Upgrading the Maslow CNC Frame Plans for Perfect Calibration and Accuracy

Upgrading the Maslow CNC Frame Plans for Perfect Calibration and Accuracy

Maslow CNC upgrades: improved frame

There are various upgrades to improve the performance of the Maslow CNC. It took many weeks of experimentation before I could use 100% of a piece of wood (yes, even the corners). Finally, we are able to let the Maslow run with confidence on large and technically complicated cuts.

Maslow Z-Axis Upgrade

If you have the Maslow Classic, it may be necessary to upgrade the Z-axis. The best approach is the meticulous Z-axis project. The Metal Maslow and M2 variations already come with this idea built-in to the design, so no upgrade should be required.

maslow Z axis upgrade

The up/down movement of the router is, without a doubt, the most often complained-about topic on the Maslow forums. The Maslow Classic uses a motor to turn the worm gear. This is fraught with problems, and I had to do a lot fiddling to get mine to work without significant slippage.

I did not invest in the Meticulous Z-axis with my Maslow Classic because I knew that the M2 would be arriving soon. The “simple” fix involved disassembling the worm gear and adding a washer+brushing to remove slop from the turning of the gear. These instructions contain the full details. Unfortunately, the mechanism was never quite foolproof, so I’d highly recommend the meticulous Z if you don’t have a M2/Metal Maslow.

Maslow CNC Frame Plans

Many people follow the default frame instructions, which are “good enough.”

I ended up designing an upgraded set of Maslow CNC frame plans. Really, it’s a new backboard (spoilboard) that solves some problems I noticed over months of working with the Maslow:

  • The edges of the stock are generally considered “unusable.”
  • Most frames are meant to support only one size of stock, but I wanted to use several.
  • I often needed to screw the stock to the spillboard to correct for warped stock.
  • It was hard to load/unload stock.

My solution to these problems is called the “Clamping Skirt.” I took inspiration from the metal tracks often used in woodworking benches to create a spoilboard with built-in tracks for clamps. These allow me to clamp the stock (or a skirt) anywhere I need on the frame. It’s also 10’x6′ (instead of 8’x4′), and can easily support stock as small as 2’x2′.

You can download the Fusion 360 Maslow CNC Frame Plans.

Or just download the gcode.

To build the frame, you’ll need:

  • One 10′ 2×4.
  • Two sheets of 3/4″ MDF or plywood (4’x8′).
  • A working Maslow / equivalent CNC (that can cut 4’x8′).
  • A drill and some wood screws (1″ and 2″ lengths).

As well as the following parts:

The total cost of the upgrade should be less than $150 (USD).

First print two copies of the gcode on 3/4″ MDF or plywood (creating 6 total pieces). With these in hand, it’s time to start the upgrade…

maslow clamping skirt frame plans
Adding 2×4 beams for additional support. One in the middle, one across the top.

Add a couple more 2x4s to the Maslow frame (to provide more places to drill into). Make sure each beam you add is level and secured well. I also used a wood saw to trim off the protruding 2x4s which previously supported the stock. Next, attach each of the 6 pieces you cut, using a level to ensure they are even. Then slide the metal tracks into the grooves and screw them down.

maslow cnc frame plans clamping skirt leveled
Clamping a bit of scrap wood to create a skirt that the stock will rest on.

Before you cut anything, take a close look at the metal tracks and screws. Ensure that they are all at least 1/8″ below the surface of the wood, so that you do not accidentally clip the metal with the router bit. At this point, the clamps could be used to directly attach the stock. They can also be used to correct warped wood. Instead of drilling a screw through the stock, the clamp can be temporarily applied while the Maslow is cutting nearby.

My preferred approach is to clamp a bottom skirt on to the frame to support the stock. By choosing a piece of scrap that is the same thickness as the stock, the sled can travel over the skirt without tilting. After that, it takes only a few minutes to clamp on enough scrap to create a full skirt.

maslow frame plans for clamping skirt
Note: the clamps are a bit too close in this photo. They should be placed so that the Maslow can travel all the way to the edge of the center stock piece without the sled encountering a clamp.

It takes about 8″ of skirt (the radius of the sled) to be able to reach the very edges of the stock.

Now that it’s possible to do so, it’s time to over-calibrate…

“Overclocking” the Maslow Calibration

2021 Update: the technique described here is now built-in to Makerverse. Since this article was written, I have worked with the MakerMade team to improve the control software so that this process is easier. The following steps are only necessary if you are unable to run calibration via Makerverse for some reason.

It’s possible to get even more accurate with calibration.

The bigger the stock, the more accurate the calibration.

First, upgrade to the Holey firmware (if you have not already). Holey calibration puts the cuts at 10″ from the edge of the stock. With bigger stock, the distance between the holes is further, and any errors are more pronounced. This, in turn, causes the calibration correction to be more accurate.

With the new frame in place, it’s possible to “overclock” the calibration by tricking the Maslow into cutting just 1″ from the edges of a sheet of 4’x8′ wood. To do so, just add 18″ to the width and height of the “work area” in the Maslow settings. The calibration will think the stock is larger than it is, and by adding 9″ to each side, the holes end up 1″ from the edges. To do so:

  • Set the work area dimensions to 2895.6 mm x 1676.4 mm.
  • Subtract 4.5″ (114.3 mm) from the “height of motors above stock” in order to re-center the stock.
  • Run the Holey calibration cuts, which should put holes 1″ from the edges.
  • When entering the calibration values, for the 12th measurement, add 9″ (228.6mm).

That’s it! It took me several rounds of cuts to get the accuracy really dialed in, but the results were worth it.

Overclocking the maslow calibration
Using the “overclocked” Maslow Classic, I can even cut dogbone pieces right against the edge of the stock and have them fit together perfectly.

Another test I ran was to cut 1/2″ of an inch off the edges of a sheet of plywood. Across the 95″ width of the cut, there was less that 1/8″ variation (and 1/16″ in the 47″ vertical cuts).

As far as I’m concerned, this solves the biggest drawbacks of the Maslow! As always, if you have trouble implementing these plans, leave a comment or contact me.

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Written by
(zane) / Technically Wizardry
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  • Awesome work. I have not yet received my Maslow but hoping to make your project as a really great improvement to its standard capability

  • Not trying to undercut (no pun) Meticulous, but if you want something a bit more quick-and-dirty, I have a 3D print on Thingiverse ([link to www.thingiverse.com]) that replaces the key and orange lock thingy (for lack of better terms). The print does have a couple issues that need to be addressed (see comments), but I just cut some drawers with mine this week, and never had to even think about the Z-axis backlash. The existing Z mechanism is made for manual adjustments and definitely not for automation.

    • Yep, that’s exactly what I did. I actually just picked up a 12′ metal beam and 15′ chains. But I still haven’t changed the back of the default frame at all, really. I might make some tweaks now that the 12′ beam needs a bit more support. Regardless, for the mods described here, I started with the default frame and replaced the spoilboard, effectively. I kept my sled at about 24 lbs until I got the bigger beam & longer chains, so as to not overtax the motors in the top-center.

  • Hi there just waiting on delivery of my unit and was wondering if I should start with the standard frame and set up or go straight to upgrading the frame if so would you change anything about the support structure, more bracing , using steel etc , cheers Paul

  • I just got my Maslow cnc. Haven’t had time to start building my frame yet but when I do I will be in contact. Thank you. Keep in touch!

  • I want to set my frame up for a 4’x4′ backing board because lack of space. How long does the top board have to be for attaching the chains?

  • Quick Question: When you complete the holey calibration on the overclocked maslo do you add 114.3mm to the last M12 measurement (hole to edge of stock)? I get the logic of tricking the configuration to cut closer to the board edges yet think the calibration may require that last dimension to be to the virtual stock – not the actual stock less it lower the center of the workspace.