CNC DIY 12x12 2010 Assembly Instructions

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Here are the assembly instructions for the Zen Toolworks 1212 DIY CNC Machine (2010 Model). We've provided separate part lists for both the mechanical hardware and the CNC Framework, since both use their own numbering system. The following instructions will make references often to part numbers of both the Frame and the Hardware.

Estimated Assembly Time: 3 hours

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CNC Parts List (frame)

This is the list of PVC boards that are used to construct the CNC framework.

#01, Clamping Blocks

#02, Stepper Motor Base

#03, End Bearing Blocks

#04, Z Axis Upper Support

#05, Z Axis Upper Support

#06, Z Axis Lower Support

#07, Z Axis Lower Support

#08, Z Axis Bottom Frame

#09, Z Axis Top Frame

#10, Gantry Right Support A

#11, Gantry Left Support A

#12, Motor Support Block

#13, Y Axis Lower Frame

#14, Y Axis Top Frame

#15, Y Side Frame

#16, Tool Base

#17, Gantry Left Outer Frame

#18, Gantry Left Inner Frame

#19, Gantry Right Outer Frame

#20, Gantry Right Inner Frame

#21, Z Axis Base Frame

#22, Gantry Back Enforce Frame

#23, Working Table

#24 Not Used

#25 Not Used

#26, Y Axis Rear Support A

#27, Y Axis Rear Support B

#28, Y Axis Front Support A


  1. 29, Y Axis Front Support B

#30, Gantry Right Support B

#31, Gantry Left Support B

#32, Machine Bottom Frame


Hardware Parts List

This is the list of all the hardware that is used or installed into the CNC framework.

P-01, Nema 23 Stepper Motor

P-02, Motor Shaft Flex Coupling

P-03, End Support Ball Bearing

P-04, Anti Backlash Large Falan

P-05, Anti Backlash Small Falan

P-06, Anti Backlash Spring

P-07, Lead Screw End Holding Nut

P-08, X/Y Guide Rails

P-09, X, Y Axis Lead Screw

P-10, Z Axis Guide Rail

P-11, Z Axis Lead Screw

P-12, M3x Screw

P-13, M3 Washer

P-14, M3 Machine Screw

P-15, M4x20 Machine Screw
(Used for Lead .Screw & Motor Mount)

P-16, M4 Washer

P-17, M4 Lock Washer

P-18, M4 Nut

P-19, M6x15 Machine Screw
(For Y and Z Guide Rails)

P-20, M6 Washer

P-21, M6x20 Machine Screw
(For X Guide Rails)

P-22, M6x25 Machine Screw
(Fastens Left & Right Frame to Base)

P-23, M6 Nut

P-24, Linear Bearing 12mm (4)

P-25, Linear Bearing 16 mm (8)

P-26, Linear Bearing Holding Screw

P-27, M4 wood screw

Unit Assembly: Step by Step Instructions

(Step-01) Find the four circular End Bearing Blocks (#3). Also find four End Support Ball Bearings (P-03) that is in your hardware bag.

(Step-02) Clear any debris or fray from the surface of the bearing blocks. We want the bearing to go in as straight as an arrow so it needs to be cleaned for a flat alignment.

(Step-03) Take the bearing and center it on the hole and give it a push. It should stick but it’s too tight to go all the way down. If it doesn't stick, it doesn't matter. You can line it up on the next step...

(Step-04) Use the vise (or equivalent) to push the bearing into the hole. The vise helps keep everything straight as it pushes it in.

(Step-05) Check the part. A finished piece will look like this. The bearing should be nice and flush with the surface

(Step-06) Finish the remaining pieces in the same way.

(Step-07) Find these parts (#17 and #19) along with 2 more bearings (P-03).

(Step-08) Using the same method as the previous bearings, use your vise (or equiv) to push the bearing into place.

(Step-09) Again, make sure the bearings are nice and flush with parts 17 and 19

(Step-10) We are now going to put together the bottom guide plates / Gantry for the Y axis. Identify each part and get them ready. The Z axis uses smaller linear bearings.

[Parts #: 5, 6, 10, 11, 27, 28 and hardware P-24 and P-25]

(Step-11) As before, use a vise (or equiv) to push the bearings in straight. Make sure they are going in the correct way – each bearing should be inserted into the side its identifying number is on (see following picture).

(Step-12) Complete all the linear bearings and check your work. Remember to make sure bearings are pushed in straight and end up nice and flush with the part it is in.

(Step-13) The next two pieces to prepare are the Y Axis Rear Support A & B (#26 & #27).

(Step-14) Place the part 26 on part 27 and line up the bearings.

Notice the corners on each piece. Each has a rounded and a sharp side. Line up the parts so they are the same direction. Also check the screw holes on the edges (see next 2 pictures) and make sure they are on the same side.

(Step-15) Once again, our trusty vice to the rescue! Straight, Nice and Flush! Need we say more?

For longer frames, you switch the pushing side when it is half way in to avoid bending force.

(Step-16) Notice the small holes on the edge of both pieces are facing the same direction. This is what we were talking about in the previous step.

(Step-17) Now we need to build our next brace using parts #28 and #29. This is done in the same way as the last one so I'll spare you the description again. You can refer to the previous if you forgot something.

(Step-18) Final inspection and verify the screw holes are on the same side.

(Step-19) Now let’s put together the Gantry Left and Right A supports (#10 & #11) and the Gantry Left and Right B supports (#30 & #31). It is noteworthy to point out that the part #11 looks like two dotted i's instead of two 1's.

(Step-20) In the same manner as before, place part 30 on top of part 10 and line up with the bearings. Do the same with part 31 on top of part 11. Use your trusty vise to set everything in place as before.

The orientation of each piece is made by matching the rounded and Sharp corners together

(Step-21) Still on the Z-Axis, gather these parts for the next assembly.

[Parts #: 4, 5, 6, 7]

(Step-22) Line them up so the little screw holes on the edge are facing the same direction. Then squeeze them together using... You guessed it – your trusty vice.

(Step-23) Review your assembly. Did you remember the important part of this step?

Straight, Nice and Flush!

(Step-24) Well Done!

You now have a bunch of heavy duty supports that will make up most of your for each axis.

(Step-25) Remember those little screw holes I was talking about - next to the bearing? It takes one Linear Bearing screw (P-26) and one M4 washer (P-16).

[Parts: P-16, P26]

(Step-26) Put the screw and washer in

(Step-27) Notice the washer just covers the outside edge of the bearing? This additional step helps secure the bearing in place.

(Step-28) You will need to assemble the anti-backlash nut (P-3, P-4, P-5) onto your lead screw (P-09).

Now grab the Anti-Backlash set and screw on the small Falan (P-05) just on the first few threads of your lead screw (P-09). It doesn’t matter which end of the lead screw you use, they are the same shaft size.

(Step-29) Slide the large falan (P-04) into the spring and then push it down so it fits into the notch on the small falan. Squeeze them together against the spring while screwing them together..

NOTE: This may take a few times to get right (it still takes me over 5 tries).

(Step-30) Place the Anti-Backlash Spring (P-06) over the small falan.

Same steps for other two lead screws and anti-backlash nuts.

(Step-31) It is supposed to have a small gap (2mm) between to two falans. If you make them too tight, there will be too much friction and put more load on motors.

(Step-32) Once you are satisfied with the assembly, screw the backlash nut down so that 4-6” of thread is showing on the end. This will give you enough room to work with when you insert this into the frame.

(Step-33) Gather these next items that we'll be working with. You will use the WD-40 and your shop-towel to clean up the guide rails (P-08).

(Step-34) Okay -- spray some WD-40 onto the towel and thoroughly wipe the guide rails which should produce a bit more of a shine to them. Will be using them in the next few steps...

(Step-35) Now let's grab a few more parts.

We need the Y-axis Top Frame (#14), an End Bearing Block (#3), two M4x20 machine screws (P-15), two M4 washers (P-13) and two M4 nuts (P-18).

[Part #: 3, 12, 14, P-12, P-13, P-15, P-16]

(Step-36) Insert the two M4x20 machine screws with two M4 washers into the pre-drilled holes on both the Top Frame (#14) and Bearing Block (#3) as shows in the picture.

(Step-37) Pushed all the way through add another M4 washer to each on the other side and then twist on the M4 nut with your fingers.

(Step-38) During each frame assembly, don't tighten bolts and nuts all the way - only turn them just enough to make a snug fit so that it allows some minor movement.

You will need a 1/8 Allen (Hex) key and a small adjustable wrench (or 9/32 or 7mm socket) to turn these screws.

(Step-39) Next grab six M4 screws (P-27) and two Motor Support Blocks (#12).

Insert the screws through the pre-drilled holes. These will screw into two Motor Support Blocks (#12).

(Step-40) Tighten up M4 screws (P-27) and now you have motor support blocks (#12) installed on the #14.

(Step-41) Now grab the End Bearing Block (#3), the Y Axis Lower Frame (#13), two M4x20 machine screws, four M4 washers (P-16) and two M4 nuts (P-18).

Remember, the ball bearing will be sandwiched between two frames. After you finish, leave the assembly on side for later steps.

(Step-42) Now grab your assembled Y Axis rear support (#26 and #27). You will also need two M4x20 machine screws (P-15), two M4 washers (P-16) and two M4 nuts (P-18).

(Step-43) Slide theM4 machine screws (P-15) through a M4 washer (P-16) and into inner side of part #27. To do this, the screw needs to go through the larger holes on the attached part #26 (see previous picture for reference). Using your fingers and/or your Hex key to push them through.

(Step-44) Now take the Lead Screw with the Anti-Backlash on it and slide into place fitting the machine screws into the holes provided on the Anti-Backlash. Place a washer (P-16) and then a locker washer (P-17) on this end and hand tighten the M4 nuts(P-18) to keep it in place.

(Step-45) Now we are ready for a fully assembly of Y Axis. Lay down all pre-assembled parts together. Make sure that the orientation of the parts is correct. Those pre-drilled holes on side boards are for the bottom frame (#32). So they are supposed to be faced down. The stepper motor will be installed on rear side of the machine, and the anti-backlash nuts will also be placed near rear side.

(Step-46) After slide guide rods into linear bearings and all parts lined up, you are ready to put screws on now.

(Step-47) )Take the Y Axis Lower frame (#13) and align the holes with the guide bars and slip the lead screw into the center. IMPORTANT: The outer frame screw holes on the side should face the 'opposite' direction as the screw holes on the inner supports.

Take the machine screws and add a washer to each. Then thread them through the frame and into the guide rail. You can tighten this piece all the way as well.

(Step-48) Line up the Side Frames (#15) and screw the frames together using the four M3 screws with M4 washer on each into the pre-drilled holes.

(Step-49) Frequently test the movement of the lead screw. It should feel firm but give a smooth turn when you roll it with your fingers. If this does not turn or turns rough, check your assembly and make sure everything is orientated correctly and verify the lead screw is not bent.

(Step-50) At this point you can tighten up everything on the frame that was left snug.

(Step-51) Now add a Lead Screw End Holding Nut (P-07) to the end of the lead screw. You will need to loosen the two hex screws that are already in it with a 5/16 hex key.

(Step-52) Push the holding nut all the way in so the lead screw pops out a little bit. Then firmly tighten the two hex screws.

(Step-53) We are pretty much down with the Y Axis (base) installation. Check the lead screw movement, should be firm and smooth. Sorry to keep bringing this up again and again to emphasize the importance. While you finish all up and find the lead screw is too tight, it will be much more difficult to figure out the alignment problem.

(Step-54) Now grab the largest piece in the pile, the #23 Working Table. Also grab twenty M3 screws.

You will notice twenty screw holes in the table. These will be aligned with the holes on the front and back support assemblies underneath.

(Step-55) Screw each one in snug but not tight until all the screws have been inserted. Then tighten them the rest of the way.

It also helps to alternate screws like you would tighten the lug nuts on a car tire.

(Step-56) Check the lead screw again and make sure it turns firm but smooth while you tighten up those work table screws. If you find that particular screw cause the excessive lead screw friction, leave that screw a little loose.

(Step-57) Check the overall assembly and ensure the frame is tight. The only thing that should be loose movable is the lead screw.

(Step-58) Because the Bottom Frame (#32) is part of the Y axis area, we list it here. BUT, if you put it on, it will be a little hard to put the X Axis gantry onto the base(Still possible). So it is up to you when to install those two pieces. Just put a few in each side just to keep it in place until you screw in the both Gantry frames.

(Step-59) Remember - always check the torque on the lead screw when making any adjustments or adding parts to an axis.

(Step-60) The Y Axis assembly is completed!

Stand back to admire your work.

You may take this moment to have a snack, get a drink – or whatever it is that you do during minor celebratory moments.

(Step-61) Now let’s put together the Z Axis assembly.

(Step-62) Using the method as before, insert the Z Axis lead screw into the Z Axis Upper Support assembly.

Use two M4x20 machine screws (P-15), four M4 washers (P-16) and two M4 nuts (P-18) to fasten it together.

(Step-63) Add the other Z Axis Upper Support assembly and insert both Guide Rails.

NOTE: Make sure the screw holes on the side are facing the same direction.

(Step-64) Now grab an End Bearing Block (#3) and the Z Axis Top Frame (#9). Also grab two M4X20 machine screws (P-15), four M4 washers (P-16) and two M4 nuts (P-18).

(Step-65) As you have done before on the Y axis, fasten the bearing block to the top frame piece.

Notice there is some space where the bearing sits on one side of the bearing block, where-as the other side it is flush. Make sure the flush side faces the frame. Place a washer on both sides of the screws and tighten it up.

(Step-66) Another Y axis reference.

Get four M4 wood screws and four M4 washers and place them, in the reverse direction, into the pre-drilled holes.

(Step-67) Tighten these up and place to the site for now.

(Step-68) Now the Z axis bottom frame and bearing wheel. Grab another two M4X20 machine screws, four M4 washers and two M4 nuts.

(Step-69) Assemble this using your newly acquired knowledge, a little common sense and references in this guide.

(Step-70) Grab two M6x15 machine screws (P-19) and two M6 washers (P-20).

Using the picture as a reference, attach the bottom frame piece to the assembly.

Note: the screw holes on the side are -not- on the same side as the assembly. This is important so double-check.

Slide the lead screw through the bearing block and fasten the guide rails with the each washer and machine screw.

(Step-71) Now place the top frame piece in the same manner with two M6x15 machine screws and two M6 washers.

Again, making sure the screw holes on the side are facing the opposite direction then the assembly.

(Step-72) Now get the Tool Base (#16) and twelve M3 wood screws and M3 washers.

This piece has 16 holes but you are only using the three rows that contain four holes each (12 holes).

(Step-73) Fasten this down into the Upper and Lower Support assembly.

(Step-74) Inspect and Review. Make sure to test the lead screw and that it is firm but smooth.

(Step-75) Now slide a Lead Screw Holding Nut (P-07) onto the bottom.

Note: You may have to loosen the screws inside the holding nut before it will slide onto the lead screw. Also make sure that the smaller end of the holding nut faces inward.

(Step-76) Again, check your Lead Screw for the correct movement.

(Step-77) We are now moving to the X Axis assembly. I assume you have put the anti-backlash nuts onto the lead screw from previous steps. Pay attention to the board orientation and follow the instruction here.

(Step-78) Same as earlier with Y axis. Install the anti-backlash nut to board #30 and #10. Using 2 M4x20 (P-15), 4 M4 washers (P-16), two M4 locker washers (P-17) and 2 M4 nuts(P-18).

(Step-79) Now let’s prepare the Right Inner (#19) and Outer Gantry Frame (#20). These will combine to make one thick Gantry for maximum stability.

Take two M4x20 machine screws (P-15), four M4 washers (P-16) and two M4 nuts (P-18).

Put a washer on the screws and place them in the pre-drilled holes like you see in the picture.

(Step-80) If you look at the other gantry frame, you will see that these line up with two other pre-drilled holes.

Push it through, add a washer to each and then screw on the nut tightly.

(Step-81) #19 and #20 assembled together.

(Step-82) Do the same thing with the Left Gantry Support Frame. #17 and #18. Remember to use four washers.

(Step-83) Here is how the inner-side looks on each gantry support. The nuts cover most of the screw with M4 washers underneath.

(Step-84) Pick the #19 and #20 assembly and 2 motor support block (#12). Using M4 screws (P27) to put them together.

Make sure you feed the screws in from the inner-side which is opposite of the machine screws we just did.

(Step-85) Now grab four M4 wood screws (P-27).

Feed them through the four holes that line up with the four square cut-outs.

(Step-86) Now get two Motor Support Blocks and screw them in place. They insert the four square cut-outs.

(Step-87) Tighten the screws up and here is how it looks.

(Step-88) Tighten up the M4 screws on the anti-backlash nuts and ready to put the Z axis base frame (#21) on.

(Step-89) Here is #21 and the gantry assembly.

(Step-90) Screw the z axis base frame(#21) onto the gantry support blocks using M3 wood screws(P-12) with M3 washers(P-13)

(Step-91) After you install a few M3 screws, check the gantry lead screw movement, make sure it is still smooth. If not, loose a few screws to see where the problem is. We give some rooms for alignment of the boards, if certain screws cause the lead screw get tighten up, fasten those screws the last.

(Step-92) The Z axis base has been installed.

(Step-93) Now we are ready to put the Z Axis onto the gantry assembly.

(Step-94) Now you can slide in the Z axis assembly and fasten it with four of M3 screws and M3 washers on each side.

(Step-95) One side.

(Step-96) All M3 screws with washers installed. Also, check the lead screw movement frequently.

(Step-97) Here is the other side.

(Step-98) Put 2 M6 x 25 (P-22) through the gantry side board assembly and screw them onto the guide rods.

(Step-99) Do the same on the other side of the gantry.

(Step-100) Prepare for the lead screw end holding screw install. This will stop the play of the lead screw.

(Step-101) So before you tighten up the set screw on the end support nut (P-07), use your fingers to push them tight to eliminate any play.

(Step-102) Then tight up the set screws on the end nuts.

(Step-103) Now we are ready to put the stepper motors onto the machine.

(Step-104) Grab a shaft flex coupler (P-02) and unloosen the set screws in it. Then slide it on the end of lead screw shaft that is behind the motor support frame.

(Step-105) Here is the Nema 23 stepper motor and the motor base (#2). You are going to screw the base onto motor support block (#12) first, then screw the motor to part (#2)

(Step-106) Get the stepper motor base on top of motor support block and insert M4 screw (P-27) into those holes.

(Step-107) Use a screw driver to tighten up all screws.

(Step-108) Grab one of the stepper motors and line it up with the coupler. Slide the shaft inside the coupler. Don’t tighten the set screws on the coupler yet.

Note: Pay attention to where you want your motor wires to go and turn the motor to the appropriate position.

(Step-109) Get M4x20 machine screws (P-15), M4 washers (P-16), M4 locker washers (P-17) and M4 nuts (P-18) ready.

(Step-110) Push the screw into through the motor and into the frame. Place a washer, a locker washer and a nut onto the other side and use a hex key to tighten them up.

(Step-111) A close look on the stepper motor screw installation.

(Step-112) After you have stepper motor installed on the base (#2) and support block (#12), go ahead tighten up the set screws on the flex coupler. Leave some space on both sides.

(Step-113) Now you have the stepper motor on Z Axis fully installed. It is ready to get wired to the stepper motor driver board.

(Step-114) Following the same process to get other two stepper motors installed.

(Step-115) The following instruction is for installing Zen Toolworks Spindle Motor kit onto the CNC Machine. The spindle package is sold separately.

(Step-116) First, we need to put the spindle motor base frames onto the machine with M4x25 machine screws.

(Step-117) Here are M4x25 machine screws, M4 washers and M4 locker washers that will be used for the next step.

(Step-118) Insert M4 screws into the spindle motor base (#24) and then through CNC Machine tool base (#16)

(Step-119) On the screw end, put on the M4 washer and M4 nut.

(Step-120) Tighten them up a little bit. Remember, don’t tighten the screw nuts too much, you will need some room for motor final alignment.

(Step-121) You are going to install spindle motor top frames (#25) to the spindle motor base (#24) with M4x35 screws.

(Step-122) Also, don’t tighten up all screws yet, we will need to slide the motor in before we make them tight.

(Step-123) Slide the spindle motor into the holding frames with one hand.

(Step-124) Now tighten up M4 screws to secure the motor in place. Please don’t over tighten them and break the PVC frame.

(Step-125) Now the spindle motor installation is complete.

(Step-125) Here is Zen Toolworks CNC Machine 12x12 model with spindle motor installed.

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