Here goes my first post on the forum.
I’m working on a large scale project with a short deadline (May). The project requires LOTS of 5/8" plywood routing. In the past, we used jigsaws but the results were janky, to say the least. We need a better alternative, but we don’t have a big budget (artists, you know…).
Without having much time to do research and comparisons about the different models available, and knowing that I am a complete newbie when it comes to CNC routing, is there a consensus on what is the best bang for the buck kit nowadays?
I’ve been considering 2 kits: The East Bay Source kit for $399 and the Metal Maslow kit for $580. Is the $181 difference worth?
The Arduino controlled power switch & aux cable for automatic on/off of router that comes in the Metal kit is really appealing.
Thanks for your input. I’m looking into buying a kit this week.
The hassel - free z axis you will get with the metal kit in my opinion would be a good way to go. If you can get the improved z axis from maker made, that would be a reasonable option, but of the two you listed, I would go metal because the z axis can be a source of frustration. I know very little about East Bay. I would assume their kit is good, but for that price, you are likely going to get the standard z axis and will wish you would have gotten the faster, more precise z axis. The switch is minor, in my opinion. I set mine up for $8 off of amazon and a relay I had laying around. oh and WELCOME!
I am open to other kit ideas as well, it doesn’t have to be the ones that I posted. I don’t know what I don’t know, you know?
To clarify your post, are you saying that upgrading a standard Z axis to a faster Z axis can be as cheap as $8 + a relay? If so, wouldn’t I be better off saving $181 and going with the EBS’s model?
No. Sorry for being vague. The $180 is worth it, but the switch for the router isn’t the selling point. The selling point is the metal low-center-of-gravity sled and the fast, precise z-axis movement that raises and lowers the cutting bit reliably. A relay just lets you have the software power the router on and off. I’m going to shamelessly plug the manual I’ve been cranking on lately. It discusses this somewhat. Perhaps that read might be useful to help you on multiple fronts. I’ve tried to capture and overview some of the frustrations and tips I have experienced and read about on this forum.
These guys have pretty well covered it. No cutting your own sleds, predrilled, “standard” z-axis, and easy build. My $0.02 get the metal maslow and don’t look back.
Especially since you are under a time crunch.
Just learning calibration and operation is going to take time, and the maslow
cuts slowly. If you are new to CAD/CAM/CNC you are going to waste a bunch of
wood becuse what you told the machine to do isn’t what you thought you told it
Plan for this, get cheap/thin wood to do testing on, then when you get the shape
right, use your better wood (and you will still mess some of it up, sometimes in
The metal maslow kit will take a bit less effort to get running, and you need
every bit of that help.
One more suggestion I would make is to consider CNC routing templates if you have parts with lots of duplicates. Templates make repetitive tasks go very quickly.
I’ve used that same technique with plywood panels and it works just as well there
Our kit includes a Makita router which is worth about $100, metal sled, and other upgrades. Other kits require buying a $160 ridged router so right off the bat price difference is only $21. If one were to take a standard kit and then buy all the upgrades piece meal I think it would actually cost more. Of course it’s hard to market this concept, that something more expensive is actually cheaper in the long run. also all the kits are a big learning curve, ours included!
I don’t have a metal maslow and I don’t want to talk about the total cost of my build. And it was not cheaper than the metal maslow, Just FYI.
not to mention the sweat equity…