There are numerous CNC routers which can be purchased for use at home or in small workshops to carve, engrave and cut plywood and other materials. The price tag for such type of machines continues to slowly decrease, becoming more and more affordable for even the hobbyists amongst us. Some of them come as a DIY kit for assembling, which usually helps to save some money on shipping, while others come pre-assembled. However, not all these machines can be classified as reliable tools. That’s why we’ve collected the CNC routers with the best reviews, as well as some new machines for use at home:

BobsCNC: E3 CNC Router Kit

This CNC Router comes as a kit for assembly and enables a cutting area of 17.7 x 15.3 x 3.3 in. (450 mm x 390 mm x 85 mm). The frame of the router is made out of laser-cut wood, which can make it a little unstable while cutting hard materials but also reduces the cost. The E3 CNC router can cut and engrave MDF, wood and other materials, is compatible with open-source software and mentioned multiple times as a good choice for low budgets.

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 work with aluminum and wood, cut circuit boards, engrave leather and print 3D models. The machine uses modular heads to switch from one job to another, so is a real space-saver in a workshop. The number of heads influences the price tag, so a user can purchase only the one or two tools that they specifically need.

CNCShop CNC Engraver 3040T

This machine has chrome shafts and supports engraving more materials by spiral flute bits, 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 a computer connection and at this stage, doesn’t support Mac software.

JFT 3040 CNC Router

JFT Router has 4 axis capabilities and utilizes a z-axis function realization of automatic tool. It provides 0.03 mm accuracy in tool positioning and 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.

Carbide 3D Shapeoko

Shapeoko CNC router has an aluminum extrusion and steel frame, 1.25 hp spindle and NEMA 23 motors. The machine comes as a partially assembled kit and utilizes its own software for design and control. There are three cutting area volumes available to choose from, with a 33 x 33 inch maximum. Shapeoko allows cutting aluminum, wood and plastic.

Pocket NC

This machine is branded as a desktop CNC mill, despite the hefty price tag of over $4900. This CNC has 5 axis, provides 2,000-10,000 rpm spindle speed, utilizes 5 NEMA 17 Motors and an aluminum frame. With these features, the Pocket NC can be used to create precise wax master models, carve wood and steel for more complex manufacturing of small scale parts.

Maslow CNC

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 create 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.

Carbid 3D Nomad 883 Pro

It’s 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.

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, wood, pcb and also supports mounting a laser head. The body of the CNC consists of profiles and plastic parts, which makes it lightweight but a little unstable. 3018 GRBL won’t be able to cut aluminum but will provide a working area of 300 x 180 x 45 mm and offers real bang for your buck.

MYSWEETY DIY CNC Router Kit 1610 GRBL control

MYSWEETY CNC machine was mentioned numerous times as a good tool with a low price and is similar to the previous router with the hybrid of plastic and profiles in the body. The working area is smaller – 160 x100 x 45 mm, but with 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, which is opened for upgrades like limit switches.

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Axiom Precision Axiom Pro V5

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”.

Machine is notable for sturdy structure and reliability, thus, suits experienced users who are looking for a smart investment.

Ooznest Workbee

This desktop CNC router is manufactured by a UK company. It started as an open-source CNC machine project and grew into a customisable 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.

SainSmart’s Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO

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.

Overall, the machine is suitable for basic CNC operations and users mention that it is quite sturdy, easy to assemble and capable of delivering good results. The downsides people mention are commonly feature issues with instructions or software, which means it can take a few extra steps to find additional information to work with this machine.

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cover image: Lucascu