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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.