After a month of tinkering, upgrading, and building my router is truly useful. In this picture, it has just finished carving a pattern for a stamp from linoleum. It will be interesting to see what distributed fabrication will do to the economy over the coming years.
Among the essential upgrades are homing switches that let me resume a job even after an emergency stop, a dust collection system with a dust shoe to save my lungs and sanity, and an upgraded spindle because the generic one that came with it failed.
The box contained a Shapeoko 2 which is a CNC router. This will let me cut out many kinds of wooden or even plastic parts and designs with a computer. I am not that great at classic woodworking skills like drilling straight holes and making sure things are square. This machine will let me do all of that by simply drawing them out at my computer which is considerably easier. The default kit will have a work area of 12"x12" or so. This is too small to cut furniture or other large projects, but there are still a lot of things I can make. Later on, I can upgrade it to do bigger pieces.
The box came absolutely stuffed with screws and plates and pieces:
Here are some of the pieces laid out on the new workbench:
The first big piece to be assembled was the z-axis. Then I rolled it onto the x-axis rails. The tower in the middle is built around a threaded rod which rotates to move it up and down. The tool itself is attached to it.
Here is a closer view of the main gantry. The x-axis is belt-driven and will move the tower left and right along the rails.
And here is the frame completely assembled. The x-axis assembly is mounted on two rails which form the y-axis. These are also belt driven and move the whole x-axis back and forth.
All of this is electronically controlled by an Arduino board wired to stepper motors via a shield. My current status is that everything is wired up, belts are installed, and I can use my laptop to control it moving it slowly around. But I am running into issues where the z-axis is binding up and not turning with the stepper motor sometimes.
The working machine is so close, but so far away...