What's a good cnc router

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Forum topic by Brian posted 04-17-2014 07:10 AM 6360 views 0 times favorited 39 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 1728 days

04-17-2014 07:10 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question resource router carving tool

Hi guys I’m looking to buy a cnc router and was wondering if anybody has any ideas on a good brand and not to expensive. And I would like to be able to cut about a 4’ by 4’ sheet or smaller. Any ideas?

-- Brian K

39 replies so far

View Underdog's profile


1095 posts in 2030 days

#1 posted 04-17-2014 01:26 PM

High production? Carving? Cabinets? Signs?

What are you planning to do with it?

If you want high production or rock solid reliability, then go with something like CAMaster or Onsrud.

If you just need it for weekends or light production, then ShopBot would be good, but I know folks who do production work with one.

-- "woodworker with an asterisk"

View Loren's profile


10377 posts in 3643 days

#2 posted 04-17-2014 02:27 PM

A couple interesting options for lighter applications:

View Joe Andrews's profile

Joe Andrews

68 posts in 1994 days

#3 posted 04-17-2014 02:59 PM

That Handibot is interesting, but it has an incredibly small work area for the price. I’ve been drooling over the BuildYourCnc machines for a while, and think they are the best bang for the buck in a hobbyist machine. Really want the BlackToe 2×4 for my shop. I build a lot of R/C airplanes and all of the sheet stock is a max of 4’ ong and 1’ wide so the work area would be perfect for it. Wish I had the room for the BlackFoot 4×8 setup but that would be hard to shoehorn into the shop/garage. They also have a new machine that you place the sheet stock in vertically. Not sure how you would go about clamping things though…

View PaulDoug's profile


1534 posts in 1698 days

#4 posted 04-17-2014 03:01 PM

Rockler sells one, I don’t know anything about it.

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

View DS's profile


2916 posts in 2415 days

#5 posted 04-18-2014 03:58 AM

Expensive is relative. A bigger machine (more initial expense) could produce individual components for far less cost than a smaller, less expensive, but less capable machine.

Decide your application first, then find the optimal machine for that application.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View SugarbeatCo's profile


142 posts in 2263 days

#6 posted 04-18-2014 05:55 AM

I heard the cnc shark that rockler sells is actually made by shopbot with a rockler rail table? Anyone have any insight? The only bad thing I have heard is that the table is a little flimsy..

-- Always one more tool away from being an excellent woodworker...

View KarenW's profile


131 posts in 2183 days

#7 posted 04-20-2014 06:31 AM

The Shark has some drawbacks – I have the Pro Plus model – but so far we’ve been pleased with it. Any problems (not including some table fussing) have been operator error. ;)
I think it really depends on what you want to do with it. If I were doing heavy production work or needed .001” precision, I wouldn’t go with the Shark but it does make about half my income right now and I have it running 4-5 days a week.

As I said – it has some drawbacks (read: weaknesses) but as with anything, you learn the work-arounds. Count on making a modification right off the bat—the front and back table braces need replacing and beefing up. Price IS a consideration for most people and we can’t all drop $10k or more on a tool, no matter how many bells and whistles or rave reviews. My top end budget was $5000. Period. No leeway. We were able to get the Shark plus put in a new dust collection system and build a lumber storage room onto the shop for that money.

-- Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best. --Theodore I. Rubin

View Ger21's profile


1074 posts in 3126 days

#8 posted 07-09-2014 10:14 PM

>>>I’ve been drooling over the BuildYourCnc machines for a while, and think they are the best bang for the buck in a hobbyist machine.<<<

I think they offer the least bang for you buck.
CNC Router Parts sells kits that are many times stronger and more rigid, and capable of making heavier cuts, at 4-5x faster speeds. All Steel and aluminum, much superior rack and pinion drive system. For pretty close to the same prices.

-- Gerry,

View JAAune's profile


1797 posts in 2311 days

#9 posted 07-09-2014 11:52 PM

A Machine Tool Camp 4×8 machine can be built for less than $10,000 with software and computer included. The only thing is that I don’t recommend the machine as designed in the plans. We’ve got a heavily modified version that is much stronger.

I’ve been able to process cabinet parts from a sheet of plywood in 15 minutes which isn’t bad for a home-made machine. It’ll go faster once I get better bits and get better at getting the settings right. If on a low budget, don’t underestimate the ability of the home made units.

Given a larger budget, I’d look at the Camaster Stinger.

-- See my work at and

View Ger21's profile


1074 posts in 3126 days

#10 posted 07-10-2014 12:34 AM

Machine Tool Camp…
I thought they stopped selling plans years ago. If you go to their website, there are no links to get to the plans, but Google can get you there. Looks like a completely different machine than their old plans, but they don’t give you much info until you give them the money.

-- Gerry,

View brtech's profile


1029 posts in 2917 days

#11 posted 07-10-2014 12:53 AM

+1 for the CNC Router Parts machines. Very nice.

I have the Fineline Automation FLA 200 (2’ x 4’) but if I was starting over, I’d go with CNC Router Parts.

View JAAune's profile


1797 posts in 2311 days

#12 posted 07-10-2014 01:52 AM

I bought a plan from MTC around April 2013 so if they’re gone, it’s happened since then. The X-Axis drive axle has a weak setup. They put one bearing on either end which permits the axle to flex a lot in the middle and that leads to whiplash as the gantry reverses at high acceleration. We added a third bearing in the middle. The Y-axis doesn’t quite travel 48” so that needed a little tweaking. The Z-axis on our machine is completely different and I can’t even remember what the original looked like.

The instructions are also a bit vague. I bought the plans but the machine was built in a classroom setting with the help of the instructor so I stored the plans and never referenced them. The rest of the class built from kits supplied by CNC Router Parts but they all opted for the ball bearings and not lineal guides. Our machine was the best one for that reason alone.

If going with the plans from Router Parts, I’d heavily suggest forking over the extra cash for the lineal guide rails and bearings upgrade. I’ve seen how much work goes into adjusting the ball bearing version. It’s not easy and they aren’t as strong.

-- See my work at and

View brtech's profile


1029 posts in 2917 days

#13 posted 07-10-2014 03:24 AM

Dunno, my FLA-200 uses the original CNC Routerparts ball bearings on cold rolled plate and they were not hard to adjust.

View Joe Andrews's profile

Joe Andrews

68 posts in 1994 days

#14 posted 07-16-2014 01:17 PM

Well, I may be getting my machine a little sooner than I thought. I found a guy that has a partially assembled BuildYourCNC Blue Chick that is willing to sell me everything but the wooden structure (he glued it together and it is too big to ship) for a killer price. It is the older model with the timing belt, but hopefully that will work well enough to allow me to use it to cut parts for a roller chain version later on. I also got a set of plans from Sidewinder CNC and plan on modifying those to build my own hybrid between the two.

View Hytech2k's profile


6 posts in 1405 days

#15 posted 07-16-2014 03:42 PM

I have to say, I built my machine from joescnc. Ended up settling on a 5×9 foot table evo machine. Nice thing about the joes machine is its easy to scale up at a later date. Ive been using it in my business for the last year and have cut no less then 500 different signs and projects with it. It runs about 6 days a week. I have only had to replace brushes and bearings in the router a couple times. IMHO buy the best electronics and drive systems you can afford, they will pay off in reliability in the long run. I considered the wood framed cnc but was worried about losing tolerances due to wood movement and the tension of the drive chain/belts over time. Just my two cents.


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