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cnc router table

So you got yourself a cnc machine, now its time to look into inexpensive as well as the expensive options that you can get when it comes to cnc router tables. The line in the sand seems to be tables under the $1000 mark. It is possible to get something under $1000, but it all comes down to application.

Going the custom route

You could get a custom cnc router table made up. The cheapest diy cnc router table would probably be one that is made out of mdf or custom wood. MDF is probably the best way to go if you want something cheap and easy, as plywood can warp a bit (however treated plywood repels water a lot better without any swelling). 3/4 inch plywood cut up and screwed together would make for an extremely strong base, but wouldn’t be 100% flat, so custom wood/ particle board/ mdf wood is a good way to go, and can be bonded and clamped together to create a stable platform.

Aluminum or steel is another way to go. This is where things start to get expensive, and with aluminum you’d need a specialty welder. You could find some lengths of extrusion then weld them together to a base frame to form a solid base if you’re going the aluminum route. Steel could be done, but you may have to use fasteners to join together if you don’t have access to a welder. The fasteners may vibrate and come loose during repeated application. The good thing about steel is that you can create a lip on the edges, so you can clamp down material easy – also clamping onto steel directly will not dent, unlike a wooden cnc router table top.

Getting the kit with a table

Buying a cnc engraving/ routing machine with a table is the easiest way to go. Cost-wise it’s going to cost from a few hundred to a thousands more, but then you have the whole package ready to go. This kit by CNCEST is a solid 3 axis router that comes with a 230W DC spindle motor and a small, but solid aluminum base.

cnc router table 4x8

This table here (pictured above) is for those that want a large table (4 foot x 8 foot). However you will be paying a lot for this – in the $3000 range.

DIY router table

As mentioned above in the custom router section, diy is definitely going to be your best bet. Getting some treated plywood, or untreated and then cut to size. Home Depot typically allows 2-3 cuts per sheet for free and you can rent a truck from Home Depot for cheap (around $20) for the first 75 mins, then $5 for each 15 minutes afterwards.

We would suggest measuring up what you need, then heading down to Home Depot and picking up your wood then renting one of their vehicles if you don’t have your own. Or if you cut your table down enough you could probably put the plywood into the back of your car. For pre-made plans Build Your CNC has some good ones.

What are your plans for your cnc router table? What solutions have you found to be the best?

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cnc stepper motor driver

Well it’s the new year, so I’m going to talk a little bit about cnc stepper motor driver systems. Having the right cnc stepper motor driver is crucial.

Below is a guide on what a stepper motor driver is and also some pointers on where to buy:

What is a stepper motor?

A stepper motor or stepper motor is different to a DC motor as it is brushless and has “toothed” electromagnets around a  central gear shape. This divides the full rotation into an equal number of steps.

The stepper motor can then be stopped at each individual step if commanded to do so. Each of these stops is called a ‘step’ hence the name stepper motor.

What are the different types of stepper motors?

1.)  Lavet type stepping motor

2.)  Permanent magnet stepper – there is a permanent magnet in the rotor, operates on the repulsion or attraction between the stator electromagnets and the permanent magnet.

3.)  Variable reluctance stepper – plain iron rotor, the rotor points in a variable reluctance stepper are attracted towards the stator electromagnets.

4.)  Hybrid Synchronous stepper – Uses a combination of both a hybrid synchronous and permanent magnet stepper motor to achieve max efficiency in a smaller size.

What is in a stepper motor system?

There are three basic elements in a stepper motor system:

1.)  Drivers/ Amplifier – The Amplifier/ driver converts the indexer command signals into usable power to power the windings of the motor. There are different current and voltage ratings depending on the driver/ amplifier you have. Because of this, selecting the right driver for a motion control system is crucial.

2.)  Controller / Indexers – To generate the directional signals and the step pulses to run the driver as well as more advanced command functions,  you need a microprocessor which is the indexer/ controller.

3.)  Stepper motor– Converts the digital pulses into shaft rotation mechanically using an electromagnetic device.

CNC stepper motor controller options

Options for cnc stepper motor driver systems for 2013:

3 axis cnc stepper motor driver: SainSmart CNC TB6560 3 Axis Stepper Motor Driver Controller Board & Cable Good value as it can also drive a 4th axis. Reportedly runs pretty smooth – documentation can be found here to set DTP switches. This board is also compatible with Mach 3.

4 axis cnc stepper motor driver SainSmart CNC TB6560 4 Axis 3.5A Stepper Motor Driver Board Controller Engraving Machine Easy to install 4 axis cnc router stepper motor board. Utilizes 2 signal processing with a high powered 3.5A chipset. There are 4 channel inputs here for a stop and X, Y, Z directions. Great for stepper motoros with a current rating between 1.5A to 3.5A

5 axis stepper motor driver for cnc mill SainSmart 5 Axis Breakout Board for Stepper Motor Driver CNC Mill *Blue* – The SainSmart  features 2 stage signal processing and an array of other features worth a look.

For an alternative to SainSmart I recommend Probotix. They have a good range of stepper motor drivers as well as stepper motors for cnc machines. They have both bi-polar and uni-polar stepper motor chopper drivers here.

Surestep stepper motor drives from Automation Direct – Standard and advanced stepper drives that are affordable and solid. The devices use microsteppung that allows smoother motor and stepping response as well as reduced vibration for better efficiency. They also have video tutorials here.

DIY cnc stepper motor driver kit sets/ instructions:

For the ambitious DIY inclined – has a great tutorial on building a parallel port 3 axis cnc unipolar stepper driver here, as well as a stepper driver board for a multi-axis router here.

Easy Driver v4.4 cnc stepper motor driver

There’s also an open source cnc stepper motor driver board project going on here where you can get instructions from.  This project is called EasyDriver – v4.4 of the cnc stepper motor driver circuit board can be seen in the picture on the right here. I wouldn’t call this an easy cnc stepper motor driver set-up, but because it is open-source, the plans are free, so take a look and see how you feel.

UPDATE: If you don’t feel like making this, you can buy it here: EasyDriver Stepper Motor Driver

CNC stepper driver boards from eBay:

I hardly ever use eBay, but sometimes there are gems – especially with stepper driver board controllers. They are small enough to ship and aren’t too expensive. I recommend a couple:

Check out the 3 Axis TB6560 CNC Stepper Motor Driver Board Controller or the 4 Axis TB6560 CNC Stepper Motor Driver Board Controller. The former is easier to get on eBay, but the 4 axis board comes and goes, but there is a great wiki on the 4 axis board here that is definitely worth a look.

Top cnc stepper motors

stepper motor

I know I have talked a lot about cnc stepper motor drivers so far, and you probably already have a stepper motor anyway, but for those that don’t, here are some recommendations based on quality of brand and ease of purchase:

Applied motion products – These guys have a solid product category for two-phase and hybrid stepper motors here.

Probotix – This is the top place to go to for selection. Check out their range of hybrid motors here. This is a great one-stop place to get your stepper motor as well as stepper motor drives for a cnc router/ lathe machine. You have a lot of choice here as the motors range from 2 to a large 8 amp stepper motor.

Unipolar vs Bipolar stepper motor systems explained here by Probotix.

With a new website, Automation Technologies inc. has a ton of motion control parts for cnc work. They have a good range of stepper motors as well as stepper motor drives available here. Their 3.5A dual shaft NEMA23 is a great choce for a stepper motor due to its hybrid motor and bi-polar set-up.

HobbyCNC – These guys have a simple website that sells cnc focused parts too. You can order stepper motors from them directly. They have 2.1 Amp to 3 Amp motors, so don’t really match Probotix in terms of selection. but their pricing is very competitive.

I’ve covered a ton of different options for a new stepper motor or a cnc stepper motor driver. Please leave a comment below if you’ve found a great fit that you recommend!

Top photo credit

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Are you looking for a great cnc plasma kit? Well look no further as we have gathered the best cnc plasma kits to review below:

The best cnc plasma table kit – Where to buy

cnc plasma table kit

There are so many different kits out there to choose from. I recommend heading over to the following places (In no particular order):

1.) Motiontek – These guys have a wide range of different parts and pieces based in Canada. From your average stepper drivers and motors to other things such as a cnc plasma cutter and table kit.

Motiontek offers a flat shipping rate to both Canada and USA.

2.) CamCutCNC – These guys don’t carry a lot, but they do carry cnc plasma kits. They offer the following: plasma controllers, an optional Z axis, and kit components.

Contact them for more details on what they offer. They have pricing right on their website here.

3.) ProCutCNC – This US based company (their slogan says ‘made in the USA’). These guys have been around since 2003 and offer a wide range of gantry, table and motor kits as well as electronics and software to support a new plasma machine. Their prices are also very reasonable too.

4.) LowCostCNCKits – These guys focus only on kits and offer some very low cost cnc plasma cutter kits. Their 4×4 cnc plasma cutting table goes for $8,100, while their 4×8 cnc plasma cutting table goes for $9,700 USD. Both these are worth checking out while on your hunt for the perfect plasma cnc kit.

5.) EaglePlasma – These guys also have a few table, gantry and full kits available. Prices range from $3-5,000 USD plus shipping for their full cnc plasma gantrykit with a table.

cnc plasma kit

Their payment area is straight forward and they have a no-nonsense website so you can see pictures along with prices straight away.

I’m not sure why a lot of sites don’t have pricing straight away, I believe it is to upsell you when you call most of the time. I like this site because of it’s transparency.

Their kits also come with software that you may need. Depending on the model, you may get Mach3, Sheetcam or Qcad software.

6.) EZCutCNC – EZ Cut CNC offers a solid range of heavy duty industrial cnc plasma tables. They offer a full service where they come on-site and install as well as provide system training and unlimited technical support by phone and email.

Their most popular table sizes are the 6′ x 10′, 5′ x 10′ and 4′ x 8′. They also do a smaller 4′ x 4′ among other models. They offer both a Hypertherm and Thermal Dynamics plasma cutter as options with differing amps.

7.)  Stepperonline through Amazon – In terms of merchants, Stepperonline on Amazon is a good choice to go to for your stepper motors and drivers for your plasma cnc build, they’re an easy go to for high torque Nema motors.

Refurbished CNC plasma tables

You could also look at used or refurbished cnc plasma tables, which you can find here or on eBay.


For changing your files into cnc machinable g-code, there are both free and paid options out there. For paid, I highly recommend Mach software. Their latest Mach 4 is an easy to use piece of software well worth the price. For free versions, check out ReplicatorG, CAMotics, and Probotix as great open source options.

Things to Remember

cnc plasma cutter kit

Remember that your personal or commercial cnc plasma cutter can be an expensive investment, so it is wise to have a good look around using some of the resources above to help find the best plasma kit for your needs.

Other factors to consider that may end up adding to the total cost are things like deliver, maintenance, tax and software upfront as well as software upgrades. You will also have to consider training as well if it is a new machine and comes with unfamiliar software.

Be on the look out not only online, but there may be local dealers that may be able to demo machines for you.

Also look for things such as a solid warranty, service and support. Anything could happen with a new machine or even a refurbished one. If you aren’t one to fix things technically, then having that warranty will prove priceless if a machine fails during an important job.

We have a ton of other articles on this site to help you out, so be sure to have more of a look around.


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Are you looking at getting a great cnc mill kit? There are many different kinds of cnc mill kit brands out there. Below is my guide on how to get a great kit for your cnc machine.

Top Cnc Mill Kits

cnc mill kit

There are a ton of different places out there that sell cnc mill kits. Here are some of my top places to check out. I had a bit of a hunt around to see what was best and what each place has to offer. In no particular order:

Cnc Fusion – Cnc Fusion has a solid amount of products that will change your mill into a solid cnc mill. They have some solid kits to convert to a mini mill cnc styles.

Ebay – Yeah I know, super cliche. But for cnc parts that are as random as you are going to get, Ebay is a great place to start looking. People have all sorts here. I saw a great cnc mill kit for a 3 axis machine for just under $300. That is pretty good value.

Micro Kinetics – Micro Kinetics has some cnc conversion kits that are great for the diy person. There is no complicated wiring or soldering, just bolt on the hardware and plug in cables. They even provide the sofwtare to install too. So I think this is probably the best way to go. Definitely worth checking out.

Sherline – Sherline do some great mills for smaller applications. They also do some solid retrofit cnc mill kits. Their 8770 cnc mill retrofit kit comes in at $805 and comes with stepper motor mounts already installed. For this kit however you will need to provide your own comp/monitor/cnc software. The later being pricey.

Ajax CNC – These guys have some good retrofit packages that are worth considering for a good cnc mill conversion kit.

Of course, there are a ton of different mills that can be retrofitted. So I suggest having a look into some of the top brands/ suppliers I have mentioned above and then go from there.

DIY cnc mill kit

Going the diy route for people with cnc machines seems to be the popular thing to do. Unfortunately there aren’t too many solid options out there in terms of a diy mini mill cnc conversion kit. Here is a great article on a ton of different diy cnc kits: check it out here.

Remember that the diy route can be a fun route for smaller kits such as a mini mill cnc kit. Other mills are more suited for just buying an actual product that can be retrofitted on. Make sure you do the research first to see which mini  cnc conversion kit will be the best for your particular mill or lathe.

Good luck in finding the best cnc mini mill kit or retrofit kit for your needs!

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Are you looking to get a great cnc spindle? Well I have written a comprehensive guide below to help you choose the best cnc spindle for your cnc machine.

Read on to find a great cnc spindle motor:

Alright, so there are a ton of different options out there. It really depends on the type of motor/router that you have. Let’s look at some of the top brands out there that offer a solid selection:

Cnc router parts – Cnc router parts has a ton of smaller parts including controllers and spindle motors for you to check out. – These guys have a good selection of different cnc spindles. Easy to buy and pay through Paypal make them a great choice. They also have the specs alongside each product. You can even buy ATC spindles there too.

Ekstrom Carlson – These guys have a solid range of spindles too. They have spindles for drill/boring/arbo/block/cartridge. They even customize the heads to your specific configuration.

Micromech – These guys have a good handful of solutions when it comes to cnc spindles. Worth a look for sure.

Ebay – Often under-utilized in this industry, there is still a lot of option to buy parts from Ebay. Spindles are smaller, so shipping will be pretty reasonable. The problem here is that a good half of the sellers do not accept returns, while the other half do.

Best to have a close look at each listing and pair the right cnc milling spindle with your milling machine or cnc lathe spindle with your twin spindle cnc lathe before buying. Also, buy off sellers where you can return stuff.

What you should look for when hunting for the perfect cnc router spindle

There are a ton of different spindle parts out there. Here are the 3 most common:

Incline Spindle – This spindle is directly coupled to the inline cnc spindle motor. These types of spindles can get up to 30,000 rpm.

Machine Tool Spindle – This component helps hold the cutting tools that are used to shape a work piece. Most cnc machine centers use a cartridge spindle style. This is probably the most common spindle out there and is usually the standard.

High Speed Spindle – Usually belt driven, this refers to a cnc router spindle that operates faster than 10,000 rpm.

Cnc Spindle Repair

Check out some of the places below for cnc spindle repair: – These guys know their seo and picked an exact match domain, but are really called Motor City machine tool They specialize in repairs for cnc machine tools such as VMCs, HMCs, grinding machines and turning centers. They are based in Royal Oak, MI.

Centerline Inc – This company also does spindle repair. Based in Ponca City, OK.

Northland Tool – These guys can fix a ton of different multi spindle cnc for different machines. Based in Weare, NH.

Elkstrom Carlson – These guys also repair a ton of different kinds of cnc mill spindle types.They even manufacture their own designs of cnc machine spindle. Definitely worth a look here. Based in Rockford, IL.

Setco – Setco offers expert spindle repair,  rebuild and retrofitting services for your cnc spindle mount or cnc spindle motors.

DIY Cnc Spindle

Making a diy spindle for cnc is a cost effective way of doing things. The problem is efficiency and how well it will work in your machine. There aren’t really many tutorials out there, so I recommend for the cnc router spindle motor, just splash out and get the right one for the job. There are other ways to save on money, such as cnc software and cnc operator training.

Good luck with getting the right cnc motor spindle for your needs!

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Are you looking at getting the best cnc controller kits? Well there are many different types of cnc controller kits out there that you can choose from. Below is my guide on getting the best cnc controller and also what are the best types of cnc controller board for you to look at:

Stepper vs. Servo controller kits

A stepper motor is probably the most cost friendly way to control a machine tool. Some stepper systems come with microstepping which ensures accuracy and smoothness.

The downside to this is that stepper motors do not have larger speeds for cutting and rapid moves compared to a servo controller kit.

With cnc servo control, you have a higher maximum speed compared with many stepper controllers. Usually the servo control uses feedback from the encoder to monitor the exact position of the cnc machine’s tool. This helps ensure cutting or routing with a high speed and with great accuracy, even with a lot of pressure on the machine.

Best Cnc controller kit

There are many different kits out there, so it really depends on the brand and manufacturer that you want. Below are some of my recommendations on the best manufacturers or places that have some quality cnc controllers:

Amazon. Amazon stock some solid kits from Sherline. Check out some of the kits below: – Flash cut Cnc have some solid controllers to take a look at. They have both stepper and servo controls as well as retrofit kits. Retrofitting is a great idea as opposed to spending a ton of money on a new machine. Check out these guys if that is something you want to consider. – These guys have digital and analog cnc controls. There is a good selection of cnc controls that can be used with analog servo drives, motors as well as digital servos, stepper drives and motors. Some of the models can also be retrofitted onto older machines too. Prices range from around $2000 to $5,600 USD for their cnc controls.

Adtech – Adtech has a big range of cnc control systems, although no specific diy kits. Worth a look to see what they have, as they have many different controls for different machines from 3-5 axis, whether i is a mill, lathe or laser cutting controller you are after, they have it all here. – Centroid is also worth a look, as they have controls for many different kinds of cnc machines too.

Cnc parts dept – Hit up and see their selection. They are both an Ebay seller as well as a trusted online seller. They have a ton of different controllers as well as cnc controller retrofits.

They also have stuff like a usb cnc controller or different types of cnc controller board. Definitely worth a browse, as you might find something inexpensive, but useful here.

Fanuc – Based in Japan, these guys have a good range of cnc controllers for a huge range of machines, from routers to lathes. A Fanuc cnc controller is definitely worth having a look at. They also very sophisticated, with some controllers handling well over 20 axes.

Cnc controller software

There is a lot of variety when it comes to cnc controller software. Sometimes it may be worth it sticking to hat the machine comes with, as training is provided when you buy new machines. Other times, some cnc operators have their own personal favorites when it comes to different tasks.

Check out our cnc and g coding articles for more information on all the different cam, cnc and cad programs out there. You will find great programs like MasterCAM and cad programs like Pro E and Solidworks will cost you a lot of money. So you will need to find out how many licenses/seats you want for the software, as cost can add up very quickly.

Remember that a lot of these cnc and cad/cam programs come with free trials. AutoCAD for example has a 30 day free trial. Experiment with each cad program for your pc based cnc controller to see what works best for you. Below are the 3 kinds of software you will need and what the differences are:

CAD/Drawing Software – Create the parts to be machined

CAM Software – Converts the part file into G-code

CNC Control Software – Turns the G-code file into motion, usually by controlling the parallel port

Here’s a run down on the different cnc control software options:

Axis – GUI for EMC2
EMC2 – This is a Liux based cnc controller software
KCAM – Works with older machines too (back to Windows 98)
TurboCNC – Made for DOS – up to 8 axes. There is a registration fee of $60 USD
CNCPro – Also made for DOS
USBCNC – CNC controlled by USB
LinuxCNC – Linux based software for cnc – great for a linux cnc controller
Mach 3 – Up to a 6 axes controller
FlashCut CNC – Frequently updated Windows cnc solution

Of course there are many other solutions out there, so it pays to take a look at what will best suit your needs. You can also go for free cnc controller software which I have seen floating around different sites. Try your luck at the forum if that is the route you want to go.

Build your own cnc controller

cnc controller kitAnother option you could look at doing is to build your own cnc controller. Whether it is a 3,5 or even 4 axis cnc controller, there are plans out there that will help you to build a diy cnc controller.

A homemade cnc controller will be cheaper and help you save some money for some of the other things you need, such as software. If you are an experienced cnc operator, this might be something you may consider.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many articles on how to build a cnc controller out there. So if you want to go and build your own cnc router controller, then by all means, good luck, but you might have better luck just buying from some of the resources above.

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Trying to find the best hand held engraver for your next engraving job? Below I will talk about what to look for in a hand held engraver. Different engravers are great for different tasks. I will also point you in the right direction for getting a good hand held engraver.

Top hand held metal engraver or wood engraver

This title would probably go to the Dremel 290-01 from Amazon, check it out below:

This is a great engraver that comes in at 7,200 strokes per minute. It is also pretty lightweight at only 12 ounces. Because of its accuracy and size, you should be able to engrave things small and legible, similar to writing with a pen and paper.

To expand its features, you could also add a keyless chuck and add rotary tool carving and engraving tool bits to this dremel. It is also super cheap and comes in at around just under $30 retail, but you can get it cheaper, at about $20 online through a site like Amazon.

Other hand held engravers worth a look

Dremel 100-N/7 – This dremel is good for engraving a variety of materials. You can do a ton of different things here such as cutting, sharpening, buffing, sanding and many other applications. The only down side is the single speed, so lacks variable speed. Worth a look, but is more of an all-rounder. For specific engraving, check out the Dremel 209-01 as mentioned before.

Dremel 4000-2/30 – This is an awesome dremel for people looking for the perfect multi use dremel. This kit pretty much does it all. Of course, you will have to pay more for it, but it also has variable speed and a lot of power behind it. This one comes highly recommended. This has variable speeds between 5-35,000 rpm which is great.

Dremel 8000-03 cordless – This bad boy is a great cordless dremel. This dremel comes with a wide range of tool fittings and a lithium Ion cordless battery. This dremel is a great choice for someone who needs a dremel that lacks a cord.

Proxxon 38481 IB/E – This professional rotary tool from Proxxon comes with great reviews. This dremel has variable speed from 5-20,000 rpm and comes with a 34-piece accessory set. The great thing about this dremel is that it is quiet and has minimal virabtion, even at maximum speeds.

Top hand held laser engraver

There really are no options out there for a hand held laser engraver. Your best bet would be to go with a smaller laser engraving machine that you can set up on a bench or on your desktop. I recommend RMI Laser for this, as they have small multi-purpose laser markers.

Also, check out our guide on laser engravers for more info.

I wish you all the best in finding the perfect hand held engraver for your engraving needs. Good luck!

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cnc router parts

Are you looking for some quality cnc router parts?

Well getting the right cnc router parts for your cnc machine is highly important to the smooth running of your machine and to the success of your project.

Below are some of the different parts that you may need for your machine and what you should be looking for.

Parallel port cable – Generally a male to male cable should suffice, but it depends on your computer. Sometimes you may need a male to female connector. Check for the amount of pins you may need. A 25 pin cable is standard. This connects your PC to your cnc machine. Make sure you have enough length (I’d go a little extra, just in case).

Stepper motors – Some of these motors require soldering. You can get stepper motors that are plug and play. Check power and torque to see i fit will suit your cnc machine.

Power supply – One of the most important aspects for your machine. Make sure you get enough power to operate the different aspects of your machine. Remember that the more motors you have, the higher the power supply you will need. The total wattage depends on your cutting loads and whether or not you may be doing high speed rapids and other power intensive production methods.

CNC Motor cables – Make sure you have good cables running to your cnc motor. A higher quality cable is going to last longer and reduce the risk of the cable itself getting damaged. Some of the better cables have rigid PVC jackets to help them bend better.

Emergency stop – Not much to say here, but a necessity for a lot of machines.

Limit switches – Mechanical lever arm limit / homing switches have both normally closed (NC) and normally open (NO) contacts. You will need to choose which one best suits your cnc machine.

Enclosure – Depending on the type of cnc machine you have, you may want an enclosure to stop pieces of material from flying out and hitting you. This also helps keep the mess down.

cnc milling machine

Tooling parts – Making sure that different tooling parts which suit the job at hand are used. There is a huge range of different tooling options for a variety of different things. For large blocking out of material, you will need a different tool compared to doing smaller engraving or etching jobs.

DIY cnc router parts – Homemade cnc router parts are common for the diy crowd. Some of the parts I mentioned above cater to the hobby and diy crowd. I suggest doing a bit of research on the parts above to see what parts suit your machine the best. Many builders are building their own laser, plasma, cnc and hot wire foam cutters.

Cnc router parts for sale

There are many different places where you can get cnc router parts for sale. I highly recommend Amazon for common parts if possible (their return policy and reviews make them an awesome place to shop). is also a good choice for the diy cnc machine builder. They also have smaller parts for those with a mini cnc milling machine. also has a ton of cnc router parts, machines and tooling for sale. They also stock a lot of Onsrud cutter cnc router bits.