Most people associate CNC with industrial, room-sized CNC machines costing tens of thousands of dollars and used for only the largest projects. However, CNC routers, especially DIY CNC routers you can assemble yourself at home, offer bitesize and affordable alternatives that hobbyists can experiment with.
Rather than cutting metals like CNC mills, these DIY CNC routers use less powerful routers as spindles to cut wood, as well as soft aluminium, plastics, foams and sometimes glass.
These DIY CNC machines offer great precision and repeatability, offering key advantages in both speed and accuracy over cutting wood by panel saw or boring machine. One-off projects can be created just as effectively as creating 100 identical parts, with fantastic repeatability and no human error.
As a result, they’ve seen wide use among professionals and hobbyists across wooden frame, furniture, interior, engineering, panel and other wooden manufacturing, as well as in the cabinet making, boatmaking, engraving, signage, engineering and musical instrument industries.
As CNC router kits, you’ll have to use your DIY skills to build these, with most able to go from unboxing to cutting in just a few hours.
The best DIY CNC routers
There are a number of fantastic DIY CNC routers around now, with great precision, consistency and durability, with ever-expanding compatible materials on increasingly powerful yet affordable routers.
Here are a few that we highly recommend, with links to where they can be purchased at the best price.
BobsCNC Evolution 4 / 3 — High quality and reliable DIY CNC router kits
- Evo 4 price: $1,098 – Available on Amazon here
- Evo 3 price: $898 — Available on Amazon here
- Build area: Evo 4: 24″ x 24″ x 3.3″ / Evo 3: 18″ x 16″ x 3.3″
- Repeatability: up to 0.002″
A premium, supremely reliable and powerful DIY CNC router, the Evolution 4 is BobsCNC’s latest router, with almost identical specs to the Evo 3 but with a larger 24” x 24” build area.
Founded by 4 lifelong friends – including namesake Bob – BobsCNC exude strong community values and state their intent on their website to create products that foster great friendships between clients, customers and users.
Both DIY routers have an immensely precise 0.002”-0.004” repeatability for accurate projects, able to handle even the toughest projects requiring intricate and precise cuts. The rigid birch plywood frame provides much-needed stability, though it may take a while to assemble – at least a number of hours. BobsCNC however provide excellent and detailed guides on their YouTube channel which will make building your DIY CNC router a breeze.
The Evo 3 has a smaller build area, at 18” x 16”, with both machines able to reach 3.3” depth on the Z axis. Both machines can use the widely used GRBL software, but you can also use more premium software options like VCarve if you are willing to pay more. There are also a number of useful upgrades you for both machines depending on your CNC goals.
Overall, for a higher price both the BobsCNC Evo 3 and Evo 4 offer great precision, durability and are reliable DIY CNC routers for even your most ambitious CNC projects.
Sainsmart Genmitsu 3018 PRO — Great low cost CNC router
- Price: $250 — Available on Amazon here
- Build area: 300 x 180 x 45 mm
One of the best DIY CNC routers under $300, Sainsmart’s 3018 PRO offers a large build area capable of cutting even large wood projects, and anchored down effectively with its strong aluminium frame.
Beyond just wood however, this versatile CNC router kit can cut a variety of plastics, soft aluminium, acrylics, PVC and PCBs – making it a great one-stop shop for all your soft material cutting needs. As a DIY CNC router, it’ll take a few hours to assemble, though Sainsmart excel with their in-depth guides and active customer service to help you in the event that you run into any trouble.
The CNC router uses the opensource GRBL software running on Arduino to control movements, and you can control your Sainsmart Genmitsu 3018 PRO offline with their offline controller that comes with the kit. The latest version features an upgraded adapter for safer longer use performance.
Overall, it’s a great cheap CNC router kit for both beginners and experienced hobbyists for all your creative crafting projects.
Maslow CNC Jumpstart Kit
- Price: $549 — Available on Amazon here
- Build area: 4 x 8 foot
Maslow CNC first burst onto the scene when they launched their Kickstarter campaign in 2017 for a huge CNC router under $500. The project was a huge success, raising $317,547 and ushering in the first generation of Maslow CNC routers.
Maslow CNC’s Jumpstart Kit includes their basic Maslow kit, as well as a pre-made sled and router bit to jump right into your favorite CNC projects. The 18-inch custom sled speeds up your CNC process, as well as improving movement and accelerating build time. It is worth noting however that this kit does not include the wooden frame.
It’s absolutely massive, with up to 4 x 8 foot dimensions. At these sizes even the largest woodworking projects are made simple, as you can produce one larger part rather than splitting it up into several pieces.
Being an open source DIY CNC router, you’re free to modify, experiment and tinker however you’d like, and shape your own CNC adventure wherever your creativity takes you. Though you’re free to create anything you wish, MaslowCNC include a flash drive with some free projects you may want to try out, as well as the CNC software.
If you have any problems during setup, you can contact customer support who will help with any issues. Many Maslow CNC users highlight its usefulness in sign making and similar industries.
Mysweety DIY CNC 3018-Pro — 2 in 1 CNC Router for CNC and laser engraving
- Price: $330 — Available on Amazon here
- Build area: 300 x 180 x 45 mm
A 3-axis DIY CNC router featuring a powerful spindle as well as a 5.5-watt laser engraving module, this versatile CNC router kit is perfect for wood carving and engraving. Hobbyists looking for a versatile machine that does both to a decent standard will enjoy the variety of options Mysweety’s machine offers.
The 2-in-1 spindle can handle soft aluminium, plastics, acrylics, PCBs and also claims to be able to carve ceramic/stone, giving you a wide range of choices for your CNC router projects. However, being a cheap CNC DIY router designed for your desktop, it cannot handle tougher metals like stainless steel, iron or silver. As a kit you’ll need to assemble yourself, though if you do run into any problems you can contact Mysweety’s support team who will try to help.
Featuring a powerful control board and 775 spindle motor, it can spin at over 10,000 RPM and can handle more powerful spindles without much issue. The offline controller can store 1GB worth of files and G-codes for future offline use, a real help in situations where connecting to a computer can be difficult.
With the kit you get the router, as well as the offline controller remote, 10 different router bits for varying projects and uses, and all the plates and extrusion rods you’ll need. It’s another great DIY CNC router for beginners. Some however might prefer a purely carving CNC router kit, and be dissuaded by the machine’s multiple capabilities.
Sainsmart Genmitsu 3018 PROver
- Price: $349 — Available on Amazon here
- Build area: 300 x 180 x 45 mm
An excellent CNC router kit for beginners, the Sainsmart Genmitsu 3018 PROver is the more premium version to the standard 3018 Pro. Simple to operate, the 3018 PROver makes a great DIY router for those who want a stress-free machine to ascend the CNC learning curve.
Durable and fairly low cost, hobbyists and beginners won’t mind that it doesn’t pack the power that some more premium CNC routers do, instead offering a low-risk entry into DIY CNC and letting you iron out any mistakes in your first projects without denting your wallet too much.
The ergonomic 1.8-inch display screen makes it easy to instruct the machine without needing a PC, and the aluminium body offers great stability for a low-cost CNC router. The 775 motor spindle spins up to 10,000 RPM, so everyone from hobbyists to engineers, crafters and woodworkers will find the 3018 PROver a great addition to their workshops.