The Belt Maslow (a.k.a Maslow 4) Manual

This is the wiki for the Belt Maslow (a.k.a. Maslow 4). It is currently in the very early stages, and contributions are welcome. To keep this wiki clean, a discussion topic for organizing the manual can be found at Belt Maslow Manual Planning

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Getting Started
  3. Assembly & Mounting
  4. Firmware
  5. Software
  6. Operation
  7. Add-ons

1. Introduction

The belt Maslow (referred in shorthand as the M4) is a 4-motor variant of a large area 2.5D CNC router designed by Bar Smith, the original Maslow designer. It can be framed up to work in horizontal or vertical orientation or at some angle between. The key difference between the M4 and previous chain-based designs are:

  • The sled is supported by 4 belts rather than 2 chains. This results in more positive control of the sled position. The 2-chain designs tend to have difficulty controlling sled position in the lower corners of the work area. The belts provide a more consistent positioning of the sled as compared to chains resulting in better repeatability in sled position. In addition, the 4 belts eliminate the dependence on gravity for X-Y positioning, meaning that the M4 design can be mounted vertically or horizontally
  • X-Y positioning motors are mounted on the sled rather than the frame. This makes the M4 more compact and self-contained.
  • When the belts are retracted, they are stored on spools built into the sled.. This allows the belts to be stored in the sled when the sled is not installed on the frame.

2. Getting Started

Is Maslow right for me?

The Maslow is a low-cost 2-1/2-D* CNC router system. Due to its low cost it is an attractive option for individuals and small businesses who have moderate CNC needs. However, it requires more effort from the user to build and operate than most commercially-available CNC routers. Building your own Maslow does not require an engineering degree or years of experience. There is a community of users and the Maslow team available through these forums to support you. However, it does require time to assemble and adjust.

The Maslow is probably not for you if:

  • You are a business that needs machines for production work. The Maslow will probably require too much time to build, will operate too slowly for efficient production, and has not yet proven its reliability for a production environment.
  • You need to start cutting right away.


The Maslow is designed to be a low-cost, no-frills machine. As such, it does not inherently have some of the safety features of an expensive commercial machine. In particular, if the sled get hung up or the bit gets too dull, it is distinctly possible to ignite a fire when cutting flammable material. It doesn’t happen often, but it has happened to a few users. It may be tempting to leave your Maslow to run unattended. Don’t! Keep a fire extinguisher handy near the exit of your workspace. Give serious thought to how you will manage dust in your workspace. Search these forums for the terms “Fire” and “Lungs” to learn from others’ experience. This paragraph is not meant to scare you away from the Maslow. Safety hazards come with any equipment, but it’s important to understand the Maslow’s risk areas in this regard.

Buying an M4 kit

Building a frame

Other components and add-ons (bits, hold-downs, e-stop, dust control, what else?)

3. Assembly & Mounting

An Assembly Guide with instructions, pictures, and videos can be found on the Maslow website.

4. Firmware

5. Software

6. Operation

The Maslow M4 User Guide can be found on the Maslow website.

7. Add-Ons


Right where the machine meets the material, the bit is very important to the operation of the Maslow. There are many factors that determine how a bit will perform and often there is not one “perfect” bit, but a generally acceptable bit would be a 1/8" single-flute upcut bit with a high flute twist. The highly simplified reason is that the Maslow moves relatively slowly which makes it harder to maintain sufficient chip load to be cutting the material rather than grinding it. A much more detailed discussion of this can be found in the Routers and bits that can be usted on the maslow 4 thread


Safety Components


Fire Extinguisher

Dust Control

As more and more Maslow 4s are built, it’s inevitable that new features will be added to the M4 universe, developed either by Maslow or the Maslow community.

The Not Shop

The Not Shop is a list of commercially available accessories from vendors other than Maslow.

3-D Printable Parts

The Maslow 4 3D printed parts thread is a place to find files for accessories that can be 3-D printed.

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