Basic CNC Where to Start

I've spent much of my spare time this weekend reading on-line about various
CNC type operations in wood and metal. Looks like for big stuff in metal
you gotta chunk out about ten grand to start for a machine.
For moderately small stuff there looks to be some machines using a rotary
tool that you can be up and running including software for about $1500, but
the real machinists I have talked to so far seem to think those will not be
very accurate due to the side stress on the motors and the quality of the
For a little more a couple outfits have regular milling machines converted
to cnc operation in the $2600 to $4000 range. They look pretty good, have
good initial precision as well as accuracy, but alas, their working range is
smaller than the rotary tool machines. Start looking at bigger working
range of travel in even two axis and the price spikes up quickly.
I am looking for a basic CNC machine that I can do plaques upto 12 by 12
give or take, and some prototype work in aluminum for molds to pour lead and
plastics. Something easy to setup and use, that will work reliably, and
that I can afford for hobby use, and that I can do my modeling on my PC.
Where do I start? I looked at adding a CNC kit to a mill myslef, but most
affordable mills are to small to do some of the work I want to do. Am I
back to looking at the rotary tool on rails setups?

Reply to
Bob La Londe
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Keep in mind the zone has a rather high idiot quotient. Even worse than here.
Reply to
Karl Townsend
As you are discovering, CNC is a vast area of many cost levels. I've stayed away from it, but there are numerous must-have-CNC machine uses for many levels of HSM or hobbiest/metal enthusiast projects.
If I were going to pursue CNC, my approach would probably be to start with something small such as converting an existing manual X-Y table (using 2 identical drive schemes), where a Z axis could be added as my slow grey matter caught up to how it all works and what other work/parts would be required.
Another CNC forum is the Chaski groups which are moderated, so that all of the posted material is relevent to specific metalworking subjects.
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Home Shop CNC forum
WB ......... metalworking projects
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Reply to
Tormach (and maybe Smithy) will put you in touch with local owners that don't mind showing their machines. That's a nice way to get a real life opinion of the machine.
Reply to
Mike Henry
They have some pretty incredible technology over at Majestic Machinery in Los Angeles. I am personally really happy with one of their 4 x 4 routers. Here is their website.
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