CNC Router Easy Guide [ Dozens of Articles and Resources ]

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CNC Router [ CNCCookbook Complete Guide ]

CNC Router users, this is your CNCCookbook home page for information and resources on your favorite wood cnc machine.

What is a CNC Router?

CNC Routers are a type of CNC Machine that is characterized by a larger flat bed where the material you’re cutting is laid and a spindle that travels over the work material on a gantry (2 rails at 90 degrees to one another).  In lower-end machines, that spindle is often a hand-held router, hence the name CNC Router.

You can see the two rails and the De Walt trim router in this photo very clearly:

shapeoko cnc router

CNC Routers are sometimes referred to as Gantry Mills because they are milling machines and the crossed rails create a Gantry that carries the spindle around an XY coordinate space.  The motion of the spindle is controlled by a computer.  CNC stands for computer numerical control.

These CNC machines are broadly capable of milling, drilling, engraving, carving, and cutting the material you’re working with.  They can cut accurate parts, but where they really excel is in things like carving and engraving which are hard to do any other way.

What is a CNC Router used for?

CNC Routers can work on wide but not very high dimensions.  The Shapeoko CNC Router pictured above has a work envelope of X = 17.5″, Y = 17.5″, and Z = 4″.  So they are typically used to make relatively flat things, like signs.  In fact, they’re great for wood working and plastics in general.  Sometimes they’re even referred to as CNC Wood Routers.

They can also be used to cut metal, although non-gantry CNC Mills are often better at maintaining tight tolerances required by metal parts.

How much does a CNC Router cost?

At the very low end, they can be less than $1000.  At the opposite end of the scale, huge industrial machines intended to cut metal can be very expensive indeed.  They easily run way over $100,000.

The most expensive machines generally fall into the category of metal-cutting CNC Routers like the Haas GR-series and machines designed to almost completely automate wood-cutting tasks like the Thermwood Auto-Processor.  These kinds of machines may have multiple cutting heads as well as larger tables and automatic loading systems.

Check out our article on How Much Do CNC Machines Cost to learn more.

haas gantry mill

Haas GR-Series Gantry Mill.  Note size of control panel at right.

What’s the difference between a CNC Mill and a CNC Router

The primary difference is the crossed rail gantry.  A CNC Router is a type of CNC Mill, often called a Gantry Mill when you want to emphasize the relationship.  To really compare the two and see which might make sense for you, check out our CNC Mill vs Router article.


CNC Router Feeds and Speeds Calculator

G-Wizard CNC Router Feeds and Speeds Calculator

This is software that will make anyone a Better CNC’er, plus it has a number of exclusive features designed specifically for CNC Router users:

  • Giant Wood Species Database to fine tune your feeds and speeds.
  • Support for special CNC Router cutters like downcut, compression, and more.
  • Support for vacuum tables.

And much more.

DIY CNC Router

Everything you need to know to build your own DIY CNC Router

CNC Router Buyer’s Guides and Help

cnc router buyer's guide

Affordable CNC Router

affordable cnc router

Help Selecting and Using an Affordable CNC Router

So DIY is too much work but an industrial cnc router is out of the budget.  You need to find the best value.  Take heart, Affordable CNC Routers are available and they’re quite good!

Industrial CNC Router

industrial cnc router

Industrial CNC Routers: When you’re ready for Business Class performance


CNC Router DXF Files and Plans


DXF Files for your CAD Program

Because art is hard to come by if you’re not an artist, and even if you are, it’s a lot of work.

More CNC Router Resources

CNC Router Resources


Click through to see our giant collection of CNC Router articles.  Every article from our blog that relates to CNC Routers is here.


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Recently updated on April 12th, 2024 at 01:19 pm