3D Router

09/01/2015 21:56:26   Categories: DIY Tools

The idea arose after dealing with the difficulties and loss of time in preparing for certain CNC jobs. Sometimes I spent more time preparing for the CNC than the work itself. With this manual router, you can make holes or mill very fast. A 43mm Clamping Collar makes it very versatile and you can change the milling tool to drill very fast.

There are certainly lots of wooden router table and CNC router plans floating around in cyberspace. What makes this project noteworthy are the feature set and the cleverness of how it’s all put together and designed for maximum versatility. This router table can be used as a 3-axis drill press, sanding station, a 2D router, and you can do simple shapes 3D milling via a reference model. Using a series of accessories, you can also cut circles, straight-cut squares, and cut to a 2D reference model.

The uses of this tool are varied. I am a guitar maker and my plan consists of devising several templates of guitar bodies and necks to be made with the 3D Router, without switching on my CNC. Besides, it can also be used for other woodwork tasks. I have tried to make a design which can be easily built, with rather simple and cheap.

Overall dimensions: 800mm high, 740mm width and 700mm depth.
Useful dimensions: 425mm in X Axis, 535mm in Y axis and 185mm in Z axis.

Using my homemade Router & Saw table to start this project. Making  this tool requires great precision and considerable experience in  woodworking. Cuts should be perfectly straight and square. They must be axis parallel and  well aligned, to avoid bumps on bearings, otherwise, the tool will start vibrating.

Finish cutting, sanding and prepare all the pieces according to plans. Then, start assembling the axis metal profiles (L-shaped). They must be made of iron or steel. I've used aluminum, but, as it is softer than the bearings, a groove can be  made on the metal profiles, which after long term use may cause width . You can glue it or screw it preventing the screws from touching the bearings. Use a rule to leave them paralell and straight.

Once the X-Axis bench is assembled, start with the bearings of this Axis, as you can see on minute 2.45, we must enlarge the 8mm hole in the direction and areas that are marked on the plans to adjust bearings to the  metal profile, to prevent width. Use dowels to reinforce some parts that require more strength. I have tried to make a design which can be easily built, with rather simple and cheap parts. 

When the Y axis frame is assembled, before starting with the Z axis, needless to say that this frame should be perfectly square so as to faultlessly slide along the arms of the X axis.  So far, we have done most of the work!

Assemble the bearings that go along the Y axis frame and test the Z-axis bearings before mounting this part on the machine. Cut and test the Z axis spring. The spring must support the weight of the router.

Continue with the Z axis, assembling all parts. The  43mm Clamping Collar hole should be very exact, do it with the right drill bit or a CNC. Make sure the milling machine is well fastened because it might come off with the vibration. 

End the Z axis with the actuating lever and other accessories such us the elevator control, fast clamping sleeves and the axis brakes, whish are also made from 18mm plywood.  We must also finish the guideway and the worktable.

This is the end of the 3D Router project. Finish the Z axis and the 2 and 3D followers. The parts that fasten these followers  must be very firm and secure. Use glue and screws.

Before starting this project, I install a block on the Z axis in order to mill from the rear, without having to pull the lever, which is very useful for certain pieces of work with the 2D Follower. I made the templates in a CNC for the 2D contours y for the 3D top of the guitar. If you do not have a CNC, I recommend that you order them from someone who has them. They could also be made by hand but, if it is done accurately, some good templates may be used to duplicate a job at any time! In this situation, we could also use a real guitar as a template. I made two bases of 700x350x10mm on MDF in order to hold and locate the pieces to be worked on.

The bearing of the 2D Follower must have the same diameter as the router bit, or install a smaller bearing if you are looking for a bigger milling cutter than the one in the template itself. The depth of each pass on Z axis depends on the material and the work tool. As you can see in the video at 2'50 min, the 2D Follower can be used from ahead or from the back. Personally, I prefer from the back because I feel more at ease with the template.

I lower all the elements of the Y axis, bringing the milling cutter close to the piece to be worked on. Then, I adjust the height of the touch probe in order to use the 3D Follower. As I am going to lower the cover by passing several times on Z, I first leave the milling cutter at a slightly higher level than the touch probe. In the last pass, these heights must be identical. As with the 2D Follower, I prefer milling from the back because I feel more at ease with the template and it is less dangerous.

After one year of use, it's time to perform maintenance on my 3D Router. I'm going to focus on the bearings and the aluminium profiles. As I said back in the day, aluminium wasn't the wisest choice. Some grooves have appeared because the bearings are made of a harder material.

Note: I'm not planning to update the plans of the 3D Router because, as you can see in the video, hardly any modifications are necessary and both systems are good if made correctly and with the right parts. You only need to separate the bearings 6mm on axis Y and X, and lower the Z axis part another 6mm as seen in the video.

Where to get some materials and tools used in this project:

Visit the 3D Router Topic in Forum:

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View all comments (20)

11/13/2016 02:09:04

Hola, mi nombre es nelson german ochoa

hola , muchas felicitaciones esta es una maquina exelente , gracias por compartir esos conocimientos con nosotrs sus seguidores. me gustaria obtener los planos y medidas pues me interesa mucho . gracias y que continue enseñandonos con esos videos

10/12/2016 17:22:33

jose luis

un trabajo estupendo, el precio de los planos lo valen, en cuanto pueda los compro

05/24/2016 14:04:24


Hola Jaime, you've got some info in the forum: http://paoson.com/es/forum/55s/where-to-find-the-43mm-clamping-collar-router

05/24/2016 02:35:08


buenas noches quisiera saber q tipo de fresadora utiliza y si en colombia la puedo conseguir. gracias

03/22/2016 20:16:46

Paoson Woodworking

Hello Dan, its a Kress 1050, check out this: http://paoson.com/es/forum/55s/where-to-find-the-43mm-clamping-collar-router

03/22/2016 18:29:06


What is the router you are using/picturing in this project?

03/19/2016 16:03:26


Very clever and useful!! Many thanks for sharing on the web, it is very inspiring

03/14/2016 10:41:31


Hi Mojo,can you please contact me by e-mail or asking in the forum. It will be much easier to help you.

03/14/2016 10:17:35

Paoson Woodworking

thank you Bryan!

03/14/2016 05:07:06


I cannot print out the parts, I cannot view all of the parts in Sketchup make, I am fining it very hard to understand the plans

03/12/2016 04:10:40


When I saw this design, I was very impressed with its simplicity and the possibilities of what can be accomplished on woodworking projects. I purchased plans in February. Since metric fasteners , hardware and such are more costly in the USA, I have re-drawn to match standard offerings here. Paoson, I am a big fan of your work and design ideas.

03/12/2016 01:10:41


It's a pleasure to see a lot of work so perfectly beautiful

02/01/2016 23:09:24

Raul Robaina

Super interesante la maquina estaria intresado en los planos para poder fabricar para mi taller

11/13/2015 10:59:46


Thank you Adriaan! I am sure you will. Good luck with your projects

11/13/2015 10:53:00


Obrigado Eduardo, Sim, você pode pagar por transferência bancária.

11/13/2015 10:46:05


Thank you guys for the feedback!

11/03/2015 17:06:04


Muito bom.VCs aceitá boleto bancario

10/30/2015 19:09:07

Adriaan Bakker

Hi! I am really impressed with this machine, and bought the plans today. My brother, who is an instrument maker with the University of Amsterdam, made a CNC router himself but advised me to look at your instructable movie. Thanks, and again, I can only hope that one day I will be able to invent something this clever!

10/28/2015 18:47:02


Nice, congratulations!

10/28/2015 18:39:43


amazing job! Well done.

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