Building a family heirloom.
For most of us, the year 2020 was interesting to say the least. Lots of sad stuff happened but somewhere among all misery the whole pandemic carried with it there was a bright spot for us: the news that our son and daughter-in-law were expecting. Our first grandson was on the way.
So how does one uses this great news to create something a boy, at one day, would look up to and has the potential to last for many years? After all, I am nothing more than an aspiring woodworker, an amateur at best. One that is always looking for a good challenge. Like a lot of other people, learning by trail and error. (I have to admit, at times lots of error).
So I scoured the internet for potential projects and found something that would challenge me, a retired paramedic and hobby wood worker. Something that would make a statement and would keep me busy for many months. A wood model of a Caterpillar D9L high track bulldozer caught my eye. Drawings are widely available on the net.
After several months of building the basic parts for bulldozer I realized that my skills were somewhat limited as far as manually producing some of the more detailed parts goes. I needed a small versatile CNC to up my game. So I did my research and ordered the SainSmart 3018 ProVer. This turned out to be one of my better investments.
The 3018 came well packaged with clear instructions. Albeit it did take me a bit longer than the suggested time to assemble, upon completion it provided me with a level of precision required to produce a respectable project.
I used the free, personal version of Fusion 360 to design the required parts. These files were exported to the mini SD card. and nearly all of the time, executed by the small, but effective SainSmart ProVer remote control.
I really liked the part that I could produce items like a wooden cab door frame and, with minimal changes was able to cut the plexiglass insert with fairly high precision. Again a bit of a trial and error process, but the end product was well worth it.
The Caterpillar required many such detailed parts and the CNC was a godsend. The cab, interior details, blade lifts and tilts, rear ripper, etc. Many, many small parts formed a great, detailed build.
Completing the Caterpillar was so much fun that I decided to add a truck, jeep, lowboy combination.
Repeating the internet search provided me with a good set of guidelines and drawings for this. An impressive looking Peterbilt truck, 8 wheeled jeep, and 12 wheeled drop down trailer was just what I was looking for. The combination of drawings, my own imagination, Fusion 360 and the Prover 3018 worked like a charm.
Again, the CNC fulfilled the requirement for many large and small, detailed filled parts.
Right around Christmas time SainSmart introduced the availability of the new aluminum spindle holder upgrade. Two of these were, as product introduction, made available through a Facebook forum contest. I was one of the lucky recipients of this great spindle holder. It did mean however that I had to upgrade my spindle to the larger 64 mm version.
I proceeded with the increased spindle size and power. The immediate result were more speed, precision, and an overall significantly more useful machine.
At that point another plus point surfaced. The 3018 is very adaptable to your needs. If you feel that certain parts require improvement to cover these needs, most of the time it’s possible.
Since my spindle upgrade involved a large and heavier 500w unit, I was concerned about potential X axis deflection. I had to find a way to limit this. In my case I used the 20/20 square profile that runs along the x-axis to minimize this potential deflection. Sure enough, this worked! A simple, cheap way. Less chatter, more precision. I will try to include a picture that shows this modification.
After many months I completed the whole project by finishing some parts with laser details. This provided the project with a much needed final detail.
Attached are a number of pictures showing the details of each individual component. Overall, the truck/trailer is a bit over 5ft long and turned out great.
Throughout the whole process the 3018 ProVer has been a great, tough little machine. It has been used many hours to cut hardwood like maple, walnut and even aluminum.
The next blog I will go further into detail regarding cutting aluminum by providing a write-up on my next project: a home build CNC dual Y spindle CNC machine with an approximate dimension of 600x600mm.
Enjoy the pictures and hopefully it will inspire others to do the same.