Whether you plan to sell custom wooden wares on Etsy, or need a more professional CNC router for prototyping or commercial part production, there’s a tool to match your project and budget.

I’ve tested the most popular CNC routers on the market (including laser cutter and engraver options) and will share my hands-on experience with the top choices in this guide.

Top 4x8 CNC Pick
Tough CNC Router For Metal
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The Sainsmart Genmitsu 3018 PROver is the best affordable CNC machine for small businesses overall. It’s easy to set up, and can handle an impressive variety of materials relative to its price. Plus, an optional laser engraver upgrade option makes it a versatile choice.

However, it may not be the best choice for larger projects. A better pick would be the Maslow CNC, which can cut entire pieces of wodden furniture on its enormous 4 x 8 ft work area.

For a premium choice, check out the Snapmaker 2.0. It’s a joy to use and can do everything right out of the box – including 3D printing and laser engraving. It is a little pricey though!

Quick Overview

CNC MachinePriceWorking AreaPrecision
Sainsmart Genmitsu 3018 PROver$345300 x 180 x 45 mmAround 0.003″
MakerMade M2$1,1994×8 ft0.04″
Snapmaker 2.0$1,100+320 × 350 × 330 mm0.003″
Carbide Shapeoko XL / XXL$1,525+400 x 400 x 75 mmNot specified

Note: The precision values are based on the information available and may vary depending on various factors such as the material being used, the type of bit being used, and the operator’s skill level.

1. Carbide Shapeoko XL / XXL – Best For Small Businesses On A Budget

  • Price: $1,525+ depending on model — Available on Matterhackers here
  • Working Area: 400 x 400 x 75 mm
  • Spindle Speed: Up to 30,000 RPM
  • Material Compatibility: Wood, plastic, and metals like aluminum, brass, and copper
carbide shapeoko 4 xl


Generous cutting area

Intuitive control

Powerful spindle


No dust-collecting plate

With a cutting area of 16 x 16 x 3 inches, this is a great option for any small craft business. It works with a variety of materials such as acrylic, ABS, and Delrin, but you’ll probably find it most useful for soft metals and up to ¼ inch woods.

The Carbide Shapeoko comes in different sizes, including the regular, as well as XL, and XXL, all with different cutting areas. Each model is easy to assemble so you can be up and running in an afternoon, experimenting with some new items for your craft shop.

Sample project made with Shapeoko XXL
Source: YouTube

It runs on the open-source network GRBL framework so the opportunities for new ideas are pretty much endless. It works with the Dewalt DWP-611 spindle, which feels incredibly powerful when coupled with the heavy-duty stepper motors — can get through stock materials without much issue.

Sample project made with Shapeoko XXL
Source: YouTube

If we are trying to find issues, we would have to say that the lack of a dust collector is a bit of a hassle. This can be rectified, especially if you work with care, but dust can spill over at times. The control software isn’t intimidating, and it has a simple operating system that will please a beginner.

Tough CNC Router For Metal
Shapeoko 4 CNC Router – XXL – Hybrid Table

One of the most well-made CNC routers, ideal for cutting tougher woods and metals like aluminum.

Matterhackers here
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2. Sainsmart Genmitsu 3018 PROver – Super Budget Option

sainsmart genmitsu 3018 prover


Easy to set up

Very affordable (and a cheap way to try out CNC technology)

Works with a variety of materials

Optional laser engraver upgrade option


More expensive brands are sturdier, more powerful, and offer better quality and larger work area

Simplicity is key to this machine, and its 1.8 inches of engraving depth makes it an attractive option for anyone looking to personalize simple pieces such as wooden coasters with character designs for an Etsy store or other venture.

Although it comes as a CNC kit, it is one of the easier CNC machines to assemble. You can have it up and running in around an hour, ready to put the 300 x 180 x 45 mm working area to work.

Engraving flower using Genmitsu 3018 PROver
Source: YouTube

Although it doesn’t have the sturdy build quality of more expensive brands, it can still be used for light milling and engraving, so there are plenty of hobby craft business projects it can be used for. This is all thanks to its stepper motor-head, making it compatible with all types of plastics, wood, soft aluminum, acrylics, and more.

For fine-tuning, there is the option of adding a laser engraver attachment to the motorhead. With this add-on, it becomes an even more useful CNC machine for your home shop, as you can switch out the CNC router for all your engraving needs.

Engrave with Genmitsu 3018 PROver
Source: YouTube

Because the router does not have a limit switch, mistakes are more likely. Still, at $200, it makes for an affordable entry point for anyone looking to start a CNC business and work on different projects.

SainSmart Genmitsu 3018-PROVer Desktop CNC Router Machine with GRBL Offline Control

It's cheap, and not super powerful, but with a few upgrades it can cut into thin aluminum.

Amazon here Sainsmart here
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03/22/2024 09:41 pm GMT

3. MakerMade M2 – Best For Large Furniture Making

makermade m2


Vertical design saves space

Huge 4×8 foot work area

Sub-1mm repeatability


Have to provide a spindle for yourself

Another space-saving option, the MakerMadeM2 hangs from a wooden backboard and uses a pulley system to move. Because it hangs vertically, it is an ideal CNC machine for small businesses based in a garage or where space is limited — but who still want to cut and carve large wooden parts. 

Seasoned CNC vets will know how messy things can sometimes get when working on large furniture projects. To protect the user, the built-in dust collector makes cleaning up a lot easier. 

Sample project made with MakerMade M2
Source: YouTube

The repeatability is always within 1mm, making it one of the most accurate CNC machines on our list. This is especially important when making furniture where every piece needs to fit perfectly.

Neon Signs made with MakerMade M2
Source: YouTube

For these large furniture projects, the large 4×8 foot cutting area, like the Maslow CNC, makes these projects a breeze. But that doesn’t relegate it to only large cuts — it will certainly make light work out of small projects such as keepsake boxes and other crafts.

There is also a laser cutter upgrade available, and with a 40-inch/min cutting speed, it is going to be able to get through large commission pieces faster than a lot of the competition.

MakerMade M2 CNC Engraving Machine Kit
MakerMade here Amazon here
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4. Snapmaker 2.0 – Best 3-in-1 CNC For 3D Printing & Laser Jobs

snapmaker 2.0


Not just a CNC machine — it can also 3D print and laser engrave

3 different sizes available to fit your needs

A complete making factory in one machine


Less useful if you don’t need a 3D printer

If you are the ambitious type, you will get a lot of use out of this 3-in-1 CNC machine. It can also be used for CNC, 3D printing, and laser engraving, giving anyone who owns it the advantage of versatility.

It is available in 3 sizes that will suit different budgets, with the A150, ($1,199), A250 ($1,499), and the large A350 ($1,799).

I personally bought the largest-sized Snapmaker A350 to review, and I was very impressed with the accuracy of the carved pieces using the 4-axis rotary module add-on and straight groove v-bit.

CNC carving a knight chess piece using the 4-axis module and CNC toolhead.

It only takes a few minutes to switch from one head like the 3D printer head, to the CNC or laser head, and four screws. You can 3D print a commissioned 3D superhero figure, then switch in the laser engraver and start a completely different project.

The build volume of the Snapmaker 2.0 A350 measures 320 x 350 x 350 mm, making it an ideal CNC machine for a small shop. It can 3D print materials such as PLA, PETG, ABS, and TPU, but anyone who doesn’t want to use the 3D printing capability will want to stick to a standard CNC router.

For CNC, it has a dedicated machining bed made up of an MDF wasteboard. This is where the clamps can be inserted to hold the workplace steady, and it has a sturdy feel to it when milling. You can also purchase a rotary axis, turning it into a 4 axis CNC router and giving you more dimensional options.

Its spindle speed can be switched between 6,000 – 12,000 RPM and it can be put to use to engrave text and images, so those custom coasters showing a favorite memory are going to come out great. It can also be used to cut out object outlines.

However, as a standalone CNC, it is less powerful than similarly priced specialist CNCs. But, you get the added versatility of the laser and 3D printer options with the Snapmaker.

Top 3 in 1 Pick
Snapmaker 2.0 Modular 3 in 1 3D Printer A350T/A250T
$1199 ($600 off!)

Want to 3D print, CNC cut, and laser cut and engrave all in 1? Snapmaker machines are the best 3-in-1 machines around.

Snapmaker here Our Review
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What Can Small Businesses Use a CNC Machine for?

The best CNC machines for a small business we recommend can work with a wide variety of materials and many different applications.

The key benefit of a CNC machine is that you can make truly bespoke items, whether that’s personalized products you can sell directly to consumers, or custom parts to help your service business.

Here are some examples of profitable projects your business can undertake with your new CNC machine:

  • Creating custom signs and logos
  • Seasonal pieces like Christmas decorations
  • Fabricating and prototyping small parts and components
  • Engraving personalized designs and logos onto materials like wood, metal, or plastic
  • Producing custom furniture and cabinetry
  • Making gifts and souvenirs, such as keychains, jewelry, and coasters
  • Creating designs and decorations for events, such as weddings, birthdays, and corporate events
  • Cutting and shaping materials for model-making and hobby projects.

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Leo Watts

Leo is a head writer and editor for CNCSourced, having been an engineer for a number of years. I have an MS in Control Engineering and have designed and built several automation systems for PLCs. I built my own DIY CNC machine from scratch, welding metals to make a rigid CNC body, and making CNC control systems for powerful motors. I gained unique experiences both building and working with that CNC machine, and I’ve also published brand-new research on how to cheaply cut granite and stone with a unique trick (check my guide for this). If you have any questions, you can reach me at [email protected]

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