Follow these steps to get started

This article will go through the whole machine and the different options. You can choose to build your machine with parts from us or others and have different type of electronics and drive systems, let’s go through it all.

The first thing you need to do is to decide what type of machine you are building. Raw 1.5 come in different versions.

  1. Raw 1.5 with timing belt and pulleys
  2. Raw 1.5 Extended with Racks and pinions
  3. Raw 1.5 Extended with ball screw


The difference between a standard machine and an Extended machine is that the Extended version has double side plates to make it stronger. An extended machine is a bit more expensive since you need extra plates and spacers.


Timing belt and pulleys (For standard raw 1.5)

Raw with timing belt and pulleys. The machine is designed to use 15mm wide belts with 12-20 teeth pulleys. Timing belt can be good or bad depending on how you use them. I have seen many projects that builds CNC machines with a G2 timing belt that is 6mm wide. These are like rubber bands and are only suitable for 3D printers, decal and paper cutting machines. The backlash with a 6mm belt must be brutal. I use timing belts for my machines as well but these are HTD3M belts 15mm wide and with a steel core. These work very well and you can even turn the belt upside down to avoid dirt. I like belts, they are cheap and easy to replace. As with the rack you will get speed and strength and very good accuracy. I recommend you to use belts for your first machine. Belt machines runs smoother than a rack machine and I usually recommend timing belt before racks for machines under 1 meter. You can use belt for machines up to 1.5 meter but you may experience backlash in high speeds..

  • Protection against dirt = Very good
  • Backlash/Accuracy = Very Good (with wide belts and machines under 100cm)
  • Speed = Very fast
  • Price = Cheapest option


Racks and pinions (For standard raw 1.5 and Extended)

Raw 1.5 and Extended. The machine is designed to use MOD1 racks with 12-16 teeth pinions. Racks makes the machine stronger and has less backlash than belt. With racks you will get maximum speeds with enormous powers. This is the dream option for you who really want to work with your machine. On our Raw 1.5 machine we have racks as an alternative. To make the construction as cheap as possible, the rack hangs outside the machine and up side down to prevent dirt from getting caught in the teeth. The advantage of this is that we do not need a mechanism that forces the gearwheel against the rod, a Raw uses gravity to handle this for us. Many have questioned this idea, but my tests show that this works ridiculously well and are extremely easy to construct. Check our videos if you are in doubt. One disadvantage of a rack is the sound and vibrations when you jog the machine back and forth. We do not want to lubricate racks in a dusty environment, so it’s steel against steel, but this does not affect the cutting results if you cut in wood or material that dont require extreme accuracy.

  • Protection against dirt = Very good (probably the best solution)
  • Backlash/Accuracy = Good (If you find high quality pinions)
  • Speed = Very fast
  • Price = A bit more expencive than timing belt


Ball screw (For standard raw 1.5 and Extended)Ballscrew is the latest addon to the machines and are the option that has the best accuracy. The disadvantage with ball screw is that the machine is slower than belt or racks. It’s also recommended to use stronger electronics like the driver option that we have instead of Arduino. The machine is designed to use 1605 – 1610 ball screw (16mm I diameter and 5-10 mm per revolution) 16mm Ball screw is best for machines under 130cm in length or width. You can use 16mm ball screw on longer machines but usually you will go up in dimension to maybe 20mm. The machine is not designed to use 20mm screw, but you can modify the plates to accept that. We are not responsible for any modifications.

  • Protection against dirt = Very good (If you have the Screw outside or behind the machine like we do)
  • Backlash/Accuracy = Very good (probably the best solution)
  • Speed = Slowest option
  • Price = Expencive, each ball screw cost 50-200 Eur each


You need high quality gears/Pinions!
A machine with a rack drive requires top quality gears. If you buy gears/pinions from various online stores, they will be in such poor quality that the machine sounds and vibrates. We have been searching for gears that are grinded (hobbing) more than once. We sell them at our shop.  The rack, on the other hand, is usually the same everywhere. Even with good gears/pinions, a rack machine has a mechanical sound since it’s steel against steel without lubrication. The sound does not affect the cutting results.


If you are new to all this it may be difficult to decide what machine to build, my suggestion is,

  • If you have the budget and want an accurate machine, then build a Ball screw machine.
  • If you are working with wood and plastics and need a big and fast machine to cut parts for furniture’s for example, then build a rack machine.
  • If you are on a budget and are curious about CNC in general then build a machine with Timing belt, but only if the machine is under 100cm in any direction.

Whatever Raw machine you decide to build you will get one of the world’s best DIY machine for this price.

You can also read more about each machine by going to the BOM list for each machine.

BOM (Bill of material) Raw 1.5 Extended with ball screw

BOM (Bill of material) Raw 1.5 Extended with rack and pinions

BOM (Bill of material) Raw 1.5 with timing belt and pulleys


The plates can be bought from us or let someone else cut them for you. We will include the DXF files that you can send to anyone who can cut them for you. Go here to download the files for the plates

You can also cut your own plates by hand with the stencils. The instructions that can be found here. The idea is to make your first plates by hand and then cut more accurate plates once the machine is built and then change them. This is how I built my first machines.

You can buy the hardware from us or source the parts yourself. We have included a BOM (Bill of material) list that can be found here

Size of your machine
A Raw 1.5 can be built in any size you like up to 2000x1500mm  Raw 1.5 Extended is the longer version of a raw machine and has racks or ball screw as the only alternative. If you go to the BOM list above, you will find a form that will calculate the parts needed for the size you want. This means that you can build the machine in any size you want, and we will calculate the measurements for you.

Once the machine frame is built its time for the scary part… ThE ElectRoniCs….
Sounds scary, but it’s simple, especially with our instructions. Don’t worry about that, just follow along. We have worked hard to make this as easy as possible with video instructions and illustrations. You will get to this point by following the instructions that can be found in our article section. Choose the machine you want to build and follow along.

What electronics do i need?
There are basically two types of electronics, one modern that uses USB ports and an older version that we prefer that uses the good old printer port. There is many different electronics, but we use these for Raw 1.5. You can use any electronics you like if it’s for nema 23 motors. Let’s break it down.

Arduino+CNC shield elektronics

Arduino with CNC shield is a simpler version of CNC electronics and can be used with any computer that has a USB port. These electronics has some limitations, such as handling multiple switches and zeroing plates found on our other machines. You can do well without these features if you only cut from time to time. Arduino cannot handle 2 switches at the same time, so it is not possible to calibrate the machine 90 degrees at startup, but it is easy to do it manually. It is usually this kind of electronics that comes with other DIY kits on the market.

CNC shield is not capable of having an advanced touch-off plate (Zeroing plate), so you have to start the machine from the surface of the material you cut, which is the way most people work anyway. Touch-off plate is a feature that is not needed, and you can do well without it. If you want a more advanced machine, look at traditional Driver Electronics. You can also upgrade your electronics afterwards if you notice that you need a more advanced machine. Any upgrading requires upgrading of motors and other electronics.


Traditional driver electronics
Drivers with Breakout Board are the most professional electronics you can have for these types of machines. They are more expensive and require an older computer with printer port and 32Bit Windows operating system (if you run Mach3 software)

Some of the benefits of drivers are that the machine gets much stronger and has many more features like advanced touch-off plate (reset plate), calibration switches, on and off spindle, laser and plasma functions. The range of software is much larger, and you can also use software that the industry uses.

If you choose Driver Electronics, you will be able to calibrate your machine so that it starts at 90-degree angle and you can also have an advanced touch off plate that we offer as a separate product or you can make your own. Read here what you need to run drivers electronics

You can look at our website which drivers we use.


Driver electronics with USB
We have tried all kind of USB electronics with drivers and there is only one that works. Look at the product UC100


You will find more information about the electronics when you build the machine.

Why are you guys stuck in the stone age, Printer port and Mach3?

Electronics that use a printer port (LPT) and Mach3 is still the strongest and widely used in the industry. Mach3 has all the functions you need and is the best software for a CNC machine. It may look outdated but it’s awesome. The aim of Raw is to make a strong machine and not like the ones you see everywhere, most of them are really weak and more suitable for cutting air than wood. These machines are sold for the same price as a Raw machine.

If you don’t have a computer with LPT port, there is an adapter called UC100 that converts the signals to USB so that you can use any computer you like. With UC100 you can use another more modern software called UCCNC. This software works well but Mach3 has more features.

If you don’t like Mach3 or the electronics we use, then you can change to anything you like if the electronics you choose can handle Nema 23 motors. We recommend that you give this setup a chance and we promise you that you won’t be disappointed.

Steel reinforcements
You can make a Raw machine even stronger by adding steel to the Y and A axis as well as for the X-axis. We recommend adding a 60x40x2-3mm tube as standard to the X axis as seen in the instructions. To reinforce the Y and A axis with a Steel angle bar is optional. This is not needed for smaller machines, but it makes the machine even stronger.  You can make a Raw machine even stronger by filling the aluminum bars with epoxy or thin concrete, this will make the machine ridiculously rigid and close to a steel machine.

After the machine is built you need to configure the software. Go to our article section and read the instructions on how to set up Mach3 or Estlcam or use other software you know of.

To get started follow these steps

  1. Decide what machine to build. Read the book to see the pros and cons of each machine
  2. Decide the size of the machine. Depending of your needs and space you can choose to build the machine in any size you like. In the BOM section there is a form that you can fill to calculate the parts needed for your machine.
  3. Buy or create your plates. Go here for more information
  4. Get all the hardware. Go to the BOM section to see what parts you need
  5. Follow the instructions. Go to the drawings and instructions section of our site

Example instructions

Building a radiator cover with a Raw 1.5 Extended

This is from a customer who is cutting a branding iron from copper. The user is CNCswede and you can find him and his work on Youtube.

Cutting a fidget spinner

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