lil’ CNC benchmarking

You asked for specifics, and we heard you!  Here’s a growing listed of tested aspects of DIYLILCNC functionality.

Cutting envelope:

The unmodified design can easily cut inside a 2″ x 10″ x 10″ volume.  This measurement leaves extra travel room for limit switches.  One could easily expand the Y axis by lengthening rods, belts and the base.  X and Z could be expanded as well, but this would require modifications to panel pieces in the CAD file.

Feed rate:

The lil’ CNC can travel at a top speed of about 100 inches per minute (ipm) in X and Y.  Z travels more slowly due to gear ratios.  Please note, however, that top-speed operation can lead to lost steps and/or material binding.


The current design uses a cheapo Dremel tool rather than a fancy spindle.  A standard Dremel accepts 1/8″ end mills.  Though spindle speed can be adjusted, one must do so by hand, as opposed to controlling speed via EMC2.  We picked the Dremel to keep our costs down, and you’d be surprised how well it can perform if you are careful with feeds, speeds, and bit geometry.


Our design uses Masonite in lieu of more structural and expensive materials like aluminum or steel.  Why?  We’re trying to keep the price as low as possible.  Cheap materials also lower the bar to experimentation – you can build this rig and push it till it breaks, then fabricate replacement parts quickly and cheaply with a laser cutter.


We haven’t had this tested in a professional setting.  Based on casual testing, we estimate that the device can readily repeat cuts within 1/100″.

Which materials can it cut?

The short answer:  any material that a Dremel can!  That said, here’s a partial list of what we’ve tried so far:

High-Density Foam

Hardwood / Walnut

02" Acrylic

1/32" 6061 Aluminum

But what about…

Got a questions we didn’t answer here?  Send us a request and we’ll add it as soon as we can.

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