What is a CNC router? This machine is used to cut wood, plastic or metal and is generally used for routing out letters for signs, etc. Besides routing and signage, these machines can act as engraving machines, so you can get a lot of usage from one machine.

Many small fabricating shops, and even individuals are finding the accuracy and versatility of a CNC router very useful. As used equipment becomes available, more and more will be in demand since the price is lower for used equipment.

But they are still an expensive addition to the home shop, and plans to make your own have now become available in sizes as small as 15X15 to 50X60. The use of the machine would determine the size.

A CNC router allows a worker to create many projects that would be very time consuming and sometimes almost impossible to do otherwise. Cutting a complicated design into wood or even putting inlays into it are difficult for even the most skilled of carpenters, but with a CNC machine, these are done easily and accurately.

This makes CNC routers ideal for furniture making. The software for the machine allows you to design patterns or to do signs, once you know the software, and learning the software is not difficult.

The smaller machines, typically for the home shop worker, only require 120 voltage and can therefore be run on household current. These smaller table top machines only require 1 or 2 HP motors and are within the range of a hobbyist. A large machine can cost upwards of $20,000 while these smaller ones are about $7,000. Used machines are usually half the price of new ones, so for an investment of $3500, a home shop can have a very versatile machine. If someone were interested in making furniture for sale, it would pay for itself in no time.

A used CNC router therefore is quite a bargain. At half the cost of a new one, it is a very attractive option. Just make sure you shop around and determine the best machine for the type of machine work you will be doing. The used machines are older, and therefore not as fast as the newer machines. For the home shop this may not be as important an issue as price.

Used machines are available that have been rebuilt and these are a very good value as a rule. After a thorough inspection any worn or damaged parts of the machine are replaced and the result is a machine that is so good that many of the companies who do this are able to offer a warranty on the machine.

It is also important to have support available from the company. This will allow you to get installation instructions, and may also entitle you to free training on the software. If you are buying and using such a machine for the first time, this may be very important. You will want to make sure you are dealing with a company that can give you help and support in case you need it. A manual is important to have, but it may not answer all of your questions.

Eric J. Slarkowski

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