We sent men to the Moon with it and much more, but CNC can also be such a decadent luxury. No matter what you make with CNC, it takes on that certain look of mechanical perfection. Nature is filled with organic curves, so when we see CNC’d objects, they’re particularly profound in their man-made contrast.
Here are 9 completely frivolous things you could make on your expensive CNC machine, just because you can, and because they are so cool:
1. Gear Art
We sell a lot of copies of Art Fenerty’s Gearotic Gear Design Software. Some of it goes to legitimate Horological (clock making) pursuits. But I suspect a great many Gearotic users have a guilty pleasure–they like making unusual gear designs for art’s sake (and I do not mean Mr Fenerty’s sake):
Because you’ll need a storage vault for all the other frivolous CNC projects you make…
Light switch complicator. Essential for machinists and engineers. Because we can.
I gotta HEART these gears…
Gears are not easy to design, but Art’s nifty Gearotic software makes short work of them.
2. CNC’d Spinning Top
Any manner of toy is fun, but some are mesmerizing. A CNC’d spinning top can be made with sufficient precision that it is very well balanced indeed. What could be more frivolous or more fun?
Who knows–with a little luck, a little design talent, some superior workmanship, you might even make money on Kickstarter with this sort of thing.
3. The Ultimate CNC Yoyo
A step up in difficulty from spinning tops are precision-made yoyos. They’re precisely balanced, weighted just right for maximum performance, and even fitted with ball bearings so the string is free as it has never been free before. Yes, creating the ultimate custom yoyo is a project worthy of any machinist’s Most-Frivolous Project bucket list:
Build a Yoyo that matches your favorite mag wheel design? Yes, please!
Anodize and laser engrave to bring out the full bling potential…
Without CNC, these yoyos are just not happening!
Want more yoyo goodness? Check out the interview with Saturn Precision Yoyos, they did all this crazy yoyo work. There are many more CNC craftsmen toiling away to perfect yoyos that give mere mortals super human yoyo potential. We salute them!
4. Ridiculously Ornamental Hand Tools
There’s an entire sub-genre dedicated to making Hand Tools that are so beautiful, you’d never dare use them. I think they’re absolutely wonderful, even though I’d never use them either. Consider this little plumb bob:
There’s a little company on Etsy dedicated to making these little jewels, with many variations available…
Love this little guy from the same outfit…
5. Tattoo the Mona Lisa With Your Laser Engraver
Okay, I took a little poetic license there–Apple products are not the Mona Lisa, even if some owners insist on treating them as Modern Art. Johnny Ives and the Design Community would have a fit about any decoration you might apply to their minimalist masterpieces, but Art is in the eye of the beholder. Besides some people really dig tattoos, so why not Tattoo your Mac? You know, give it some attitude. Some swag. You know, SWAG, as in “Swagger.” Give the peeps at Starbucks something to stare at besides the fruit on the back of your Apple iDevice. They’ll appreciate it.
From In a Flash Laser (cute!)…
6. Commit Firearm Frivolity
You know you want to. You’ve got this favorite shooter, but it needs a little ornamentation. CNC is the perfect answer to your problem. Check it out:
This Glock has got me hexed!
Matching grips and knife are very cool…
Almost anything is possible with CNC. You’re limited only by the boundaries of your own taste and design sense.
7. Repeat After Me: There are NO Zombies!
I know, I know, you might need this stuff for something other than Zombies. For example, there was this awesome, very realistic movie called “Red Dawn,” where the Russians and Cubans parachuted…
Um, but I digress.
Tactical keychains (Hi Brad!), Tactical hairbrushes, Tactical toothpicks (probably better call them flechettes to make sure people get that they really are TACTICAL), Tactical You-Name-It. For Heaven’s Sake there are a lot of “Tactical” things out there these days. But, let’s face it. The darned stuff is cool. Men are drawn to it like Moths to Flame. And much of it is ideal for a Frivolous CNC Project or two. For example, you must have a seriously cool bottle opener, right? Check out the Bottle Grenade:
Right. Now that is some Tactical Kit right there mates…
Don’t just copy the Bottle Grenade, make your own darned Tactical Thang. It could be an EDC (Every Day Carry for the uninitiated) tool that fits on your keychain and allows you to disassemble an SR-71 Blackbird down to the last nut and bolt because it is so powerful. It could be the world’s ultimate Carabiner Ceychain (sic) Crazy Combo Carry (um, ran out of C’s) Thing:
Thanks Mike and Peter, your Carabiner Things really are awesome!
By the way, I should mention right here and now that whatever it is you make, if you make it out of Titanium it is Automatically Tactical no matter what it is! How cool is that?
8. Slightly Less Frivolous: Extravagant Knives and Flashlights
Are we teetering on the too frivolous end of the spectrum? Do you need a little more practical value out of your hard work on one of these projects? No idea what you’d do with a Tactical Yoyo? Okay, let’s back away from the precipice for a moment and consider two time honored categories for CNC work that are much less frivolous. They’re mostly frivolous in that the amount of work and expense is not needed to create an object that cuts or shines a line and is useful. But, that amount of work and expense is FUN, so who cares?
There are entire sub-cultures focused on custom knives and custom flashlights. I can’t possibly do justice with a couple of pictures, so I’m just going to throw out a couple of pics and strongly suggest that if you like them even a little, you Google the heck out of these areas. You have no idea how many frivolous ours of pleasure can be spent salivating over this sort of thing. I’m only just beginning to realize the potential loss of productivity here. So dig in and don’t be shy about it.
Meanwhile, allow me to proffer a few piccies to get the juices flowing:
The Grimsmo Norseman. Attention to every detail and a YouTube channel where he shows you how he makes them. What could be better?
How about this gorgeous flashlight? It’s from an entire CNCCookbook blog post about CNC’ing flashlights…
9. Men’s Jewelry
Somewhere, some joker is giggling uncontrollably just at the thought of Men’s Jewelry. Can there by anything more frivolous? Well, there can, but not much. Still, it’s fertile ground for interesting CNC projects, so we must cover it.
Once upon a time, the well-dressed man sported a wrist watch as their primary jewelry. I don’t want to say those days are gone, but many of us that used to be watch fanatics mostly tell time from our phones these days. That means the Men’s Jewelry department has had to get a bit more clever. For example, there is the odd genre of almost-tactical (there’s that word again) money clips:
Carbon Fiber and machined aluminum money clip…
Rings of all kinds are a distinct possibility. Being a life-long gearhead, I’ve been digging on these tire tread rings for men:
This one looks like an off-road tread pattern…
Of course there’s no end of interesting Dog Tag Charms out there that could be CNC’d:
And if I ever wore suits, I’d want to 3D print something like this:
There’s not much you can’t do if you have access to CNC and 3D Printing. The point here was to highlight some things that are just plain fun. Depending on the eye of the beholder, they may be frivolous or they may be indispensable. Ideas abound. All of these photos came from our CNCCookbook Pinterest boards where I’ve collected thousands of photos of such things, thereby frivolously pursuing the frivolous.
What sort of fun CNC projects have you been working on? Anything Tactical in the works? Please share!
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Bob is responsible for the development and implementation of the popular G-Wizard CNC Software. Bob is also the founder of CNCCookbook, the largest CNC-related blog on the Internet.
haha Thanks buddy!
Dude, Bottle Grenades rock!
Hi Brad! (lol)
Great article Bob.
“‘”Can there by anything more frivolous than ‘”Men’s Jewelry?”‘”
Made me smile 🙂
I consider my EDC tactical flashlight to be my jewelry!
Hello I am new to cnc making. Where do I find building projects if I already have a cnc?
Hi Ryan. All of our projects are under the “Projects” menu above.