Where to Sell Your CNC Projects

person on phone in front of map with pins in it and text that reads best places to sell you cnc projects

Who doesn’t like to earn a little extra dough?

Whether you have a CNC router, laser engraver or plasma cutter, selling your projects locally or online can bring in a pretty penny.

But where is the best place to sell those cool creations?

We picked the best spots to set up shop and turn a tidy profit with tips to help you make the most of each marketplace.

Fire up the CNC, it’s time to make some money!

Best Places to Sell Your CNC Projects

You can sell your products both locally and on the internet. Billions of people buy and sell goods online thanks to the widespread internet access. Here are some of the places you should explore:

Facebook Marketplace

hand holding a phone that shows the facebook login page

Facebook Marketplace is one of the best and easiest ways to market your CNC projects to a local audience for free.

Through the marketplace, people can browse through your product portfolio and message or call you with offers. Getting started is super easy, especially if you’re already a Facebook user. You can use your personal account or create one for your business.

All you need are a couple nice pictures of your CNC projects, a thorough description of the products, their conditions (new), price, and where willing buyers can pick them from.

The pictures are very important because they are what will help get people to share and tag others on your listing. Spend a little time getting good pictures.

Locally, it is best to meet buyers face to face and cash is always best. You can sell and ship products through Facebook Marketplace, but Facebook charges a 5% fee.

Tip: Be careful accepting some forms of payment such as PayPal or Venmo. People have been known to dispute transactions leaving sellers without their payment or their product.


Craigslist has been around since 1995 and is still one of the most popular online marketplaces to sell all sorts of items. This makes it a great place to sell your CNC projects and best of all there is not cost for selling.

It has taken a hit in popularity since the introduction of Facebook Marketplace, but plenty of buyers and sellers still use the site.

Creating a Craigslist ad is so simple that you don’t even need a Craigslist account.

How to list your CNC projects on Craigslist

  • Go to the Craigslist website and set it to your current city or area
  • Click on the ‘Create a Posting’ link
  • Answer ‘what type of posting is this’. In your case select ‘ for sale by owner’
  • Select your item category. For you that would be ‘furniture by owner’ or ‘arts & craft’
  • Write a clear and precise product description. Add price. Provide your contact information. Add mode of payment. Always prefer cash transactions. Meeting your customers face to face is safer.
  • Upload photos of your project and publish your ad.
the new york craigslist home page

Once posted you will simply need to monitor your email for interested buyers.

Craigslist is a great zero fee option for selling CNC products online locally.

Craft Fairs

Craft fairs or craft shows are local craft events organized for artists to showcase and sell their products. Craft fairs are a superb way to show off your brand to the locals and hopefully make some sales while you’re at it.

CNC products can get a lot of attention at craft fairs because often there isn’t much competition. Many of the other vendors at the show will be focused on things such as jewelry, knitting and painting.

Get your products to stand out and put yourself out there and you can make sales even after the fair is over. Craft shows allow you to bring your CNC projects to the masses, network with peers, and acquire a new set of skills and techniques.

Most craft fairs and shows will charge a fee to display your wares. They can range from $10 to hundreds of dollars, it varies a lot by event. Bigger venues with more traffic are going to be more costly to attend but they also have the potential for much larger sales.

Some tips for selling at craft fairs:

  • Make sure that you’re adequately prepared before the show
  • Be friendly with your potential customers. Friendly conversation is a great way to generate sales.
  • Showcase your best work so more people come visit your booth or table.
  • Pricing your products correctly can be tricky, but don’t undercut yourself. Make sure you are turning a profit and account for your time as well.
  • Keep track of what sells. Keeping good records will help you plan for future events.
  • Hand out your business cards to increase your brand awareness.

Flea Markets

various things for sale at a flea market

Flea market are an outdoor street market where organizers rent spaces to vendors to sell their products. Some events will be indoors, but most flea markets are done outside in the warmer months.

Vendors commonly sell secondhand or used products at flea markets, but this doesn’t mean your unique brand-new CNC creations can’t be sold. You can make a pretty penny selling your CNC projects at flea markets the same way you would at craft shows.

Flea markets tend to have lower space rental fees which can increase your overall profits.

Many flea markets are temporary and open mainly in the summer late spring to early fall depending on your local climate. Some of the larger markets will be open year-round.

Renting a space in a flea markets will vary in cost much like craft fairs but can be anywhere between $10 to a couple hundred.

Tip: Check local newspapers and Facebook groups to find nearby markets to sell your wares and don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family if they have visited any that were particularly busy.

Craft Stores

Craft stores can be an interesting and extremely profitable proposition if done right.

The first step is finding a good craft store. A quick Google of “craft stores near me” may do the trick. Another good way to find the best craft stores to sell your projects is by talking to other sellers at events. This is only one of the reasons why networking with other makers is helpful.

Not all craft stores are created equal. They vary in the type and amount of fees they charge as well as their rules. Some may be strict on keeping your product stocked and others might not allow you to setup shop if someone else is already selling similar products there.

All this means you need to put some boots on the ground and get out there and check some local shops out. The best ones are close to you for easy stocking or not far from your normal commute.

Don’t be afraid to ask shop owners for suggestions to increase your sales. They see firsthand what people want and it will be best to stay on their good side after all.

Our best tip is to try out multiple craft stores over time and find out which ones work best for you and your product. Different locales will have varying tastes that may or may not cater to your specific product. Find your target market.

Yard Sales

yard sale sign on a mailbox with people browsing in the background

Think of it like a pop-up craft store and a good excuse to get rid of some stuff you don’t need at the same time. A good old fashion garage sale can be an excellent opportunity to kick start your side hustle.

Even better if you are near an area that gets a decent amount of traffic. If possible put up signs to advertise that are easy to read at a distance. Some towns or cities even hold town wide yard sales which brings even more traffic and potential customers in.

Make sure you price everything ahead of time and expect people to negotiate. Seriously, people can be brutal. I once saw an old lady offer a dime for a $10 item. And it sold! Don’t be afraid to stand firm on your prices as they won’t be normal yard sale fare but giving in a little is likely to improve your overall sales numbers.

Special events

people browsing tents at a special event

Local festivals, fairs, and events offer valuable opportunities to sell your CNC projects. Often people are in a happy mood and ready to buy more than they usually would.

What might seem like a small town event can be huge for the local community and bring out a large portion of the population. More eyes on your products means more potential customers.

Fees to set up shop at these types of events tends to be low so take advantage and make a killing even if the event is only once per year.

Some sample events to look for that usually have vendor spots available:

  • State, county and local fairs
  • Holiday events such as Halloween and 4th of July
  • Farmers markets
  • Chili cook offs
  • Food truck festivals
  • Music festivals


Laptop computer displaying logo of Etsy

Etsy is a popular global marketplace for artisans with nearly 82 million monthly active users. The platform is dedicated to sellers and buyers of “handmade, vintage, custom, and unique” products.

This platform is crawling with buyers who are willing to splurge on unique items on sale. Don’t expect cookie cutter type products to do well here.

Your best bet to gain customers on Etsy is to highly customize your art to make sure nothing like it exists on the platform or any other place. When done correctly, sellers can often get top dollar for their products.

The best products on Etsy are unique. Etsy is a great market to sell products that cater to a specific audience. Custom board game tiles, 3d topographic maps of specific locales and personalized products of all kinds are just some examples of the types of things sold on Etsy.

Having the right product to list might not be simple but creating an Etsy account is super easy:

  • On the Etsy, landing page click the ‘Sell on Etsy’ link
  • Edit your shop’s settings including language, location, and your preferred currency among other customizations
  • Add a creative name that communicates your brand to potential buyers
  • List your products with titles, descriptions, photos, prices and how much inventory you have
  • Add shipping information for your products. Include the shipping fee, where the product is being shipped from, the time it will take to process the order and the weight of the product, and size.
  • Add a payment method. Most electronic payment methods including PayPal are accepted on Etsy. Select your preferred payment method.

Etsy charges a transaction fee of 6.5% for every product sold on its platform.


magnifying glass looking at ebay website

EBay is huge player in the ecommerce industry. Recent statistics show that EBay is used by nearly 35% of all active US mobile users. That’s a huge group of potential buyers.

EBay also has the potential to open your side hustle up to a global market giving you limitless possibilities.

You can list your item for sale as either a standard bidding auction or for a buy it now price. Buy it now prices tend to work best if you will be consistently offering the same products.

One of the best things about using EBay is how easy it is to set up a listing. Typical EBay listings requires a photo, product description, price, payment method, and shipping information.

EBay does a great job of integrating shipping and keeping the overall shipping cost low which helps drive more sales.

EBay takes a percentage of nearly every sale, ranging from 1.5% and 15%.


Amazon logotype printed on cardboard box

Everyone knows Amazon. Over 197 million people around the world visit Amazon.com every month, making it by far, the most popular ecommerce site worldwide.

You can monetize most of your CNC project ideas on Amazon under their different categories and go about creating unique products for the worldwide market.

Furniture, arts & craft, ornaments, customized signs, and personalized nameplates, among others, can sell pretty quickly on Amazon.

Setting up an Amazon listing is simple but you should take care to accurately list your products to make sure that customers get what is expected.

To create a listing you will need to:

  • Adding your product title
  • Uploading high-quality images
  • List any variations of your products i.e. color, measurements, material, et al
  • Create a detailed description of the item including a bulleted summary of the most important features

You may sell your products on your Amazon customer account or create a seller’s account.

Amazon takes a cut of between 6% and 15% of every sale made on the platform. The percentage can go to as high as 45% for Amazon devices accessories.

While the platform is huge. You need to be ready for the potential demand. Because of this, it is best to make sure you have your business running smoothly before selling on Amazon.

Things to consider as a seller

Identifying where you can sell your CNC projects solves only a part of the puzzle. The other equally important part is getting the item ready for sale and shipping.  Even after finding the ideal outlet for your products, there are a couple of things you need to consider when selling. They include:

Project materials and supplies

CNC projects can be created on wood, plastic, light metals (aluminum, brass, and copper), and acrylics among others. You will want to create your projects on high quality materials, but make sure you don’t overpay because buyers like a good bargain as well.


First impressions are important. Besides its main job of protecting your product from damage during shipment, the packaging is the first introduction the customer has to your brand.

Make it memorable. This can mean custom printed labels or laser engraved packaging but no matter which way you go try to stand out.

And toss a few business cards in the box. Happy customers are often willing to spread the word of your quality work. Make it easy for them.

Including a card or code that offers 5 or 10% off another purchase can also be a great way to keep the customers you already have coming back for more.


Shipping can be costly and makes selling your products a little more complicated. This is why it is a great idea to start locally and work your way up to online only marketplaces.

Pay close attention to the sizes and weights of your products because they can make big changes in your shipping cost which can end up hurting your bottom line.

Warranties and returns

What happens when a product is faulty when it reaches the buyer? Can you refund their money or send them a replacement quickly?

It is bound to happen eventually when you start your own business. Make sure you are prepared for it to happen and act quickly. Quality customer service can make or break the customers opinion of your brand.

Make sure you clearly list your warranty and return policies because you will be expected to follow them and customers take them into account when making purchasing decisions. 

That’s plenty of ideas and tips about where to sell your projects, but what if you don’t know what to build?

Then check out our guide to the Best CNC Projects That Really Sell to kickstart your imagination.

Beginners Guide to Rapid Traverse for CNCs

What is rapid traverse?

Rapid traverse, sometimes referred to as rapid transverse or rapid travel, is used for moving a machine tool around the workpiece as fast as possible. 

Depending on the type of machine tool, this is accomplished in different ways. See below for more information related to CNC and manual machines.

How fast does the machine move in rapid traverse?

industrial cnc machine
Industrial grade CNC mill

First let’s talk about speed.

Rapid traverse speeds vary based on the machine.  A good quality desktop CNC will usually be capable of speeds around 100 inches per minute (IPM).

Larger, industrial grade CNC can often move at speeds of 1,000 inches per minute or more. No matter what type of CNC you are using, you will want to make sure that nothing is in the way when these moves are being made in a CNC machine. 

Crashing a CNC at normal speeds is bad enough, crashing a CNC at rapid speeds could be catastrophic.

Can rapid traverse speed be adjusted?

cnc control board with rapid travel dial identified with arrow
Rapid Override Dial

Most CNC machine controls have an adjustment to dial back the rapid travel speed. This is often referred to as Rapid Override or something similar. This override allows the CNC operator to adjust the rapid speed, usually in the form of a percentage of the full speed.

Some shops need to run full speed. Time is money after all, but many machine shops will dial things back a little for safety.

How does the CNC move during rapid travel?

straight line movement example

Newer CNCs will move in a true straight line fashion, however some older CNCs can process the command in different ways.

Some machines may only move one axis at a time while others will move in other strange ways. The most important thing is to be aware how your specific CNC control will process the rapid travel command and create your program to account for this movement.

Because various machines will process commands in different ways, this means you may not be able to take a program and a setup and run it on a different machine.

What is the G code for rapid traverse?

rapid traverse code example

The G code for rapid movement is G00. This applies to both CNC mills and lathes. In the example above, G00 is the code for rapid traverse and the X and Y values are the position that the machine is to rapidly move to.

Rapid movement can happen in the Z axis as well.

Want to learn more about CNC G codes?

What should you think about when using rapid travel?

When you are zipping your CNC back and forth think about:

  • Part location – it can be easy to forget about a step in your part and attempt to move over the top of you part at a Z height that is too low
  • Fixturing – similar to your part location, remember that you often have clamps, vises, etc. that will be in your machine and it’s best to avoid them
  • Removing material – don’t cut in rapid mode, it will result in size issues and poor surface finishes at best

Rapid traverse in manual machining

bridgeport milling machine with rapid power feed pointed out
Power feed marked by red arrow

Many manual machines, such as a Bridgeport mill, use a power feed to rapidly move around the workpiece. These power feeds are not as fast as a CNCs rapid moves but they are still much quicker than the standard speed which usually involves cranking a handle to position the machine.

Quick Guide to the G21 CNC G Code [Tips and Tricks]

a graphic of a cnc machine with text that says learn g code today G21 metric mode




Metric mode


Modal - stays on until changed


The machine will interpret all size and location values as metric

What does a G21 code do?

A G21 code will switch the CNC into metric mode. Once the G21 code is used, all sizes and locations in the program will be treated as millimeter values until the mode is changed.

This type of G code is called a modal command.

Modal commands remain in effect until they are canceled. This holds true even if you restart your program. Until you cancel the command or change it, the G21 code would remain.

This can cause trouble if you aren’t paying attention.

For this reason, most CNC programs will be created with start-up or safety commands. The safety commands make sure that the machine is always in the correct modes.

When to use a G21 code?

A G21 code can be found at any point within the program but the most likely location is at the start of the program or at the start of a new block of code.

For instance, you might switch the CNC into metric mode by using the G21 command immediately before starting to cut a slot in the part.

The machine could already be in metric mode or it could be in inch mode but placing the G21 command immediately before the new block of code for the slot operation will make sure you are working in the correct units. All kinds of things can happen when machining and it isn’t uncommon for the machine to crash or some part of a program needs to be re-run.

Placing the safety commands (G21 in this case) at the start of the new block of code makes sure your machine does exactly what was intended.

What to think about when using a G21 code?

When you use a G21 code you simply need to be aware of what type of units you are working in. Most machine shops will work in either inches or mm.

There are definitely some shops out there that will use mixed units, but in most cases CNC programs will be written in one or the other for every program they make.

Know whether your parts are in inches or millimeters.

4 G21 code examples and descriptions of what they mean

For the examples below, we will assume your machine is in absolute mode (G90). If you are working in incremental mode (G91), the resulting movements will be different. Check out our guides to G90 and G91 G codes to understand the difference between the two movement types.

Example #1

N010 G21 G00 X3.5 Y4.2 Z1.3

N010 is line number 5 of the program.

G21 sets the units as metric

G00 sets the movement mode as rapid travel.

X3.5 Y4.2 Z1.3 is the location the machine will move to. If the Z location of the machine was already at 1.3 inches, then the Z axis will not move. This is the same for each axis.

Example #2

N125 G21

N130 G01 X3.5 Y4.2 Z1.3

N125 is line number 125 of the program.

G21 sets the units as metric

G01 sets the movement mode as straight line (linear interpolation).

X3.5 Y4.2 Z1.3 is the location the machine will move to. If the Z location of the machine was already at 1.3 inches, then the Z axis will not move. This is the same for each axis.

This example is at a different spot in the program (N010 vs N125) but will act the same as the previous example with the exception that this example will not move in a rapid travel manner.

Notice that the G21 code can be called out on the previous line and it will still be in effect on the next line.

Example #3

N025 G20 G00 X1.0

N030 G21 X1.0

N035 X25.4

N025 is line number 25 of the program

G20 sets the units as inches

G00 sets the movement mode as rapid travel

X1.0 moves the machine to a location where X=1.0 inches

N030 is line number 30 of the program

G21 sets the units as millimeters

X1.0 moves the machine to a location where X=1.0 mm

Example #4

N010 G80 G40

N020 G21 G90

This is an example of a safety or startup command. They vary though and you need to know you machine to make sure you use the correct codes. Do not assume that using the code above will be correct for your machine.

N010 is line 10 of the program

G80 cancels all canned cycles

G40 cancels cutter compensation

N020 is line 20 of the program

G21 puts the machine in metric mode

G90 sets the movement mode as absolute

CNC codes that are similar to G21

All of the codes listed in the table below are modal commands that affect the way the CNC machine interprets size and location values that are entered.

Want to learn more about G Code for your CNC?

Quick Guide to the G20 CNC G Code [Tips and Tricks]

a graphic of a cnc machine with text that says learn g code today G20 inch mode




Inch mode


Modal - stays on until changed


The machine will interpret all size and location values as in inches

What does a G20 code do?

A G20 code will switch the CNC into inch mode. Once the G20 code is used, all sizes and locations in the program will be treated as inch values until the mode is changed.

This type of G code is called a modal command.

Modal commands remain in effect until they are canceled. This holds true even if you restart your program. Until you cancel the command or change it, the G20 code would remain.

This can cause trouble if you aren’t paying attention.

For this reason, most CNC programs will be created with start-up or safety commands. The safety commands make sure that the machine is always in the correct modes.

When to use a G20 code?

A G20 code can be found at any point within the program but the most likely location is at the start of the program or at the start of a new block of code.

For instance, you might switch the CNC into inch mode by using the G20 command immediately before starting a drilling cycle.

The machine may already be in inch mode but placing the G20 command immediately before the drill cycle will ensure the program is in inch mode. All kinds of things can happen when machining and it isn’t uncommon for the machine to crash or some part of a program needs to be re-run.

Placing the safety commands (G20 in this case) at the start of the new block of code makes sure your machine does exactly what was intended.

With this example, the customer won’t be happy if you give them holes that are 1mm instead of 1 inch. If it goes the other way and you make a hole that is 1 inch instead of 1mm just tell them that the extra work is on the house.

What to think about when using a G20 code?

When you use a G20 code you simply need to be aware of what type of units you are working in. Most machine shops will work in either inches or mm.

There are definitely some shops out there that will use mixed units, but in most cases CNC programs will be written in one or the other for every program they make.

Know whether your parts are in inches or mms.

4 G20 code examples and descriptions of what they do

For the examples below, we will assume your machine is in absolute mode (G90). If you are working in incremental mode (G91), the resulting movements will be different. Check out our guides to G90 and G91 G codes to understand the difference between the two movement types.

Example #1

N005 G20 G00 X4.0 Y5.0 Z2.0

N005 is line number 5 of the program.

G20 sets the units as inches

G00 sets the movement mode as rapid travel.

X4.0 Y5.0 Z2.0 is the location the machine will move to. If the Z location of the machine was already at 2.0 inches, then the Z axis will not move. This is the same for each axis.

Example #2

N360 G20

N365 G01 X4.0 Y5.0 Z2.0

N365 is line number 365 of the program.

G20 sets the units as inches

G01 sets the movement mode as straight line (linear interpolation).

X4.0 Y5.0 Z2.0 is the location the machine will move to. If the Z location of the machine was already at 2.0 inches, then the Z axis will not move. This is the same for each axis.

This example is at a different spot in the program (N005 vs N365) but will act the same as the previous example with the exception that this example will not move in a rapid travel manner.

Notice that the G20 code can be called out on the previous line and it will still be in effect on the next line.

Example #3

N025 G20 G00 X1.0

N030 G21 X1.0

N035 X25.4

N025 is line number 25 of the program

G20 sets the units as inches

G00 sets the movement mode as rapid travel

X1.0 moves the machine to a location where X=1.0 inches

Example #4

N030 is line number 30 of the program

G21 sets the units as millimeters

X1.0 moves the machine to a location where X=1.0 mm

N010 G80 G40

N020 G20 G90

This is an example of a safety or startup command. They vary though and you need to know you machine to make sure you use the correct codes. Do not assume that using the code above will be correct for your machine.

N010 is line 10 of the program

G80 cancels all canned cycles

G40 cancels cutter compensation

N020 is line 20 of the program

G20 puts the machine in inch mode

G90 sets the movement mode as absolute

Codes that are similar to G20

All of the codes listed in the table below are modal commands that affect the way the CNC machine interprets size and location values that are entered.

Want to learn more about G Code for your CNC?

Beginner’s Guide to CNC Router Bits

a selection of various cnc router bits in a tray

Besides your CNC machine itself, the next most important part of machining is the router bit.

Different bits make different cuts and have different jobs, and if you’re new to machining, navigating bits can be confusing. From the bare-bones essential bits for machining to the more specialized bits that you’ll use rarely, there’s a lot of information around bits that can confuse even the most seasoned machinists.

To clear things up, we’ve made what we hope is a handy guide to walk you through everything you need to know about bits while you’re getting started as a machinist.

While we don’t claim this article is comprehensive, we do think that when you’re done reading, you’ll be a lot more knowledgeable about bits than when you started.

Essential bits

These are the bits to get started with. They will get the most use. As a result, they should be the first ones that you upgrade to better bits.

End mill

closeup of cnc router end mill with features pointed out

End mills are side-cutting tools, meaning they’re meant to cut flat bottoms.

They can cut a square slot or profile with a square corner, and you can also use them for contouring and reaming.

You’ll be able to distinguish an end mill by the flat bottom on the end of the bit.


closeup of whiteside v router bit
V-bit from Whiteside

V-bits are – you guessed it – shaped like a “V.” Producing a V-shaped cut, these bits are great for engraving, lettering, detailed designs, and signs.

You’ll typically use V-bits to add your special style or artistic design to projects.

V-bits come in all different sizes and angles. The smaller the angle, the more narrow the cut.

Ball nose end mill

closeup of ball nose end mill with features pointed out

A ball nose bit is basically the same thing as an end mill, except the end is a ball. This will give you a rounded contour around the edges of your cut.

You may also occasionally use a ball nose bit in lettering, but they are not as common as v-bits.

V-bits will allow you to create sharp-cornered letters, while ball nose bits will give you softer, rounded letters.

Surfacing bit

closeup of cnc surfacing bit

Surfacing bits are basically just big end mills.

You’ll use a surfacing bit to remove large amounts of material at once, like if you’re smoothing out your spoil board.

You can also use a surfacing bit to condition a bad piece of wood or otherwise smooth out the surface of the wood if it isn’t perfectly straight. This is very similar to planing a piece of wood.

Specialty bits

These specialty bits may not be necessary for CNC machining, but they’re nice to have handy.

Definitely don’t purchase any of these bits until you have the four essential ones above. But, once you have some experience under your belt, you can try a couple of these out to get more creative with your projects.

Carving bit

a cnc router with a carving bit installed

Carving bits are for any of you that want to make 2.5D or 3D projects. They allow you to make a lot of fine detail.

Some of the most amazing projects will use these bits. It will definitely be best to get some practice with not only your machine but also the software you are using as well before jumping into working with these bits.

You don’t want to be busting bits while you are still learning. Because of this, it is a good idea to start out with some cheaper practice bits while learning how to carve with your CNC.

T slot cutters

T Slot cutters are pretty simple: they’re made for cutting out slots on the back of a sign so you can hang it on a wall.

Signs of all sorts are common projects for anyone operating a CNC router. If you find yourself making plenty of signs, wall art or similar wall hangings then this bit will be an essential add to your tool box.

Bowl cutters

closeup of bowl cutter bit

Imagine if a ball nose bit and a surfacing bit had a baby – that’s what bowl cutters are for. They will cut the same rounded shape as a ball nose. However, the bottom is wider and flatter than a ball nose because this bit is meant to remove a lot of material, like a surfacing bit.

These cutters are excellent for removing larger amounts of material or “hogging” out the material.

Engraving bit

Engraving bits are most often used to etch designs into glass, wood, acrylic, or metal.

The interesting thing about an engraving bit is that it’s a “drag” bit. This means the spindle isn’t actually turned on while the bit is in use. Instead, the bit just drags across the surface to engrave.

Cutting flutes

The spiral-shaped cutting edges on the sides of an end mill are called flutes. Generally, there are 2 flutes on CNC router bits, though there can be more. The more flutes there are, the better the finish you’ll get.

One misconception is that the more flutes you have, the faster you can feed material. Yes, extra flutes mean that you remove more material per spin, but it’s common for people to increase the speed too much and overload the tool.

In reality, you should slow things down when you have more flutes to avoid any overloading. So, while you’ll cut more material per spin with 5 flutes, the lower spin rate may mean that using fewer flutes is more efficient since you can cut faster with 2 flutes than you can with 5.

If you’re relatively new to machining, 2 flutes should be enough.

Types of flutes

Some of the stuff in this section is going to get pretty technical. While we’ll try our best to explain how the different flutes cut material, we also recommend watching a tutorial video for any bit where you have confusion. 

Sometimes, it’s just easier to see a bit in action than it is to explain how the bit works.


closeup of straight flute router bit

Straight flutes give you an interrupted cut that sheers away material for the entire length of the bit. Straight bits really slap the wood and cause a great deal of vibration and chatter. These bits require a lot of force and should generally be avoided unless you need them for a specific purpose.

Bowl cutters and surfacing bits are examples of straight flutes.

Upcut (up-spiral, upbit)

closeup of upcut router bit with pros and cons listed

Upcut bits pull the chips up to remove them – the chips are “riding” up the flute. They pull the chips up towards the router or spindle.

Because the upcut is removing material out the top of the surface, the rough edge of the material you’re cutting is on top. Upcut bits have flat bottoms, which means they cut a smoother surface on the bottom.

These bits are great for drilling and plunging. They are not great for working with plywood because they will create a poor edge on the top of the wood.

Downcut (down-spiral, downbit)

closeup of whiteside downcut router bit
Downcut bit from Whiteside

Downcut bits are the reverse of the upcut bit. The material you’re removing is “pushed” downward away from the router or spindle. The rough edge, then, will be at the bottom of your material. The top edge of your material will be very clean when using a downcut bit.

Downcut bits are good for finish passes. However, you shouldn’t use downcuts for deep slots, drills or plunges. That’s because the downcut has no way of ejecting chips and debris, so it will stay stuck in the slot, or at least be very difficult to clean out.

While the downcut has a V-shaped bottom to leave room for the chips, the chips are not removed as well as a upcut bit and this can lead to heat buildup which can dull or ruin your bit.

Compression bit

closeup of yonico compression cnc router bit
Compression bit from Yonico

Compression bits are a combination of Upcut and Downcut bits. A compression bit will have an upcut for the bottom quarter or third of the bit, while the rest of the bit will be downcut. When run at full depth, the compression bit will leave clean edges on both sides of your workpiece.         

They can’t run as fast as upcut bits, but they are a nice compromise between finish edge quality and speed. They are a solid choice for working with veneered wood or plywood.

Router bit materials

When we’re talking about router bit materials, we’re really only talking about the cutting edge, as that is the most important aspect of a bit. 

carbide faced cutters vs high speed steel cutters

Carbide steel is a metal that is made with tungsten and a whole lot of carbon. The unique combination of materials, combined with how the metal is made gives this material a high tensile strength and high heat tolerance. Carbide steel also has high abrasion resistance.

In other words, carbide steel is good stuff. Naturally, it’s more expensive, but it’ll last 20-50x longer than a normal steel bit.

Compared to carbide steel, High Speed Steel bits are lower on the scale of tensile strength, heat tolerance, abrasion resistance, and price.

High speed steel is a little springy and generally has a worse finish than carbide steel. It also breaks down faster. Of course, then, high speed steel bits are cheaper.

There is nothing wrong with high speed steel bits but keep in mind that they will likely need to be changed or sharpened more often.

Router bit coatings

Coatings are chemical or metal finishes that have been bonded to the bit. Not all bits come with coatings, though it’s not at all uncommon to see coated bits.

One thing we should note is that coatings do not add strength to your bit. This is a common misconception. Coatings are intended to be heat barriers and are only a few atoms thick. To be honest, coatings are not always necessary, especially for hobbyists.

Because coatings often add expense to the bits and they aren’t needed for most users, we do not recommend them. However, if you think they are right for your application then by all means experiment and see what happens. For beginners though, we say skip them.

Black oxide bits are common and will protect against corrosion and friction. They are very similar to normal high speed steel (HSS) bits and work well for most materials.

Cobalt bits are made for greater heat resistance which works well when dealing with harder materials such as steel. These are overkill for working with soft materials such as wood and aluminum.

Tungsten carbide bits, which are generally just referred to as carbide bits, are extremely hard and heat resistant. Their hardness also makes them brittle, so you will want to use extra care when working with these bits, so they don’t chip. They can also be quite expensive.

Titanium bits are actually just high-speed steel bits that are coated with titanium nitride. This coating helps them to wear slower. This works well for heavy-duty, high-volume work. Once big downfall of titanium bits is that because they are coated and not solid titanium, they can’t be sharpened once they go dull.

All in all, we don’t really think it’s worth the additional cost for coatings. The benefits are rather minimal, especially if you’re just doing CNC as a hobby.

Router bit costs

To be honest, if you’re new to CNC, we recommend getting cheaper bits. Yes, they’ll dull faster, make lower-quality cuts, and don’t last long, but they make for good practice.

While you’re still getting a feel for machining, it’s not a bad idea to start off with cheaper bits. When you run them into your steel clamp and bust them into a million pieces, you won’t be nearly as disappointed.

Unless you forgot to wear your safety glasses. Always wear your safety glasses!

As you get better at machining, there will come a time where you should treat yourself to more expensive bits. They cut so much cleaner, and their high price is offset by the fact that they last a long time.

When you move on to the pricier bits, build up your arsenal by first starting with the essential bits we talked about earlier.

The first premium bits to get are:

  • End mills
  • V-bits
  • Ball nose end mill
  • Surfacing bit

Which router bits do you need to start with?

The essential CNC router bits

Flat Bottom End Mills:

  • ¼”
  • 1/8”
  • 1/16”

The ¼” inch bit gets used the most, followed by the 1/8” and then the 1/16”

V Groove Cutters:

  • 90 Degree
  • 60 Degree
  • 30 Degree

You’ll find other V groove bits besides these 3, but they aren’t necessary. Perhaps you’ll eventually want a 120 degree bit for larger lettering, but that’ll come down the road.

Remember the larger your V-bit angle is, the wider your lettering will be.

comparison chart that list router bit cutting angles

Ball Nose Bits

These bits are used for contouring and finer details such as when you are carving with your CNC.

Surfacing Bit

This bit is for flattening or “surfacing” your material. They work similar to a planer but they make the part flat in multiple passes.

They are also used for surfacing your spoilboard.

CNC router bits to buy later

These next few bits are nice to have but are nonessential. Hold off on purchasing these bits until you have a full set of the bits above.

Carving Bit

You have to be pretty advanced to get into carving. Carving projects have long run times, and you’ll likely need to learn a specialty program. Definitely hold off on carving until you’re ready.

Drag Bit

cnc router diamond drag bit

Unless you’re engraving metal or glass, you can hold off on buying a drag bit. They can be used to make some cool CNC projects but they only have a single use.

T Slot Cutter

These are handy if you’re making signs that you want to hang but are not a necessity.

Bowl Cutter

You won’t need this bit unless you’re contouring and removing a lot of material at once.

Practice bits and good bits

Surely you picked up on the concept, but we want to hammer home the importance of having practice bits, and sound, solid, expensive bits.

If you’re new or if you’re experimenting around, you should stick to cheap steel bits. This gives you margin for error and won’t leave you with much out of pocket when they break.

Once you’ve upgraded your skills and have a good handle on your machine, go ahead and upgrade your bits. But even if you’re confident in yourself, it never hurts to have some spare practice bits laying around.

Frequently asked questions

I'm new to routing, what bits are the most important?

If you skipped down to the bottom of this article and wound up here, go back up to the top and take a look at the first section. There, we went over the most essential bits in machining and explained what each essential bit is for. The most important bits to own are:

  • End Mills
  • V-bits
  • Ball Nose bits
  • Surfacing bit

Do I need coating bits for CNC routing?

Honestly, we don’t think coated bits are necessary. The coating layer is usually super thin, so you don’t get much out of the coating in the first place. And, coatings can make the bit’s cut less smooth.

To top things off, you can pay a heck of a lot of money for a coated bit, yet you likely won’t notice a difference in the cut.

40+ Best CNC Projects for Beginners

cnc router engraving a project in a vise

If you’re relatively new to CNC, coming up with project ideas may be difficult.

You’ve probably spent a decent chunk of change on a new 3018 CNC or maybe something bigger and more fun, not to mention all the tooling and other materials. Now it’s finally time to make something.

While searching for good starter projects, you will find some plans that are out of your league, too big for an at-home machine. On the flip side, some are just too boring.

We know the struggle of finding worthwhile projects for relative CNC beginners. Because we’ve been in your shoes, we want to make life easier to encourage everyone with a CNC – regardless of skill level – to keep at it.

So, here we’ve gathered a list of CNC projects that make great starter projects for anyone new to machining. We’ve sorted them from what we think are the easiest projects to the hardest ones. There’s sure to be something you like on this list.

Engrave wooden spoons or utensils

multiple wooden spoons lined up on a wood background

You don’t even have to make the spoon or utensil for this project. Head to the dollar store to pick up some cheap kitchen utensils and carve away.

These make for an excellent gift if you have any chefs in your life. Even if your mom doesn’t cook, you know she would love it and she is worth it!

Or, you can make several of them and hang them around your kitchen as a unique art piece.

This is a super cheap project option and it lets you practice your carving skills.

Router bit organizer

a router bit organizer with multiple router bits in it

We really like this project because it’s both useful, and a good way to practice drilling holes.

Even as a beginning machinist, you probably have several router bits. It’s easy to get excited and buy a bunch when you first get your machine.

And while some come with a small plastic case, why not drill yourself an authentic bit organizer?

It’s practical, looks cool in your garage or tool shed, and, again, it’s good practice. Leftover wood scraps make for good material for this project and as you experiment with different woods to machine with your CNC, you can compare them by repeating a simple project such as this.

Key holder

a black key holder with one set of keys on it

We also like key holder projects because they’re practical and good practice, just like the router bit organizer.

You can make the holder into the shape of a house, or you can customize the board by putting a last name right across it. The possibilities are endless here, actually.

Wooden jewelry

Wooden jewelry can make for an awesome gift for a lady in your life, and you can even sell them if you get good at it.

One popular item we’ve seen are necklaces. You first carve something like a heart, and then at the top, you drill a hole where you string the chain or lace through. You can also try making rings.

Actually, this is not necessarily limited to women. You can make some cool wooden bracelets for men if you’d like.

Pro tip: use small leftover scrap bits of some of the more exotic woods to use in larger projects.

Keepsake boxes

a keepsake box with assorted jewelry inside

Keepsake boxes are super simple projects that you can knock out in no time. It’s as simple as hollowing out some wood, attaching a hinge mechanism, and creating a lid.

You can carve some custom designs on the outside of the box or carve a special message on the inside of the lid.

Really, once you have the box, the rest is up to your imagination. A plain box is boring but putting a small, special detail can turn it into a prized possession for someone.


wooden sign that says love

Signs really allow you to get creative with your CNC machine.

Typical signs will be done on a wooden board and then hung from a wall or drilled in. Signs can be seasonal, include a sports team logo, a name, or just about anything you’d like to put on there.

Perhaps our favorite thing about signs is that you can buy blanks online.

If you’re comfortable enough to make the baseboard, then go for it. But if you’re new to CNC and you want to take a shot on an even, clean, solid wood board, then go online and find a blank.

Practicing one technique at a time can help you perfect it when you have less variables to worry about.

The possibilities for signs are seemingly endless. The only thing that will limit you is your imagination and possibly the size of your machine, depending on how big you want the sign.

The types of signs you can make include, but are not limited to:

  • Home Décor signs
  • Welcome Sign
  • Bar Sign/Man Cave Sign
  • House Number Sign
  • Address Plaque


Bookmarks are an excellent first project. You can get a thin piece of wood and then carve it up with unique messages, a name, or even individual book titles. Rather than carving, you can also choose to cut right through the wood and make 3D designs.

Custom/unique business cards

Similar to a bookmark, you can make business cards.

This will also require carving or cutting through a relatively thin piece of wood. We love this idea because whoever you give this business card to is 100% going to remember it. Most business cards wind up lost or in the trash, but a wooden one will stand out.

Use them to get your name out there if you want to start selling things you make with your CNC.

Desk nameplate

Sticking with the business theme here, you can make a cool desk nameplate with your machine. It’s always nice when you can bring a little character and personality to your desk or office. You spend enough time there, so you may as well trick it out and make it your own.

Christmas ornaments

christmas ornaments on a wooden background

You’re probably not going to make these year-round, but they make for a really great gift. Plus, it’s super easy to find Christmas ornament blanks on the internet, so you don’t have to worry about cutting the right shape and thickness on your own if you don’t want to.

You can put someone’s name in it, carve a snowman, Santa, a reindeer, or really whatever you’d like.

As a bonus, if you are looking to make a project to sell with your CNC, these are gold around the holidays.

Drink coasters

wooden drink coasters with a circular engraving

Drink coasters will be relatively similar to Christmas ornaments in both size and shape. And, similarly, you can find blanks of these as well.

We really like making coasters because they serve a purpose and work as an art piece. Have a little fun with it and make something a little strange and see how long until your significant other notices!

Please note that you may want to glue little rubber washers, or some felt on the bottom of your coasters so they don’t scratch up any surfaces if you think this will be a problem.

Games, game boards and game pieces

a wooden cribbage board with a deck of cards

Anything game related is going to make for a great project. Most of these are going to be relatively easy, plus you’ll get some use out of them. Whether you make these for yourself or as a gift, they’ll be super useful and serve as a great conversation starter.

As far as game boards go, there a few super easy and popular options that include:

  • Cribbage boards
  • Chess/checkers boards

As for games themselves, you can try making:

  • Wooden dominos
  • Large wooden dice (for Yahtzee)
  • Oversized Scrabble tiles for (these also work as a sign or art piece)

Or, you can make individual game pieces for games such as:

  • Catan
  • Monopoly tokens

If you aren’t sure which one is best, then start with a cribbage board. It makes for great hole drilling practice for anyone just starting out.


a wooden wall clock

There are a couple of different routes you can go for clocks based on your skill level. If you’re super crafty and up for a challenge, try making your own wooden gears. This will take time and patience (and a lot of skill), but plenty of YouTube videos are out there to help you.

However, if you’re reading this, then chances are you’re new to CNC. An easier option would be to just make the clock face and buy a separate arm and battery mechanism.

If you do decide to buy a clock mechanism then a clock is as simple as cutting a round shape and drilling a hole for the clock to pop through. If you want it even easier, there are more blanks available to you can concentrate on the design.

This option still allows for a lot of creativity and work if you want it to. Acrylic can make for a cool clock too as either an all acrylic clock or an acrylic overlay.

Other easier projects

While the list above isn’t comprehensive, it’s a really good starting list for easy projects. But, if none of those flips your switch you can try making:

  • Wall maps – more advanced but super cool
  • Letter blocks – good carving practice
  • Toy train tracks – simple shapes allow you to concentrate on quality cuts
  • Keychains – great sellers that can be made super cheap with blanks
  • Engraved carpenter pencils – fun gifts for Father’s Day
letter blocks, carpenter pencil, train track and a key chain

More difficult projects

Maybe you’ve looked at the items above and thought they were too easy, or you’ve already made several of them in the past. If you’re still fairly new to CNC but looking for a challenge, there are still plenty of projects that you can try out.

Glass etchings

This may sound really fancy but it really isn’t.

The only reason it isn’t ranked with our super easy projects is that it requires an extra bit. They cost a few bucks, but a diamond drag bit can make some super unique projects.

What is great about this project is that pictures frames can be purchased at just about any dollar store to work with. And once you have your technique down, you can look for cool pictures at your local thrift store to make something a little more extravagant.


Take a look on Pinterest or YouTube, and you can find some pretty unique planters.

You can carve up the outside of the planter with a neat design. We recently saw a cool one with Egyptian-like hieroglyphics and some desert plants in planter.

Custom planters are great when paired with some succulents. They are always very popular.

Topographical map

a wooden map with blue pushpins in some locations

In general, maps are always cool art pieces for your home’s walls, but a topographical map takes that to the next level.

Carving these with a CNC router is tricky, but the payoff is well worth it. Topo maps are sweet. You’ll likely need multiple cutters and a solid software design for a good topographical map. Many people will find that this is their ultimate goal when working with their CNC.

Per usual, check YouTube for tutorials.

Child growth chart

Child growth charts are an excellent childhood memento that every kid will cherish when they get older. Unfortunately, so many people chart their kid’s growth on a wall in their house, meaning the chart goes away once you move.

What makes this a little more advanced is that not everyone will have a large enough machine to make one that will allow you to measure a kid through the years.

Cutting boards

a cutting board with a gift tag

Making a cutting board from scratch is a standard woodworking project.

For anyone working with a CNC, you can buy a cutting board and engrave it to your liking. If you can come up with the right design, cutting boards can be big money makers and when it comes to gifts, personalization can bring a big smile to someone’s face.


It should go without saying that the more puzzle pieces you try to make, the harder the project will be. We’ve seen puzzles as simple as 3-4 pieces in the shape of an elephant, giraffe, or other animals that then gets given to a young child. You can certainly try to do bigger puzzles with more pieces if you’re up to the task.

For most it is best to stick with a smaller puzzle meant as a toy or decoration for a toddler or younger child.

What can I do with my projects?

Of course, this is all going to be up to you, and it can change on a project-by-project basis. However, you may have noticed that we tried to give you a really wide range of things to make.

Practical projects

In one category, you have things like a key holder, or router bit organizer. These projects are very useful and can be starter projects that you make for yourself.


multiple gifts wrapped sitting on a wood background

Another category of things would be gifts. You could make a jewelry box for your wife, girlfriend, or mother. You can make Christmas ornaments for people close to you. Drink coasters can make for an awesome house-warming gift, and your friends will never forget who made them.

Sell your projects

Or, you can turn your hobby into a side hustle. Anything on this list can be sold if you find the right audience. Places such as Craigslist and Facebook’s marketplace are free to list on and have numerous potential buyers in your local area.

Then there are the online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy. These sites usually charge some kind of listing fee, and the shipping logistics are different from site to site. If you really want to make a small business out of your work, spend some time on Google, YouTube, and online forums, figuring out how to make these sites work for you. There are tips and tricks you can utilize to get your items listed at the top of searches, which then make it more likely your items will sell.

Then you have local craft fairs, flea markets, and art stores. At the markets and fairs, you may have to pay a small fee to become a vendor, but these fees are usually small. This will expose your work locally, and the people who come to these markets are usually in the market to buy if the price is right. They make a great stepping stone for figuring out what sells well in your local market.

And don’t be afraid to approach a local store owner and ask if you can sell your items there. People love to support local entrepreneurs and artists, and you can work out a fee-sharing structure with the shop owner.

From personal items, to gifts, to sales, CNC projects are becoming more and more popular since CNC machines have become more easily available to everyday hobbyists. We can tell you from experience, it just makes you feel good to give a gift that you made by hand or to turn your creations into cash. 

Tips for making your projects easier

Start small. It’s a simple cliché that is 100% correct.

If you go too big too early, things might not work out, and you can wind up burning yourself out and literally burning through cutters and material.

Start with simpler projects and feel the reward of crafting your very own items. Doing several smaller projects not only improves your skills, but it helps you build the confidence to tackle more complicated jobs.

We also recommend using blanks or pre-made products to engrave. For signs, ornaments, or coasters, blanks can be easily and cheaply purchased.

This saves the stress of building your base before carving and creating designs. There’s no shame in using blanks – it can save time, money, and stress. Hey, we all learned how to bike by first using training wheels.

Lastly, we recommend keeping your designs simple. Go for the 2D design first and see if it works out. Try several, simpler projects and if things are going well, then try for the 3D model you really want. Again, starting small builds the necessary skills and confidence you’ll need for bigger and better projects.

50+ CNC Projects That Really Sell

kid with light bulb lit up on head and speech bubble that says CNC ideas

As CNC machines, including routers and laser engravers, become more affordable and practical to work with from home, the marketplace for CNC products is growing too.

Whether it’s Facebook, Etsy, eBay, or even a local flea/crafters market, people love CNC-made products for their personalization and unique designs.

So, if you fancy yourself a good enough machinist to turn some wood (or other machinable materials) into home décor, knick-knacks, kitchenware, or more, we’ve assembled some ideas for you to turn your craft into cash. Heck, even if you’re not looking to sell anything, this list may give you some good ideas for gifts or items to make for yourself.

Who knows, if your products get hot enough or if you find the right niche, you may be able to pay for that next vacation or offset your monthly car payments. Or maybe you will make someone you care about very happy with a personalized, hand-crafted gift.

To make things easier, we have laid out some of the best projects to make that will bring in the bank and even included tips to make them easier to produce and or quicker to sell below. 


Everyone knows you can make signs with your CNC. 

And for a good reason, people like them and more importantly, people like to buy them.

Unleash your creativity with custom-made CNC wall signs. These signs will generally be done on wood and can hang from a wall or door or be drilled into something stable. 

You can make them seasonal, use sports teams or logos, or carve just about anything you can think of. Just please don’t use your machine for one of those “Live. Laugh. Love.” signs.         

In terms of difficulty, signs are relatively easy to make. Wood blanks of all types can be used when you are just starting out, though we do recommend cutting the body of the sign yourself once you have had a little practice.

The biggest limiting factor will likely be the size of your machine. Nothing wrong with making a small sign though. They are cute.

Signs are perhaps the easiest way to monetize your CNC router, especially for someone just getting started.

Some specific types of signs to think about making are:

Home Decor Signs

wooden sign that says love

A lot of signs for home décor are going to be placed around the kitchen or living room areas. People that want home décor signs want their guests to see them.

Funny or creative slogans work well and if you find yourself in need of inspiration, take a stroll through Hobby Lobby to get the ideas flowing. 

Don’t be afraid to get weird with it either. Something as silly as a meme can make a good saying for your sign. Just make sure it is relatable so you have a larger list of potential customers.

Welcome Signs

Everyone likes a nice welcome sign on their door. Use creative lettering or a bold paint job. Personalized signs that have a specific address are popular. Just remember that personalization is popular but it will take longer to design and make.

Another option is to find local businesses that want an “open” and/or “welcome” sign for their front entrance.

Advertising Signs

wood business sign

Similar to the welcome sign above, find a local business that wants a custom-made sign.

This won’t work at Walmart, but plenty of mom and pop shops would love a custom plaque with their business name on it. Businesses often have bigger budgets than your average Facebook marketplace shopper, so don’t be afraid to mark up your work a little bit.

Man Cave Signs

These signs can include people’s names, or just the words “Man Cave,” or “Welcome to ___’s Man Cave” etc. Carve it on a quality wood and give it a nice finish.

Bonus points for darker finishes such as Dark Walnut.

Address Plaque/House Number Sign

a sign with house numbers

These two are similar enough in nature to signs. If you or someone you know has a big lawn and it’s hard to see their house number from the street, this could be the perfect gift.

Coordinate Signs

Everyone has a special place.

Maybe it’s where a couple first met or where they got married or where they call home. Maybe it’s a three pack of signs to cover each of the above.

Get creative with it and make sure to give your customer some good ideas about what they might want to use for coordinates.

If your customer doesn’t give know what coordinates they need, take the address and plug it in this site to find the coordinates for your sign.


Garden Signs

outdoor sign on a fence that reads community garden

When people are passionate about something they often like to show it off. 

You probably know that people love their pets (dog moms, we are looking at you). But did you know that many people love their plants just as much?

You can create signs to label individual plants or create ones that are basically home decor for the outdoors.

“The garden is my happy place” would be a good place to start when thinking about what to make and sell to anyone who loves their garden.

Garden signs tend to be fun and whimsical so keep that in mind when dreaming up your creations.

Trail Signs

This one is a personal favorite because they are so simple and their “rustic” nature means people tend to not notice small imperfections. A great project for anyone just getting started with their CNC.

outdoor navigational trail signs

If you live on a good-sized property – or know someone who does – you can make trail markers to help make navigation easier.

This works very well in well off areas where people buy vacation homes, especially if they have a lot of land. 

Every state has these towns, so hop into the local Facebook group for that area and start offering this custom service. 

As a bonus, this project is meant to have a weathered feel to it, so you likely won’t be spending big dollars on materials. Check out our guide to the best woods for CNC routing to figure out which ones work best for the great outdoors.

This type of sign can also be great to try and market to local campsites and other outdoor businesses.

Toys & Games

Toys and games make excellent gifts, and you may even be able to sell a few of these. Their difficulty will vary, from the easier projects such as a chess or checkers board, to something more difficult such as a guitar.

Cribbage, Chess and Checker Boards

a wooden cribbage board with a deck of cards

Game boards are some of the most popular items for CNC makers. There are countless tutorials for these on the web, and you’ll likely be able to download ready-made software for game boards.

Cribbage boards make a great project for a beginner to practice drilling holes.

Checker pieces can be easy to make but if you are just starting out, it might be better to work on the game board and buy your checkers, chess pieces and cribbage pegs to start.

Once you have your project dialed in, it would be best to make the pieces yourself or to buy them in bulk to keep costs down.

For an additional twist, you can carve names or personal messages onto the board as well. If you get a classy looking wood – like cherry or even mahogany – these game boards can make excellent display pieces as well.

Toy Train Tracks

toy train and tracks laying on the floor

Perhaps the best piece of advice we can offer here is patience. It’s fairly easy and straightforward to carve train tracks, but it can take a while since you’ll need several different track sets in.

We think you’ll love the result, though. So many of us remember playing with these tracks as kids, so you shouldn’t find it too difficult to sell these tracks to a parent or grandparent in need.

Think about selling individual pieces as well as packs of tracks and once you know you have a market for them, making them in batches will be the best way to go.


Warning! This isn’t some beginner level project, but it is one that can definitely be profitable once you get it down.

If you really want to pull cash out of your CNC skills, you should look into instruments. Instruments can have high-profit margins if they’re of high quality. In fact, the popular guitar brand Taylor uses CNC machines for their guitars because CNC’s offer precise cuts and are much more efficient than hand-carving.

A good way to get started for beginners is to purchase a guitar body and make the rest of the guitar or buy all the pieces and come up with a killer design before putting it all together.

The design and the paint or finish is what will make or break this type of project.

the back of a guitar near a bunch of cut wood


The puzzles we’re talking about will be relatively simple unless you’re awfully ambitious. However, simpler puzzles are excellent for children. You can make animals and break the puzzle up into only three or four puzzle pieces if you’d like.

Or, you can make name puzzles, which are great decorations for kids’ rooms and serve as educational pieces when the kid is old enough.

Letter Blocks

wooden blocks with letters and numbers on them

Similarly, it’s easy to carve up some letter blocks. Kids will love these, and they are again good learning tools. 

You can find ready to carve blanks to practice on which make getting started easy.

A nice tip here is to combine the blocks to spell names and sell them as décor for a child’s room.


Switch to thin metal and you can use those same letters to make stencils for all kinds of craft projects.


Trays are similar to signs because they are simple, but so many people like them. There are a lot of trays available from other crafters out there so you will really want to work hard to set yours apart from others. 

Things such as personalization or tailoring them to your local market are the types of things that will give you an advantage over other sellers.

Coin and Key Trays

Really just a catch-all tray. The great things is that there is a lot of room for creativity here.

Trays in the shape of your home state or a local landmark such as lake make for good sellers. This one really lets you use your imagination.

Serving trays

serving tray with drink, pastry and fork

Perfect for breakfast in bed or maybe just bringing out some crackers and cheese for your guests. 

These can be hard to make and stand out from other sellers, so personalization helps to get your customers attention.

Serving trays for special events such as weddings are functional and serve as mementos of the event. Anything you can do to target weddings with your projects will help sales and can often be sold at a higher markup

Makeup Trays

Organizing products are hot right now. Cut pockets in a tray to hold all the miscellaneous makeup and hair accessories.

The finish of the wood will make a big difference here. Brighter colors work well here, so go with something like a light oak stain.

Bathtub Trays

Who doesn’t like a nice soak in the tub?

Kids I guess. I never got why they don’t like a bath.

Either way, these trays aren’t for the kids. These are for mom. Cut a pocket or two for a glass of wine or a candle to sit and craft a stand to hold a phone, book or tablet. 

Keep in mind this thing will be around water so it is best to make sure it is painted or sealed to protect it from water damage.

These sell best around Valentine’s day.

Projects For Special Occasions

Christmas Ornaments

christmas ornaments on a wooden background

The possibilities here really are endless. You can carve the shape of a snowflake, Christmas tree, Santa’s hat, or a gingerbread man. Or, if you wanted a traditional, circular ornament, you can carve the middle out into whatever Christmas-related theme you’d like.

Ornaments are relatively simple, and people are going to buy them up over Christmas time.

These are a great project for beginners and another one that has ready made blanks. Grab the blanks for 50 cents or less each, fire up your CNC and sell them for $5 or more. 

That is some serious profit. The only downside is they only sell well leading up to Christmas, though it might be worth trying a Christmas in July promotion to drum up some summer sales.

Christmas Decor

wooden reindeer decoration

Speaking of Christmas, decorations of all kinds tend to sell very well.

Cut out a tree and pop an LED star on top or make a cookie tray for Santa. There is a lot of freedom for creativity here.

The biggest thing to remember is to have the items made ahead of the holiday season. When you have an item that is a hit, you will need them ready to go to keep up with demand.

Wedding Decor

Christmas items in the winter and wedding stuff in the summer. When done right, these can be the bread and butter of your sales. 

Signs, trays and custom centerpieces can be great moneymakers. People spend a ton of money on weddings, why not get a piece of the action.

Look around for inspiration, wedding shows and magazines can give you some of the best ideas. One minute you’re watching Bridezillas and the next you are cutting custom cake toppers to sell to your local bakery. 

Wedding Gifts

The bride and groom get gifts for their wedding party and the wedding guests get gifts for the bride and groom.

Custom and/or personalized projects are the key here. There can be a lot of competition here because there is so much money to be made so pay attention to how you market and advertise your product. It will likely make or break your chances of turning a proft.

Customized Suit and Dress Hangers

These work well for weddings but also for events such as prom or quinceaneras. The name of the event, the date and sometimes a name are the best things to engrave. 

Most won’t be making the hanger itself from scratch, but there are many that are ready to be engraved available online.

Baby Shower Gifts

Just like with weddings, there are a ton of different ideas that you can cook up for a baby shower. 

Signs tend to be one of the best selling gifts for baby showers. 

Another potential market is families of newborn babies. A custom sign with the name, date of birth and weight makes for a lovely gift and parents and grandparents love to purchase them.

Decorative Items

These projects are going to be wide ranging, and will again require you to use your creative side. Most decorative items aren’t going to be particularly difficult to make, yet will look excellent in anyone’s home, store, or office. Some of these things may also have a bit of functionality, which is a bonus selling point.

Keepsake Boxes

a keepsake box with assorted jewelry inside

Keepsake boxes are as simple as hollowing out a piece of wood, attaching some hinges, and creating the lid. From there, you can custom-carve things onto the outside of the box. Or, you can write special messages on the inside of the lid that can be read when the box is opened.  


Nothing too fancy and they aren’t the hottest sellers, but if you come of with the right design they can do well.

It’s best to target something you would find on a kids bookshelf so keep it fun.

Statues and Trophies

If you only have a 3-axis CNC, statues and trophies are going to be tough to make. You can still produce them, but they’ll be bulkier and not so fine in detail.

If you have a 4-axis router, you can make better, more detailed products. However, as a word of caution, don’t try and make things too slender. The wood will likely snap under pressure from the drill, and all your work will be for naught.


a wooden map with blue pushpins in some locations

Maps are a super popular decorative item these days. People love them.

Maps of cities, states, countries, the world, or anything, really. Just a regular map – as in the cutout of a state or country – should be a generally easy project. You just need the right toolpath, and you’re good to go. It’s like carving any other project.

But, if you want to take things a step further, you can try a topographical map. These are becoming more popular by the day, and should sell fast.

They aren’t a beginner level project because it will take some messing with your software to get the map into your software and running. If you’re up to the challenge, though, these maps are super cool.


wooden wall clock

Clocks aren’t much different than a sign for the most part. 

Clock mechanisms are pretty cheap and they come in a variety of styles so you are bound to find one that fits yours project.

For the face, you can get as creative as you want. Inlay it with a super cool design, or cut straight through the wood for a semi-transparent clock.

Glass Etchings

Glass etchings or engravings can make unique decorative items. Grab a diamond drag bit and some dollar store picture frames to practice with and work your way up to larger engravings. 

Pet related engravings make for great practice pieces and pet related products tend to sell well too.

Thrift stores make great places to find larger frames and glass on the cheap.

Check out the video below to get a feel for what kind of stuff you can create.

Child Growth Charts

Kids grow up so quick don’t they?

Make custom signs the chart their progress. Just make sure to keep your distance markings accurate. These make another great baby shower gift.


A springtime product that makes for a good Mother’s Day gift. Planters can be make extra fancy but there isn’t usually a great return on the extra work. 

Keep it simple and treat it like a sign with some cute or loving saying on the side. The color or finish you pick will play a big role in the popularity of this product.

Wall Art

wooden wall art

Who wouldn’t like beautiful feature piece for their wall. I won’t tell you how to make art, cause well…that sounds really hard.

What I can tell you is that people want big pieces when it comes to wall art so you will either need a larger CNC or will need to get creative with how you make it in sections. 

Patterns and textures are your friends here. The type of grain of the wood you use will be equally important. Just don’t jump into this one expecting to hit it rich. 

When done right, wall art can sell for hundreds of dollars or more but it isn’t easy for everyone to get right.

Photo Frames

With a little practice and some common tools, you can easily make your own photo frames. 

They work equally well as gifts for holidays and special occasions so they tend to sell very well. Pet related sayings or designs are probably the most popular. 

Everyone loves to show off their pets. Speaking of which want to see 535 pictures of my cat?

Yeah, I thought so.

For The Office

Book and Document Holders

Simple stands that leave room for adding some style. They aren’t the best sellers locally, but if you can add your own flair to one then they can really take off in the online marketplaces.

Phone Holders and Charging Stations

wooden phone holder

There is a huge market for anything phone related but things are highly competitive. 

Practice making them for your family as gifts before going full bore trying to turn a profit. They sell great but it can be tough to stand out in the crowded space.


Nameplates for a desk or door are fairly straightforward projects and are a great way to add some personality to anyone’s office space. In particular, anyone working in manufacturing, landscaping and outdoors, or construction would be good targets if you’re trying to sell these.

Business Cards

Custom-made business cards are a super unique niche that folks working in the industries mentioned above would love. A thin, wooden or metal business card carved from a CNC machine is a clear and obvious way to stand out from the crowd.

Plus, nobody’s going to crumble up and throw out one of these business cards. Memorable and difficult to throw away are perhaps the two most important features of a business card, making machined cards a fantastic item to have.

Engraved Pencils and Pens

Mark your business name on some to give away and get the name of your business into the hands of some people.

Additionally, they can make simple gifts with a touch of personalization.

The wide carpenter pencils work best because they have more flat area to put your engraving on. Who wouldn’t love a pencil that says #1 Grandpa?

For The Kitchen

Drink Coasters

a cup of coffee sitting on a wooden coaster

Drink Coasters are another super popular item to CNC. Virtually all homeowners have coasters because nobody wants to ruin a perfectly good table with a wet drink. Yet, at the same time, those cheap paper coasters are easy to lose and can get ruined over time.

But a solid, well-crafted, beautiful wood coaster is both practical and decorative. Coasters have a super wide target audience, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble trying to sell these.

Like so many other CNC projects, if you don’t know what to do to make it stand out then start with pets or cute sayings or better yet, cutes sayings about pets. It really works!

Cutting Boards

a cutting board with a gift tag

Like coasters, cutting boards have universal appeal because just about every person out there needs one. You can personalize cutting boards by carving a person’s initials or monogram into the corner of the board.

Cutting boards in the shape of your local state tend to sell well, although some states work better than others for this type of project. Not something to try in Hawaii.

As a word of advice, you’ll want to use dense hardwoods with a closed-grain for cutting boards. This means something like maple, walnut or cherry. These woods are smooth and flat, which makes them ideal for cutting. Also, the closed grain means raw food won’t get lodged into the board, which can be a health issue (and also an odor issue).

Cookie Cutters and Molds

These are great sellers around Christmas time especially. 

Look to sell them to home bakers as well as local bakeries. Don’t be afraid to head into some local businesses to see if you can drum up some business. 

Focus on how something simple like cookie shapes can help their business stand  out.

Charcuterie Boards

Otherwise known as adult Lunchables. These meat and cheese boards have become quite popular recently. 

Functionally they are very similar to cutting boards and may even use the same. Engraving sections that are labeled for meat, cheese, olives, fruit, etc. will make for a visually interesting product that can catch someone’s eye.

Cabinets Doors

closeup of kitchen cabinet doors

Like trim and molding, cabinet doors can be an easy sell to many homeowners because they look great and add value to the home. Basic cabinet doors are fairly easy projects and involve primarily straight lines. However, you can add value to your doors with more elaborate designs.

Similarly, more expensive wood means you can charge more for your work. Of course, that also means higher up-front costs. If you’re just getting started, though, MDF and primed plywood are cheap, readily available materials that you can make some nice cabinet doors from.

You won’t be making cabinet doors as your first project but with a little practice and a large enough machine, pretty much anyone could work their way up to cabinet doors without too much trouble.

Kitchen Utensils

Another dollar store favorite. Buy them for a dollar, put your engraving on and sell at a 500% markup. 

And while you are at the dollar store, look around for inspiration for other projects. Keeping your material costs low will make a world of difference in your profits.

Custom Wood Trim and Moulding

Trim and molding are a great way to monetize your CNC work because people are willing to pay top-dollar for a job well done. Good trim and molding add value to people’s home while also preventing damage, so it’s a win-win.

Plus, with most CNC machines, you can pass through the machine length-wise, meaning you don’t need to worry about machining several small parts and then putting them together.

Miscellaneous Other Projects


These aren’t huge moneymakers but a couple dollars here and there adds up quick. The nice thing is that you can buy dozens or hundreds of blanks online to work with.

Pick up a display stand and put them on the corner of your table at the craft fair to pick up some extra sales. Alternatively you can engrave your logo on one side and a design on the other side and give them out free with each purchase. The advertising alone will pay for the keychains.

People love free things even if the cost is baked into your other items.

Door Hangers

red do not disturb sign hanging on door knob

Most people will think about a “No Girls Allowed” sign on a kids room door but try to think outside the box and find a way to sell to more profitable shoppers.

Local hotels or bed and breakfast establishments especially can be good prospects to try and peddle some do not disturb signs. The benefit of trying to get business from other businesses is that you will often get bulk orders.

Where to Sell Your CNC Projects

The next big question is where to sell these items. Products don’t do you any good if they’re just sitting on the shelf.

So we’ve compiled a quick list of the best places to sell your projects. If you want a more complete guide then check out our full post with tips and tricks for selling in each market.


It isn’t as popular as it once was but there is still plenty of money to be made on Craigslist. 

Craigslist is also free to post which makes it a great option.

Facebook Marketplace

Like it or not, Facebook Marketplace is one of the biggest and easiest places to sell your CNC projects.

Make sure to use it as part of your selling strategy.


Selling on Amazon will give you access to a huge pool of customers but most people won’t be ready to handle the type of demand that can result if their product takes off. 

My recommendation is to take it slow and not tackle selling on Amazon until you have more experience with selling your CNC projects.


Ebay makes a good way to work your way up to selling on Amazon. They make shipping easy and they actively work to keep shipping costs down for you and the customer.

The biggest downside is the amount of competition present on Ebay.


Etsy is very similar to Ebay but with a more “crafty” feel to the products. Keep this in mind when picking what products you plan to sell on Etsy.

Start Your Own Website

Making a website is not nearly as difficult as it used to be. Website builders make things super simple. 

The hard part is getting traffic to your site. Getting traffic from search engines such as Google can take a lot of work, but if you find a way to get people to go directly to your site then it can be worth it because you won’t be paying fees to the marketplace.

If you do make your own website then make sure to put it on as much stuff as you can.

Craft Fairs, Flea Markets and Craft Stores

Do not underestimate the power of selling locally. Thousands of people make full-time incomes making crafts and selling them in craft stores. 

Keep in mind there is likely a fee to sell at these events or stores.

These are the most popular choices for selling your products but check out our full guide for tips, tricks and some often overlooked places to sell your wares.

Complete Guide to Comments in G Code

a cnc machine running with g code overlaid

What are g code comments?

Comments in CNC g code are portions of the program that are ignored by the CNC controller and/or help the machine operator understand the program.

There are many different machine manufacturers and they can each have their own format for handling and identifying comments. In other words, what works on one machine may not work on another.

When in doubt try to find a manual or research your specific brand of CNC. We have outlined some of the most common CNC manufacturers and how they call out comments in the table below.

You can see that the two most common ways to identify a comment are by enclosing it in parentheses () or placing a semicolon symbol ; before the comment.

How to insert a comment into a g code program

The table below lists the symbol or character that is used to identify g code comments on a specific line of the program.

Take note that when parentheses () are used, everything between the open and closed parentheses will be ignored.

When the semicolon ; is used, all code after the semicolon on that line will be ignored and treated as a comment. Placing a semicolon inside a parentheses will not make the machine ignore the rest of the line, only what is inside the parentheses in this case will be ignored.

Remember, there are dozens or possibly hundreds of machine tool manufacturers and some may not adhere to these rules but this guidance will work for the majority of machines.

Machine Control Manufacturer

G Code Comment Character











Sinumerik (Siemens)




What should be included in a g code comment?

Comments can include anything that can help to operator or setup person to better understand how the program is operating.

Placing comments at key moments in the program can be a great way to help an operator. Letting them know if they need to perform an action or if the program is about to start a new operation (switching from roughing to finishing or starting to drill a set of holes) can be extremely helpful.

The best practice is to be brief but provide enough info. You don’t want to write a book and clutter up the program, but too little information can leave a person guessing or assuming what is happening in the program.

Creating good comments can help someone who isn’t highly trained in reading g code but they can also help you when you go to troubleshoot the program or try to edit or improve it later on down the road.

Where should you put comments in your CNC program?

In general, g code comments should be placed at the end of the program line to describe the current action. Some machines allow comments, specifically ones in parentheses (), to be added in the middle of the line.

I recommend avoiding this practice as much as possible. It can cause issues with some machines. Sticking with a semicolon or parentheses at the end of the line will help ensure your program is the most compatible with a wider assortment of machines.

As we noted above, it is also a good idea to include comments at the start of a new section of your program.

Tooling descriptions, offset information and descriptions of the operations being performed are all great info to include in the comments at the start of a new section.

A block of comments at the start of your program is a welcome addition that many CAM programs will automatically insert with information such as the program creators name, a date or revision of the program and miscellaneous other information.

When should you use comments in your g code?

Comments add to the size of the CNC program (not as much of an issue with newer machines) and also clutter up the code.

Use them sparingly and in the important places. You don’t need to comment ever move.

Comments work great at the start of program sections to help operators know what to expect or what is expected of them.

Quick Guide to the G04 CNC G Code [Tips and Tricks]

a graphic of a cnc machine with text that says learn g code today G04 dwell






The machine will stop moving for a set amount of time

What does a G04 code do?

A G04 code makes the cutting tool stop moving for specified amount of time. Following that amount of time the machine will proceed to the next line of code.

When to use a G04 code?

G04 codes are used for multiple reasons. They are used on lathes specifically, to break the chips. This way you don’t end up with one super long, razor-sharp chip.

They are also used to improve surface finishes on both lathes and mills.

What to think about when using a G04 code?

There is some variation to how G04 codes are called out. The difference is how the dwell times are listed.

Depending on what brand/controller your machine is, the following can change:

  • Letter used in callout to list time. Common letters are F, P, U, and X.
  • Seconds vs milliseconds. 1 second = 1000 milliseconds. Some machines work in seconds, others work in milliseconds.
  • Decimal or no decimal. Some controllers require a decimal. Some don’t allow a decimal. Some allow either way, but treat the number different based on whether you use the decimal or not.

Real standardized stuff ain’t it?

Still, these differences should help you troubleshoot any program issues you have related to a G04 dwell code. Check out the examples below to get a better understanding of how you might see dwell codes on your machine.

I am not experienced enough with all brands of CNC machines. I would like to add a list here that tells the most common ways to callout a G04 command based on the CNC manufacturer.  If anyone has experience with a variety of machines, please leave a comment below and I will make sure to add the info to the post.

4 G04 code examples and descriptions of what they do

Example #1

N005 G04 P3

This is line number 5 of the program.

G04 sets the movement mode as dwell

P3 is the amount of dwell time = 3 seconds.

Example #2

N040 G04 F5.0

This is line number 40 of the program.

G04 sets the movement mode as dwell

F5.0 is the amount of dwell time = 5 seconds.

Example #3

N040 G04 F5

This is the same line as above, on the same controller. The decimal changes how the machine reads the code.

This is line number 040 of the program.

G04 sets the movement mode as dwell

F5 is the amount of dwell time. In this case, 5 milliseconds = .005 seconds.

A big difference. Watch those decimals.

Example #4

N100 G04 U5

This is line number 100 of the program.

G04 sets the movement mode as dwell

U5 is the amount of dwell time = 5 second.

CNC codes that are similar to G04

The table below lists all of the other G codes that control movement like a G04 code does.

Want to learn more about G Code for your CNC?

Beginner’s Guide To Reading Machine Shop Numbers & Values

math on chalkboard

Confused? If you’re reading this page then I’m pretty sure you are. Dealing with numbers, values and calculations when machining or 3d printing can be hard for those just starting. 

The lingo and terminology used by many people both online or at a new job can be hard to understand. My hope is that after this quick lesson in dealing with machine shop numbers, you will not only be comfortable reading your numbers and measurements but also will know how to perform some simple calculations using them. 

Let's begin

First we need to understand what the numbers we are working with represent.

Whether they are a reading on a micrometer, a spec on a blueprint or a stack of gage blocks, the goal is the same.

We need to know how to read them and work with them. 

Below is a graphic that shows the name (including machine shop lingo) for different values.

Pay attention to how far each number is from the decimal place when looking at the chart.

Please note that not everyone will be working down to millionths of an inch but I included them for reference. Many will only work down to the the values shown in this table. 


Machinist Lingo

Technical Math Term


Thousandth or Thou

Thousandth of an Inch



Ten Thousandth of an Inch

Keep in mind that all these numbers and terms apply to imperial units (inches).

How to say the value

Machine shops usually speak in terms of thousandths of an inch. Because of this when we describe the value to someone else we will read it a little different than you might expect.

As noted above, if we give the example of 7.489136″ a machinist would describe the value as 7 inch, 489 thousandths, 1 tenth, 36 millionths. 

Read that last sentence over a couple times to really understand the terms your typical machine shop speaks in.

As a note, not all machine shops or hobbyists will deal in millionths of an inch and some might not even work with tenths but I have included them for reference.

Note: Thousandths of an inch is often abbreviated as “thou” especially when discussing values verbally. 

Machine shop number reading examples

Below are some more examples to show how machinists communicate values:


Machinist Lingo


1 inch 325 thousandths


500 thousandths 1 tenth


21 thousandths


653 thousandths 2 tenths


9 inch 792 thousandths 3 tenths 45 millionths

Gage blocks

A common scenario for someone new in a machine shop is learning how to set up a stack of gage blocks.

I’m not going to show you how to pick the right gage blocks for your stack here. If you need those instructions then head over to Starrett’s website. They have great instructions that show you how to select your gage blocks and make a stack of a specific height. 

The link also contains information related to the use and care of your gage blocks. Take care of your gage blocks people, those things are expensive.

How to setup calculations

Now I said I would show you how to work with these numbers, so let’s demonstrate how to do that.


The important part when dealing with numbers or values in a machine shop context is to line up the decimal point. Below you will see some examples of addition and subtraction of numbers:

Simple calculation examples

addition and subtraction of values

For practice, let’s list out how to say those answers!


Machinist Lingo


1 inch 610 thousandths


720 thousandths 6 tenths


624 thousandths 9 tenths

texas instruments ti-30xa calculator

There aren’t any other special tricks here. Once you line up the decimal places everything else is just like you learned early in school. Also consider yourself lucky we have calculators.

That’s it. Now you should know how to speak in terms that a machinist would understand and use the values in simple calculations. 

If you need more in depth training when it comes to machine shop math, check out the training linked below. It breaks all the hard subjects down into bite sized pieces to make them easy to understand.