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Unique Plans for Hobbyists

Unique Plans for Hobbyists

7ThsojournA Make reader writes “Kleinbauer sells plans for building cnc mills from scratch, using surplus available materials. I was thinking about ordering plans for his “Brute” pcb mill. It might be an interesting feature in Make if someone were to buy one of his plans and build a mill from it, to give a feel for the cost and complexity of the project, as well as the quality of the plans.Link. Has anyone out there used these plans?

24 thoughts on “Unique Plans for Hobbyists

  1. j8m8l says:

    Many users of have built CNC cutters either from these plans, or from similar designs.
    You can have a look at some in this thread:


  2. msanfilippo says:

    I have built two machines from John K’s plans (the 7th Sojourn that is pictured in the post and the WoodTurtle). They are very good, complete and buildable plans. His plans are well worth the money. I am by no means a CNC expert and had no trouble.

    You can see some notes on my build at my blog here:

    and some photos of my machines here:

    Highly recommended (particalarly the 7th Sojourn).

  3. unterhausen says:

    as I’ve suggested before, if you are serious about doing something like this and need any help at all, the place to go is

    It is a commercial site, run by one guy who is trying to make money, so commercial interests sometimes interfere with the free flow of uninformed opinion. However, if the goal is to build a machine like the one pictured, go there. Also somewhat helpful are the CNC groups at yahoo groups.

    There are three software packages that are generally used on machines like this: Mach2/3/4 from which runs on Windows and costs money; EMC at which can be obtained in a linux distribution called the BDI, which is free; and TurboCNC which works on DOS and costs money.

    A suitable machine is probably going to cost around $1000 on up. Commercial machines start at $3-4k (U.S.) I would plan on spending at least $1000 and attempt to prove myself wrong. The problem I’ve found is that cutting corners often just adds to the expense. Even at that price you’ll probably end up haunting ebay.

    The Kleinbauer plans are intended for making usable machine at the absolute lowest cost. Some of his ideas, like the adjustment for the rails have been appropriated by the designers of similar machines. So throw him some money.

  4. Grumpy_G says:

    I have made the Brute from the John Kleinbauer plans. The plans are very clear and straightforward. John troubleshoots and revises his designs very thoroughly. As a result, they work very well. And his machines have “simple elegance”. Another big advantage to buying his plans is membership on his email support group for those who have made his machines.

    Members are knowledgable and helpful, and John provides really superior support on the list. The Brute works like a dream for drilling pcb’s.


  5. Dizzo says:

    See also this french site with free plans :


  6. Grumpy_G says:

    Unterhausen states in his post here that TurboCNC costs money. That is not so. A fully featured, uncrippled version is available at no cost at:

    Registration of the software costs $60. The main advantage of registering is that you get a copy of the sourcecode, so if you are a programmer, you can customize your version. But the shareware version is free and you can use it without cost. If you like it and want to reward the guys who wrote it, sending the $60 makes sense.


  7. chroma says:

    Keep in mind that building your own CNC machine is still a fair amount of work, no matter how it’s done. It should probably not be attempted is the machine is to be used professionally, rather than for hobby or other light use. I’ve built my own CNC machine, but using a radically different design:

  8. Horizon49 says:

    You can make a cheaper, far cheaper cnc machine with DIY controller and surplus steppers, with the designs on You might wanna check out what is avaliable free first before committing to buying a design.

  9. heathkit says:

    For those that have used the Brute for milling PCBs, whats the smallest feature you can mill. Could you mill pads for an SOIC part?

  10. WonderWheeler says:

    If you are serious about doing something like this and need any help at all, the place to go is NOT!

    If you are NOT serious about CNC, and just want to share, dream, philosophize, bs and whine and complain, then go to CNC Zone. Kleinfelder calls these guys ‘motorspinners’, cause they usually only get as far as getting oversized stepper motors on Ebay and “spinning” them. CNC Zone is a commercial site, run by one guy who is trying to make money, so commercial interests sometimes interfere with the free flow of uninformed opinion. For intstance, the word “Klienfelder” cannot be searched there. At least that was the case. The guy can’t stand the competition. I still get his Spam and haven’t gone there in months.

    The Kleinbauer plans are intended for making usable machine at the absolute lowest practical cost, with most of the parts coming from a hardware store. I built one of his early designs, using a custommade controller using Radio Shack parts , some stepper motors, an old PC power supply, some commercial storefront aluminum window frame and some odds and ends from hardware stores. Probably cost less than $200 and works like a champ.

    John Kleinfelder or “cranky” as he is sometimes called, is devoted to the hobby and needs the money right now. I recommend buying a set of plans from him, and joining his exclusive “hardware store CNC” web group for users while you build your project. You’ll get plenty of feedback and help. Its well worth the nominal amount of money he charges for each Plan IMHO.

    Gary Wheeler
    my website:
    my cnc machine:

  11. aolshove says:

    I’ve built the “7th Sojourn” and am impressed with it’s functionality and accuracy. These machines don’t mill aluminum. They’re for softer materials like PVC or wood or for milling circuit boards. I recommend getting the plans to understand that CNC doesn’t have to be expensive for a Maker and really opens up a lot of possibilities for making repetative parts or parts that require accurate cuts (best case to the thousandths, worst case to within hundredths).

    Even if you’re off a few 1/32″ here and there in the construction of the machine, it’s designed be adjustable to a high degree of accuracy. After I constructed my 7th Sojourn, I used it to make new parts for itself that were far more accurate that the ones I had originally made with hand tools.

    No, Kleinbauer didn’t put me up to this endorsement, I’m really that satisfied of a customer.

  12. Allistah says:

    I just wanted to post and say that I too have bought plans from John. He is very informative, the support is great, and his plans are done very well. I made the CNC machine called “The Brute”. I knew nothing of CNC and wanted to use it as a learning experience. It was a whole ton of fun. It took me a while to finish since I didn’t have any building skills, but man it was worth it. It’s a great little machine. Here are the pictures of the finished machine:

    I’m thinking of building another machine from plans of his too. :-) John is a great guy and I think his plans a just as well. :-)


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