Tutorial on Flat Milling the Wasteboard

Hey guys, I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how to level my CNC bed. I was under the assumption that it would come levelled or there would be some auto-levelling mechanism, but there isn’t. I went through a few failed jobs before finally deciding I needed to figure out how to level my bed. Since I spent a day getting this to work, I figured I would document it for anyone else who might be facing the same issues as me.

I have the step by step tutorial with pictures here, but here’s a quick rundown of what I had to do.

I put a piece of MDF on the board and ran a surfacing job to create a build surface that’s flat relative to the tool head.

An alternative way to do it is to simply flatten the wasteboard itself which is also made of MDF, but I didn’t really want to take off all the markings and damage the board (any more than it already was)

You will need:
A sheet of MDF about 3-6mm thick to be used as the new build surface.
A wasteboard surfacing router bit (usually with 1/4" shank)
A new collet (the flattening bit will likely not fit the original collet, the Snapmaker uses a standard ER11 collet)
I bought these off amazon for about $50 though I’m sure you could probably get it cheaper.

Cut the MDF to size so it fits on your board. Find a way to clamp it down. In my case, I used the clamps provided, but I’d imagine you might be able to use a few strong binder clips. Since mine had to use the mounting holes, I had to cut the board to be smaller than the work space, therefore exposing the side mounting holes. Then I clamped the MDF on the top and bottom.

Next, I created a job in Fusion 360 to create a flat surface and ran the job a couple of times till a good chunk was milled off the top of the MDF. It took some trial and error to figure out the work size so I didn’t destroy the clamps in the process.

Since at this point the MDF covers all the mounting points except the ones on the side, I created another job to cut out holes where the other mounting points would be. This gave me access to any of the mounting points on the wasteboard.

Finally, I sawed off the top and bottom where the clamps were holding it down to get a nice jig that would provide a flat surface. The size is a bit smaller than the whole work area but the workable area was always smaller since you needed space for the clamps anyway.

I also put another piece of MDF on top of that jig when I cut to protect it so I don’t have to keep remaking it.

If you want more detailed information on exactly what I did, here’s the full tutorial.


Nice write-up!

The only thing I would add is to make sure you have a repeatable way to tram your machine. If you accidentally bump too hard on one side of the x-axis or you make a mistake with one of your jobs crashing into the base plate they might get misaligned.
Then you’re x-module won’t be parallel with your shiny flat wasteboard anymore.

(this is from personal experience: Milling the cnc wasteboard flat (or so I thought): mis-aligned z-axis modules)

Ha, I too ran into the same problem trying to “level” my CNC bed. Too bad they couldn’t just somehow use an auto level sensor like 3d printers. Or just manufacture it so it’s some what level, mine was out 2.5 mm from front to rear and .75 mm from side to side.

If it really is off by that much than you’ve either made a mistake in the assembly or you should be asking for a replacement bed frame because that’s way beyond acceptable.


Funny you mentioned, I did reach out to them with photos of my dial meter, showing how “un-true” the Bed frame, was and they sent me a new one. Haven’t tried it yet, since my “milled” wasteboard does the trick.

While recognizing the current limitations and development status of the product and related software and firmware, I don’t agree that the product is defective given its very early maturity. I know that this price point is pretty substantial to many, but for that price, I think it is a solid piece of engineering that is continuing to evolve and improve. More mature products are available - at a premium in cost, of course. The negativity presented by some writers seems unfair and out of line with the challenges they are facing. From someone who has been in the small-scale CNC/automation area for a long while, I can tell you that this is a good - though not perfect - product that will only get better from positive critisim and constructive ideas for improvement.

I would also ask contributors who create drilling patterns and other files that help to support ancillary devices like this additional wasteboard to share svg and project files to save time for others when replicating the solution.

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I’m not sure where you’re seeing negativity. He presented the facts of what he had encountered with his machine (and what most people have also experienced). He listed the ways that he had considered solving it. He correctly gave the reasons why they wouldn’t work or be optimal. (Helpful for someone to see his process.)

The only fault is in referring to the bits as “drill bits”. They aren’t for use in a drill. The correct term is “flat end mill” or “surfacing bit”. (probably a translation issue)

If you need someone to supply you an svg (or project files) for milling a rectangle, you probably shouldn’t be attempting to surface your spoil board yet.

The SM isn’t advertised or presented as a ‘work in progress’. Yes it is early in development, but there have been design decisions and qc issues that require workarounds to be fully functional. Addressing those issues isn’t negative, it’s realistic.

One thing I’d point out is that you can mill half of a piece and then shift the clamps to the other end and then continue milling the 2nd half (or do it by thirds)

I personally would want to thank @cjx3711 for taking the time to create a tutorial.


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Thank you for your feedback. I wrote this mostly as a log of my experience with the Snapmaker, and figured that since I had put in effort into the detailed instructions, I would share it here for anyone else who might need it.

I apologise if my tone came off as completely dissing the product. It was a small rant that I felt like I needed to get off my chest because I did choose to get the snapmaker over a cheaper alternative and it did not meet my expectations. I guess I had my expectations set too high, but this was the second iteration and I’ve seen lots of glowing reviews of the snapmaker 1. This is the first CNC router / laser I own so I did not really have any other point to compare it to.

To your second point, I did consider sharing the project files, but since there were 3 sizes, I figured it would be more useful to a larger audience if I added step by step instructions on how to recreate the files. I was also worried that if someone used my .cnc file without knowing what it did, it would end up causing more damage than good. But I shall update the post to include the requested files and instructions.

And yes, since this is my first time with a CNC machine, I still have no idea what the parts are called. I tried to get the terminology correct, but I guess I missed the drill bits thing. Honestly I don’t know the difference between drill bits, milling bits, routing bits are. The amazon listings just seem to list all those keywords to get views.

I also need to figure out what tramming my machine means as @brvdboss pointed out. I’ll try to keep the post updated for anyone who needs it in the future. I’m also writing this to document it for my future self when I inevitably need to recreate the wasteboard again anyway.


Thanks @cjx3711 - it is really appreciated, and I have already gone out to get the needed milling parts to do the wasteboard for my machine. Mine is the A350 - your drilling pattern will still have to be adapted for anyone using that larger platform. Still it is a start and will offer some benefit to either design. Can I ask you what bit/mill you used to bore the holes? Think I will try this then shift to laser and engrave the 1cm increments on the new wasteboard - shouldn’t take long for that, even though its a sacrificial piece.