Current CNC milling machines have dramatically advanced what a builder can create from a simple block of metal, and as we’ve seen, a properly programmed high end mill can turn out amazing work. Home machinists and builders often make do with more basic equipment allowing them to make those special one off parts or even a series of parts, but if you start with a basic milling machine and then get the urge to do CNC work, you have to make a choice, trade it in for a factory built CNC machine, buy some sort of add on kit or design and build everything necessary and convert it yourself. Though the last route is a bit over the top, Joel Miller of Massachusetts, an industrial designer by day, decided to see what it would take to do just that and forged ahead.
Joel bought a Grizzly G0704, a manual machine of the type you might find in a home shop, and set it up in his garage. After getting the feel of it and seeing what it could do, he launched into the conversion, buying parts, metal enclosures, stepper motors, switches and wiring and even designing and etching his own printed circuit boards.
He has a detailed series of posts on his website describing the whole process finishing with some videos of the machine in action, definitely worth your time. I can imagine someone seeing the CNC mill in his garage and assuming it was something he bought as a complete outfit, never imagining he did so much of the work himself. This is “hands on” on a higher level. Nice job!