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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all, I am new to the Router Forums. I hope that this will be the right area for this post. I have been woodworking for 35 years but no experience with CNC router. I am looking to purchase a CNC router because I would like to learn how to use it and perhaps make a bit of money on the side.

I am a retired engineer with a fair amount of experience with AutoCAD and electrical schematic software.

I am looking for some suggestions on good CNC machines and software to purchase. I would like to be able to work with wood and plastic materials. Probably not much metal, but perhaps some aluminum.

I don’t really know exactly what my budget is, but I guess I would prefer to keep the investment no more than a few thousand dollars.

I am not adverse to building a CNC router from a kit, I would just want something with quality parts.

Thanks for any input you can provide.
 

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Welcome. Do you know what size pieces you’d like to be able to work? Thinking about signs, furniture, lutherie, carvings or ?

In his book on workbenches, Chris Schwartz talks about needing to be able to work on faces, edges and ends of boards. I would advise considering this when looking at machines if this may be important to you. Many machines do not allow easily working on ends of boards. Some of the aluminum extrusion based machines do allow for this. I know there are people here with Probotix (pre assembled) and CNC Router Parts (now Avid) kits that are happy with their machines.

While you are deciding on your machine, start learning the design process. With your background, you may enjoy (or be totally frustrated by) Fusion 360. The most popular may be the Vectric family - they have several levels, all have free trials.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Right now I am thinking I will be making signs, plaques, and various small wooden parts. Just from doing some web browsing, I am thinking I may want a 2 x 4 or 4 x 4 size router, but it will depend on the total cost.
 

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David - Machinist in wood
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Welcome to the forum, Ron! Add your location to your profile so it shows in the side panel.

If you're wanting to keep it to a couple of thousand dollars then start with a 2x4. That way you can get better components like a spindle and more powerful stepper motors. If you spring for a 4x4 you may use up your funds just getting the larger size and then have to scrimp on components.

You can do a little research on our build of a 2x4 a couple of years ago - 2nd Build first

Oh, and we do like photos of shops, tools, projects, etc. so post whenever you're ready! :grin:

David
 

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G'day Ron, welcome to the forum...
 

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You might want to check out Probotix.com. Their machines range from $3800 to $5200. A bit more depending on the features/options you add. The smallest has approx. 26" x 24" x 5" of cutting area. The largest has 37" x 50" x 5". All come with the PC and controller and assembled less plugging in cables. Depending on how they crated it up you may have to attach the Z stepper motor.

4D
 

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Check out Avid CNC / CNC ROUTER PARTS. You can purchase a 2x4 Pro & upgrade it in the future.

Whatever you do stay away from belt driven routers.

Make sure you get Nema 35 steppers

If you look at Avid CNC only look at the the pro units not the standard
 

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David - Machinist in wood
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Make sure you get Nema 35 steppers
And if you can't find those get NEMA 34 steppers... :wink:

A lot of folks do some really nice work with NEMA 23 steppers, as well, if that's what fits your budget.

David
 

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Mike
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Welcome to the Router Forums Ron.

I agree with Richard that you might like Fusion 360 for your design software because of your background with AutoCAD. It would be free to use and is a very powerful program. You can also check out Vectric software by downloading trial versions of any of their software.

For hobby level machines I would recommend checking out the Probotix machines for a ready to go plug and play unit. They are somewhat limited in their feed rates but if you stay within their limits they will do some nice work. They do have and open bed design so they are more versatile than center screw machines.

You might also look at the Axiom line of CNC. They are center screw machines but are well build. They are also plug and play and most also include the spindle in the price.

If you really want to make some money with one you should look at the Avid/CNCRouterParts kit machines. They will be more expensive but you can start out with a smaller footprint and expand it to a larger size later on if needed. You can choose Nema 23 or Nema 34 plug and play electronics. These would be a good choice for production work.

Of course there are also build your own CNC kits you can build. You can build from scratch or buy ready cut parts for some of them.

You can also buy all the parts and individual electronics and build your own, you end up with what you want and can save quite a bit of money.
 
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Sounds like you plan to make some money with your CNC. I've been teaching marketing for decades, and if I had a machine, I'd make sure I made money with it. So, attached is a pdf of some suggestions for how to do that. There are a number of strings on the topic if you search.

Regarding your machine selection, I always vote for going to one size up from what you can afford or think you can get by with. If I ever go with CNC, it will be with the intention of having it pay for itself several times over each year. As suggested, I'd begin the customer research before I signed a check for a machine. There are a couple of guys on this site who have wrapped up the commercial side of CNC. Search for Polish Eagles (by HonestJohn) for an example of a niche John now owns.

There is also a very long discussion of making a living with a CNC here: https://www.routerforums.com/cnc-routing/114441-making-nice-living-cnc.html
 

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