10 Best Desktop CNC [Updated 2020] For Hobbyists WoodWorker

CNC machines were, for a long time, a preserve for large construction enterprises. That’s indeed the reason why most manufacturers built large-sized options. Their versatility when it came to crafting and cutting metals, woods and an array of other materials made them irreplaceable. However, the need for less bulky and more affordable devices led to the introduction of desktop CNC routers.

In this article, we review some of the best desktop CNC router machines that you will find on the market. They are compact, and most of them are either assembled or semi-assembled, making them pretty easy to set up and use.

But firstly, let’s look into some of the basics!

What is Desktop CNC Router?

Let’s get this straight. A desktop CNC router is a lightweight and more compact version of the large standalone CNC machines. They are now very common among DIY and small scale woodworkers. With an excellent desktop CNC router, you can easily cut, drill, mill, and carve wood, foam, and plastic, among other lighter construction materials. Ideally, they perform more crafting tasks than your average 3D printing machine.

Top 10 Desktop CNC Routers

If you are looking for a CNC router machine that is reasonably priced, then the Yofuly Desktop CNC 3018-Pro Engraving machine is a perfect choice. It is one of the most affordable options on the market. Yet, the device delivers beyond ordinary expectations. The machine is pretty compact and will flawlessly fit in your garage without any problems.

It features an aluminum build. The rugged build means that despite the affordable price and compact nature, you can’t beat it when it comes to longevity.

Upgraded Version

Among the top features of this device is the upgraded characteristics. The company makes new adjustments to the original version of the tool. So, unlike the previous model, this version supports both Micro SD and TF cards. It also comes with an upgraded memory space to store up to 1 GB data.

775 DC Strong Motor

The motor of any electric power tool determines its productivity. The Yofuly CNC 3018-Pro features one of the most powerful motors among CNC tools. Interestingly, the motor features a 775 DC capacity and has a rating of 12V. At 10,000 revolutions per minute, this is undoubtedly one of the fastest devices that you will find. 

Durable

The Yofuly machine has all the characteristics of a device that will serve you for several years. All the gears feature an all-metal build, which implies that they can resist abrasion, substantial loads, and high temperatures. The outer casing is also remarkably increased to help improve the longevity of the device.

10 Pieces Of Carbide Drill Bits

Interestingly, you don’t need to purchase any drill bits as the engraving tool comes with up to 10 pieces of carbide PCB drill bits. These bits are pretty versatile and will engrave a range of materials. You can confidently use the drill bits on wood, nylon, ABS, plastics, acrylic, aluminum, and resin. The versatility makes the tool ideal for 3D and 2D sculpture applications.

Pros

  • Beginners and hobbyists will find the machine incredibly useful.
  • The machine is favorably priced yet comes with amazing features.
  • It is a perfect learning tool for people not familiar with 3-axis adjustments.
  • The company has reliable and timely customer support.

Cons

  • The unit doesn’t include designing software, so you’ll need to use personal designs.
  • It cannot engrave hard metals and other hard materials.

Any newcomer into the sculpting industry will want to add to their collection of tools a device with exceptional performance. Your machine of choice must also be easy to use. Well, the MYSWEETY DIY CNC 3018PRO-M 3 Axis CNC Router Kit perfectly fits this description. It comes with amazing features that make it one of the greatest performers in the category.

Let’s take a look at some of its features!

Safety-Driven Design

One of the most significant challenges that amateur CNC router users undergo is the danger posed by the moving parts of the device. Interestingly, that’s not the case with the MYSWEETY DIY CNC 3018PRO-M machine. The device comes with baffles on either side of the machine. These baffles provide you with the needed safety when coordinating and monitoring your engraving processes.

Large Working Area

Size is an essential factor to consider when shopping for a desktop CNC router. The larger the working space, the bigger the models that you can code and design. This device has a large working area of 11.8 x 7.1 x 1.8 inches. Such a large size allows you to engrave models of many sizes.

Aluminum Profile

Look, the frame and general build of a router machine determine the stability and durability of the system. The MYSWEETY DIY CNC 3018PRO-M machine features a sturdy aluminum and nylon build. The sturdy profile gives the device incredible stability and consistent run. Thus, your engraving processes will look better.

Offline Control Mode

It is exciting that you can also use the device without having to establish a computer connection. Thanks to the included offline controller. The offline controller allows you to use the included SD card to write content into the root directory.

Pros

  • It features a stable and incredibly safe design.
  • The device works consistently with remarkable precision.
  • Entry-level sculpting enthusiasts will find it impressive and easy to learn.

Cons

  • Some of the assembly and installation instructions are not clear, but you can quickly figure them out.

Are you looking for a device that is bigger than your ordinary desktop CNC router machine? Well, if that’s what brings you here, then you have an excellent product in the Maslow CNC Router Kit. It is a tool that aims to provide users with the right platform for larger parts. You can, therefore, come up with beautiful treehouses, furniture, boats, and other larger designs.

Open Source

Ground Source is the name of the software that controls the Maslow CNC Router. You can easily install the software in your Windows, Mac, or Linux computer. But it is even more interesting that the manufacturer creates a community in which people can share projects and designs. Thus, you get a learning platform on which you can share ideas and get support from other users.

Top-Notch Performance

We won’t classify this machine as a desktop router because it isn’t. So, you have to expect that it has a performance rate superior to that of conventional desktop CNC machines. It cuts on anything ranging from softwoods, hardwoods, hard plastics, MDF laminates, and soft plastics. There are no restrictions save for the router travel and bit size.

Chain Driven

Unlike most CNC routers that feature belt-driven mechanisms, this model is chain driven. And for your information, chain-driven machines come with two vital benefits over their belt-driven counterparts. Firstly, they are more robust and more productive. Again, you can easily customize them by scaling them down to meet your needs. Simply customize them by changing the size of the frame or the length of the chain.

Pros

  • It features easy to follow instructions for updating software and drivers.
  • The company offers unbeatable customer service.
  • It can easily handle all types of sculpting materials.
  • Open-source software allows you to learn from your peers.

Cons

  • New CNC users will need some learning to get the best out of this machine.

You have to trust the Vevor 3020 CNC machine if you are looking for a compact and productive device to add to your garage. It is a small machine that delivers commercial-grade results. And just as you would expect, this machine retails at a reasonable price yet considered one of the most functional in the market today.

Let’s look at some of the features that make the device a perfect buy.

Compact

There is no doubt that the Vevor 3020 CNC machine is one of the smallest desktop CNC routers that you will find. It features a travel size of 200 by 300 by 50 millimeters and overall dimensions of 550 x 400 x 350 millimeters. Generally, the machine doesn’t take up much space on your table hence ideal for small working spaces.

Ideal For Prototypes

The small travel space makes this router a perfect tool for making small prototypes. It works with an unimaginable level of precision. Some of the most common items that the device can produce include artwork, PCBs, advert signs, RC model parts, crafts, and aircraft models, just to mention a few.

Comes With A Laser

While many CNC machines work well with laser machines, they don’t come with them. That means that you will need to purchase a laser machine separately. Interestingly, the Vevor 3020 CNC machine comes with a functional laser machine. This feature gives you the versatility to attend to a broader range of projects.

Dustproof Aluminum Surface

Firstly, the entire system features an aluminum build. So, that comes with immense durability and unbeatable stability. Even more, the working space is pretty smooth and doesn’t hold on to waste or dust.

Pros

  • It can easily cut through a variety of materials, including aluminum, wood, and soft plastics.
  • The machine delivers incredible results.
  • A laser machine is included in the package hence no need for extra expenses.
  • It is easy to use both online and offline.

Cons

  • You can’t use the machine with Mac devices.
  • It doesn’t cut hard metals.

If you are looking for an opportunity to handle a variety of woodworking projects, then the BobsCNC Evolution 4 CNC Router Kit is where the solution to your problems is. It is a versatile tool that can easily handle a range of woodworking and general engraving tools. It is a high-end tool that is most suitable for people who can put more finances into a device with more functional features.

Laser Cut Frame

The BobsCNC Evolution 4 CNC Router Kit is a device that will serve you religiously for several years, thanks to the rigid laser cut frame. The frame is pretty stable and durable. Besides, it features a superb build quality to withstand strenuous use over a long duration. Such a feature makes it a perfect investment for professionals and enthusiastic hobbyists alike.

Compatible With All Devices

Many router machines on the market will not work with all operating systems. It is interesting to learn that Evolution is compatible with every computer operating system. It uses a java-based software that efficiently runs on Mac, Linux, Windows, and Raspberry Pi.

An Assembly Manual Included

The device comes unassembled, so you will need to figure out how to assemble the system before you begin using it. The assembly process isn’t complicated, mainly if you are a professional with a minimum of basic CNC assembly skills. Besides, you can easily download the manual from the manufacturer’s website.

Pros

  • The device features an incredibly large working surface.
  • It is a high-end tool that delivers terrific results.
  • It is a useful tool for any professional looking for durable engraving equipment.

Cons

  • The device is bulky and less portable in comparison to compact options.
  • It cannot engrave hard metals.

Are you a novice who would want to invest in an affordable machine to take you through the basics in the world of CNC sculpting? Of course, if that’s the case, then you have a perfect companion in the Desktop DIY Mini CNC 3018 Router Kit. It is a simple machine that professionals won’t find worthy of their time but incredibly invaluable to amateurs.

Affordable

Price is often an unmentioned factor when shopping for anything. So, you will equally need to consider the cost of the desktop CNC machine that you intend to buy. Novices often consider low budget options to help them learn the basics and scale the ropes. At less than $200, you will find this equipment viable. But it could also turn out into a case of getting what you pay for.

Easy to Use

Apart from price, another factor that makes this device an excellent tool for any novice is the fact that it is incredibly easy to use. It is an entry-level machine that you can easily use to learn essential engraving processes from scratch. You can download the user manual and operating software from the manufacturer’s website for easy setup, installation, and use.

Uses Laser

Ideally, you will find this tool viable for a lot of applications. You can use a carving knife to engrave. However, that’s not cast on stone as the product also allows you to use laser for your sculptures. These two options enable you to work on a range of materials such as PVC, wood, PCB, acrylic, and plastic, among other soft materials.

Pros

  • The desktop CNC machine is reasonably priced.
  • It works with a range of soft materials.
  • Laser and manual carving options are acceptable.
  • It is pretty easy to install, set up, and use.

Cons

  • It is not as durable as most options on this list.

7. FASTTOBUY 500mw CNC 3018 Router Kit

FASTTOBUY is a market leader when it comes to the manufacturing of high-quality CNC laser machines and accessories. It is a reputable company with several years of experience in the market. Therefore, it is not a coincidence that the FASTTOBUY 500mw CNC 3018 Router Kit makes it to our review of desktop CNC routers. The following features make it a perfect buy.

Dual Heat Dissipation

One of the challenges of using desktop CNC routers is that they are prone to overheating. Luckily, you won’t experience this with the FASTTOBUY 500mw CNC 3018 Router Kit. It features a dual heat dissipation mechanism, which ensures that the device stays cool throughout the working session.

Highly Reliable

The combination of 12 DC power consumption and 405nm wavelength ensures that you have a reliable tool for a range of applications. The laser module also handles industrial engraving applications for more reliability. Besides, the device brings together more efficiency, incredible reliability, low noise, and impressive laser bean quality.

Adjustable Focus

When using laser machines alongside CNC routers, one of the things that you must look into is the laser focus. The whole thing will be a mess if you don’t focus the beam to the required section. Lasers whose focus you cannot adjust are not easy to use. Interestingly, this laser machine features a focus that is adjustable to suit your needs.

Easy To Use

Another incredible feature of the FASTTOBUY 500mw CNC 3018 Router Kit is its incredible ease of use feature. It features an efficient laser module for a range of CNC engraving applications. The device features a plug-and-use module that you only need to plug in the laser port, and you are good to go.

Pros

  • It comes at a perfect price.
  • Low noise during operation ensures that you concentrate on your engraving activity.
  • It is stable, reliable, and guarantees consistent operation.
  • The reliable dual heat dissipation ensures that the machine doesn’t overheat.
  • You can easily spin the lens to adjust the focus.

Cons

  • It doesn’t come with a manual though it is pretty straightforward to use.

A CNC router exclusively makes woodworking pretty smooth and efficient. Besides, they go beyond working with wood to working with a range of other precious materials. They are great tools for precision and productivity. However, not all devices branded desktop CNC routers will do a perfect job. You need to be careful with whatever you choose. That’s why we bring to you the Cenoz Upgrade CNC 3018 Pro GRBL Control DIY CNC Machine.

Easy To Assemble

There are chances that you will probably end up with a CNC desktop router that you cannot use due to the complicated assembly process. You won’t experience that with this device from Cenoz. You will appreciate the fact that it comes with all parts already positioned. What you need to do is tighten them in place, which takes barely 20 minutes.

Upgraded Version

The Cenoz Upgrade CNC 3018 Pro GRBL Control DIY CNC Machine is an upgraded module that reliably meets the needs of most customers. The updated version features an advanced control board, more precision, more power, and an external fan. These features make the device more efficient.

3 Control Methods

The Cenoz tool is a device that gives you amazing flexibility when it comes to the mode of control and use. You can control the device in three ways. Simply opt between the offline control, manual control, and computer control modes. Even more, the offline control mode features an upgraded storage capacity of up to 1GB.

Pros

  • It is an excellent CNC tool for beginners interested in making handicrafts.
  • Reasonable pricing makes it perfect for shoppers on a budget.
  • It features a stable and durable build that will serve you for several years.
  • Instructions are pretty brief and easy to follow.

Cons

  • The device doesn’t come with sufficient information about the software.

If you like working with wood and other materials to make small and intricate art designs and models, then a CNC router is one of the first tools that you must consider adding into your tool assembly. The CNC 3018 Pro Engraving Machine from FASTTOBUY is such a machine. It comes with features that make your work easy.

2 In 1

The 2 in 1 machine is a perfect tool for homes and workshops. It features two primary functions. The device can effectively curve wood. Secondly, you will find it ideal for laser engraving applications. The laser module will require you to connect the machine to a computer device and use your creativity to print amazing pictures.

Versatile

While the 2 in 1 feature is a perfect versatility factor, more versatility comes with the fact that this device can handle a range of materials. You will find it useful when working with PCB, wood, PVC, plastic, acrylic, aluminum, and copper, among other soft materials. However, it won’t handle harder materials such as jade and hard metals.

Easy To Install And Use

There is nothing as stressful as purchasing a machine that you can’t put together and use. Interestingly, the CNC 3018 Pro Engraving Machine is pretty easy to install and use. All the parts don’t need positioning hence simple to assemble. You can easily install the device to form a stable desktop router machine for unbeatable precision.

Pros

  • It is a 2 in 1 machine, which is ideal for several applications.
  • The device can effectively handle a range of soft craft materials.
  • It features a fast and straightforward assembly process.
  • A sturdy casing improves the lifespan of the device despite consistent use.

Cons

  • The spindle speeds are considerably slower.

Novices interested in learning more about CNC machines will find the CNC Piranha FX viable to get you started. Despite being reasonably priced, the device is perfect for a range of applications. In fact, it compares competitively to the CNC Piranha Shark, a professional model from the same manufacturer.

Easy To Use

Beginners will find this device irreplaceable, thanks to the fact that it is incredibly easy to use. It features a touchscreen interface that makes most tasks easy to control. Moreover, the CNC Piranha FX comes with a user manual to help users learn the basics of installing and using the machine.

Compact

Anyone operating in a small space will find the CNC Piranha FX a perfect tool. It is pretty compact and wouldn’t take much desktop space in your office or workshop. It takes up a paltry 12 by 18 inches of space on your table. But despite the compact build, this device is perfectly functional and doesn’t compromise on any of the core characteristics of a desktop machine.

Intuitive Software

The CNC Piranha FX comes with a software that ensures unlimited creativity. The VCare Desktop Design Software allows you to design anything that you want to engrave. The software enables accuracy, creativity, and ease of use.

Pros

  • It is a perfect tool for anyone who wants to learn the vital CNC processes.
  • The software enhances unbeatable precision and accuracy during intricate tasks.
  • It is a sturdy and durable machine.

Cons

  • The company’s customer support isn’t one of the best though you won’t need them.

Buying guide: Things to consider when buying a desktop CNC Router

What are some of the factors that make a desktop CNC router a hit or a miss? Well, the following are the factors that you will need to consider when shopping for an ideal desktop CNC router;

Price

Indeed, you have a budget cap for the kind of product you are looking for. The ideal thing would be to shortlist all the products within your price range and compare the features that each device brings. Still, on price, your experience and professional needs will be part of the considerations. Devices meant for novices and learners are cheaper, while high-end options are considerably more expensive.

Size

The size of a CNC machine will depend on two things. Firstly, you need to have in mind the sizes of objects that you want to design and engrave. A perfect tool should conveniently handle the most massive volumes that you intend to create. The second consideration is the amount of desk space at your disposal. The ideal thing would be to consider a machine that impressively fits on your desk, office, or workshop.

Durability

While shopping is fun, no one wants to be in the market now and then looking for a similar product. That’s why we recommend that you choose a device that can stand the test of time. A durable machine also saves you the hassle and extra expenses on repairs and maintenance.

Material Handling

What materials do you plan to use for making your models? That’s a critical question for professional and novice CNC routers alike. You need to take into account that not all CNC devices can work with any materials. However, if you are going to use soft materials such as acrylic, PVC, PCB, wood, and a variety of other soft options, you don’t need to worry.

Ease Of Use

You don’t want to invest your money in a device that you can’t use. That’s why the usability of a desktop CNC also becomes an essential consideration. Opt for a machine that is easy to assemble, configure, and use.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best desktop CNC router?

Ideally, the best CNC router should be versatile, reliable, reasonably priced, and easy to handle. A perfect example is the Yofuly Desktop CNC. The machine is moderately priced and features a friendly user interface. It also features a strong motor and high spindle speeds for a variety of essential applications.

What can you make with a desktop CNC machine?

CNC routers are versatile tools that can make a variety of products from a range of materials. Everyday items that you can make with your engraving tool include ornaments, paddleboards, kinetic sculptures, puzzles, instrument prototypes, furniture, and many more.

Can a Desktop CNC router engrave aluminum?

The truth is that most CNC routers can only handle soft materials. Copper and aluminum fall under soft metals. So, most desktop CNC machines will conveniently handle them. If you intend to use aluminum, always ensure that the device you intend to purchase can handle the material adequately.

Conclusion

It’s a wrap, ladies and gentlemen. You now have all the information that you need about the best desktop CNC router machines. By now, we believe that you have an idea of the type of tool that will work best for you. Always note that the decision boils down to your needs and preferences. We wish you the best in all your CNC projects.

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