Creative ways to make extra money with a CNC router

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Forum topic by Jerry posted 05-25-2014 07:06 PM 1200 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2195 posts in 2198 days

05-25-2014 07:06 PM

With reading about the CNC threads on here, I have decided to buy a CNC very soon. We are planning to pay cash and plan to purchase a 4 by 8, maybe a little larger, CNC router in the next month or so. I plan to utilize the CNC to cut out cabinet boxes and flat cut dovetail drawer boxes (I do understand flat cut dovetail on CNC is not true dovetail). With the addition of a CNC and also a Edgebander, we will begin to produce frameless cabinets for full overlay customers, and face frame cabinets for other customers.

While the CNC will greatly increase our speed and accuracy and efficiency with cabinets, I also know it will not be fully utilized. We will typically do between 75-100 LF of custom cabinet per month and I know the CNC will cut those parts out likely in a day or two depending on size of project. So I am wondering what else I can do with the CNC that can keep it producing product for sale.

I consider advertising for cutting sheets for other shops.

I have also considered setting up another web site that could offer for sale fully custom high end RTA cabinetry for shipment across the U.S. On that site a customer from Florida could send me the wall dimensions or just a list of cabinets they wish to purchase and the configuration of doors / drawers and also custom openings such as for built in microwaves, ovens, drawer warmers, etc… We could cut out the cabinet / drawer parts and ship everything including doors and drawer faces, face frames flat packed and ready for simple assembly. We could even ship the custom moldings of customer’s choice in 8’ sections. Of course the customer would need to hire a contractor for stain/paint finish application

Then I have thought maybe there are other smaller things the CNC could produce for Ebay sales, such as carvings.

Then lastly I think I would advertise under “Services on CL” for CNC services.

What types of things do you all CNC owners do to make some money with your CNC?

-- Jerry Nettrour, San Antonio,

10 replies so far

View woodman71's profile


162 posts in 1975 days

#1 posted 05-26-2014 06:39 PM

I would say that you have thought this out and got it pretty much cover. I would say the only thing I can come up with to help. Would be router templates jigs I was at a woodworking show and they were sell all kinds. Made out mdf there cheap to make. You could come up with your own design and post on your wed site for sale.

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1255 posts in 724 days

#2 posted 05-26-2014 09:19 PM

You could use it to make really large pancakes!!! :)

-- Who is John Galt?

View ShaneA's profile


5295 posts in 1250 days

#3 posted 05-26-2014 09:27 PM

A guy I know has one, makes ton of edge grain cutting boards with logos and pictures on them. Not sure of the copyright type stuff, but college mascots, local HS logos, unions, family names, portraits, characters are all ones I have seem him make. Seems to be able to customize to fit whatever the audience needs. Can use some of your off cuts too. Sets them apart from the typical cutting board fare. Not high end woodworking, but moveable products. Sell them at various places.

View Jerry's profile


2195 posts in 2198 days

#4 posted 05-26-2014 11:48 PM

That is great guys. I especially like the pancake idea. I have discussed it with my wife and she is on board I think.

I woke up this morning, was good for about 2 hours then ended up badly sick. It put me in bed suffering for the entire day. I just now got over whatever it was and my appetite came to me full force. Getting sick was not in the plan of the day so my body did not cooperate. So it was good to see the pancake idea while being sick, it helped me get through it all today.

Thanks fellas.

-- Jerry Nettrour, San Antonio,

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1255 posts in 724 days

#5 posted 05-27-2014 04:47 PM

I got to see that thing in action at the Makers Faire in San Francisco a week back. The jury is out on if I need one, but you never know. Pretty sure you can build one from lego’s if you just aren’t complacent with just a happy face. I thought you would get a pretty good lead on ideas, so I went the humor route. :)

-- Who is John Galt?

View rhett's profile


699 posts in 2319 days

#6 posted 05-28-2014 10:42 AM

I was within a week of taking delivery of a CAM-Master, glad that I didn’t.

There are alot of people buying cheap CNC’s and then using them to pump out personalized gifts, signs and widgets. The end result is a crowded market of “one-of-a-kind” trinket makers.

My plan to keep the CNC running was to cut out flat pack doll houses and sell them on Etsy. Good use for all the odd sized sheet good scrap in a cabinet shop.

-- It's only wood.

View JAAune's profile


796 posts in 968 days

#7 posted 05-28-2014 01:59 PM

I would check the area before attempting to make money with personalized trinkets and signs for the reason Rhett mentioned. In that market you’re also competing with laser engraving. We’ve got two engravers in the area and I think that’s all our community can support.

-- See my work at and

View Puzzleman's profile


331 posts in 1595 days

#8 posted 05-28-2014 04:48 PM

All of your ideas are good ones. Something to think about for down the road in your planning of new product ideas. If one of these ideas hits and you start making a gazillion of them, how will coordinate with your other products production flow? How can you fit this into your already going business practices in the shop? These are things that you need to think about. How will you sell the new items that are in a totally different market? How much time do you have to invest in the sales calling?

I would suggest creating things that complement the work you already do. Something that you can sell as an add-on or another sale to previous and existing customers.

Remember that making things is the easy part. Selling them is the hard part.

Other questions come from your post. What is the market for high end RTA furniture. Seems to me that people who can afford high end work, don’t want to put it together themselves. They want the whole thing done for them. Advertising with other cabinet shops that you have time available for their work overflow might be a good way to go as you can turn it down if you are too busy. Either of these examples takes sales time. do you have enough of it to make it go?

-- Jim Beachler, Chief Puzzler,

View Jerry's profile


2195 posts in 2198 days

#9 posted 05-28-2014 06:32 PM

Jim, you make some of the best points in your posting. Makes me think and you are very right. When do I have time to market some completely different idea.

I was just thinking of creative ways of keeping a machine running as I am fairly sure we will not require the CNC services nearly enough to run it 40 hours per week.

I might look at advertising CNC router services on CL because that is free to do and only takes minimal time to post the add.

The high end RTA cabinet idea is going down hill the more I think about it. Jim’s point is well taken. In fact, I am wondering how feasible it would be to flat pack and ship a wall oven cabinet or a pantry cabinet. Sounds like more headache than it might be worth.

Thanks for the input.

-- Jerry Nettrour, San Antonio,

View squazo's profile


21 posts in 297 days

#10 posted 05-29-2014 01:02 AM

3d molds for the concrete and resin industry, you know like hollow cast plant pots that you would make and send out to companies who would then fill them with concrete or epoxy. Why not make mold of parts for prop studios such as faces and body parts. typically you would make something like say a human skull which they would then turn into a hollow rubber mold, this would save them the time and the hassle of making one from a live human.

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