A method of adjusting the spindle to the X,Y axis

I have come up with a pretty good way of squaring the bit to the X,Y plane or perpendicular.
This method is a poor mans way of getting things close. Not accurate but if you don’t have a lot of money to buy the tools then this will get you close.
You have to square the x,y rails for this to work. The assembly instructions cover this and you should have already have done this. Not a bad Idea to check first.

First you need to level each Y rail. Use shims or adjust each rail so its level in both directions. (Since your going to loosen the X rail and rotate it to adjust the bit’s level then you do not need to level the X rail.)

I changed how I use the level. I stopped using the one originally posted and went with a standard level and using the base of the router housing itself instead. This proved to work better for me.

I used a standard level to make sure the router houseing was as level as I can get it with respect to the X and Y directions.

Make sure you check the X to Y rail is still square.

This is how I leveled my system. Its not 100% perfect but works in a pinch. Mine may still be off a bit but its way better than before.

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I never said it was accurate. Just said it gets you there closer than your own eyes.
Also its not supposed to be setting the bit perpendicular to the waste board. Its supposed to set the Z axis perpendicular to the X and Y rails. You then use the surface bit to resurface the waste board.

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The waste board will be close if its mounted properly. Resurfacing just shaves off the areas that are not.
The wast board is never perfectly flat. If you try to make it match the waste board and its uneven then your going to have issues.
I am using the same trick that carpenters use for doors and windows. As long as the bottom plane is squared then what I suggested will make the bit square to it. Its not perfect but those of us who are on a budget can use this to get the bit (z axis) perpendicular to the rails.

Me too been down this road what works for me works for me and that’s all I have to say about that .

Yes sir https://discuss.inventables.com/users/AdamWagner flame on lmao

Plus one here. Besides only Carpenters using bubble level in these days. CNC world depends on micrometer accuracy.

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Bubble levels from HD/Lowes/retail stores get into ballpark but should not be the last step.

Digital angle finders can get much more accurate and allow to get things relative to each other.

However, there are bubble levels as accurate as digital devices:

http://www.starrett.com/metrology/product-detail/metrology/metrology-products/precision-measuring-tools/machinists-levels/98-6

0.025 degree accuracy. They make one with a 0.0028 degree accuracy as well.

Now, spend $130 on a bubble level or $30-40 for a digital? Just make sure your digital has a good accuracy. The Wixey linked above is +/- 0.1 degrees. I bought the Capri Tools which is also +/- 0.1 degrees. I squared my machine using one from work (+/- 0.05 deg accuracy, 0.01 resolution) just to be sure…

If you read my post, I said it was not accurate. Just better than your eyeballs.

What I did corrected most of the stepping issue I had. I did with the level worked better than trying to gauge by eye.
Right now I am spending my cash on a dental problem. I would love to have the money for the accurate machine tools others have mention but until then what I did does work. The slight stair stepping was barely noticeable and can be sanded and my stuff comes out much better now.

Awesome! My point is the same as yours, the bubble gets you into the ballpark. For some, the ballpark is enough. For others, they want more.

My question about cost was what’s better, a $130 extremely accurate bubble level or a $20-40 digital angle finder that’s accurate enough. That’s a no brainer that the $130 bubble level isn’t worth the cost for squaring the machine.

Its all a matter of budget.
If you can afford $130 then you should look at more accurate systems.
I just used this method cause I do not have the cash right now to do it better.
This is what some use for getting the tram near perfect.

I don’t think you can swing that pro tram under the carriage because it’s over 3".

If that is the case then you will need to get the riser plates to increase the distance so you can use it.
I have the ones Charley made.

If you want to do it cheap but still fairly accurate, you can make your own tramming bar like this:

Take a piece of wood and drill two holes (1/8") in each end from top to bottom. Next you drill two holes through the side and using a saw, you make two slots like this:

Then you add a milling bit in each end:

Add two bolts to keep it all together like this:

Now you remove the power from your spindle and add the tramming-bar. Find the highest (jog your Z) point (left, right, front or back). Move your tramming bar to the opposite side. Adjust until you have the same distance on both sides. Lets say it was right and left (along the X-axis), you then do the same front and back (along the y-axis).

This will fit the budget. If you want to spend som more money, you can buy a cheap DI on ebay for around $20-$40. Attach the DI on the tramming-bar. Now you measure the distance front/back (Y-axis). Take front-back/2 and you have the exact amount you need to adjust to level it out. Repeat with left/right (X-axis).

Warning: You NEED TO flatten (not level against earth like Phil said) your wasteboard first. If it is not, then flatten/surface it with a small 1/8" or 1/4" bit first (yes I know it takes forever). Then do the tramming and re-flatten the wasteboard again with a bigger bit (to remove the lawn mower tracks).

Here are some images of what I did to try to get my system squared up to the level.

First I measured each rail to ensure they are level. Both the Y and X were checked.

I adjust using shims to ensure that the XY plane of the XY rails are level.
The waste board appears to be level in its center. However it does not matter as some boards are out of square and you will be using a skimming bit to correct this.

Then I check the Spindle for level and adjust it to be level. I was using my modified level but found it to be hard to get it to stay on and used the bottom part of the router area where the shaft exits.

Again this is only to make sure the XY is at right angle to the Z. You must have the frame squared first.

Isn’t the hard part of this not the measuring, but the actual shimming?

Is it a bit more accurate to say that you need to flatten something, not necessarily the wasteboard? (At least at first; you definitely need to do the whole wasteboard once you’re square.)

My thought is that if you clamp down a piece of scrap and flatten a few square inches of that, and keep adjusting until you don’t have any washboard effect, you now know that your spindle is perpendicular to a plane that’s approximately parallel to the wasteboard. Toss that bit of scrap, then skim the wasteboard. Am I missing something?

You can’t put something on the wasteboard and skim then adjust till the errors are out. You have to use a tool to ensure the spindle is at right angles to X and Y. If you do not square it first then you will skim your wasteboard at an angle.
The method I am showing here will get you very close and better than your eyeballs. So if you have a much better method then by all means use it.

What I am talking about is making sure your spindle is square to the XY plane. If its not then you will be cutting at an angle all the time.

We may be talking about two different things - and I’ve found a much better explanation and video of what I’m failing to convey here: https://youtu.be/2n8KcTBNS4U?t=10m13s (referenced in http://www.cncrouterparts.com/leveling-squaring-and-tramming-your-cnc-machine-p-438.html).

I have seen this video.
I think your not seeing the larger picture.
The levels are used by carpenters to make sure your door frame and door are hung at 90° angles to the floor. The floor is layered and leveled prior to the walls and door.
This is the same technique I am using for the CNC’s Spindle.

You use the same technique to make sure your spindle is at 90° angles to the XY plane (The XY plane is the rails plane and not the work surface)
If you do what they show in the video it will work but if your work surface isn’t perfectly flat then you will have a angled work surface. You cannot see this by eyeballing it. What the video shows is not as good as using levels as I show. (even though my levels are not precision types) With the Machine’s spindle square to the XY plane then there is no angle in the cut no matter how warped your board is and it will ensure the product that your cutting will be parallel from the bottom to the top surface. This is very visible when you have a flat plastic or other material that has parallel surfaces will show when you measure the thickness. You will notice one side is thicker than the other.