- Feb 03, 2020-

Computer numerical control (CNC) has been incorporated into a variety of new technologies and machinery. One popular machine used in this form of machining is known as a CNC router.

A CNC router is a machine that is very similar to the commonly used handheld router that is utilized for cutting various materials. A CNC router can aid in the cutting of materials like steel, wood, aluminum, composites, plastic, and foam.

A CNC router is similar to a CNC mill. It comes with the ability to use computer numerical control to route tool paths that enable the machine to function. CNC routers reduce waste and increase productivity, producing various items in a much shorter amount of time than using other machines.

How Big Are CNC Routers?

In terms of size, older and industrial-strength models of CNC routers are extremely large and can take up a good amount of space. However, newer desktop CNC routers are much smaller and can sit right on a large table. While these desktop machines are certainly not as powerful as their industrial-size counterparts, they are ideal for home use and can literally connect with a home computer. A user can simply use software on their home computer and program the desktop CNC router to perform specific production functions.

Example of Using a CNC Router

A good example of using a CNC router is to manipulate wood. Many woodworkers use CNC routers to cut and shape a wide array of wood types. For instance, if you want to design a rustic chair for your patio in the western U.S., you may choose to use a CNC router to cut the maple wood you have collected for such a project. By using CAD and CAM software on a computer, you can tell the CNC router exactly how to cut the wood at precise angles. You can then take these newly cut pieces of wood and use bolts or screws to put them together in a comfortable and rustic patio chair.

Like other CNC machines, CNC routers are very effective at crafting precise materials. However, the most common activities in which CNC routers are utilized include hobbies like woodworking, creating prototypes within the engineering field, producing pieces of art, and certain forms of production work. CNC routers are found in manufacturing centers, but they can be purchased for private use and often come in specialized kits that allow for easy assembling by the individual user. As time goes on, expect to see even more advanced CNC routers with great capabilities to be incredibly precise in their production processes.

How does a CNC machine work?

how CNC works by cnc.com

CNC machine runs on a series of pre-programmed commands. The most common programming language is called G-code, though other languages like Heidenhain and Mazak exist for CNC.  From Start to finish. It’s a 3 step process. 

Step 1: User designs a vector file for those who don’t have a G-Code. A vector is a DXF file extension that has details like x,y,z axis and it dictates how the image will be rendered. 

-> CAD is the software that allows a user to make their own design and vector. 

Step 2: Convert that vector into G-code, 

-> CAM software is the software that allows vector get converted into G-code

Step 3: A CNC Control software which will then run that G-code and turn into a machine to move around. 

-> CNC Control software does that

What to look for when you are buying your first CNC router?


A lot depends on the size of the project you are undertaking. If you are going to be working on a big project then you will need a big size CNC router. In this article we are focussing on CNC machine of size 4×8 which are suitable for beginners, college going students and for small purposes.    


If you have plans to use the machine for small purposes to pursue a hobby or for more commercial purposes. 


Depending on the kind of projects you will be working on, power will play an important role like what is the horsepower of the machine. What kind of motor or spindle will the machine have. Power ensure the correct amount of speed and quality of the cuts on your material. Depending on the purpose, cnc machines are designed to work with motor of certain size and power. For regular usage, buyers may go for water cooled spindle which may make some noise while a serious user will buy a liquid cooled spindle.  


Not all the CNC machines are going to perform accurately for longer durations. Machines tend to wear down as they have lots of parts working with friction. Depending on the durability and your usage, you can go for a machine of your choice


With any investment, it’s important to know if you are getting the correct value for money or not. Price plays an important role here as a more serious buyer will ensure he gets all extra parts and accessories at the right price. It depends a lot on the purpose of your purchase. There are some machines which come with design software while some require you to purchase everything separately.