Considering purchase - can I use to make board games like Aggravation?


I have been looking to purchase a CNC router for the purposes of making board games like aggravation (game that uses marbles as game pieces). The problem is most of the affordable ones do not have a large enough working area.

This seems like it would work perfectly, and give me the added benefit to make larger format projects as well. The boards I would like to make would be 24" X 24" square.

My concern is that I have not seen examples of people making projects like this.

Is anyone able to provide some input as to the feasibility of this equipment for my purposes?

Also, would additional software be required, and if so approximate cost?

Just trying to budget what is needed - but if this thing would work I am placing an order this week!

great idea! It takes some time to get it tuned up but you could definitely cut out something like that. you may have trouble with the z axis cutting too deep or shallow but there are ways to fix that.

a core box router bit would be needed to make slots for the marbles

Thank you for the replies!

Is accuracy of the z-axis (depth) an issue with this kit? I am looking at one with the z-axis motor control.

This seems like a great way to make this happen. I want to make about a dozen of these for family members and it seems like with this once I have my design down I can crank them out with better accuracy instead of doing them all manually with a plunge router.

well, the first question is how accurate do you think the Z axis needs to be?

If you think it needs to be accurate ± 1/100 of a mm, then no, it’s not
accurate enough.

But if you think it’s good enough to be within 1mm then it’s easily accurate

David Lang

Ha! Well, 4/100 of an inch is way more accurate than the previous boards I’ve done with plunge router.

Thank you for the reply!

This seems like a great community. I look forward to learning and hopefully contributing in the future!

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So if you got one, would you make it with a 6’ cross beam and a shorter height so your work area would be 24"x24" … a mini-maslow? I originally planned to build a smaller version for a 48x48" work area, but went with the full size.

I’d like the ability to do larger projects as well, which is why this is so intriguing. I would likely build it full size and just use brackets to hold my smaller media in place (assuming I can do that).

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Or set my file to cut 8 boards at a time on a 4X8 sheet (maybe keeping the boards at 22" x 22")?

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You can definitely do something like that. Since the Maslow Sled rides on the surface of the material, you need a surface that is flush with your work piece on all sides (assuming you are cutting close to your edges).

That’s probably an easier setup than the first. You would need your Maslow well-tuned to be sure your boards are square and the edges are straight.

The important thing to understand is that the Maslow is somewhat of a tinkerer’s machine. You will probably have to play around with yours before it is ready to cut finished products, so if you are looking for a turnkey system, you will be disappointed. But if you are willing to put in the time and effort, you will get a CNC router for much less cost than anything I know of.

I cannot emphasize this point enough. It’s certainly better now than it was when I started on it, but this is a machine that requires a fair amount of patience and a determination to see it through.

Other than that, I can get into a little more detail on the issues with the stock Z-axis. The motorized Z using the router base is, while usable, problematic. Accuracy can be an issue, as there is a fair amount of play in the depth adjustment lead screw assembly in the router base. There are ways around this, but I noticed that there would be slight steps between passes in pockets. It’s very minimal, and can be sanded out with some patience. You can see what I’m talking about in the dadoes of these two cabinet ends (zoom in):

Other than accuracy, I’ve also found that it isn’t very reliable. There have been many reports on these forums of the router base components failing during use. I, personally, was able to run my machine for about 2 1/2 years with little issue before the router base wore out so much that the router would bind in the base during large Z moves. The couple of times it did it to me before I retired the old router base it often happened on retract moves, meaning that the bit would still be in the material when it would begin to rapid to the next toolpath. Thankfully, the Maslow’s rapid speed is slow enough that it just cut a groove rather than snapping a tool.

There are solutions to this problem, ranging from 3D printed parts that solve at least some of the reliability issues, to new Z-axis assemblies. The two main contenders for the latter are my own design (the Meticulous Z-Axis), and Metal Maslow’s sled. My design is a cheaper, DIY solution, whereas Metal Maslow’s one is more expensive but less work to get running.

I want to sum this all up by saying that, despite it’s problems, the Maslow is a fantastic machine. I have been able to cut cabinets and other furniture with it very successfully. The price point vs the work area is a great selling point. If you do take the dive, though, be prepared to spend time getting it working and dialed in.