for my ignorance of the new machine.

When using a ‘sled’, you should calibrate your edges to the edge of the sled. Yes, it will reduce your overall cutting size OR you can build a bigger wasteboard. Try to keep at least 2/3 of the sled on the wasteboard, or you may risk tipping. I understand that the four belts should diminish that, but simple physics tells me that it can happen at the edges anyway. Maybe I’m wrong, but staying inside your wasteboard will solve that problem.

I like your fold-up table idea, but I worry about it hanging like that. It may warp on you, and that will definitely have an effect on the depth of your carves. You mentioned that the top left might be out already? I’m not saying that your idea is bad, it is great, but you might want to construct the frame a bit differently to compensate for the hanging.

Anyway, get with the cutting! Start out slow, and work your way up as you see what the machine can do. There have been suggestions of cardboard or insulation, but they don’t cut very nice. Use some scrap wood, and start out at a plunge rate of 0.5mm or 1/8th inch. Yes, it will take longer, but you can see if it is working or not, and a small plunge is not a big deal to recover from. 300mm/m feed rate is easy. Watch and listen. If the bit is jumping, rpm is too low or feed rate is too high. If the bit is too fast it will make airborne powdery dust and may cause the wood to brown or blacken. So you would need to turn the rpm down or increase the feed rate. It is something you need to see and do, and you will figure it out.

Oh! Home! Use that. Like, a lot. It will retract the bit and move the machine back to home. There’s nothing quite like forgetting to raise the Z and then moving the machine to have it drag the bit across your workpiece at the depth you stopped it at. How many times have I done that? Two too many.

Also, any sled machine is going to be most accurate in the middle of the wasteboard. That is where everything is going to work best.

Good luck! Have fun!

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Yes, you are right. When testing by moving the sled, I noticed small but noticeable warping.
Additionally when the frame touches the ground, it also had about a 12-degree tilt, which is a little to much according to the guidelines.
So, I’ve already made some changes, like adding feet to the frame, and I’m reinforcing the corners with extra beams which I think will make it more stable.

Another question I have.
I’m wondering if it’s necessary to fully reinstall each time I want to start working with the Maslow.
For example, when not using it, it seems better to release the tension on the cables. But then, when I’m going back, the first thing I have to do is getting the maslow of the frame, retract, extend, putting the Maslow back on, and then it’s ready.
This process feels heavy and slow. Is this step needed, and if so, are there any plans to make this easier? It would be great to just tilt down my frame and start cutting :slight_smile:

That’s great to hear! I won’t have time to test it for the next 2 weeks, but when I get back home I’ll give it a try (if it’s not released by then)

Always looking forward to these updates!

Maarten wrote:

Yes, you are right. When testing by moving the sled, I noticed small but noticeable warping.
Additionally when the frame touches the ground, it also had about a 12-degree tilt, which is a little to much according to the guidelines.

what guidelines are those?

So, I’ve already made some changes, like adding feet to the frame, and I’m reinforcing the corners with extra beams which I think will make it more stable.

Another question I have.
I’m wondering if it’s necessary to fully reinstall each time I want to start working with the Maslow.
For example, when not using it, it seems better to release the tension on the cables. But then, when I’m going back, the first thing I have to do is getting the maslow of the frame, retract, extend, putting the Maslow back on, and then it’s ready.
This process feels heavy and slow. Is this step needed, and if so, are there any plans to make this easier? It would be great to just tilt down my frame and start cutting :slight_smile:

there is discussion on making this easier, but the problem is that the maslow
doesn’t know for sure that the belts haven’t moved while it was turned off, so
to be sure that it knows their lengths it needs to do the retract/extend step.

David Lang

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I’ve read this in the " Some basic guidlines for what makes a good frame. " guidelines

Maslow4 will work at any angle from horizontal up to about 15 degrees from vertical.

So I thought that more then 15 degrees would be better then less, and at the same time I get a more stable frame.

Btw @bar, now I notice there’s a typo in the title, the word guidelines is missing an e :wink:

Ok, then this is the way. At least now I know that I’m doing it right :smiling_face:

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Thanks for catching that! I’ll fix that right now. Where is it? I can’t seem to find it on that page

It’s on this page Building the Frame — Maslow that links to the guidelines.

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Yes, that’s the one!

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Thanks! It should be fixed now

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Maarten wrote:

I’ve read this in the " Some basic guidlines for what makes a good frame. " guidelines

Maslow4 will work at any angle from horizontal up to about 15 degrees from vertical.

So I thought that more then 15 degrees would be better then less, and at the same time I get a more stable frame.

the issue here is that if you get too close to vertical, it becomes harder to
plunge into the wood rather than driving the sled away from the wood, but that
‘about 15 degrees’ is a very nebulous thing, and the 12 degrees (IIRC) that you
started with is close enough to be ‘about 15’ to be worth trying :slight_smile:

but flatter ones are getting more testing now.

David Lang

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Oh, I just figured that those were the Graphic User Interface Dividing Lines :laughing:

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Sorry to bump this thread again but I couldn’t find the answer in the forums.

Can I leave the maslow on the frame while there’s tension for some time?
Or in other words, is it bad for the cables if I do a cut, fold up my frame for a couple of days, and when I need it again just flip it down and start using it again.

Or would this give to much stress on the cables or the Maslow?

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Totally OK to do. I’ve left mine up for months.

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