A Computer Numerical Control Router, popularly known as a CNC router is one of the most versatile power tools that woodworkers and cabinetmakers find incredibly handy. The CNC router, a computer-controlled woodworking tool, is chiefly used for systematically cutting a wide variety of materials like wood, laminate, plastic, and glass. The best CNC routers enable carpenters and woodworkers to produce beautiful furniture, cabinets, cupboards, and numerous other bespoke and DIY products from the above materials.
When it comes to producing factory-grade woodwork or customized metal engravings, then the best CNC router is indispensable. Before the advent of the this wood router, plunge router, and fixed-base router, woodworkers did all the cutting, incising, and engraving by hand. However, with the arrival of this routers, carpenters and woodmen were able to take full advantage of their craftsmanship.
The best CNC routers were able to do all the tasks that the woodworker did manually but with enhanced quality and precision. This router can make the same cuts and engravings that humans do, albeit with greater accuracy because the machine is computer-controlled.
What is a CNC router?
A CNC router is a computer-controlled woodworking tool that enables woodworkers and carpenters to make precise cuts, incises, and engravings. The best CNC wood routers enable carpenters and woodworkers to produce beautiful furniture and cabinets from the above materials with greater accuracy. A CNC router also enables you to cut letters, numbers, patterns, etc., straight into your desired material.
Before the advent of this DIY work routers, woodworkers and carpenters used to do all their cutting, grinding, and engraving by hand. While the quality of their work was highly commendable, it looked very ugly and amateurish.
Reviewing the Best CNC Routers In The Market
Selecting the best CNC router from among the many brands available in the market can be quite a daunting task. However, if you carry out a thorough comparison of the features of one or two models, you’ll soon be able to find the ideal product.
The main point of this buying guide is, buy quality and get value for your money. And without further ado, here are five of the best CNC routers manufactured in in the market.
1. Laser Engraver CNC 3018 Pro Engraving Machine: Offers the Best Value for Money
The 2500MW Laser Engraver CNC 3018 Pro Engraving Machine is an upgraded version of TopDirect 3018 CNC Router. The all-new and innovative CNC 3018 Pro Engraving Machine features a more ergonomic design, rendering setting up of the machine tool easier. This CNC router unit comes with an offline controller, which frees you from the requirement to pair the machine tool with your PC or desktop.
So, you can access the engraving, etching, and cutting files straight away instead of having to download the files. The excellent laser engraving capability of this machine implies that you can print high-quality illustrations and images. At the same time, you can access the images and representations directly in SVG, BMP, or JPG formats.
This CNC router from TopDirect comes with safety goggles that protect your eyes while you use the laser engraver.
- Large machine frame & engraving areas can accommodate different sizes of materials
- Ideal for carving different materials like acrylic, plastic, wood, soft metals, and PCB
- Supports Windows XP, 7, 10, and Linux
- Easy to assemble as some core parts have been preinstalled
- Aircraft aluminum shell guarantees fast heat dissipation
- This CNC router model does not come equipped with limit switches
2. Genmitsu CNC 3018 Router Kit: Best Overall
The Genmitsu CNC 3018 Router Kit has been specially designed and created for inexperienced woodworkers and carpenters. If you’re passionate about woodworking, then you can rely on this CNC Router from Genmitsu for learning the ropes. You can take advantage of this machine tool for fine-tuning your latent cutting, carving, and engraving skills for becoming a pro.
This Genmitsu CNC router kit can easily handle a wide variety of materials including but not limited to PCB, PVC, acrylic, wood, and soft aluminum. Simply follow the instructions provided in the booklet for putting together the different components included in the kit. Every mechanical part of the CNC router included in the kit is of supreme quality, which makes the entire unit highly durable.
On the other hand, the CNC 3018 Router Kit’s platform is incredibly hard.
- Assembling the different components is a breeze as assembly guidelines are provided
- You can make the most of this Genmitsu machine tool for working on an assortment of materials and projects
- Powered by Arduino and exploits GRBL-a highly responsive open-source software
- Perfect integration between customized software & incorporated mainboard facilitates interaction between hardware and software
- The large working area of this machine tool means it can hold different materials of large dimensions
- Instructions can be difficult to understand for novices and beginners
- Some of the included components not listed in the parts list
3. BobsCNC E3 CNC Router Engraver Kit: Best for Small Workshops
Woodworkers and carpenters will simply love to use the BobsCNC E3 Router Engraver Kit as it comes equipped with the Arduino microprocessor and DW660 router. The microprocessor and the DW660 router make use of GRBL software for communicating with each other. Working on woodwork projects using this CNC router will give you unique user experience.
This machine tool is undoubtedly the best CNC router in the entry-level category as it features a large footprint for performing carvings on different materials. At the same time, it is performance-oriented and quite affordable, enabling you to complete your projects with efficiency. The DIY kit can be assembled without much difficulty and is perfect for working on small projects
- Comes preassembled with Arduino-based microprocessor
- Exploits GRBL software & DW660 router that facilitates hardware-software communication
- Compatible with Windows, Raspberry Pi, Linux, and OSX
- Comes with a solid laser-cut machine tool frame
- GT2 belt drive on both X and Y-axis
- SG2OU compliant rail system
- 5/16-18 nut on the Z-axis
- Novices and beginners could struggle with assembling the router
- Constructed out of wood, precision may not be perfect owing to ‘Z-axis assembly
4. Green Bull 4’ x 8’ CNC Machine: Best Entry-level CNC Router
The 4’ x 8’ CNC Machine is Green Bull’s biggest CNC router designed exclusively for working with large sheets of material. This CNC router offers you the option to integrate a 40W laser shaft to the gantry for taking advantage of dual laser/spindle capability. The CNC machine comes with NEMA 34 motors on every axis along with an extensive dust collector for improved vacuuming and cleanup.
The height of the gantry has been increased for keeping the V-groove bearings farther apart. To prevent the gantry from expanding or flexing, a chain of ribs were incorporated inside the gantry box. The x-axis motor installed inside the gantry section makes good use of ½” steel tubes extending from the motor to all sides of the gantry.
- Parallel interface panel comes with a USB cable for 5V power
- Works perfectly with wood acrylic and even lightweight aluminum sheets
- Superior dust removal capability
- Helps in making precise cuts and engravings on different
- Comes with complete hardware kit for easy assembly
- Does not come with a table; so you may have to make one yourself
- Requires extensive professional experience for using this machine tool
5. Next Wave CNC Piranha XL: Best for Sophisticated Work
The brand new CNC Piranha CNC router from Next Wave Automation comes with a built-in large work table making the machine table ideal for cuttings and ornamental carvings. This Next Wave CNC router comes in handy for cutting precisely machined cutouts from acrylics, soft metals, hardwoods, and softwoods. Create project blueprints reflecting a high level of craftsmanship by taking advantage of the integrated VCarve Desktop V8 Design Software on your PC.
After that, you can back up your designs on a USB pen drive, plug it into the relevant port, choose the relevant file, and get going.
- Huge (12” x 24”) table for firm positioning of sheets of different sizes
- Rotational sensing and auto edge technology
- Solid construction: guaranteed to last for years on end
- Simple and straightforward setup
- Extremely user-friendly and versatile
- Does not come with a USB flash drive
- Not compatible with Macintosh PCs and desktops
The Best CNC Router: Buying Guide
Before we walk you through how to select a CNC router that best fits your needs and preferences, let us define a CNC router in brief. Speaking, a CNC router is an advanced machine tool whose operation is permanently monitored and controlled via a computer. The best CNC routers can cut, incise, slice, and engrave different materials, including wood, metal, glass, and plastics, according to instructions you feed into the computer.
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Picking and choosing the best CNC router from amongst the multiple brands available out, there can be quite challenging. The task of selecting the appropriate brand becomes all the more bewildering if you’re unaware of the exact type you’re looking for. There are certain factors or aspects that you should take into consideration before you can zero in on the appropriate product.
For instance, you should factor in the type of projects you usually execute, the materials (wood, laminate or MDF), software companionability, and so on. This buyers’ guide lists some of the most vital factors you should reflect on before making a buying decision:
1. Software companionability
No matter whichever brand or model of CNC router you choose, ensure that the product comes preinstalled with a software app that is companionable with your PC. Software compliance is the most crucial factor to take into account before you can consider other factors.
2. Project size/work area dimensions
The size of your work area is another vital aspect that will determine the brand you should select. The best CNC router is a massive and large machine, so you’d need quite a large area for housing it. At the same time, see to it that the device will be able to handle the size and type of projects.
3. Router table dimensions
Check out the table dimensions or size of a few CNC router brands. The CNC router’s table size should match the dimensions of the materials that you generally work on, be it hardwood or laminated plastics. The thumb rule for the CNC Wood router table size is that it should be higher than the materials or at least equivalent.
4. Motor system
Its cutting speed and torque determine the capability of a CNC router’s motor system. In other words, the higher the cutting speed and torque rating of a CNC router’s motor, the more performance-oriented the machine tool will be.
5. Drive system
The best CNC routers available for sale, feature any one of the three drive system types. These are the ‘Rack and Pinion’ system, ‘Ball Screw’ system, and the ‘Lead Screw’ system. CNC routers featuring the ‘ball screw’ drive mechanism tend to be the most expensive as these machine tools can correctly deal with various materials.
6. Vacuum pressure
The vacuum pressure capacity of a CNC router defines the machine tool’s ability to hold documents in position while you perform cutting or engraving tasks. The more efficient the machine’s vacuum system, the heftier the materials the device will be able to hold.
7. Sawdust collection mechanism
The dust collection receptacle or port in a CNC router collects the flying debris or chips and prevents them from spreading over the worktop. Therefore, make sure you buy a model that comes with a built-in saw dust collection port and also check the receptacle’s capacity.
8. Preassembled or knockdown
Choosing a knockdown CNC router makes sense if you specialize in producing DIY woodworks. You can assemble the CNC router in a way that perfectly suits your nature of job and type of projects. On the other hand, if you mostly create standardized plans, then choosing a preassembled or factory set CNC router is the most practical option.
9. Your budget
How good a CNC router you will be able to buy boils down to one hardcore fact-your budget. Keep in mind that the best CNC routers available in the market come at a price, implying that the expensive models are of superior quality. Nevertheless, you’ll come across many quality CNC router models that are priced competitively.
Some other essential aspects worth keeping in mind while shopping for the best CNC router are power rating, and ease of installation.
Benefits of Using CNC Routers
Using the best CNC router will enable you to create impressive designs on different types of materials. Some of the benefits of using CNC routers include:
Most of these machines are equipped with few connecting ports making it easier for novices to connect with them. You can use these machines to cut a variety of materials and at the same time enjoy the simplicity of using them.
Saves You Time:
These machines enable you to create different shapes and designs with ease. You can use these machines to create different parts of your car, furniture, and other similar projects. You will save a lot of time by opting for CNC Routers over conventional cutting tools.
All the machines that are in the market today are compatible with different types of materials and can be used to cut them accordingly. The variety in all these machines makes it easier for you to create various designs and at the same time enjoy versatility.
CNC Routers are portable and can be easily moved from one place to another. With the help of these machines, it is possible for you to create your desired design without difficulty.
Most of these machines come with computerized gantry systems that make them more reliable than the conventional ones. The gantry systems make it easier for novices to learn how to use them and have an easy time when doing so.
You will enjoy the affordability of using CNC Routers as they are not priced too high.
Types Of CNC Routers
The variety in the market when it comes to choosing the best CNC routers makes it essential for you to know what types of machines are available. The different types of CNC Routers include:
The basic types of CNC routers are:
- Industrial CNC router
- Mid-range CNC router
- Hobby CNC router
- Specially designed CNC router
1. Industrial CNC Routers
Industrial CNC Routers are machines that are used for purpose of precision cutting and at the same time can be used for manufacturing complex shapes and parts. They are the best option for professionals to use and can be used in different applications such as woodworking, furniture making, auto mechanics, aerospace and many more.
2. Mid-range CNC Routers
Mid-Range CNC Routers are the best option for beginners to use. These machines are highly durable and come with advanced features making them easier for novices to use. They can be used for cutting, carving and engraving.
You can use them for cutting metals, plastics, woods, and other similar materials.
3. Hobby CNC Routers
Hobby CNC routers are designed to fulfill the needs of hobbyists. These are the best option for hobbyists as they can be used for creating unique artwork, objects and other similar applications. They are highly affordable and very simple to use for all the hobbyists out there.
4. Specially designed CNC Router
Specially designed CNC routers are machines that are used for specific purposes. They can be used for cutting, routing, carving and so on depending on the material from which they will be cutting through. Most of them are used for cutting vinyl, acrylic, leather and much more.
The different types of CNC Routers have different set of questions related to them. Here are the most asked questions about CNC Routers:
Why Do You Need A Router?
CNC routers are the best option for you when it comes to precision cutting, etching, and routing. These machines enable you to carve intricate designs on different types of materials including wood, wood composite, aluminum, plastics, and much more.
What is a CNC Machine?
A CNC machine is an acronym that stands for Computer Numerical Control. It stands for the process of making use of computer-aided tools and machines to carry out different types of manufacturing activities. CNC machines are used to automate a number of tasks. They are the best option for you when it comes to creating complicated designs on different types of materials.
What is the difference between a CNC router and a CNC mill?
There is a difference between a CNC router and a CNC mill. They are two different machines that are used to carry out different types of activities.
CNC router – A CNC router is a machine that is used to create designs on different types of materials including woods, plastic, and so on. It enables you to cut through textures and can be used for both commercial as well as domestic applications.
CNC mill – A CNC mill machine is used for cutting wood, metal, metal composite and many more materials. It is the best option for professionals that work with specific materials. These machines are highly affordable and can be used for carving and other creative purposes.
How Does A CNC Router Work?
A CNC router is the best option for you when it comes to precision cutting. These machines are used by professionals to manufacture parts, furniture and other similar objects. The CNC routers are used to cut different types of materials and create intricate designs on them. They can also be used in different applications such as woodworking, auto mechanics, aerospace, and so on.
is it worth buying a CNC router?
Yes, it is always a good idea to buy an affordable CNC router for your future projects. These machines are highly affordable and are simple to use. They enable you to create intricate designs on the different types of materials as well as carve them out by hand. You can buy the best CNC routers that are available out there depending on your requirements and budget. You should always keep in mind your limitations when choosing the best CNC routers for yourself.
Can you make money with a CNC?
Yes, it is possible for you to make money with a CNC. You can sell the different types of products that you manufacture with the help of these machines. It will be easy for them to find a place in the market as there is a high demand of these products as well.
Selecting the five best CNC routers for this review out of the several models and brands was an arduous task. After comparing numerous brands, we chose five quality CNC routers- TopDirect, Genmitsu, Green Bull, BobsCNC, and NextWave. Out of the five models, NextWave and Green Bull, were quite expensive, both priced above US$2400 and were perfect for experienced and tech-savvy woodworkers. On a related note, TopDirect, Genmitsu, and BobsCNC were more suitable for novice carpenters and cabinetmakers.
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