Cheap CNC machines, either pre-assembled or DIY CNC router kits, make taking on DIY builds and projects more accessible than ever before. CNC projects are cool to plan, and even cooler to make yourself. If you own a CNC router, or are just looking for cool ideas for when you get one, we’ve listed some of the coolest, most useful and creative CNC router projects below.
From musical instruments to time-tellers, there’s always something new and interesting to make in the creative world of CNC.
There are a lot of CNC router projects out there, and deciding on your next (or first) one can be hard. We’ve tried to make finding the ideal CNC project easier by listing our favorites.
Whether you’re a hobbyist looking for a fun project to deck out your home, or in the market for profitable CNC router projects that sell, there’s no shortage of cool ideas out there.
Here we list our favorite step-by-step guides to the coolest CNC router projects to check out today, with links to the project files so you can get to crafting with confidence!
Turtle Jigsaw Puzzle — Great simple CNC Project
One of the first things that come to mind when thinking of new CNC router projects is jigsaw puzzles. While most of the time these are rectangular pictures, CNC machining has limitless potential in making more complex shapes. Because of this, jigsaws are a fantastic example of cool CNC router projects.
These puzzles are among the simplest of creations, making them great CNC projects for beginners that still yield impressive results. Though simple to put together, it’s a fantastic wood cutting project that your kids will love, and also makes a great gift.
There are many CNC router animal projects to choose from, including elephants, foxes, and dogs. For this example, we’re going to look at a simple turtle jigsaw.
Like many CNC router projects, the wood needs to be flat and sanded down with grade 180-240 sandpaper.
The main thing to note while preparing the digital image is to remain consistent with any adjustments you make. This is to ensure the pieces slot together in a comfortable, secure, and aesthetically pleasing way, which is especially important for standing puzzles to make sure they don’t fall apart.
Once the turtle is finished and the edges are all sanded down, your jigsaw can now be assembled and disassembled at your leisure.
You can download the free CNC project files here.
Simple Ukulele – Musical Instrument CNC Project
Creating your own musical instruments is one of the coolest things you can do, as there’s nothing cooler than playing music on an instrument you’ve made yourself! And some are easier to make than you might think — not all instruments are as complicated as pianos or guitars.
Ukuleles are one of the simplest instruments to create, making them an ideal CNC wood project for beginners who want to make something fun that they can use and brag about.
While there are many instruments that can be made as 3D printing projects or CNC router projects, the ukulele is among the easiest and most satisfying to see come to completion.
Because this is a working instrument, you’ll need some extra parts:
- Ukulele bridge (can be purchased or 3D printed here)
- Fretboard (can be purchased or 3D printed here)
Once the wood is secured to the machine bed, the body is ready to be CNC cut. This should only take about 20 minutes, so don’t stray too far!
Making the soundboard is where your creativity can shine. The designer recommends 3mm ACP, but it can be cut from any color or patterned material, so just go with whatever looks good to you!
When coaxing the soundboard from the machine, be careful not to apply too much force when removing it to avoid fractures. You can reduce the risk of breaking it by securing the material with tape or any easy-to-remove method.
Once you’ve finished the neck, remove it and set it aside so it’s ready for assembly, following the instructions included in the link below.
When you’re confident that your ukulele body is finished, attach the bridge at the bottom of the body and begin to install the strings following the instructions in the video below.
The customizable soundboard makes for a great self-expression tool. Not to mention the awesome feeling that comes with playing an instrument you built yourself!
The free CNC project files and instructions can be found here.
Cubby Shelves — A practical, useful CNC machining project
Sorting and storing things is a must for anyone who wants to keep organized. And it’s not uncommon for those who regularly work on CNC router projects to have a lot of spare parts, tools and materials lying around.
This is why making your own cubby shelves should be the first thing any CNC enthusiast looks to do. They’re simple to make and assemble, look cool, and make tidying and sorting your bits and pieces a snap.
A set of cubby shelves are a must for anyone who needs a little extra organization or help with storage space, and they’re also always in demand online. So, if you have some wood laying around that you want to turn into some extra cash, this could be a great DIY CNC project for you.
Your chosen material will come down largely to personal taste, depending on how you want the finished product to look and feel. Some have even made theirs out of acrylic!
While the designer recommends eight pieces of 12’’ x 12’’ material at a thickness of at least 0.25’’, this CNC project’s simplicity means that almost any wood will do, as long as it’s durable enough so that it doesn’t crack when the pieces are being put together.
If you have made any adjustments, be sure to make any necessary changes to your design to match the density of your chosen material.
The important thing is to remain consistent. The cubby shelves are essentially a giant 3D jigsaw puzzle, and need to fit together comfortably to ensure stability and reliable usability. You don’t want your shelves wobbling or falling apart!
While no extra hardware is required, you can secure the shelves together with screws or glue as you see fit.
Whether or not you choose to secure your shelves will depend on whether or not you want them to be collapsible for storage and transportation, or if you’re creating them as a permanent fixture.
These cubby shelves are a good CNC project to dive into if you have extra wood lying around and not enough storage space. They are a money saver for anyone who needs extra storage in their workspace, and a money maker for anyone looking for a profitable CNC project they can sell.
You can find the free files for the CNC cubby shelves here.
Teddy Bear Coin Bank
While having way too many coins is a pretty great problem to have, it does not mean everyone is happy to have a ton of loose change covering their surfaces. This is where piggy banks come in.
With some neat engineering, this teddy bear coin bank is a great CNC router project that will make a cute addition to any home or a fantastic personalized gift!
Because this project uses engravable Plexiglas, a laser cutter is also recommended. However, this CNC project can be completed by using any clear material to fit in the opening at the front provided it’s the right size.
Using an editing tool like Adobe Illustrator, outline the shape of the teddy. Be sure to include the hollow belly, eyes, and other details as you see fit.
Any shape can be made like this, but the example image below should be used as a default or starting point if you want to get more creative with your CNC project.
Using your preferred CNC router software, use this template to create the toolpath. The depth can be altered alongside the recommended sizes in the CNC router files here.
The important thing to remember is that everything needs to be aligned correctly. The pieces of the bear will be slotted together, and the parameters need to be equal to ensure a good fit for a better final look.
And there you have it! This cute penny-saving bear will collect your loose change and look good doing it. Because it’s held with magnets, the Plexiglas can be removed and replaced easily to collect your savings.
CNC Scissor Chairs
Anyone familiar with woodworking will tell you how great feels to make your own furniture, and with this simple CNC router project, you’ll see for yourself just how satisfying it can be!
One of the benefits of making your own furniture is being able to pick any color or material you want.
Whether you prefer monochrome or a whole spectrum, just paint some 0.5” plywood however you like before you get to machining.
Very little hardware is needed for these designs, although they can always be secured with wood glue and screws as you see fit.
While there are many CNC router projects for furniture for both beginners and advanced users alike, there’s very little more satisfying and comfortable than creating your own homeware.
Following the instructions found here, you can set your machine to work.
CNC router projects don’t all have to be ornamental or static, and this cryptic calendar is both intriguing and practical.
Using hieroglyphic-like markings and an engraved slider, the pieces line up together to make a functional calendar that not only looks cool, but makes for a cool CNC router project for anyone who wants to make something a little different.
The markings may be indecipherable at first, but the combinations of shapes need to be made perfectly so the numbers are readable when slotted into the correct place. There’s no point in having a cryptic calendar that stays cryptic after all!
A simple way to make the design accurate is to make and then double-check the patterns in your preferred program. The same goes for the slider key, which is made separately.
While black is the easiest color to read, you can paint the markings any color you want to match your chosen wood or preference.
When you’re finished, attach a wall hanger and you’ve got your very own cryptic calendar to hang up wherever you see fit!
For those looking for profitable CNC router projects, this is one with great marketability. Cryptic calendars are a popular concept, but they’re very difficult to find for sale on online retailers.
Because of this, you could make some easy pennies by stocking up on materials and selling cryptic calendars yourself. Extra money can be made by making to order; customizing the materials and colors for friends, neighbors, and online shoppers.
Find the free files, instructions, and videos on how to make your own cryptic calendar here, alongside the recommended materials and toolsets.
If you’re confident in your engineering skills and are looking for something a little more challenging for your next CNC router project, you can also check out the design for an automated cryptic calendar here.
Be honest, how cool are the words ‘equatorial sundial’ together? CNC router projects aren’t just for modern ideas and new designs. Sometimes the best ideas are millennia old, as is the case with this cool-looking sundial.
Just like the cubby shelves, the pieces are mostly slotted and glued together after machining. While not quite as simple as a giant 3D puzzle, the construction of this project is easier than you’d think at first glance.
The equatorial and meridian rings fit together and are mounted to the base. When installing, the sundial needs to be in an open space facing true north. However, exactly where you face your sundial and how to adjust it will depend on where you are.
(True north is different from magnetic north. You can find a guide to making your equatorial sundial face the right direction here.)
While far from the most accurate of time-telling devices – especially by today’s standards – the equatorial sundial makes for a beautiful garden ornament and a nostalgic look back at how we used to ascertain the time.
It may not be exact to the second, but it certainly beats having to squint through the sun’s glare off a phone screen!
For instructions on setting up your sundial accurately, the free CNC project files and in-depth explanations can be found here.