How Do I Choose the Best Hobby CNC Router?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Man with a drill
Man with a drill

Before choosing the hobby CNC router that is best for you, carefully consider how you will use the unit, how often you will use it, and where you intend to store the unit in your workshop. A hobby CNC router is generally smaller than professional units, which will limit the size of materials that you can machine. Hobby units also tend to have fewer advanced features, such as self-changing bits, so you will need to figure out what features are high priority for your needs, and which ones you can do without.

Be sure to do a bit of research into various hobby CNC router software options as well. A CNC, or computer numeric control machine, must be used in conjunction with a computer that can run the appropriate programs for controlling the machine. Some routers will include a computer with the purchase, while others must be hooked up to a machine not included with the purchase. If you already own a computer you intend to use with the hobby CNC router, be sure the computer is compatible with the machine's requirements, and the appropriate software can be loaded onto the computer.

A router is designed to cut away material from a large piece of wood, metal, plastic, or other material. You will need to decide what materials you are likely to cut, as this will dictate what kind of machine you will need to purchase. Some machines are equipped to handle cutting of various materials, while others are intended for one type of material only. You will also need to think about the size of the pieces of material you are likely to cut at any point. The size of the machine's bed, as well as the overhead clearance, will dictate how large of a piece your hobby CNC router can cut. Be sure to buy a machine that can handle the largest piece of material you are likely to cut for your hobby purposes.

Some hobby CNC router models are designed for use on a workbench, while other units are larger and feature an independent stand or support. Take measurements in your workspace to determine which design is most appropriate for your space; remember that the machine can take up a significant amount of space on a workbench, so you may need to find a place to store the machine when it is not in use. Standalone units will also take up a fair amount of space in a workshop, so these units are usually only suitable for larger spaces.

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      Man with a drill