Shop Info

© 2007 Daniel E. Kemp

Ballscrew and Nut Type and Price Comparision

The chart below contains ballscrew and nut types and price comparisons for several common suppliers with the total cost for for completing my CNC Conversion.
The costs are for 4 feet of screw (enough to complete the DIY X2 conversion) and 3 ballnuts.
Visit the websites listed to order from your preferred supplier.
Roton screws premachined are available here.
The Roton ballscrews and nuts I use and sell have about .002-.004 backlash, typical for rolled ballscrew with a single nut. There are several things you can do about this. 1. Do nothing, that's only about the thickness of a sheet of paper when you think about it. 2. Replace the balls with larger diameter ones. 3. Double-nut the axis, this is possible on the X2 but requires some mods to keep from losing travels. 4. Use Backlash Comp in Mach 3 (I do)  5. Spend a lot more $ for ballscrews with preloaded zero backlash nuts as from Homeshopcnc.
Ballscrews and Nuts Comparison - Click Image to Enlarge - 02/14/2009

Ballscrews and Nuts Comparison - Click Image to Enlarge - 02/14/2009

MIT Machine Shop Training Videos

If you are new to machining and never had any training these 10 videos are must see!
They cover a lot of the basics every High School or VoTech machine shop teaches about the safe use and setup of tooling used in a metal shop. Machinery covered include a
Drill Press, Band Saw, Belt Sander & Grinder, Milling Machine and Lathe. Also covered are Layout Techniques, Tapping, Clamping and Part Indicating procedures. None of the machines are CNC but the info is fundamental for using your equipment safely.
Each video is approximately 45 minutes in length and downloadable in .flv or .wmv format.
If the link does not work, go to
and search for Machine Shop 1.

CNC Programming Handbook, Third Edition by Peter Smid

Over its first two editions, this best-selling book has become the de facto standard for training and reference material at all levels of CNC programming. Used in hundreds of educational institutions around the world as the primary text for CNC courses, and used daily by many in-field CNC programmers and machine operators, this book literally defines CNC programming. Written with careful attention to detail, there are no compromises. Many of the changes in this new Third Edition are the direct result of comments and suggestions received from many CNC professionals in the field. This extraordinarily comprehensive work continues to be packed with over one thousand illustrations, tables, formulas, tips, shortcuts, and practical examples.         600 pages

Belleville Springs

The Belleville Springs are used in my power drawbar. The way the springs are stacked affects the total amount of force and total deflection of the unit. The chart below shows the difference between parallel, series and series/parallel.
I stacked 6 springs in series like this ()()() which gives the total force of 1 spring and the total deflection of 6 springs for the drawbar.
Other examples of the total force (F) and total deflection (D) are below.
() = series and (( or )) = parallel.

()()()() = Fx1, Dx8
(())(()) = Fx2, Dx4
((())) = Fx3. Dx2
((()))((())) = Fx3, Dx4
(((((()))))) = Fx6, Dx2
(())(())(()) = Fx2, Dx6

Belleville Stacking Diagram - Click to Enlarge

Belleville Stacking Diagram - Click to Enlarge

Milling Speed and Feed Calculator

Milling is the most common form of machining in which material is removed by feeding a workpiece into a rotating cutting tool with sharp teeth, such as an end mill or face mill. The motion of the cut is specified through several parameters, beginning with the cutting feed and cutting speed, which are selected based upon the specific cutting operation, workpiece material, tool material, and other cutting parameters. The speed and feed calculator can be used to determine the spindle speed (RPM) and feed rate (IPM) for the specified cutting conditions, as well as the cut time for a given cut length.
Milling Speed and Feed Calculator

Turning Speed and Feed Calculator

Turning is a common machining operation in which material is removed from a rotating workpiece by feeding a single-point cutting tool axially, along the side of the workpiece. The motion of the cut is specified through several parameters, beginning with the cutting speed and cutting feed, which are selected based upon the specific cutting operation, workpiece material, tool material, and other cutting parameters. The speed and feed calculator can be used to determine the spindle speed (RPM) and feed rate (IPM) for the specified cutting conditions and cut diameter. In some turning operations, the diameter of the workpiece will change so the spindle speed and cutting speed (SFM) must change as well. Typically, values are calculated for a single cut diameter and then either the spindle speed or cutting speed is held constant while the other varies. The calculator will also show the cut time for a given cut length.
Turning Speed and Feed Calculator

Printable Speed and Feed Charts

Here are links to several sites that have speed and feed charts available for download.
Great things to have, print them out and hang on the shop wall for quick reference.

Melin Carbide End Mills and Drills
Melin Cobalt HSS and HSS End Mills
Dapra Milling Speed and Feed Formulas
2Linc Engraving Guide
Irwin Drilling Guide
Wood Magazine Drill Press Speed Chart
KBCTools Carbide Insert Chart

The ABC's of CNC

The ABC's of CNC is an instructional video for newbies for learning about hobby CNC technology. The video goes through all of the basics of machine construction (lead screws, stepper motors, etc.) as well as the types of software (CAD, CAM, and controller software), and the actual workflow from concept, through CAD drawing, CAM cutter path generation,
G Code creation, and the final cutting of actual parts. The video ties all of the various parts of the CNC process together, in an easy to understand, and thorough interface.
Get the DVD Today.

The Machinists Ready Reference

This practical little book contains about 90% of the information that you'll ever really need without going to the Machinery's Handbook. It is also a small fraction of the price, is much less bulky, and is durable and easy to flip through with the spiral binding.
These are the specific sections included: I. Mathematical Information (decimal equivalents, areas, gage blocks, shop trig.), II. Drills (grinding, common problems and causes, drill sizes- decimal and metric, cutting speeds) III. Tapers, IV. Screws, Threads, Fasteners V. Milling, Shaping, Turning (cutters, speeds and feeds, lubricants), VI. Gears, VII. Weights, Gages, Tolerances, VIII.Tool Steels, IX Metric Information, X Reading Shop Prints (symbols, dimensioning and tolerances, geometric tolerancing, surface texture specs.)

G73 and G83 Peck Drilling Cycles

Below is a video I made to show the differences between the 2 drilling cycles.
G73 is a partial retract cycle in that the drill pecks down a set amount and then retracts
a very small amount before continuing on. A G83 cycle retracts the drill bit completely after each peck, this is good for small drill bits to allow the chips to be removed.

A G73 sample program:

G73 X0.0 Y0 Z-1.0 Q0.20 R.5 F3.00

G73 = Canned Cycle - Peck Drilling (partial retract)
X and Y = position of first hole
Z-1.0 = depth of hole
Q0.20 = Depth of drilling per peck
R.5 = Height above hole drill rapids to before it starts drilling
F3.00 = Feedrate of drilling

A G83 sample program:

G83 X0.0 Y0 Z-1.0 Q0.20 R0.50 F3.0

G83 = Canned Cycle - Peck Drilling (full retract)
X and Y = position of first hole
Z-1.0 = depth of hole
Q0.20 = Depth of drilling per peck
R0.50 = Height above hole drill retracts after each peck
F3.00 = Feedrate of drilling

Microstepping: Myths and Realities

Microstepping offers several advantages including:
Reduced Mechanical Noise
Gentler Actuation Mechanically
Reduced Resonance Problems
More Resolution
but it comes at the cost of reduced torque at the motor.
The following chart is from, get the whole story there.

Sieg X2 Motor Controller

The motor controller on the X2 can be a fickle little board giving people a variety of troubles. Common problems including having the motor cut out after running for a while, overheating and just plain quit working. Several problems can be corrected by the knowledgable DIY just replacing the power resistors or Mosfets or adjusting the onboard pots, just be cautious because contact with the AC mains can cause injury or even
The first step should be to read through Little Machine Shops Toubleshooting Guide.
This could eliminate some of the simpler problems. If you need more specific info on the layout and components of the controller board, check out Gerling Labs 2 PDF's
A Report on the 350 Watt Motor Controller and Block Report. They cover the theory of operation, schematics and correcting for bad power resistors.
You can get more board layouts and schematics here pertaining to the Grizzly G8689
though all these boards are similar to the Sieg Model FC350BJ/110V discussed here.
If the motor is cutting out or running weak and the components all check out OK,
the onboard VR1 pot can be adjusted CCW 1-2 turns to boost power.
If this is not something you would want to try yourself, you can send your board in for repair to Gerling Laboratories at You can also replace the X2 controller with a cheaper version from Surplus Center or KB Electronics.

Spindle Control with the G540

The Geckodrive G540 has a optically isolated VFD output that can be configured to run the X2 spindle speed controller. Phil at has taken the time to share
his instructions on how to wire them together. You can see his diagrams and get a preconfigured xml for Mach 3 on this webpage.
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Tramming the X2 with Spindle/Column Alignment

The process of tramming a Sieg X2 milling machine is one of the most important things you can do. Most beginners do not even realize that you need to tram a mill.
Tramming a mill is the process of aligning the column and head so it is perpendicular to both x and y axis with the table.  To do this you will need a dial indicator or dial test indicator and an indicator holder.
Read this from the Little Machine Shop MiniMill Users Guide page 14 with pics.

Tramming is the process of squaring the spindle with the table on a mill. This is important on the mini mill because the angle of the head is adjustable from side to side. Because the column is held in position by a clamping mechanism, the angle of the spindle can change without you being aware.
Tramming the mill requires the use of a dial indicator, or better, a dial test indicator. The indicator is mounted so that it rotates with the spindle and reads against the table at the farthest distance possible from the spindle.
The indicator can be mounted with a test indicator holder, or with a simple shop-made holder.
To tram the mill:
1. While supporting the head and column, loosen the large nut at the back of the base of the column.
2. Tighten the nut so that the column can just be moved.
3. Mount the dial indicator or dial test indicator so that it will rest on the front left and front right corners of the table.
4. Take readings on the left front and right front corners of the table. Calculate the difference to see how much and which way to move the top of the column.
5. Move the column and take additional readings. Repeat until the readings are the same to within 0.001”.
6. Tighten the large nut at the back of the base of the column.

You can read a similar process from

NOTE: before you tram the mill, you need to check the spindle/column alignment.
The head is made up of 2 parts, the spindle housing and the spindle housing mount.
They are bolted together with 4 long bolts that are only accessible by removing the head. If the 2 parts were not aligned at the factory the centerline of the spindle will not be in line with the centerline of the column. You would notice this if you used a short spotdrill in a part, then put in a long drill bit and noticed that the drill doesn't line up with the spotdrill hole. This can be corrected by adding a shim between the two castings to correct for Y axis misalingment or rotating the castings to correct for
X axis misalignment.
ksouers on the HMEM forum discusses how he checked and corrected for this,
adding witness marks before you begin is a good idea.
rudydubya made a great tutorial also on the HMEM forum with good pics based on
Earl Hacketts tutorial for MiniMill Spindle/Column Alignment a similar process I've mentioned on the cnczone forum.

X2 Travel Increases

This page will highlight many of the possible modifications that can be done to the X2
to increase the travel of the Axis'.

X2 Column Rigidity and Support

The X2 column is not the most rigid of designs. The front edge is supported by the
column brace with a single large bolt. This allows the column to pivot from one side to the other for angle cutting and tramming. The rear edge has no support what so ever. This gap causes flexing of the front brace which leads to endmill chattering.
Here is a simple and cheap remedy that greatly reduces column flex.
Column Rear Support Click to Enlarge

Column Rear Support Click to Enlarge

I took a piece of 1/4 inch steel plate, drilled a hole for the column bolt, and welded it to a piece of 3/8 flat steel. Drilled and tapped (2) 5/16-18 holes in the base and mounted it up.
Took about a half hour. Now the column is supported front AND rear and the flex and chattering are reduced to almost nothing.
It can still tilt side to side as before. I got the idea from skmetal7 in 2007 on cnczone.
As time passed and I added more weight to the head with the X2 Freak conversion,
I felt the need to add some extra support to the column itself.
Column Brace Click to Enlarge

Column Brace Click to Enlarge

A few months later in '07, I welded a piece of steel U-channel to the original support and bolted it to the column with several 1/4-20 allen screws. This procedure removes the ability to tilt the column from side to side but my articulating head makes up for that and then some.
The (2) holes in the original bracket were made oval so that I can still get a degree or 2 of movement to ensure that the column is perpendicular to the table. This is important for being able to tram the machine properly.
The amount of flex has been tested by skmetal7 and bilinghm in their threads.
There have been several other methods used to increase the strength of the column including filling it with shot (to increase the mass) filling it with epoxy cement or polymer concrete. Below are some pics of several other renditions to improve the column strength, many are from Yahoo groups as far back as 2002. Bilinghms thread shows his aluminum U-channel project from '08 and other ideas including regnars repost of fuzzbeans massive brackets. Dougal recently (2009) came up with a similar U-channel too, his is steel.. Other great jobs to check out,  BrassBuilders and  djbird3s.
Check out ArcEuroTrades special Super X2 Plus with a solidly mounted column.

Click to Enlarge
bilinghms column

bilinghms column

dougal column support

dougal column support

fromday2 flat plate

fromday2 flat plate

ozarks welded brace

ozarks welded brace

Petes Reinforce Plate

Petes Reinforce Plate

regnars fuzzbean column

regnars fuzzbean column

rick kruger angle plate

rick kruger angle plate

rodm1954s massive support

rodm1954s massive support

BrassBuilders column support

BrassBuilders column support

djbird3s column support

djbird3s column support

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X2 Counter Balances, Counter Weights and Air Springs

coming soon
X2 Electronics

These are a few choices I would suggest when it comes to the electronics to run the X2.

The best would be the G540. It's 50 volts and 3.5 Amps, the package is compact and simple to setup for a newbie. It's a 4 axis all-in-one that has 4 inputs, 2 outputs and spindle control. I would suggest the following components from Keling.

Gecko Diver G540 3 axis kit (One G540 + Three
NEMA23 KL23H2100-35-4B  (1/4” Dual shaft with a flat) 381
oz-in + one KL-350-48 48V/7.3A 115V /230Vpower supply:
Get a G540 interface board for neater wiring from RPC Electronics.

You can save a bit of money by going with a KL-4030 package from Keling. This is what I run in my mill, it's 40 volt 3 amps. You can see from the many videos I've made that these drivers combined with cheaper 270 oz/in motors can push endmills FAR beyond what anyone would want to machine at. Tons of power to take chip loads as high as .0075 after which it stops the spindle motor in it's tracks. You'll want to cut at .001-.002 chip loads. Higher voltage will get you more rapid speeds.  I've made a video showing the table whipping at 225 IPM for giggles. You have to wire the separate drivers to a breakout board but it's simple and I like the versatility, I started with 3 and worked up to 6 as the need arose. These video tutorials take you thru the wiring.
I would suggest the following components from Keling.

(3) KL- 4030 Microstepping Drivers $54.95
(2) KL23H276-28-4B 270 oz/in motors (X and Y) $39
(1) KL23H2100-35-4B 381 oz/in motor (Z) $49
(1) KL-350-36 36V/8.8 or 9.7A Power Supply $59.95
(1) C10 Bidirectional Breakout Board $28.04
total =
Replace the KL-4030's above with the new Digital Stepper Driver KL-4042D's for a very smooth running and fast system. Also drop the (2) 270 oz/in steppers and add (2) more 381 oz/in steppers.
total =

A third super cheap option would be to use one of the all-in-one TB6560 boards from Quality-Gadgets on Ebay. Bipolar drivers from China, up to 36V and 3.0 Amps with 3 4 and 5 axis boards that include 4 inputs for limits etc, a relay for flood or whatnot. About $72 (3 axis) $91 (4 axis) and $112 (5 axis) shipped to the US.
I tried one and it works but is very slow since 24 volts is recommended for Nema 23 motors. Pick up the same motors above for the KL-4030 and a $19 24 volt power supply from Circuit Specialists. 3 axis for a total of

While you're there, pick up an E-Stop switch, parallel cable and limit (home) switches(3)
from Keling to go with any of these choices.
Make motor cables using DB9 connectors from Computer Cable Store.
DB9 Solder Connector - Female (6-3 axis,8-4 axis)
DB9 Solder Connector - Male (6-3 axis,8-4 axis)
DB9 / HD15 Plastic Hood (9-3 axis, 12-4 axis)
or some XLR connectors from Probotix.
Get excellent shielded oil resistant CNC cable from McMaster Carr, part #8082K81
or some 18 or 22Ga shielded cable from Probotix.
I used this relay from Davis Instruments for my Flood and power drawbar, etc.
Opto 22 Z-Series Solid State Relay also available at Allied Electronics
Some cheapo microswitches from Circuit Specialists
or some nice midrange quality switches from Real Switch.

Attention Newbies!

If you are new to machining or just to CNC, take a minute and read through my beginners guide. You'll get an idea of what to expect with this new hobby and the procedures you should follow to get up and running and making chips.
Click the link above.

Wiring Instruction for CNC Electronics

These four great instructional videos from show step by step how to wiring up a typical Homeshop CNC electronics package. This appears to be one of the KL-4030 packages from, the same that I use to run the X2 Freak. It includes wiring up the motors, power supply, drivers, breakout board (C10) and limit/home switches. Also shows Mach 3 settings. Must see for newbies.

Wiring Instructions for CNC Electronics Step 1 - The best video clips are here

CNC Machine Electronics Wiring Step 3 - The best video clips are here

CNC Machine Electronics Wiring Step 2 - Click here for funny video clips

Final Step of the CNC Machine Electronics Wiring - The most popular videos are here

Coolant and MSDS

The coolant I've used for the past couple years and recommend to others is Syn-Kool.
Available from or cheaper at Click here for the MSDS.

Contains No Class 1 Ozone Depleting Chemicals
One Gallon Makes 33 Gallons
Uses Only .3 CFM Max. at 90 psi
Mix 4 ounces with each gallon of water. For heavy machining: mix 8 ounces or more per gallon.
Ecologically safe - biodegradable - contains no oils or CFC’s
MICRO-DROP™ lubricants are ideal for sawing, milling, drilling, tapping or grinding on ferrous and nonferrous metals.
Contains No Class 1 Ozone Depleting Chemicals
Formula “77” for Tougher Service Mist & Flood Cooling
• With proper maintenance, Syn-Kool has indefinite sump life - does not turn rancid
• For use on all ferrous metals
• Use for drilling and threading, broaching, sawing, grinding, turning and milling as well as CNC machining
• Nontoxic when diluted
• Excellent rust protection; soluble in hard or soft water

It was asked recently how safe it is to use especially compared to some common lubricants such as
motor oil, WD-40, kerosene, etc. which are applied with either a brush or squirt bottle. The Syn-Kool can be applied similarly using a thicker ratio of 5 or 10:1 vs. 20 to 33:1 for flood. Some other not so common and just plain odd choices for lube mentioned were, coconut oil, vegetable oil, lighter fluid,
PAM cooking spray, beeswax and Crisco. Whatever works for you, I say. I personally won't use food products for machining, If you don't keep everything scrubbed down, the bits flung about are going to stagnate and rot. Don't want my mill smelling like a dump and attracting flies. I also would never use any flammable liquid for machining. I know kerosene is recommended in the old books for aluminum,
but we have much safer alternatives available to us these days. i.e. Syn-Kool and other water based
lubricants like Kool-Mist.
MSDS or Material Safety Data Sheets  are "a form containing data regarding the properties of a particular substance. An important component of product stewardship and workplace safety, it is intended to provide workers and emergency personnel with procedures for handling or working with that substance in a safe manner, and includes information such as physical data (melting point, boiling point, flash point, etc.), toxicity, health effects, first aid, reactivity, storage, disposal, protective equipment, and spill-handling procedures."
Usually included in the MSDS is the HMIS (Hazardous Material Identification System) and/or
NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) rating for the product.
"HMIS (Hazardous Material Identification System) helps satisfy HCS requirements by providing a format for hazard determinations, offering a basic written hazard communication program, and simplifying the employee training and information process. HMIS provides clear, recognizable information to employees by standardizing the presentation of chemical information. This is accomplished by the use of color codes corresponding to the hazards of a product, assigned numeric ratings indicating the degree of hazard, and alphabetical codes designating appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) employees should wear while handling the material."

Get more in depth info here at the MSDS Hyper Glossary.

Below is a list with HMIS ratings of a number of the lubricants mentioned as well as some common household and workshop materials for comparison. Syn-Kool is very mild as you'll see.
                   Material Name        Health   Flammability     Reactivity          PPE   MSDS Download
Syn-Kool            1            1            0            B          MSDS
Motor Oil            1            1            0               MSDS
WD-40            1            4            0            MSDS
Kerosene            2            2            0            H          MSDS
Coconut Oil            1            1            0            E          MSDS
Vegetable Oil            0            1            0                     MSDS
Charcoal Lighter Fluid            1            2            0            MSDS
PAM Cooking Spray            1            1            0            MSDS
Beeswax            1            1            0            E          MSDS
Crisco Shortening            0            1            0            MSDS
Cheer Liquid Detergent            1            1            0            MSDS
OFF! Insect Repelent            2            3            0            MSDS
Mr. Muscle Oven Cleaner            3            4            0            MSDS
Dial Bar Soap            1            1            0            MSDS
Dawn Liquid Soap            1            1            0            MSDS
Raid Roach Fogger            2            4            0            MSDS
Anifreeze            2            1            0            MSDS
All Laundry Detergent            2            0            0            MSDS
Threadlocker Blue 242            2            1            1            MSDS
Tap Magic            1            2            1            MSDS
Castrol Safety Draw            1            1            0           B          MSDS
Gumout Carb Cleaner Spray            2            3            0            MSDS
Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol            2            3            2            MSDS
Rustoleum Spray Paint            2            4            0            MSDS
Herculiner Coating            0            3            0            MSDS
Greencut Cutting Fluid            0            0            0            MSDS
Boelube Liquid F-Style Gallon            1            1            0            MSDS