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I am looking for suggestions about a small and compact CNC milling machine to sculpt decorative figures in metal and stone plates. I have no experience with such machines (I once saw an industrial one using high pressure water to cut through marble, but it's beyond my needs, budget and expertise), but I would not need a professional level machine, just a hobby level one with basic functionalities

I would like to know the following information:

  • suggestions for resellers and products
  • expected price
  • expected maintenance
  • tips for usage and precautions
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FYI... Computer numerical control (CNC) milling machine - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milling_machine – Jeff Widmer Sep 6 '10 at 9:50
up vote 5 down vote accepted

There are a bunch site like hobbycnc that sell plans and parts to build your own hobby cnc. Here's a site that sells a kit. Looks pretty neat actually...now I know what I want for Christmas!

Update: Just found the Torchmate series. They have a Torchmate 2x2 version starting at $3000.

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Searching for "miniature hobbyist milling machine" also turned up this site (~$500): micromark.com/Machine-Tools.html but that one is not computer controlled. – Jeff Widmer Sep 6 '10 at 9:56
Here is one that is computer controlled (~$2500): sherline.com/CNCprices.htm – Jeff Widmer Sep 6 '10 at 9:57
@Jeff : I'm unable to understand if the sherline one is able to dig through stone or metal – Stefano Borini Sep 6 '10 at 17:18
@Stefano : I just added the Torchmate system. This seems promising. – milesmeow Sep 8 '10 at 4:15

micRo - ~$2000 (Need to buy a few pieces). This thing looks really nice, but has a small work area. The guy that makes them is fanatical about quality hobby equipment. http://lumenlab.com

DIY - ~$750. If you want to take the DIY approach and have a larger work area, pick up a copy of Build Your Own CNC Machine. The companion website literally has videos of the guy making the machine on a kitchen table with hand tools. I'm half way through the book and it appears surprisingly straight forward.

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