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OpenBuilds LEAD 1515 CNC Review [2023] – 4’x4′



John Abraham
Hey I'm John. I write about Manufacturing, Metalworking, CNCs and Lasers at Mellowpine. If you have any questions related to CNCs or Lasers, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at mail@mellowpine.com



The LEAD 1515 is a highly popular CNC router that was brought to the market in 2020 by the brand Openbuilds.

What’s remarkable about this CNC machine is the large cutting area it offers (4’x 4′) at an affordable price.

The C-Beam Linear Rail system is at the core of its design like all Openbuilds CNC machines.

True to their philosophy, Openbuild’s LEAD CNC uses open-source hardware and offers extensive customizability.

If you’re wondering, the “1515” in the name of this CNC refers to the 1500mm x 1500mm footprint occupied by this CNC router.

MellowPine is reader-supported. When you buy through links on my site, I may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.

OpenBuilds LEAD 1515 Review

In this article, I give a detailed overview of the LEAD 1515 CNC on several parameters such as size, milling capability, linear drive, electronics, customer support, and community.

1. Size

CNCFootprintWork Area
OpenBuilds LEAD 151560″ x 60″46″ x 49″

Size of OpenBuilds LEAD 1515 CNC

With a footprint of 60″ x 60″, OpenBuilds LEAD 1515 CNC has a work area of 46″ x 49″.

It has a Z-travel of 3.5″ and can work on materials with a height of 2.5″ if you are using a 1/2″ thick spoil board.

LEAD 1515 CNC being an open-source design, you can easily modify the machine. The V-slots on its side vertical rails can be used to expand the machine along the Z-axis.

2. Material Capability

LEAD 1515 CNC can work on materials like wood, wood composites, acrylic, MDF, HDPE, foam, and non-ferrous metals aluminum.

Using a 3mm bit, LEAD 1515 can achieve a speed of 118 ipm with a depth of cut of 0.06″ in plywood.

For aluminum, it can achieve a speed of 31 ipm with a depth of cut of 0.012″ using the same 3mm bit.

OpenBuild doesn’t provide a spoil board with the CNC for ease of shipment but you can purchase the board from a local hardware shop.

LEAD 1515 has to be mounted with three 1/2″ thick spoil boards having a length and breadth of 58″ x 16″ because you need to leave space for the two V-slot rails at the center of the work area.

V-slot rails are also present on all four sides of the LEAD 1515 CNC’s work area. This allows for different mounting configurations and helps you hold workpieces of large sizes.

3. Chassis


The 40mm x 80mm C-Beam linear rail made of extruded aluminum is used for LEAD 1515 CNC’s structural framing. The C-Beam rail also works as the linear motion guide of LEAD 1515.

Its rigid build gives a smooth machine movement. Though rigid, the C-Beam rail can be cut using a chop saw or hacksaw for customizing your machine.

Y-column is supported by two C-Beam for an extra-rigid configuration.

The corner brackets run along the Y-column, this provides a stable platform for the machine.

4. Linear Motion

LEAD 1515 Z-axis
LEAD 1515 CNC X and Z-axis

LEAD 1515 CNC has a lead screw-driven transmission mechanism. An 8mm acme lead screw is used on each axis to drive the CNC and it provides an accuracy of 0.001″ ~ 0.003″.

The machine uses dual XL gantries on all three axes to give a strong and sturdy configuration. The gantry has 6mm thickness and houses four dual V-wheels to slide through the C-Beam rails.

The black-angle corner connectors along the Z-axis allow you to adjust the Z-axis, this can be used to lower and raise the Z-axis depending on what type of material you are milling.

5. Spindle

RoutER11 spindle
RoutER11 spindle

You have an option to buy a RoutER11 spindle with the LEAD 1515 CNC. It’s included with the fully loaded kit but for the base kit, it’s available as an add-on option.

It comes with an ER11 collet which can hold shank sizes ranging from 0.020″ – 0.3125″.

OpenBuilds has two versions of the RoutER11 spindle, one for EU and the other for US power outlets.

US model has a speed range of 10,000 – 32,000 RPM and EU model has 13,000 – 33,000 RPM. Both have a six-speed dial to adjust their RPM.

It has an Electric Speed Control system which helps maintain a constant speed regardless of slight load fluctuation.

Its 1hp motor is housed inside an aluminum body which can be mounted onto a 65mm spindle mount.

If you want to use a bigger spindle, OpenBuilds has a 71mm mount that they sell on their website.

OpenBuild’s open-source CNC design provides you the opportunity to mix and match different components to achieve a custom build.

6. Controller and Electronics

Stepper Motors

NEMA 23 motor with Xtension connector
NEMA 23 motor with Xtension connector

To achieve linear motion in LEAD 1515 CNC, the lead screws are controlled by four NEMA 23 stepper motors with holding torque of 175 oz-in.

All these stepper motors come with an Xtension connector, this makes the motors plug-and-play compatible.

The stepper motors are used in all three axes of the LEAD 1515. For Y-axis, dual stepper motors are used to achieve uniform machine movement across both the Y-axis gantry, this helps prevent it from racking.

Controller and Electronics

Openbuilds BlackBox Controller
Openbuilds BlackBox Controller

The BlackBox Motion Control System from OpenBuilds is used for LEAD 1515 CNC’s operation. It uses an 8-Bit Atmega328p chip flashed with GRBL 1.1 firmware.

There are four Toshiba stepper drivers in BlackBox, they allow up to 1/32 micro-stepping and are suitable to run high-torque stepper motors.

For homing operations LEAD CNC makes use of contact limit switches. Limit switches are present in all three axes and the homing cycle can be initiated from the control software.

BlackBox doesn’t support standalone mode and has to be connected to the control software/hardware for its operation.

You have two options here, you can either use the Openbuilds Control software or INTERFACE CNC Touch hardware.

7. Software

The fully-loaded version of LEAD 1515 comes with Aspire, a CAD/CAM software. With the customizable base version of the CNC, you can purchase Aspire as an add-on for $1,995.

Aspire can design and create toolpaths for both 2D and 3D components but is only available for Windows OS.

You are free to use any other software of your choice. There are many free and paid CNC software available on the market, you can choose the one that suits your need.

OpenBuilds CAM

OpenBuild provides OpenBuilds CAM and OpenBuilds CONTROL software with LEAD 1515, both are free to use and can be downloaded from their website.

OpenBuilds CAM is a web-based application and requires an active internet connection. It can be used on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, ios, and Chrome OS.

It sets up toolpaths for CNC routing from DXF, SVG, PNG, BMP, JPG, Gerber, and Excellon files and generates G-code for the control software.

OpenBuilds CONTROL can be used to control the LEAD 1515 CNC. It works offline and runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux OS.

OpenBuilds CONTROL window
OpenBuilds CONTROL

8. Accessories



INTERFACE CNC Touch is an offline controller that can be used in tandem with the BlackBox controller.

It uses a 32-Bit Xtensa Dual-Core Microprocessor that helps you control your CNC without a computer.

OpenBuild provides the INTERFACE CNC Touch only with the fully-loaded LEAD 1515 CNC.

If you are planning to buy the customized base version of the LEAD 1515 CNC, you can get this interface separately for $190.

INTERFACE CNC Touch is a standalone human-machine interface, it has a plug-and-play mechanism and can be connected with any controller running on GRBL 1.1 firmware.

It has LED-backlit touch buttons, a beeper, and a vibration motor. These help you control and get feedback from the machine.

For mounting the interface control to your machine, OpenBuilds sells an Interface Mounting Kit for $13. If needed, it has to be purchased separately and is not provided with both versions of the LEAD 1515 CNC.

XYZ Touch Probe Plus

OpenBuilds XYZ Probe
OpenBuilds XYZ Probe

OpenBuilds provides an XYZ Touch Probe Plus only with the fully-loaded LEAD 1515 CNC. For the customized version of OpenBuilds 1515, the touch probe has to be bought separately for $70.

XYZ Touch Probe helps you with finding a material’s position in XYZ coordinates, and with bit diameter calibration.

It can also calibrate the Z height after a tool change.

The touch probe comes with an Xtension connector as in the stepper motors and can be connected directly to the BlackBox controller.

Dust Shoe

RoutER11 with Dust Shoe
RoutER11 spindle mounted with Dust Shoe

Openbuilds provides a dust shoe with the fully-loaded LEAD 1515 CNC, for its customizable version you have the flexibility of purchasing it as an add-on option.

It costs $160 and is sold directly on the OpenBuilds part store website. To connect to the vacuum it has a 2.5″ vac connector.

You should consider getting a dust shoe if you work a lot on materials that generate dust. It will make your cleaning operations a lot easier.

Spindle/Router LED Light Ring

OpenBuilds LED ring for spindle mount
OpenBuilds LED ring for spindle mount

OpenBuild provides a LED ring light with their RoutER11 spindle.

It is to be attached with the 65mm spindle mount and has 12 warm-white LEDs to give you an enhanced view of the milling process.

9. Assembly

The machine can be assembled within a day. OpenBuilds have shown how to assemble each part through a video on their YouTube channel.

OpenBuilds also has a detailed manual on LEAD 1515’s modular design and how to assemble its different components.

Following the instruction provided by OpenBuilds will be an absolute time saver as they’ve explained it neatly so that everyone can follow along.

10. Community

OpenBuilds being a spearhead in open-source designs, became popular among the maker community with its different products.

Its community has an active presence in the OpenBuilds forum, Facebook groups, Reddit, and YouTube. Being a large community the chances are they’ll have answers to most of your questions.

11. Customer Support

LEAD 1515 has a limited warranty of 1-year and is also covered under OpenBuilds 30-day return policy. During the warranty period, you can claim repairs and replacements from OpenBuilds.

For queries, OpenBuilds has a separate support website that is made easily navigable to help you track down your issues and different solutions.

They provide ticket-based individual support for all their customers and can also be connected through phone and e-mail services.

12. Final Thoughts

LEAD 1515 CNC is the largest machine configuration offered by OpenBuilds, one of the leading Open source CNC routers manufacturer.

With a modular and open-source design, it has become a popular choice in the maker community.

This LEAD 1515 combines a great CNC design with a great community to support it.

OpenBuilds LEAD CNC 1010 vs LEAD CNC 1515- What Changed?

OpenBuilds LEAD CNC Machine 1010 (40" x 40")
OpenBuilds LEAD 1010
OpenBuilds LEAD 1010OpenBuilds LEAD 1515
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Footprint40″ x 40″60″ x 60″
Work area29″ x 32″ x 4″46″ x 49″ x 3.5″
Workable material height2″2.5″
Drive systemLead screw drivenLead screw driven
Accuracy0.001″ ~ 0.003″0.001″ ~ 0.003″

OpenBuilds LEAD 1010 and LEAD 1515 CNC comparison
OpenBuilds LEAD 1515
OpenBuilds 1515

The major upgrade for LEAD 1515 is its increase in the work area by 17″ at the X and Y-axis.

LEAD 1515 can also work on materials with 2.5″ thickness, that’s 0.5″ more than what LEAD 1010 can work on (2″).

The spoil board is not provided on both these machines for ease of shipment but can be purchased from your local hardware store.

CNCSpoil board size
OpenBuilds LEAD 1010 40″ x 32″ x 1/2″ (1 piece)
OpenBuilds LEAD 101558″ x 16″ x 1/2″ (3 pieces)

Recommended spoil board sizes for OpenBuilds LEAD 1010 and LEAD 1515

LEAD 1010 doesn’t have a dedicated V-slot for work material holding, But LEAD 1515 has V-slot rails each at all four quadrants and two at the center of the work area.

LEAD 1515 uses three pieces of spoil boards, It helps expose the V-slot rails and at the same time provides a stable work area.

The total width of the spoil board has to be comparatively lower than the machine’s footprint, this allows for smooth gantry movement along the Y-axis.

Both these machines use a RoutER11 spindle, it uses an ER11 collet that can hold tools with shank sizes ranging from 0.020″ to 0.3125″.

LEAD 1515 comes with the same BlackBox controller that LEAD 1010 comes with. Both use NEMA 23 stepper motors and are driven by a lead screw mechanism.

Unlike LEAD 1010, LEAD 1515 CNC comes with an XYZ touch probe and an Interface CNC Touch.

The Interface CNC Touch lets you control your CNC without a computer, it can be connected to any controller running a GRBL 1.1 firmware.

Read a dedicated review of LEAD 1010- Openbuilds LEAD 1010 CNC Review [2023]

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

Can I upgrade Z-travel in OpenBuilds LEAD 1515?

Yes, you can.

Though OpenBuild doesn’t officially sell a LEAD 1515 High Z modification kit as they did for LEAD 1010, you can make use of the V-slot vertical side rails on LEAD 1515 to achieve the modification.

First, you’ll have to increase the X-axis height to house much bigger work materials, then you can replace or adjust the Z-axis as per your work requirement.

The corner connectors along the Z-axis allow you to adjust the Z-axis, this can be used to lower and raise the Z-axis depending on the thickness of the material you are milling.

Why does LEAD 1515 use three spoil boards?

There are two V-slot rails passing equidistant from the center of the work area, three pieces of spoil boards help expose the V-slots and cover the work area at the same time.

The V-slots are important as they allow for different mounting configurations and help you hold workpieces of varying sizes.

Can INTERFACE CNC Touch work with controllers other than OpenBuilds?

Yes, it can work with other controllers.

INTERFACE CNC Touch can be used with controllers running on GRBL 1.1 firmware and some will require you to make your own cabling.

John Abraham
Hey I'm John. I write about Manufacturing, Metalworking, CNCs and Lasers at Mellowpine. If you have any questions related to CNCs or Lasers, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at mail@mellowpine.com