Horizontal spindle vs vertical table

A horizontal spindle for joinery. It eliminates the need for a vertical table and could probably be implemented the same way as the auxiliary laser. I know this has been done on many other CNC machines, for various reasons. But I haven’t seen one on an Avid. See video link with the starting timestamp.

I’m sure this has already been discussed somewhere. It seems like this would be a “somewhat” doable idea to implement. The concern would be getting CAM software to play well with it, specifically VCarve Pro. But that could be worked around by rotating the axis map. Similar to the way the 4th axis works by wrapping the Y axis. X would remain as X, Z would be the new Y, and Y would be the new Z.

The benefit of this over the vertical table would be:

  • Waaaaay easier calibration, as you’re using an already calibrated spoilboard.
  • Infinitely longer pieces to cut end grain joinery vs the distance from the floor to the spindle on a vertical table. Heck, an entire timber frame structure could be cut on the avid, assuming proper gantry clearance and cutting bit length.
  • Entire use of the spoilboard so you don’t have to dedicate vertical table space.

This would essentially bring the entire joinery aspect of the Pantorouter to the Avid.

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Thanks for the video. Thoroughly enjoyed it. The vertical Pantorouter is very cool.
With the horizontal spindle mounted way forward of the gantry on an Avid , there’s a lot of leverage. I think there might be gantry twist issues affecting accuracy. Maybe on something like a Shop Sabre with its heavy, rigid gantry it’ll work.
Or if gantry clearance wasn’t an issue, mounting the horizontal spindle close to the gantry with the body going under it, keeping the centre of gravity close to the centre of the gantry. Then maybe take it further and have the spindle pivot sideways when not in use so it could rise above the bottom of the gantry and get your clearance back.

I’m not so sure you would have to mess with CAM at all.
If you mounted your spindle 90 degrees to point to the back, and then just swapped your Z and Y Axis motors in the Mach4 config, you would basically translate looking down on the end of those boards/beams to looking forward at them from the front of the machine.
I think you could write a screen button to remap the motors with a push of a button.

Interesting idea making this a spindle mount issue rather than a specialized spindle or spindle attachment. I think creating a mount to mount a standard spindle at 90 degrees might be more cost effective than an attachment or specialized spindle at least the ones I have priced. I agree with you that the software could be modified to work.

Hey Jay, that is super cool! It looks like a separate spindle they are using for horizontal machining. I know a lot of milling machines have a “90 degree right angle” adapter that attaches to the existing spindle. I wonder if that work work well too.

Z-axis mapping is easy in Fusion 360; I think you can specify the spindle orientation. VCarve would be a bit trickier.

Their CAM /toolpaths look highly specialized. The feed rate goes into the material at a slow rate, then speeds up, and then slows down on the exit (all to avoid chipout). I wonder how they are doing that. Any ideas?


Hi Corbin,
Is it the vertical milling that you are seeing that on? It looks to me like all the vertical milling is people powered, and only the horizontal milling is CNC.

Yeah Jim - it’s where they are cutting the top joinery vertically. It definitely could be done by hand, and that would explain it (it is a close up shot). It seems like pretty accurate cuts and moves; maybe there is a jig limiting the travel, or it is following a pattern.

Yep, there is another part where they are cutting vertical round tenons and they have a rollerbearing guide running around a pattern and an operator pushing it manually.

I would guess JointCAM software would be adaptable for running a second spindle mounted horizontal on the end of a second Z axis slide. Great daydreaming material! this would allow dovetails on the end of a long board.
I would think you’ll need your material up off the main table by half the spindle diameter+the bit diameter+clearance