Looking to try CNC cutting, engraving and carving at the comfort of your home or a small workshop? We reviewed numerous machines and compiled some of the most recommended with few newest routers for you. The list includes both desktop and stationary versions, assembled, and DIY kits to provide greater variety.
- BobsCNC: E3 CNC Router Kit
- CNC Piranha Fx
- CNCShop CNC Engraver 3040T
- JFT 3040 CNC Router
- Carbide 3D Shapeoko
- Pocket NC
- Maslow CNC
- Carbid 3D Nomad 883 Pro
- 3018 GRBL control DIY mini CNC
- MYSWEETY DIY CNC Router Kit 1610 GRBL control
- Axiom Precision Axiom Pro V5
- Ooznest Workbee
- SainSmart’s Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO
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BobsCNC: E3 CNC Router Kit
This CNC Router comes as a kit for assembly and provides a cutting area of 17.7 x 15.3 x 3.3 in. (450 x 390 x 85 mm). The frame of BobsCNC is made from laser-cut wood, which makes it a little unstable while cutting hard materials. On the bright side, such a frame reduces the cost of a machine, making it one of the popular choices for low-budget workshops.
The E3 CNC router can cut and engrave MDF, wood and some other materials. Mainly, it is a go-to CNC router for woodworking. Users share that without a tool change the router allows cutting about 1.2" deep into a 3.3" thick wood or going all the way through a 2.25" stock. Tool change increases cutting abilities to about 3.3" thickness.
E3 has an Arduino microprocessor to interpret the G-code file and allows using open-source software to prepare files for machining.
Summary: good starter machine with a fair cost for wood and softer mediums.
CNC Piranha Fx
This unusual CNC carving machine had grown from a Kickstarter campaign and now is available to purchase online. Piranha Fx is a modular 3-in-1 tool, which is not only a cutter but also a 3D printer and engraver. It can mill aluminum and wood, cut circuit boards, engrave leather and print 3D models.
The machine uses modular heads to switch from one job to another, which makes it a real space-saver in a workshop. The number of heads you choose influences the price tag, so it is possible to purchase only one or two tools that you specifically need and save a bit of money.
The possible downside of this particular model is the small working area. Its Z-axis is around 3" height, so by the time you mount a spoil board, material, and bit, you don't have much of that height left. To overcome this limit, you probably want to check out CNC Piranha XL instead.
Summary: a compact tool for ones who want to try CNC, 3D printing, and laser engraving at once.
CNCShop CNC Engraver 3040T
This machine has chrome shafts and with the use of spiral flute bits, it supports engraving more materials, such as metal, stainless steel, MDF board, solid wood, composite board plywood, and stone.
This router is a good model for carving tasks with a high-speed motor providing quick clear cuts. It fits inside home workshops well and has an emergency button to prevent hazards.
Some disadvantages are that this router requires an active computer connection and at this stage, doesn’t support Mac's operating system. Some users also have trouble with the original software provided by the manufacturer.
Summary: an affordable router with broad material capabilities that requires some time and skill investment.
JFT 3040 CNC Router
JFT Router has 4-axis capabilities and utilizes a z-axis function realization of the automatic tool. It competes to be highly precise by providing 0.03 mm accuracy in tool positioning. JFT 3040 also allows choosing spindle powers of 600 or 1500 W. This CNC Router is used for carving materials like wood, stone, metals - including copper, steel, iron, and aluminum alloy.
Summary: a more advanced machine for carving wood and soft metals.
Carbide 3D Shapeoko
Shapeoko CNC router has an aluminum extrusion and steel frame, 1.25 hp spindle, and NEMA 23 motors. It has a sturdy structure and provides fine precision and repeatability.
The machine is sold as a partially assembled kit and utilizes its own software for design and control. Assembly is described by users to be easy and pretty quick.
There are three cutting area volumes available to choose from, with a 33 x 33 inch maximum. Shapeoko allows cutting aluminum, wood, and plastic.
Summary: a reliable machine with great precision and sturdiness.
This machine is branded as a desktop CNC mill, despite the hefty price tag. This CNC has 5 axes, provides 2,000-10,000 rpm spindle speed, utilizes 5 NEMA 17 Motors and an aluminum frame.
With these features, Pocket NC can be used to create precise wax master models, carve wood, and steel for more complex manufacturing of small scale parts. Compared to other CNC machines on our list, Pocket NC is a more professional-oriented piece.
Summary: a precise and heavy-duty machine with 5 axes for a hefty price.
Maslow is hard to call a machine for home, but it’s a nice option for a garage workshop. This CNC was created for cutting large wood pieces to build furniture, decor, and more. It had started as an open-source project and now sold as a kit for assembling.
Additionally, a buyer would need some wood pieces, bricks, and a standard wood router. This project is still in beta version, but it makes some tempting promises and demonstrates impressive projects created with it such as wooden chairs and boats.
Summary: interesting DIY CNC for a garage workshop.
Carbid 3D Nomad 883 Pro
Nomad 883 Pro is another CNC Router from Carbid 3D. This machine has a full enclosure, aluminum frame, and spindle speed of 2000-10,000 RPM. Nomad also utilizes automatic tool length measuring and custom made spindles. This CNC router can carve 2D and 3D objects out of both wood and wax.
The machine's size is very compact, so the router fits on a desktop. With a working area of 203 x 203 x 76 mm this router is suitable for smaller projects like jewelry pieces, miniatures, and PCBs.
Summary: compact but powerful CNC with good precision for snap-fit designs.
3018 GRBL control DIY mini CNC
This desktop CNC carving and milling machine has an affordable price and many reviews online. It can engrave and mill plastics, woods, PCBs, and also supports mounting a laser head.
The body of the CNC consists of profiles and plastic parts, which makes it lightweight and affordable. 3018 GRBL won’t be able to cut aluminum but will provide a working area of 300 x 180 x 45 mm and fairly medium sturdiness for your projects. Don't expect it to cut profiles out of 3/4" plywood but be sure that you can cut thin materials with the use of the correct bit.
The router is sold as a kit, which requires assembly. Users say that certain steps of setting it up were challenging but the process overall wasn't too overwhelming.
Summary: works well for engraving and cutting thinner materials, provides good quality for the price.
MYSWEETY DIY CNC Router Kit 1610 GRBL control
MYSWEETY machine gets mentioned all the time as one of the best CNC milling machines with a low price. It is very close to the previous router with the hybrid of plastic and metal profiles in the body. The working area of MYSWEETY is smaller – 160 x 100 x 45 mm, on the contrary, it has 3-axis capabilities on board.
The machine engraves acrylics, wood, PVC, and other similar materials. Users of MYSWEETY claim it’s fairly sturdy and easy to assemble. Another good side of this CNC is that it is opened for upgrades like limit switches.
However, this machine is mainly suggested to more advanced users that have some knowledge of the process as well as patience to work through some ins and outs.
Summary: popular router with generally fine specs that takes some time to get along with.
This CNC router falls far from being affordable and suitable for a beginner. However, it turned up on our radar due to the quality of the machine. Axiom Pro V5 is capable of working in 4 axes and provides the working area starting from 24” x 24”.
The machine is notable for sturdy structure and reliability, thus, suits experienced users who are looking for a smart investment.
Summary: a pricey and small CNC machine with a compact working area for professional use.
This desktop CNC router is manufactured by a UK company. It started as an open-source CNC machine project and grew into a customizable yet efficient kit. The size of the machine varies from 500 x 500 mm to whole 1500 x 1500.
The machine is capable of working with materials such as foam, wood, plastic, and aluminum. Ooznest Workbee is noticeable for its motion control system and sturdiness. Additionally, the kit is easy to assemble and get along with.
Summary: an affordable and open-source router for big parts.
Genmitsu features a simple design that is easy to understand and get used to. This CNC router is compatible with plastics, soft aluminum, woods, acrylics, PVCs, and PCBs with an effective engraving depth of 1.8 in.
The working area of this router fits the desktop well: 300 x 180 x 45 mm. It comes as a kit to assemble. Genmitsu’s router comes with an offline controller and can also be upgraded to a laser engraver.
cover image: Lucascu