Swarf-O-Mat CNC Router

swarfomat_jarrahdeck.jpg The Swarf-O-Mat is a CNC router that can machine wood, plastics and soft metals. Swarf-O-Mat was built by skot in 2010, back before AliExpress was a thing, and donated to the Artifactory. There is a small selection of Artifactory-owned tooling available, but regular users will want to purchase their own tooling (the charge for use is lower if users supply their own tooling).

:!: As with all CNC machines, learning to use Swarf-O-Mat safely (for the user and the machine) requires a significant investment of time. Without appropriate training, the machine has the potential to be very dangerous. As such, it is 'gated' and you may not use it until you have been trained.

Crush danger from moving parts Tools may be extremely sharp

Under NO circumstances should you use this machine if you have not been trained. …

Trainers Availability
Jason KongchouyGeneral Hacking Days, by request (Slack)
Fletcher BoydGeneral Hacking Days, by request (Slack)
Iain GrahamOpen days, by request (Slack)
Ben ConnorBy request (Slack)
Full Operators
Glenn Martin
Jenna Downing
Nathan Thompson
Vincent Dalstra
Nick Bannon
Beau Daley
Ben Connor
O Nokey
Tom White
Materials Reference
Material VFD Setting Feed Rate (6mm Tool) Pass Depth (mm) Notes
Aluminium 400 200mm/min 0.25 Swarf will re-weld to sides of channels - keep job clean
HDPE 300 1200mm/min 3 Cuts like butter
Perspex / Acrylic 300 600mm/min 2 Grind the plastic, don't melt it - take it slower than wood
Jarrah 400 800mm/min 2 Jarrah gets even HARDER if burnt
Pine 400 1300mm/min 3 Forgiving & easy
MDF 400 1300mm/min 3 Easy to cut, but dust is toxic
X Axis Range 600
Y Axis Range 420
Z Axis Range 70
Collet ER11
Driver Software Mach3
Full Swarf-O-Mat Area 600mm x 460mm x 70mm (minus buffer)
Maximum Dimensions of Any job 580mm x 440mm x 60mm

You can not use a lot of things, if it's not listed here and/or you're not sure ASK!

Material Note
soft wood (easy eg pine)
MDF (easy but dust is toxic)
acrylic (easy but melts easily)
HDPE (easy aka chopping board polymer)
hard wood (hard)
aluminium (hard non standard bits)
  • Computer, controller and chiller powered on
  • Check table is clear and no mechanical obstructions to movement
  • Reference (home) all axes. X axis should self-square when referenced
  • Switch on soft limits (not compulsory, but recommended)
  • Clamp job tightly with spoil board underneath
  • Check clamps and biscuits clear of moving gantry
  • Install collet into collet nut. IMPORTANT- this must be done before the tool is installed in the collet.
  • Install cutting tool in correct-sized collet and tighten with spanners
  • Load g-code and check the tool path appears correct
  • Move to desired zero locations and x and y axes
  • Optional: zero z axis with clearance above the workpiece and do a dry run 'cutting air'
  • Move to the desired zero location and zero the z axis
  • Move clear of the workpiece
  • Check cooling water is flowing
  • Turn on room fan and dust extractor
  • Turn on PPE light
  • Check all present are wearing safety gear. Eye protection is mandatory. Hearing protection is recommended.
  • If your G-code does not include spindle control, set the spindle speed and turn the spindle on
  • Begin the job
  • Turn off spindle
  • Remove job and spoilboard
  • Pack away clamps, biscuits and tools
  • Clean up using the vacuum cleaner
  • Log out
  • Power off computer, controller and chiller
  • Report any problems to #tools_and_fabrication.

Very important condition of use: Use Swarf-o-mat with caution!

This is a FRAGILE and awesome bit of equipment – RESPECT IT, BE CAREFUL!

If you're not 100% certain about what you're doing, DON'T! Get advice and take care.

1) Know what you want to make/do

If you're here, hopefully you already have plans.

You can:

  • cut
  • engrave
  • carve (to a limited extent)

2) Plan and draw your project in VCarve

VCarve is the supported software for use with swarf-o-mat.

This software is installed on the computers available in the computer room in the space.

Artifactory members can make a folder on the network that can be accessed by swarf-o-mat.

Detailed instruction are provided on VCarve Instructions page.

3) Cut material with swarf-o-mat


If you are not sure what you are doing: DON'T DO IT – get help and advice from one of the friendly swarf-o-mat operators.

Detailed instruction are provided on Swarf-O-Mat Usage Instructions page.

As of 20/6/21 Swarf-o-mat is configured for software control of spindle speed (including start/stop). Spindle speed can be set in three ways:

Spindle control through Mach3 UI

The spindle speed can be set through the Mach3 UI, in the lower right corner of the main (Program Run) screen:

Spindle control in g-code

The spindle can be started or stopped, or speed controlled, with g-code commands, either entered through the Mach3 UI on the MDI page or embedded in your program:

  • M3 starts the spindle
  • M5 stops the spindle
  • Sx sets the speed to x RPM

Once set, the spindle speed can be overridden through the Mach 3 UI

Spindle control through VFD touch pad

Should you want to return Swarfomat to spindle control through the touchpad, please change only the VFD settings. Do not mess with the Mach 3 setup. The relevant VFD settings are:

  • PD001, which determines the source of run commands. 0 denotes control from the touchpad, 1 denotes control via digital input.
  • PD002, which determines the source of speed commands. 0 denotes control from the touchpad, 1 denotes control via 0-10v analog input.

Instructions on how to change the settings through the touchpad are in the VFD manual.

Document Notes
VFD Reference for the Huanyang variable-frequency drive
Controller Reference for the CNCDrive UC300ETH controller
Breakout board Reference for the UCBB breakout board
Driver Reference for the z-axis driver
Driver Reference for the x- and y-axis drivers
Relay Reference for the safety relay
Mach3 Installation and user guide for Mach3 Mill
Chiller Instruction manual for the spindle cooler

Details of Swarfomat's configuration are available on the maintenance information page.
Information relating to the original build is available on the original Project Page.

  • tools/swarfomat.txt
  • Last modified: 2022/10/20 20:09
  • by ben