The Meticulous Z-Axis

Spindles are also far quieter, the difference between normal conversation and PD visits from noise complaints

At Makerfaire, we had the maslow running, and the loudest noise was the bit
(before we switched to the single-flute 1/4" bit), very comfortable to have a
conversation around, even with the harbor freight dust collector running (which
is on sale if you get their e-mailed coupons for just under $110 this weekend)

hardly ‘call the cops’ level of noise.

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In preparation of my kits arrival I’ve been building my sled which is a hybrid of the MM z axis sled and the simplified one that someone else built. I’ve got some 3/8" ACME threaded rod and nut that i got for another cnc project that i never finished. I’ll have to buy a coupler to fit it to the Maslow z axis motor but overall cheaper than buying the linear slide. The other big difference in my build wasthe use of these: to help the carriage slide a little more smoothly.


I can see that Willja used high quality plywood to build his meticulous sled and the finish that provides is very obvious even from far away.

I’m new to maslow and haven’t received mine yet (on order) but I have been reading this with gusto and have been modeling parts in prep for getting my kit.

I was concerned about making the clamp from plywood because so much of what’s sold these days is riddled with voids and uses pretty junky woods to begin with. It wouldn’t surprise me if a clamp made from AC plywood would crack the minute you apply tension to it.

So maybe that good birch stuff you’d actually want to make furniture out of will suffice. That said, is it possible to use Maslow to cut from stronger wood planks like Oak, etc. I’m thinking of any wood known for structural integrity.

I have another question but I’ll ask it separately.



Howdy ALL:

Since I’m a bit of a noob but recognized the smarts of this improved Z stage, I’m definitely planning to head this direction just as soon as my Maslow is built well enough to cut it out!

On the linkage - is that linkage still the most accurate connection to the motors, or has it been “superceded” by the new ring and bearings? Since those are thinner pieces are you making them from thin plywood, from hardwood, or aluminum?

I want to use whatever is the most accurate solution. I like ease of use, but I like accuracy and precision better!

Can’t wait to get going on this, very excited.



@Willja67: Good to see the variation on the design. I like the cost-saving methods you employed on the sled. The plywood you used also looks to be pretty nice, which should give you a good, strong sled.

This is a concern of mine as well. I have specified Baltic Birch in the instructions in the hope that the more even ply layers will give more strength. You may also be able to shape out a bit of solid wood to make something more reliable.

If you check out @huntleybill’s sled above, he actually printed plastic clamps for that reason. I know that doesn’t help anyone without a 3D printer, but the alternative is a good one.

The ring currently is the most commonly used triangular kinematics system because it’s @Bar’s idea. I’ve attempted to test which system, whether it’s the ring, 45 degree linkage, or top-mount linkage, but haven’t had the time to finish the test. I tested the two linkage systems against one another but I haven’t procured a ring from Bar yet to test it. When I get more time to work on my machine, I plan on finishing my own tests. So much has changed with my machine both with the hardware and with all the improvements to the firmware that I would need to test each system again (although I’ll be skipping the old quadrilateral this time). That being said, anyone should be able to run the tests if they have the different styles of triangular kinematics.

We go into more detail in this thread:

Depending on the style of linkages, it’s either 1/4" birch plywood in the case of the 45 degree linkage, or 3/16" stainless steel for the top-mount.

I can only attest to the ring system as that is what I am using. It works just fine. The center of gravity is different than the original design sled so it just needs a little height adjustment and that’s pretty much it.

The wood parts do not NEED to be cut using Maslow. If you have a scroll saw or band saw, you can make all the wood parts.

I have made a few parts so far using Maslow and this sled and am quite pleases with the results. The only modification I would suggest is where the dust collection hose mounts. It sticks almost straight out and when my sled gets near the bottom of the work table, the hose drags on the ground and if I am not paying attention, can cause the dragging hose to interfere with a smooth running sled.

I plan on making an adapter that has about a 45 degree bend and a bracket to hold the hose much higher to avoid the dragging.

Just my 2 cents.


This has been a great read. Its amazing to see the innovation and collaboration. Since the strength of plywood ring clamps has come up a couple times I thought I’d chime in with an idea.

A largish hose clamp around the router and a plywood block would put the plywood entirely under compressive stress and would be quite strong.


Glad you chimed in.

As you can see the plywood clamps are interfering with the ring system. Before i perform surgery and buy some hose clamps I’ll have to check and see if there are any instances where it might be an issue. I almost think with my 12 ft top beam there won’t be.

But if it turns out they do interfere thanks for the way to fix the problem without an entirely new design.


looks great, can’t wait for update

Actually created my own thread on v2 but might as well show it here as well:

This is version 2.1 and the way i had the weights mounted had the sled cg too far back/down so when you grabbed the chains an inch or two from the ring and held it out from the spoil board it wanted to tip backwards


You can see the new plywood clamps were shrunk a little to clear the ring and i used 2 bolts through the plywood with a hose clamp to cinch it down against the router.

The other big change on v2 was the placement of the z axis motor. As you can see it’s much lower. There were 2 problems with the original configuration:

  1. I was afraid of damaging something when i removed the sled from the chains since it was sticking up so high.
  2. It was introducing backlash into the system. Those brackets had a lot of flex in them the way they were mounted so whenever it started to move first the bracket would flex and then the carriage would start to move.

Version 2.2 replaced the two 5 lb weights mounted on the gantry with four 2.5 lb weights mounted on the sled itself and moved a little forward. Now if you grab it by the chains and hold it out from the spoil board it hangs pretty much parallel with the work surface.


@aluminumwelder: I still haven’t had the time to cut out my sled, even though the material for it have been sitting on my Maslow for about a month now. The initial rush of projects for the new house have started to slow down, so at least I’ve had a chance to start getting my new shop sorted out.

@Willja67: I missed the new thread you wrote up, I’ll have to take a look at some point. I used to peruse the forums during the down time for my last job, but my new job is a bit more busy and I’m spending less time in front of a computer. I’ll have to make more time for reading.


does this image show the correct 3d printed dust port? I downloaded it from github and it looks totally different from the may 10 posts above. Sorry didnt’ read all 154 posts on this topic, so might have missed something. I love all the online collaboration, but sometimes these threads get super long.

And this isn’t even that long compared to some of the other development threads.

That looks like v1.0, I’m guessing I’ve forgotten to update the GitHub directory. I’m in meetings all morning, but I can try to get the updated stl files in the repo this afternoon

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thanks no rush, appreciate the work. there are a lot of threads I just gloss over, information overload for me I guess.


NC and STL files have been updated in the Community Garden! :smiley:
I haven’t cleaned up DXF/SVG yet, but I should be adding them either later tonight or in the near future.

@aluminumwelder: So turns out I didn’t have time this afternoon after all to change the files in the repo. I was able to clean things up tonight, however, so the Community Garden now has the modern versions of the files.

If anyone needs to generate their own G-Code and has the ability to work in Fusion’s CAM system, feel free to download the model I linked above and use that as their starting point. I work hard to make sure that I’m supporting this project as best as possible, but I’m not always able to respond as quickly as I’d like.


It’s been a great weekend! :smiley: I’m mostly going to let the pictures do the talking here.

I’ve finally got enough time for cutting the sled parts! I have a ton of plywood scraps lying around from construction so I had to break down my part nests to utilize what I already have.

The first nest I was able to get the spine and the Z-Axis carriage plate from:

The second was the sled and gussets:

I tested a couple of ideas for engraving the logo before I settled on one I liked:

And then ended up going too deep anyways! Oops! Doesn’t look bad though, especially with a little bit of black ink:

I was able to test fit the Z-Axis “gantry” tonight though! I need to clean up my joinery a little, I didn’t mic the thicknesses of either of the boards before cutting, so I’m going to need to sand it a little to fit right:

More to follow. I have quite a bit of work to go still before this is on my machine, but I’m so looking forwards to having a full Z-Axis. The short travel of the Rigid router base is proving to be a little frustrating as of late.


So we need:

  • 3D printed spindle clamps modeled and posted,
  • Prepare the sled for the ring system
    * We could just add the 3 holes common to the ring system and have it work for both?

Anything else that I can help with while I’m waiting for the slow boat from China to deliver my Amazon leadscrew/linear motion kit?



Yeah, I’ve been meaning to get to that but it’s been slow going. Good news is, most of my sled is together and I should have some good progress pictures soon.

I’ve seen @bar post the OnShape document, the model for that just needs to be overlayed with my model and the holes need to get transferred. It’s not terribly hard but not something I’ve gotten done yet.

The link I provided for the Amazon item ships from China? I thought I had picked a US seller for those that didn’t want to wait for China shipping times.

Also, if you’re handy with Fusion360, I can share the file with you and we can go through the changes that I listed above. PM me if you’re interested and we can work out the details.

Not sure if I am seeing the pictures correctly. It looks like the inside corners on the vertical supports are not dog-boned. Is that correct?