By Chris Krstanovic


I always wanted to have a fully equipped machine shop. I always thought that having the machine under computer control would enable me to easily make complex things. With advent of CAD software tools, it is possible to design a part on the CAD, use the CAM to generate the code to drive the machine, and leave making things to CNC. Recently, it has become possible to implement a fully blown CNC mill/lathe at relatively low cost. I am an electrical engineer, and own my own product design firm, so it would be a very useful (and 100% tax deductible) tool. Now, that it is done, I can summarize it in 5 words: I CAN MAKE ANYTHING NOW!

 This page is dedicated to describing a "ground-up" conversion of Smithy 1220LTD, 3-in-1 machine. It shows a complete process of the conversion. This has taken about 6 months of calendar time (not 100% effort), and should you decide to do something similar, expect to spend $2000-$2500 for CNC portion. I have selected Smithy, but you can easily accommodate this process to Harbor Freight and other machines.

It is my hope that this page will help you with your conversion. I had not found anything very detailed on the web. I invite your comments, be it praise or criticism, but please, do withhold the ridicule J.


Article Index


MOVIE: CNC in Action.  This movie has not been rated by the motion picture association of America.





In the Beginning, there was Darků: About Smithy1220LTD, its pros and cons, and initial non-CNC modifications.






Mechanical aspects of the conversion: Briefly, what and how I did things, with some pointers. I could easily write a paper on this, but I have no time, so I hope this will suffice.






Electronics, the "first light" test, and the results: For many people, this is the hardest part. I am an electrical engineer, so no biggie to me. This page shows, the key components of the system.



 FINAL EVALUATION: Finally, it is all there, and working. How well? Read here.






Mist Unit: I tried many. Not wanting to sacrifice future generations to the corporate altar, I decided to make my own mouse trap - better than theirs.





 MILLING VICE ENCLOSURE: I am sure you hate flying chips as much as I do! This is how I solved the problem for my mill vice.






Electrically Insulated QCT: If you are using my "Chuck Referencing" approach, this is very handy, and easy mod for your tool-post.






       CNC TOOL ISSUES: How to hold, organize and keep CNC tools.








Controller Add-on Software: I selected MACH3 from ArtSoft. This page contains new screens, post-processor files (MC9), and other software related files.






ABOUT ME: A must reading before you start your own CNC! Seriously, this is a link to my bio on my corporate website.








Link to my Corporate Website.