Go With a Spindle

Right up front, you need to decide if you're going with a spindle or trim router.  I initially ordered the Makita, like many others.  I figured I could upgrade to a spindle later, and I was ok with the Makita as a throw-away investment.


After further research and consideration, I changed my Onefinity order, ultimately going with the 80mm spindle mount instead, and I ordered a spindle kit from PwnCNC.


For a 5% savings on PwnCNC purchases, use the coupon code UGLYDOG at checkout.  Additionally, if you want to help me out, use the links in this post to start your journey at PwnCNC.


Here are some of the factors that I considered when changing my mind on this decision.


Trim routers have notoriously short lifespans.  We run through them in the shop.  They've got to be the shortest lifespan tool we have. 


They get hot.  I try to take it easy on them when using them manually.  With the CNC, the jobs can be hours long.  I want the machine to be working for me, not taking breaks to cool down.  Spindles are purpose-build, and made to work long hard hours and have cooling mechanisms to handle heat dissipation.


If I had gone with the 65mm spindle mount, and eventually decided to upgrade, I would have had to purchase the 80mm spindle mount in addition.  That's an additional throw-away expense that I won't have, going with the spindle right away.


I could have decided to use a 3D printed adapter to shim an 80mm spindle mount to fit a 65mm trim router.  The spindle mount needs to be as rigid as possible.  3D printed parts are amazing, but they PLA, PETG and similar materials we print with in consumer grade 3D printers are not all that rigid, and this seems like a flakey solution to me.


Trim routers are loud.  I tested mine at 83db.  Spindles are quiet.  Mine measures 57db at 10ft.   Knowing that decibels scale logarithmically, doubling power every 3db, that's a big difference.  Yes, with dust collection and material actually being cut, it will be significantly louder.  Still, the spindle is much quieter than a trim router.


The spindle obviously has much more horsepower.  The 2.2kw unit I chose is a 3Hp unit.  The Makita is 1.25 Hp.  This will allow it to chew through material much easier, even with larger bits.


Speaking of bits, the Makita is limited to 1/4" shanks.  The spindle can handle up to 1/2" shanks.  I use a lot of 1/4" tools, but I also use a few 3/8" and a few 1/2".  It's nice to have those larger tools as an option.


Some folks find that their short flattening bits can't even reach their spoilboard when in their Makita.  Spindles are much longer and can be lowered far enough to easily go far past the spoilboard if you wanted to.


For those reasons, I felt like it was smart to go with a spindle from the start.  


Now, I'll review which spindle I purchased, why, and how that's worked out for me.


I purchased the PwnCNC 2.2kW water-cooled spindle.  


I had the choice of water-cooled or air-cooled.  Water-cooled seemed like it would do better job of disappating heat, as water is much better at transferring heat than air.  The coolant systems is also sealed, so dust and other contaminants didn't seem as likely to cause issues as in the air-cooled system.  The coolant does need to be changed annually, but that's only a minor inconvenience,.


Ultimate, my system does not get hot at all, at any time of year, so I can say that water-cooled does work well.


I also chose the pond pump.  Since then, PwnCNC has started selling chillers.  their chillers are nice, but my pond pump system isn't getting hot at all, so the chiller wouldn't provide any realized cooling advantage. The chiller also offers an alarm mechanism, if the coolant isn't flowing.   


In an upcoming video, I'll show how I'm using the Masso's coolant pulses alarm, not only to sound an alarm, but to stop the machine when there's a coolant issue.  This solution is less expensive than the chiller, BTW.   Finally, the chiller occupies a bit of space that I hadn't accounted for when I designed my CNC table.   All of this considered, I wouldn't buy a chiller if I was starting over, so I'm not recommending it.  You make the call if it's right for you or not.


I strongly recommend the Kool Connectors though.  They're essentially quick disconnects that seal the line when disconnected.  This prevents coolant from running everywhere when you disconnect the lines.


The PwnCNC spindle kits are virtually plug-and-play.  I won't go through the installation process, but you can see it here.  It's very easy.  Just plug it all in and make a few Masso config changes. 


Now, almost a year into this, I'm very happy with my decision.  I wouldn't have been happy with the Makita.  I haven't needed any support from the PwnCNC team on the spindle, as it's been perfect.  


I have worked with them on a few unrelated things, and they'd always been quick to respond and eager to help.  I have no complaints about the company.


Within the next ten days or so, I should be upgrading to their ATC system.  I'm able to use the same VFD, which is nice cost savings versus having to start new.  Had I known this upgrade was possible a year ago, it would have been another pro for the spindle decision, and another pro for the PwnCNC decision.


All in all, I'm very happy with this setup and wouldn't change it.   The only thing I would change, if I was doing it now, would be that I'd go straight for the ATC.   More on that soon.



PwnCNC Spindle Kit: https://pwncnc.com/products/spindle?ref=qpV7vrEk5xLGzo&variant=41207865344139

Chiller: https://pwncnc.com/products/cw-3000?ref=qpV7vrEk5xLGzo

Kool Connectors: https://pwncnc.com/products/kool-connectors?ref=qpV7vrEk5xLGzo

Makita: https://amzn.to/3TVrybZ

Installation: https://support.pwncnc.com/kb/section/30/



Some of the above links are affiliate links.  I get paid a very small amount from purchases using these links.  I appreciate it when you use them, but I respect your decision to purchase gear from wherever you like.

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