The Meticulous Z-Axis

Just uploaded the dxf and nc files for the plywood dust chute to the Community Garden. The biggest trouble I had was finding a good tool choice for the thin sheet metal slots. The slot was just over 1/16", so I programmed the slots for this 1.5mm end mill. It’s pretty close to a 1/16" end mill, the slot might be a little sloppy if you use one.

See this page to download the new 2D CAD file. See the layers for the material, tooling, and cut depths.

See this page to download the new nc files. See the comments in the files for material and tooling selection.

I still need to modify the actual sled base with slots to accommodate this dust chute. Once I do that, I will start locating all the holes for the rail guides. I’m trying to get through all the corrections I have listed above.

EDIT: So I was tired last night and made an oversight. The body of the plywood dust collector is supposed to use these threaded inserts to mount the acrylic window, which I should have noted when I wrote this up. Additional, I noted that the holes for these are drilled blind, which may not allow you to thread the insert in fully. These should be thru holes, I’ll try to make the change to the dxf and nc files if I have enough bandwidth tonight when I get home.


@MeticulousMaynard, I wanted to mention. This sled doesn’t have any bricks for weight. Was that intentional, or just an oversight?

Because everyone has a different method for weighting their sleds, I left that up to the end user. My own sled uses 1/2" x 1 1/2" x 6" steel flat bar pieces, each weighing about a 1/2 lb. I’ve seen other people have been using bricks and actual round weights. Each machine is different, so I didn’t want to dictate how much weight people need for their setup.

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Tonight’s revisions! :smiley:

First off, for anyone looking at the Fusion model of the sled, I have vastly organized the model tree:

I grouped components that were scattered throughout the tree into their respective sub-assemblies. It’s much easier now to navigate through the model and see how each of the assemblies interact. I hope this makes it a little easier to build as well.

It’s also making it much, much easier for me to revise it!

Speaking of, more progress on the plywood dust chute. I cut slots into the sled to accommodate the design, so now it’s a simple glue-and-screw construction.

New sled design (specifically for the plywood chute):

With the chute mounted on the sled (sheet metal cover removed for clarity):

Front underneath:

I also had to modify the cut-out for the dust chute through the spine. I left a good 0.125" clearance in that opening, so it should be pretty easy to attach the spine, even if the chute isn’t perfectly aligned.

So this is what the entirely plywood version would roughly look like if it were “on” a machine:

DXF and NC files updates to follow.

For those 3D printing their dust chutes, this plywood version will fork off the the main one. CAD and cut files will be available to those who want to print their chutes. Keep those beautiful prints coming! All of yours look so much better than mine! xD


Very generous of you to do this!

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For what it’s worth, I found that I needed extra weight to improve accuracy, so I just moved the bricks from the old sled. Here’s a picture of how I have it set up now. This works great for me.


Ring alignment - I just cut everything except the dust chute. I didn’t see any marks/holes to help with ring alignment. What is the thought process or procedure for this on this sled?

Also, have enough people tried the different pulleys to come up with a preference? Has anyone experienced stalling of the z motor?

Thanks for all the hard work!

So, did this solve the drift z-axis drift issue, or did it improve accuracy on the x,y plane?

Yes, the meticulous z-axis upgrade has resolved this problem for me.

To be clear, I was only having x/y-axis accuracy issues since I upgraded the z-axis and I did not add extra weight. So, adding the bricks improved accuracy.


See: The Meticulous Z-Axis - #273 by MeticulousMaynard

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There were older of the NC and CAD files on the Community Garden a little while back, but those files should be fixed by now. I’m currently on break during a training session, or I’d check. See the post that @theHipNerd just linked above for the files to add the holes in if you’ve run the older program. On my to-do list is also making paper hole templates in case anyone’s cut the parts and taken them off the machine without finishing all the holes.

I found a bunch of different sized GT2 pulleys that I just bought this weekend that are coming to me on a slow boat from China. When they arrive, I will be testing to see how fast I can get the Z-axis to move before stalling the motor. Sourcing pulleys has been one the bigger challenges for this project, admittedly.

Oh gosh, I just downloaded them over the weekend. I’m ordering pulleys today, I’m going to order a couple different sizes and compare.

Okay, the file you downloaded is missing those holes then. I will have to look it over and fix it when I get a chance. Sorry about that.

I ordered some fun stuff today. The lead screw kit mentioned here, 15 tooth pulley with 8mm bore, 30 tooth pulley with 6mm bore, and a timing belt. All via Amazon prime!
I got the 6mm pulley because my z axis motor measured 6mm.

I have been following this thread for a while in preparation for assembling my Maslow. Question for the masses. What is the average cost of the Meticulous Z Axis assembly and what is the benefit to tracking down all the parts sources from china, over just picking up a ready made CNC Z Axis kit for around $150 that just needs to be mounted and plugged in with minimal modification?

Also following the post long time.
I guess one part is the joy of building it.
If i would have decided to go with a router, i would build this.
A router is massive and i would want a more ‘beefy’ support for it.
If you go with a palm-router, or like me with a spindle, you get away with a c-beam.
Just my 2 fils.

You can buy the hardware for under $40 before shipping using the cheapest components listed in the project’s BOM. The raw materials (plywood, acrylic, and 3D printer filament) are also relatively cheap, though the cost varies depending on where you source them from. It should be very possible to build this assembly for less than $100.

Luckily, the BOM section of the Community Garden does a good job of helping you do the sourcing. Of course, all the parts are recommendations and you can source and purchase your own components from the US using Amazon and Ebay. That will drive the cost up, however, which is why many of the parts I chose are coming from AliExpress.

Mostly cost, and, as @Gero said, the joy of building the assembly. That’s not to say that building a C-beam style Z-axis is a bad idea, as many people have already done so. How much time and energy you invest into your setup is entirely a personal preference.

Do you mind sharing the links for the pulleys? I would love to add a US shipping option to the BOM for those. The pulleys have admittedly been the hardest thing for me to source.

Now I feel like I need to measure my motor shaft. I had remembered it being 6.35mm (1/4") but I could be wrong.

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How is that spindle working out for you? I have been considering one, but am concerned about how well it would cut 3/4" ply.


The motor shaft could be 6.35mm… I didn’t measure that precisely. A 6mm pulley could easily be reamed out to 6.35. 6.35mm is a common option as well on Amazon.

15 tooth 8mm xl pulley

There are quite a few options on Amazon for pulleys and belts. I wanted everything Prime so that got a little tedious but eventually got it all gathered together. The 30 tooth pulley I ordered is sold out already.

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The stock z-axis motor has a 6mm shaft. This is from the datasheet and the fact that I bought a 6.35mm pulley and it was loose. A small bit of tape fixed the problem, though.
Google Photos