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I didn't get involved with CNC until 2018/19 and started with an X-Carve/Easel at the local Makerspace. I now have a 1010 Workbee and currently use Estlcam for paths and control. My X-Carve and Easel articles will stay on the Makers site.

Vertically Mounted Workpieces

Vertically Mounted WorkpiecesWhile being able to machine vertically mounted workpieces gets some attention, there are surprisingly few machines with this capacity built in. As a woodworker/cabinetmaker this was a must have feature. In brief (from a Facebook post), I ended up redesigning some aspects of the WorkBee to accommodate vertical parts. Image includes a vacuum fixture for cutting small dovetails. The front rail of the spoilboard framing is set back 80mm. To get decent Z clearance with vertical 2080 spoilboard framing I moved the framing down 20mm. 2040 extrusion ties the spoilboard framing to the C-rails/end plates (see Workbee 1010 topic), custom plates for the setback.
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Estlcam VS Easel

One of the key functional differences between Estlcam and Easel is that Easel can only cut inside/outside of a closed line/path (e.g. a circle). Any shape with ends that don't meet (e.g. a line) can only be "Cut on shape path". I'm guessing that the closed line restriction/awareness is why Easel will never cut past the line. Any irregular pocket cutting (e.g. text) with a straight bit is affected. If the space between two lines is smaller than the bit, Easel won't cut it.

Estlcam can cut to the right/left of any line and it is a very useful feature, e.g. being able to cut a shape on the end/edge of a board. Unlike Easel, Estlcam will cut past the line if the space between two lines (e.g. text) is smaller than the bit. As with Easel, zooming in and scanning the preview is important. Side note until it has a better place. Estlcam line (VS shape, i.e. engraving) cutting is bidirectional, i.e. very efficient, until one adds a finish pass. All passes are bottom to top when there's a finish pass, i.e. not very efficient. This also means that all left of the line cutting is climb cut and all right of the line cutting is conventional cut (regardless of cut setting). With bidirectional cutting any machine/bit flex will create noticeable ridges on the cut face because each pass flexes in the opposite direction. At least with hobby machines, bidirectional cutting only makes sense if it can be followed up with a finish pass.

Estlcam VS EaselAnother area where Estlcam and Easel differ is when cutting pockets. The example is a complex maze and both programs were set to cut parallel/offset (Estlcam changed/Easel default). Both generated paths that jump around a lot and it isn't obvious which moves around more. Both appear to use an ~40% stepover, but Estlcam leaves an ~20% path around the perimeter. While this does result in an additional path in some places, that 20% path is cut last - no finish pass required... Side note: Estlcam set to parallel provides the best results on narrow pockets, but the algorithm is too conservative/safe, i.e. too many unnecessary and time consuming passes

Estlcam VS EaselThe Easel generated path includes some full width cuts along the perimeter (more likely to leave wall marks and top tearout). While both can leave islands (which can break and tear grain) and it would be nice to see everything cut from center out, Estlcam saving the perimeter for a 20% wide final pass is a big plus.

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Workbee 1010

Workbee 1010After using the local Makerspace X-Carve for over a year I decided to buy my own CNC. I settled on a 1010 Workbee kit that included a 1.5kw air cooled spindle/frequency converter. The Workbee is a noticeable step up from the X-Carve, stiffer (... still too much X-axis flex) and more powerful (when using tb6600 etc. drivers). While most of what I will cover applies to any WorkBee, a few things will be specific to the Bulk-Man 3D kits. The mechanical aspect of the kit would have been relatively easy to build had I not redesigned it in the process.

Workbee 1010One thing I didn't like about the design was the spoilboard framing. I decided to mount the 2080 spoilboard mounting rails vertical and parallel to the C-beams. They are mounted to the C-beams and C-beam end plates via vertical pieces of 2040 extrusion. The 2040 pieces have hex key access holes drilled every 20mm which allows mounting them to the C-beam and spoilboard rails. Strips of aluminum fit in the widest part of the T-slot and have 5mm holes 20mm apart to index the screws, align the pieces, and strengthen the joint (plain strips space the spoilboard mounting T-nuts). Four more screws/t-nuts mount the 2040 upright to the end plate. While not very practical, it is possible to move the spoilboard frame up/down in 20mm increments.

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WorkBee Dust Shoe

WorkBee Dust ShoeI don't remember where I got the idea, but I prefer pivoting dust shoes that mount to the X carriage. Shoes mounted to the carriage have a fixed height so the brush is always in contact with the work surface and there is no need to compensate for z-axis/spindle movement. A slot in the shoe makes it easy to swing the shoe out of the way for bit changes.

I had already modified my WorkBee to mount the Z plate to the X carriage using m6 screws. The dust shoe mounts are basically big/long headed m6 screws with the head m5 taped for mounting the shoe U bracket. The U bracket is made from 3 pieces of 1/4 x 1-1/2" aluminum. The holes for the 1" copper pipe were made on a rotary table. I wouldn't bother with the stem, my pipe came that way (Uniflite auction boat part).

The 1" pipe and 1-1/4" hose are plenty big for dust collection. I added the air nozzle/shoe insert to help prevent chip buildup when deep slot rough cutting. The nozzle is an m3 screw with a 1.1mm (1.5 was too big) hole drilled through it. The screw goes through the taped insert and is screwed into the 4mm PU tubing. The tubing runs through the chain and the plan is to add a solenoid to turn the airflow on and off automatically. With my new, quieter and more powerful, vacuum I may need to enlarge the center hole because the vacuum is sucking in the brush near the pipe. While this shoe is an improvement over the one I did for the X-Carve, I'm still trying to figure out a decent way to mount a stiffer, more traditional brush.

The design currently results in a slight loss of X capacity. At least for now, I decided against milling an arc in the spindle mount so that I could move the bracket/pipe closer to the spindle.
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