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.

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.