Sense check - smaller frame

Done! Sheesh - felt stressful, but worth it!

Well everyone said the machine cuts best in the center. lets say the middle 2x2 ft. if you plug in the number for a 24x24 work area then you get force values that are 11.4 to 16.5. therefore it makes sense that the machine should cut very well when the force is at least 11 or above. at least to me lol.

a 12’ long top beam with 30" height 26 lb sled and 4x6 canvas gets you 11.1 in the corners. frame will look pretty big compared to your small work surface, but should in theory give best result.s

Well everyone said the machine cuts best in the center. lets say the middle 2x2 ft. if you plug in the number for a 24x24 work area then you get force values that are 11.4 to 16.5. therefore it makes sense that the machine should cut very well when the force is at least 11 or above. at least to me lol.

the problems in the bottom corners are two things

  1. chain sag, the long chains sag and the stock calculations don’t account for
    that. Holey calibration does.

  2. low force to mvoe the sled towards the corners, which can cause the sled to

a 12’ long top beam with 30" height 26 lb sled and 4x6 canvas gets you 11.1 in the corners. frame will look pretty big compared to your small work surface, but should in theory give best result.s

what is the max force in the top center? the stock motors have trouble there.

David Lang

33.8 top center value
if sled weight is 23.5, max and min become 30 and 10 respectively

How is this working for you? I am about to purchase one, but a smaller frame would be better for me. I think the frame would fit in my space, but I can’t get a 4x8 sheet into my space without hacking it up first.
I’m trying to determine if I should make a smaller frame or just deal with the full size frame that would never be fully used.
I think my biggest concern is calibrating it for a smaller frame and it looks like you’ve done the hard part.
Thank you!

Hi @Red5 and welcome :slight_smile:

I’m a bit of a noob here too, but I couldn’t be happier with what I’ve learned. I am extremely happy with my setup and I hope the following makes sense to you and helps.

My entire workspace is 8 x 8 feet and, like you, I can’t get a full sheet in there - as a kicker, I have NO flat area to calibrate anything… seriously, how do I get 15 degrees on my frame!? So here’s what I arrived at:

  1. The wider the top bar the better, and the higher from the cut top the better. For ME this meant I could only go 8 feet wide, so let’s go high (oh, did I mention I only have 6 feet height).
  2. You can mess with @dlang s spreadsheet a lot and get a good idea of how things stack up to the “stock” frame. There’s no fast and hard rule here, just “try to beat the stock frame”. I spent a lot of time here…
  3. And this is the most important learning - start by starting.

For ME, I went 8 ft top bar, used @dlang bolt together frame Bolt Together Maslow Frame with added top and bottom supports for the ply, and went for a 6ft space between my uprights. The bolt design meant my angles were right (no flat area remember) and all I’d really done is make it narrower. I did break from the bolt plan by cutting off the pieces that stuck beyond the front beams and drop my cutting area so it was 1/2 the width of my sled from the ground (giving me as much height from the bar to the cut - I couldn’t go up remember). There are some pics here: Couldn't be happier

I knew I was making a few compromises, but I also compensated. My cuts are awesome, but I go low and slow; I’m a pretty patient guy and (here’s where I go all metric on you) I cut at 500mm per min with a 2mm drop (I use a 2-flute 6mm up-cut at 10k RPM). Never going to set a speed record here, but I really should post more pics - I’ve got what I need out of my Maslow. My advice: never walk away, take a couple of beers and just be patient.

Note: I’m using the full-length chains. This isn’t ideal and I should really address it - I’m using the bungees, which I cut to 1/3, so my chain setup is rubbish (look at the pics) but by going slow I can watch everything and, at times, I stand with my finger guiding them. I ALWAYS wear safety gear, specifically ear and eye protection. I also have a cheap shop vac to suck out the debris - a must in my book.

I’ve maybe done 200 hours of cutting now. Never let me down. I had a couple of USB connection issues, turning WiFi off on my laptop solved those immediately.

Top to bottom my cut variance, even in the corners (my cut area is 4 x 5 ft, realistically I only need 4 x 4) is < 0.5mm. @bar and @dlang always say Maslow is “good enough” - I think they undersell it or some people’s expectations are clearly a lot higher than mine.

I started on this path for one reason, and here’s what I wanted to do:

It was originally a weird cavity under our TV, now it’s not and has storage behind it. Everything from here is just gravy :smiley:

Does that make sense? I remember feeling a little lost too. You’re NOT making a bad decision here if you’ve got a little patience :wink:

(A few edits for grammar, preciseness and context)

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Thanks Peteinakl!

This is what I needed to hear. I’ve been doing some more reading on the forums and feeling a bit more confident.
Your experience is really helpful too. It’s great to learn from other people’s mistakes :slight_smile:
I just ordered mine and I’m thinking about how to set it up. I think I can do 8-10’ wide without any problems, but I have to be mindful of the overhead space. Luckily I have a bit more headroom than you do! Now I’m curious if I could fit a 4x6’ size ply sheet down there, but 4x4 won’t be a problem.
And thanks for using the Metric system. It’s so much easier than Imperial. :slight_smile:

Hello - first time posting. read up on the Maslow and these forums before buying kit. I think maybe I did not read enough. I saw that a smaller frame than standard could be built so off I went. Now I am finding it is not that easy - particularly with chain length and taking up the slack.
I am constrained by space so decided 4’ x 4’ would be max sheet size and made frame for a 68" motor separation and 18" height. these numbers gave me what I thought were better than stock numbers on the spreadsheet. (I now note comments that higher rather than lower minimum force is preferable) I could lengthen motor separation slightly.
I am planning to use weights for the chain slack but as you can imagine I have a lot of chain spare. I see two options - overlap spare chain in plastic cable trays to separate (concerned with drag and fouling) or cut chain. To cut chain I am thinking to stretch from motor to diagonal opposite corner and add a bit of slack for normal loop over retraction pulley (weight)
one thing I have not seen (yet) is the initial setting for calibration (ie where do you position chains and sled) I have vision of switching on and chain getting pulled too tight.


The thing you will need to do if using webcontrol for a classic maslow is adjust your chain feed distance before you calibrate, then when you extend chains, it will go the correct distance. make sure that distance is a multiple of .25" so it will be a certain number of links that can be marked. There is a guy who runs a 6’ beam and a 4x4 cutting area and he zip tied the spare chain next to the sled. There are no rules on how you do it. Running a 4x4 workpiece is certainly doable. having at least a foot outside the work space on each side for the motor is better than 10", but you work within the constraints you have. You can make it work, but you will need to spend some time to understand the limitations and test the cut quality.

Thanks Orob
I think I can move motors out a few more inches on my beam. I cleverly used an aluminium rectangular tube for stability but lost simplicity of screwing into wood!

Well this post is probably in wrong spot but it covers a few areas. I took Orobs advice and moved motors to max (1855mm). Had major trouble getting firmware to load and discovered that I was not in fact properly unzipping download (saw another post suggesting this) Not having used a PC for about ten years it is a relearning curve.
Tried to use the automatic chain length setup via Ground Control but chain kept jumping off when tensioned. Ended up inputting manually. Anyway have managed to get it running!

Not sure if the image is going to work

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Ok well image seemed to work. As I have smaller top bar, I have overlapped the slack chain and run in conduit channel to separate. Will install another for lower chain. I was concerned about chain movement but I see the machine is very slow (default speed) so my fears appear unfounded. Hours of fun to come.


OK moving on. Found the section on ‘setting’s’ which I did not see mention in set up. Sled was merrily heading for a 12’ sheet corner instead of 4’. Corrected.
Ran the test cut pattern. The diagram in Ground Control seems to show cuts right in the corners. On my 4’ (1219.2mm) sheet the distance between cuts was 27.953" (710 mm) ( I have not got router installed yet so marked with pencil). Would this distance seem correct?
Note sled did not return to centre but offset matches variation of ‘cuts’ from edges (about 1" out) I guess I will have to go back to set up and run calibration again.

This looks right. I just did my 4x4 setup and the center spot when finished shifted. Each time you do it, the center will change and the deviation will decrease.

Rechecked chain lengths as one was longer. I did hear a ‘bang’ early in the setup so may have jumped a tooth. Added extra weight (4kg on each) and reduced tendency to wrap.
Also my bad, my back board was not centred so measuring from the edge was incorrect.
Will run some more calibrations when I get my spindle mounted (next week maybe)

On the slack chain side? So in the bottles? If so, the first setup to counter the backslash of the motors from the slack side. 2kg is enough for me on a ~9kg sled, but the weight is always on the sled side. Chains parallel feeding to the the sprocket on both sides can be achieved with chain guides or just making them parallel. Interesting setup!

Went from 2kg to 4kg as the slack side was sagging. I read on of the posts from the gurus which said weight should be about the same as minimum tension. (If I read it right). My sled will be around 10kg. I bought the EastBay kit which has a bolt and bush guide on the slack side. I modified slightly to keep chain aligned.

If you “twist” the sprocket ‘left/right’ you can feel the ‘backlash’. You what it to be either on the sled side permanently, or in your approach perhaps on the slack side? 2kg on the slack side is good for me to keep my chains up and the weight on the sled. The worst you can up with is a ‘balanced’ chain system as the backlash will kick in depending on the positions of the sled on the sheet.

Not much progress this week as still waiting for Z axis slide. Motors/gears backlash loaded toward sled even though sled is not at full weight yet. Given my overlap system adding some friction and the effective counterweight load halved by pulley, I feel 4kg is OK.