The best CNC project machines


We’ve lost track of the number of home built CNC machines we’ve covered in the past, but we thought a comprehensive list of the best would help you understand why we’re so excited about the LumenLab CNC machine.


The hoss machine router is the result of one man’s quest to upgrade the living hell out of a Chinese made mini-mill. He put together a nice USB controller, created his own five axis version thanks to an articulating head and a rotating lathe style table attachment. He even added an automatic tool changer. We’ve had the creator make parts for us before; he does fantastic work.

We built our own modest version of the X2 CNC Mini-mill. It’s based on the same X2 Mini-mill with stepper motors, ball screws, and PIC controller based stepper drivers.

The MechMate CNC router came about by upgrading a ShopBot CNC machine so much that it just wasn’t a ShopBot anymore. The plans are completely free (aside from the odd requirement to paint it blue and slap “MechMate” on it). The claim to fame is that it’s scalable to to greater than 4×8′ sheets for full shop quality production.


Since CNC machines are usually somewhat pocket intensive, we put together a series of How-To’s for Engadget on building a CNC machine from cutting boards and printer parts. Check out part 1, part 2 and part 3 of the build.


[Steve], of the KillaCycle project, set up his CNC machine for pick and place operations. We wrote about it a while back, and since then he put together a PDF writeup of his work. It’s not as detailed as we like, but still interesting.


[Mike] built his own CNC router just for building his custom snowboards. It features a wood router, 80/20 aluminum construction, and a vacuum brush head for collecting the chaff produced as it mills the boards.


The RepRap project has come a long way since we first started covering it. Now it can produce all of the custom plastic parts needed to reproduce itself. SkyNet approves.


Probably one of the nicest mods for a CNC machine is a digital read out. This kit version uses some inexpensive Chinese scales/calipers to get the position data and outputs it to a nice LED display. For manual machining or just calibrating a mill, these things rock.

12 thoughts on “The best CNC project machines

  1. Sorry, but I still don’t see whats so good with LumenLabs CNC machine. (Mostly because I don’t know anything about CNC machines)
    Is it the price or what?

  2. awesome post! i always enjoy seeing new DIY cnc machines… there is some info about the one i built here on my website! i started with a cheesy drill press frame, stripped all the crappy drill press parts off it, mounted 3 precision ballscrew slides in an XYZ fashion then mounted a $30 rotary tool as the head of the machine… it does about 10ipm rapids! which isn’t that bad because i only have 11″ of travel at the longest axis. it’s run by a 64 bit amd sempron box i built running ubuntu x86_64 and the EMC2 open source machine controller software. check it out @ ohiopctech.com!

  3. There is a wonderful cnc build on instructables, made out of wood and a dremel. Parts count is low and everything can easily be bought, no scavenging for parts. Search for $600 CNC machine

  4. Are there any 5 axis router projects out there? The only machine I’ve seen is a professional setup made by Thermwood. it was freaking sweet by the way.

  5. curse you hackaday! I’m now obsessed with CNC machines….

    mini-mill or lumenlabs diy kit?
    That is the question.

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