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However, if you are getting into CNC Machining because you need a setup in a hurry, say to sell parts, than maybe just purchase one. The problem with this (like anything else pre-made) is you won’t have much control over the components and programs they want you to use. Last time I checked Sherline was shipping VectorCAD-CAM with their setups (I believe as a trial), which in my opinion was the MOST difficulty program (next to BoBCAD) that I tried to learn (and honestly I have tried many of them).

Building one is not as difficult as you might imagine (especially now a days) but will require much more time and thinking. Many pre-made well working components can be purchases and pretty much slapped together to get a very nice system.

I have seen pre-made driver board setups going for as much as $3,000 (crazy) !! Knowing there is not much more than $300 to $800 worth of equipment in there.

• 3 stepper Geckodrives = $375.00 (or a board like Hobby CNC or Xylotec for around $83-$155)

• 12 volt 10 amp power supply = $60

• Misc. Connectors / wires = $60

• Other misc parts (enclosure) = $100

Also if something burns out or does not work you can change out the component and frankly just know more about your setup. You also have full control of the programs you want to use. Trust me some are much easier and more fun to use than others.

Total so far = $303 to $595.00

Should I Build or Just Buy a Setup ?

Should I start with a Manual Machine or go Straight to CNC?

If you are new to machining as I was I’d go manual first. Even if you buy a CNC setup I STRONGLY recommend learning how to machine manually.


• You will learn how to control and setup the cutter quicker and easier

• You will learn what it feels like to cut though aluminum, plastic, steel, etc.

• You will learn when the machine binds or how fast you can cut though material

• You will get a much better appreciation of guys who machine manually especially when you go to CNC


• You will learn cutting speeds with broken cutters and this will occur often and be expensive

• You will experience how quickly your motors can jam your machine to their endpoints or on a part

• You will experience the joys of remaking many parts between trying to hold it and figuring out how fast you can cut it
• You will have the joy of figuring out how hard it is to hold the part your are machining as your machine eats the holder

• You will experience the joy of saying “no, no...Stop stop...Oooo crap” as your machine carefully and skilfully tries to do what was    told

Remember once CNC starts, it is really pretty much over. Part moves, cutter binds, etc. You are done.

Learn to machine manually so you have a much better understanding when you move to CNC