How to Set up Your CNC Router – Part 1: A Multi-level Workbench (For around $15!)

If you’ve been paying attention to this blog whatsoever, you’d know that I’ve been building a CNC router.  When doing a project at home, some people (me included at times) don’t pay attention to the details.  In other words, this router could have been just slapped on a table with the computer next to it, no electrical box, and wires hanging everywhere.  That may work for some, but with limited garage space, and a need to make my machinery look presentable, this is what I came up with.  Also, these techniques won’t break the bank in case you were worried.

The first thing that one will need when setting up a router is somewhere to put it.  For this, I chose the Plano “4-tier standing shelf.”  These things are fairly well-made and can reportedly hold 60 lbs per shelf.  Plenty of weight capacity for a home-built or kit-built router unless yours is much different than mine.  The only caveat is that they aren’t really mean to have things rocking back and forth on them, like a router, so it may seem a bit unstable.  The ZTW 7×12 fits almost perfectly on one of these, so I probably got lucky there.  Also, it was around $15, so that seemed like a bargain.



ZTW back view

Work in progress

The way I set mine up, I put the computer on the bottom.  This helped anchor everything so it wouldn’t be too topheavy.  After this, I put an electrical box on the next level (which I’ll go over in another post) and a router on the third shelf.  On the very top I put the computer monitor, mouse, and keyboard.  Everything fit very well except that the top of the router was a tiny bit too high to fit.  As I figured out later, one also needs access to the bottom of the router in order to help clamp things to the table.


The solution that I came up with for both of these problems was, of course, to cut holes in everything.  The access holes shown in the first picture of this article were made with a 2 3/4 inch hole saw.  I wasn’t quite careful enough with the left hole and it turned out kind of shoddy, so be sure to hold your drill securely when doing this.  To make clearance for the router to move around, I cut a 17.5″ x 5.5″ slot in the top.  For this I used a hand-held reciprocating saw and a hand drill for the pilot holes.



assembled ztw 12x7

You only think you're finished...

Everything turned out very well and the footprint of my assembly was only 14″ x 22″.  This doesn’t count the monitor which sticks out a bit.  As we park two cars in our garage, this small footprint was a definite plus.  The ZTW 7×12 kit seems to be a great router, but it takes some other elements like this shelf to get it working properly.  For example, check out the next post about how I wired everything up electrically.  Also, check out this video of the router in action.
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  1. Have you thought about possibly putting sides on the shelf? Attaching something like 1/8″ masonite should tighten things up considerably.

    • Yeah, you’re probably right. It’s pretty functional as it is, although a little wobbly if you push on it. Maybe I’ll try that if I start having problems.

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