cnc joinery. It instantly clicked. A CNC mill was exactly what I needed. I could do joinery, carving, inlays, hole drilling, and just plain old cutting with almost infinite precision. I had a concrete ledge in my shop that would fit a medium sized mill perfectly and it would allow me to do so much more than just woodworking. The same machine could also mill plastic and aluminum parts for my electronics projects and even mill the PCB's. Goodbye perfboard! Hello surface mount PCB's!
After several months of research I settled on the FLA-100 kit from Fine Line Automation. It looked like a good compromise of size, quality, and price. It's the perfect size to fit on my ledge (within inches), the frame and drive components are all pretty solid, and the price is still reasonable. You can get the free plans on their website and build it for less, but you need to be able to drill and cut metal precisely and that's what I was getting the machine for in the first place. I figured with my limited tools I'd probably spend more on mistakes and replacement parts by trying to do it myself than just buying the kit. It took almost two months for the kit to arrive, but once it was here I had it assembled in a day or two. The assembly was just the beginning though. After that was when the fun really started.
The following list shows all the sub-projects associated with the CNC Mill. Some of them were required just to get the mill up and running and others are enhancements to give additional functionality.