CupCake CNC build, part 5: Pulley & enclosure finishing

3D Printing & Imaging Robotics
CupCake CNC build, part 5: Pulley & enclosure finishing

It’s been a while since my last build journal, mostly because the finish takes a few days to apply, and yet another few days to fully cure. I’m just happy it’s now done! I want to start building… and printing!


First up, assembling the pulleys. If you purchased a kit, it includes a set of 3D-printed pulleys. This makes the pulleys really easy to assemble. However, there are a few tips and tricks that I’ll cover.


First, make sure there are no extra bits of plastic in the pulley opening. If there are, carefully scrape them off with a hobby knife. Next, use one of the screws from the hardware burrito, along with a nut, to help push the bearing into the pulley. Screw the nut onto the bolt about 1/4″ and then press the bolt head firmly until the bearing is completely seated. It’s a snug fit, but you should be able to press it in fairly easily.


That’s it! All the pulleys are assembled. If you are making your own pulleys from laser cut parts, check out this guide. Now it’s time to apply a finish to your enclosure.


I chose a mineral oil and wax finish. It’s not my top choice, but I’m building this in my studio, with tons of lights, cameras, etc, so I needed a finish that didn’t smell too bad, and wasn’t flammable. Check out some of these cool finished CupCake CNC machines for some inspiration. (post links to finished CupCake CNC machines in the comments below, thanks!)


I applied the oil/wax finish with a paper towel and allowed it to dry for about 30 minutes in-between coats. I ended up applying three coats of wax for a nice, non-toxic, finish. For the first coat or two, I kept the small parts attached to the substrate. That made applying the finish a lot easier. On the last coat, I remove the smaller pieces, and applied the finish to the edges.


After applying the last coat, I stacked everything up neatly haphazardly to dry for an additional 48 hours. Afterwards, I wiped them down one last time with a clean cloth. This left a nice finish on all the wood components. Done!

Now it’s time for some fun! Next up, building the enclosure. Yay!

Ask questions! Do you want to see a better picture of a particular part, a different camera angle, a video perhaps? Maybe you have a suggestion for a cool mod or hack? Let me know in the comments. I’ll try to answer them as best as I can. Thanks!

Want to know when my next build entry is done? Follow me on Twitter @devinck!

Build history:


    Having just arrived home from a quick trip to the hardware store, I was pleasantly surprised to see a large, unmarked, cardboard box sitting on my front steps. This isn’t an uncommon event, since I am constantly checking out cool products and projects for the Maker Shed, however this box was a bit larger than normal.

    Oh wow, it’s the CupCake CNC kit from MakerBot Industries! I’d ordered it weeks earlier and had completely forgotten about it. (The truth is out: I have an atrocious memory, sad but true.)


    And so the adventure begins! I’m going to document my “out of box experience” with a MakerBot. How many posts will the series be? I’m not sure since I’ve never built one. How often will I post about the build? Again, not sure, but I’ll try to do at least one a week, maybe more, it all depends on how much free time I have between all my other maker-ly projects.

    A little background: My CNC experiences


    I’ve been tinkering with CNC for about 10 years, and consider myself an enthusiast, not an expert. I do own a few CNC mills, routers, and lathes. I have retrofitted old mills, and even build one from scratch. Pictured above is my mobile CNC machine, dubbed the “MobileC.” I stuffed all the components into a mobile tool cart so I could bring it to hackerspaces, workshops, and events, all in the hopes of helping out fellow makers.


    The mill is a Sherline 5400 that I retrofitted for CNC. Also, I added a few extra parts to make it even more useful. It has a longer reach, thanks to the headstock spacer block on the column, and a larger table that I simply mounted to the stock table. It’s a sweet machine. I love my little Sherline!


    All the electronics are housed in the cart too! There is a 19″ LCD monitor, wireless keyboard and mouse, desktop computer, and CNC controller. It’s a tight fit, but it works perfectly. There is even an extra full-size drawer for tooling and accessories.


    I’m thinking of replacing the computer, keyboard, and mouse with an HP TouchSmart, but I have to save a few more pennies for that upgrade.

    Does anyone want to know more about my MobileC? Let me know in the comments. After I build my CupCake CNC, maybe I should do a series of articles on CNC machining?


    I purchased the CupCake CNC kit with my own hard-earned cash. I waited several weeks for it to arrive, just like everyone else that placed an order. No favors, no freebies! Why did I buy one? Well, for two reasons.

    • Reason #1 – I like what MakerBot Industries is doing for the open source community and open manufacturing, so I wanted to support them!
    • Reason #2 – I am going to document the build for Make: Online, and if I like it, I’ll let you know, and if I don’t… well, I’ll let you know that too! No biased reviews here.
    • Reason #3 – I am a CNC junkie, and I had to have it, even if my wife was questioning whether I really needed another machine in my studio! “Ha!” I said, “You can never have too many machines!” Oops, only two reasons, right?! :)

    Questions & suggestions:

    Ask questions! Do you want to see a better picture of a particular part, a different camera angle, a video perhaps? Maybe you have a suggestion for a cool mod or a hack? Let me know in the comments. I’ll try to answer all of them as best as I can. Thanks!

    Build history:

12 thoughts on “CupCake CNC build, part 5: Pulley & enclosure finishing

  1. John Park says:

    I dig your drying plywood house of cards. Nice post, please keep it up. I may not have to buy one at the rate you’re going!

    1. Marc de Vinck says:

      Thanks! When I’m done I’ll print some pieces for you too!

  2. Greg says:

    Hey Marc, I appreciate your effort to document this endevor. I have been following the whole DIY CNC for about a year now, have been tempted to jump into it. These posts have inspired me to build my own cupcake.

    Do you (or anyone) know when the kits will be back in stock at makerbot?

  3. Marc de Vinck says:

    Thanks for following the build!

    I’m not sure when the next batch will be ready, but I’ll post it when I find out. At the end of the day, I’m sure they want to have more to sell…a lot more! Scaling production can be really challenging.

    Let’s hope someone from MakerBot chimes in with an update. (hint, hint).

  4. graphmastur says:

    Can you document how the X, Y, and Z stages work? Is there somewhere where I can read more about it?

    1. CupCake CNC build, part 5: Pulley & enclosure finishing Maker Shed says:

      Absolutely! I will be documenting everything, and trying my best to answer all your questions.

      For now, check out the wiki:

  5. Greg says:

    For those interested in buying a cupcake kit, I just e-mailed Makerbot inquiring about the next batch availability and ship date. They responded saying batch 10 will be available to purchase on the website in a day or two, and will ship in mid-january.

  6. Ben says:

    Hey Marc,

    You mentioned that the mineral and oil wax finish was not your top choice. Did you mean the you would have liked to have gone for a coloured paint scheme or there was another wax finish that didn’t suit the environment you were working in? If so, which one?

    Great job on build blogging!


    1. Marc de Vinck says:

      I would have preferred a paint or a colored stain with lacquer. However, I knew it would get cold in the North East soon (10″ snow today) and the fumes would have been an issue in my studio.

      I have to say the wax finish is really nice. There is no smell, easy to clean up, and it was super cheap…(1) $5 bottle is enough for 4-5 machines.

    2. Marc de Vinck says:

      Oh, and thanks!

      FYI – I’m actually done making my CupCake CNC, I just have to do all the photo editing, writing, etc….

  7. Rob says:

    There is also someone doing a video build of a MakerBot at:

    1. Marc de Vinck says:

      Those are great! I thought of doing video of the build, but in the end I chose photography along with the additional build tips + tricks.

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