16 Highly-Profitable CNC Router Woodworking Projects That Sell

If you own (or plan to buy) a CNC router machine, consider using it on woodworking projects as a hobbyist creating great gifts for family and friends, or starting a small business selling and making money. Either way, you need project ideas and CNC project files to begin your venture.

You’ll want to focus on small-to-medium-sized jobs within your CNC machine’s capacity and look at wood projects that match your skill level, from beginner to CNC router project specialist.

There isn’t enough space for all the DIY projects you could take on. Let’s say the list is limited only by your imagination. For instance, you may want to concentrate on one specific item, such as wood signs, furniture, or home décor. You might also stray from the crowded coaster and cutting board field and stick with unique and challenging projects where you can add a personal touch.

For ideas to get started, you can look at what is selling on sites like Amazon, Etsy, and Facebook Marketplace. However, we have compiled a list of woodworking projects, some for the hobbyist and others to get a CNC business up and running. You can even complete some of these projects from scrap wood!

The following 16 routing projects include links to DXF files and will work with the best CNC router machine brands like X-Carve and Shapeoko. And software like Vectric V-carve and Easel Pro make drawing an idea relatively simple, generating toolpaths, and creating a finished product.

CNC Knife Block Project

1. Knife Block

This unique but practical knife block can hold six knives of different sizes and a steel sharpener held by a magnet. The small size and simple construction make it fast to machine, although some hand work—rounding corners, sanding, and gluing—will be required.

The block is a sandwich-like assembly, with 15-mm plywood stacked side by side. In addition to the machined plywood, you must supply a 1” diameter (25 mm x 5 mm thick) magnet, 6-mm dowels, felt pads, wood glue, and a food-safe finish.

wooden clamp woodworking project

2. Wooden Clamp

This wooden clamp was initially designed for laser cutting, but you can route it with the right cutting tool. It’s a valuable clamp you can use for holding glued-together CNC-machined parts. The milled parts that make up the clamp are held together with rubber bands.

Layering two different profiles in alternating order creates each arm of the clamp. The layering order of the other component is opposite to the first. These arms are interlocked and kept in place with rubber bands. The clamps designer produced a YouTube video that plainly explains the process.

Also, cutting files have been provided for three sizes of clamps using the recommended 3-mm plywood material.

Parametric Circle Cubby cnc woodworking project

3. Parametric Desk Cubby

This parametric desk cubby is relatively easy to produce on any medium-size hobbyist CNC router, but the finished product looks impressively complex. It’s milled from MDF and slides together without fasteners. Achieving this precision requires an aligned spindle and sharp cutters; otherwise, this project is not particularly difficult. And it will surely provide organization to your desk (or someone else’s).

Ribbon box cnc woodworking project

4. Ribbon Box

Although this is not the only ribbon box out there, none is as elegant as this one. It’s made in two operations for the box and ribbon, and they are simple to assemble. The project’s creator offers thorough details, notes, and machining instructions.

The ribbon will be cut in two passes, using a Carbide 3D #112 1/16″ bit. The bit’s depth of cut must be relative to the thickness of the stock so the ribbons come out correctly.

scroll saw puzzle cnc router woodworking project

5. Scroll Saw Puzzle

Every CNC router project need not be elaborate. For instance, this simple elephant scroll saw puzzle is ideal for small children. Although initially designed to be made by hand using a scroll saw and template, you can quickly adapt it for a small CNC router using a 6.3-mm (1/4-inch) bit for the outside and a 3.1-mm (1/8-inch) bit to separate the pieces. The pattern can be imported into most CAM software and made into a toolpath to produce multiple puzzles for business purposes.

The original is cut from a 25.4-mm (1-inch) thick pine board to help it stand upright. However, you can use thinner material and make it a flat puzzle. Add a bit of sanding, stain, and sealer, and you have a product that could generate sales for your CNC business.

marvel mayan calendar wood project

6. Mayan Calendar

Most people are familiar with Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, and this Marvel Maya calendar is an attractive abstract interpretation of the Aztec calendar. The design impresses with its intricate detail and numerous hidden Easter eggs, which are impossible to absorb with one glance.

The calendar’s creator used Vectric Aspire to draw everything and convert it into G-code. Then he spent countless hours adding content and redrawing it to make it machinable. Reportedly there were at least ten iterations of designs before capturing the right look.

roman numeral clock woodworking project

7. Roman Numeral Clock

The internet might be populated with wooden clocks made on CNC routers, but this roman numeral clock is different from most others because the Roman numerals are used as butterfly joints to hold the clock together. Even though this clock will take extra work to assemble, it’s well worth the effort and will look great on any buyer’s wall.

plywood pendant lamp woodworking project

8. Pendant Lamp

This pendant lamp helps create an attractive living space in a living room, above a dining room table, or in an entryway. It’s milled from 4mm birch plywood, and the upper mounting hole accepts a standard EU 40mm lamp holder fitting with an IKEA SEKOND cord set. No glue is required, but you can varnish or paint it to match any décor.

circular maze cnc woodworking project

9. Double-Sided Circular Maze

This double-sided circular maze might be relatively easy to produce, but users will be challenged to get the ball to the center. Unlike mazes that allow you to see the entire maze and work out how to get to the center, the double-sided circular maze compels you to flip it over at least twice, making it much more challenging to get the ball to the center.

You’ll need a spiral-toothed 3-mm flute cutter for the wood and a 2-mm end mill for the acrylic. Materials include two 6-mm beech plywood sheets, two 2-mm acrylic sheets, and a 3-mm steel ball. The designer took his ball from a bike wheel hub.

kinetic sculpture woodworking project

10. Kinetic Sculpture

This CNC kinetic sculpture looks complicated, but it’s surprisingly simple to mill and assemble. Most CNC routers designed for hobbyists will work well for this project since there is no need to cut metal parts. The sculpture is approximately 50 cm (20 inches) wide and runs for several hours on a single winding.

However, because wood doesn’t typically allow for accurate meshing of components, lower your mechanical expectations and view the clock aesthetically. The compressing, chipping, and snapping for which wood is known, will prevent it from being part of a precise mechanical assembly.

wooden lounge chair cnc router project

11. Lounge Chair

You will need a CNC router, a few tools, wood glue, and 3/4-inch plywood to create this lounge chair. All of the chair’s interlocking parts were designed to be nearly invisible by using pocket cuts. The result is a comfortable and attractive chair that challenges you if you are not an experienced CNC woodworker.

wooden trivet cnc router project

12. Trivet

This stylish trivet is distinctive because it keeps pots and pans off the table using a wavy 3D construction. The trivet pieces are identical and relatively easy to make on almost any CNC machine, and you could even scale them down for a smaller version to use as coasters for mugs and cups.

The assembly process can be painstakingly slow since you must use wood glue and clamps on the joint. However, do not use a wood finish if you will be setting hot pots and pans on it.

cryptic calendar cnc woodworking project

13. Cryptic Calendar

Talk about unique! This cryptic calendar uses negative space and a sliding black bar to make the dates visible. You will need a 3D printer to make the sliding black bar, but other than that, the instructions are easy to follow. The brainy design tracks up to 31 days, and you flip the black bar to continue the ascending numbers. A word of caution, the tutorial warns you to adjust the G-code to work with your CNC height and your bits.

spiral bowl router woodworking project

14. Bent Spiral Bowl

Here is an advanced CNC project. Although this bent spiral bowl comes from one piece of plywood and is easy to cut on the CNC, the process becomes more challenging. You must bend the plywood fingers so they stack one on top of the other and hold each other up to look like a decorative bowl.

Next, soak the wood in water and heat it in the microwave before forming it so it’s easier to bend. Since there is an art to heat-bending wood, this bowl is likely the most challenging project on the list.

piggy coffee table cnc woodworking project

15. Piggy Coffee Table

Who would have thought pigs would be the inspiration for a coffee table? Pigs have become popular in many artistic forms, and this piggy coffee table would be a conversation piece in almost any living room.

The table features a waffle-like construction of black melamine plywood crossing profiles, making it attractive and durable. The 2” spacing between the boards allows for setting plates and mugs on it.

The construction requires many interlocking connections, so check your material thickness before cutting to avoid extra work during the assembly.

space frame stools cnc wood project

16. Space Frame Stool

You will need a CNC router with a larger capacity to make this space frame stool. This designer has smaller stools available, but the larger ones require metal hardware.

The crisscrossing frames on spacecraft inspire the style, and these stools could be a robust addition to any house or workshop. At the very least, you can sit on this stool to watch your CNC create all those other moneymaking projects!

Other Options for Creating Some of These Projects

Although CNC routers are typically used to cut wood, plastics, and acrylics comprising these projects, laser cutters, and desktop CNC mills will work on many of them. CNC mill and laser engraving are also excellent choices for your hobby or business to create welcome signs or sign-making in general.

Contact the experts at CNC Masters to discover the options that could lead you to a profitable business in woodworking projects!

About Peter Jacobs

Peter Jacobs is the Senior Director of Marketing at CNC Masters, a leading supplier of CNC mills, milling machines, and CNC lathes. He is actively involved in manufacturing processes and regularly contributes his insights for various blogs in CNC machining, 3D printing, rapid tooling, injection molding, metal casting, and manufacturing in general. You can connect with him on his LinkedIn.

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29. Create a Peck Drilling Program in Circular or Rectangular Patterns
Using the Circular or Rectangular Drilling Wizards, you can program the machine to drill an un-limited series of holes along the X and Y planes. Program it to drill straight through to your total depth, use a high-speed pecking cycle, or deep hole pecking cycle. You can program the cut-in depth and return point for a controlled peck drill application to maximize chip clearance.

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20. Change up to 30 tools with compensation, and store your tool offsets for other programs
The MX supports…

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21. Use the optional ATC rack up to 8 tools for milling, drilling, and rigid tapping applications
The CNC Masters Automatic Tool Changer Rack and Tools (US Patent 9,827,640B2) can be added to any CNC Masters Milling Machine built with the rigid tapping encoder option. The tutorial will guide you through the set-up procedure using the ATC tools.

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22. Use the optional Rigid Tapping Wizard without the need for tapping head attachments
When you order your CNC Masters machine, have it built with the optional rigid tapping encoder. You can take any drill cycle program and replace the top line with a tapping code created by the wizard to tap your series of holes up to 1/2” in diameter.

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23. Use the optional Digital Probe to scan the profile and/or pockets of your fun/hobby type designs to write your tool path program and machine out a duplicate of your original design To “surface” scan an object, you can program the probe along the X or Y plane. The stylus will travel over the part starting on the left side front corner of the object and work its way to the end of the part on the right side. Depending on how the stylus moves, it will record linear and interpolated movements along the X, Y, and Z planes directly on the MX Editor.
To “pocket” scan an object containing a closed pocket such as circles or squares, the scan will start from the top front, work its way inside of the pocket, and scan the entire perimeter of the pocket.
Under the Setup of the MX software you will find the Probe Tab which will allow you to calibrate and program your probe. Your “Probe Step”, “Feed”, and “Data Filter” can also be changed on the fly while the probe is in the middle of scanning your object.

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24. Use work offsets G54-G59 for nesting applications
The work offsets offer you a way to program up to six different machining locations. It’s like having multiple 0.0 locations for different parts. This is very useful especially when using sub-routines/nesting applications.

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25. Create a Rectangular Pocket / Slot with our selection of Wizards to help you build a tool path program
The Cycle Wizards for the mill or lathe makes it easy to create a simple tool path without needing to use a CAD and CAM software.
On this Wizard, the Rectangular Pocket / Slots, can be used to form a deep rectangular pocket into your material or machine a slot duplicating as many passes needed to its total depth.

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26. Create a Circular Pocket Wizard
Input the total diameter, the step down, and total depth and the code will be generated.

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27. Do Thread Milling using a single point cutter Wizard

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28. Cut a gear out using the Cut Gear Wizard with the optional Fourth Axis

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19. Disable the axis motors to manually hand crank each axis into place
Easily de-energize the axis motors by clicking [Disable Motors] to crank each axis by hand, and then press [Reset Control] to re-energize the axis motors.

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30. The MX interface can easily be interchanged from Mill Mode to Lathe Mode
Use this interface for your CNC Masters Lathe. It contains all the same user-friendly features and functions that comes in Mill Mode. Simply go to the Setup page and change the interface.

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31. Use Tool Change Compensation or the optional Auto Tool Changer Turret if your application requires more than one tool in a single program
You can offset the length and angle of each tool and record it under Tools in your Setup. The program will automatically pause the lathe’s movement and spindle allowing you to change out your tool, or allowing the optional ATC Turret to quickly turn to its next tool and continue machining.
On the MX interface, you also have four Tool Position buttons. Select your desired T position, and the auto tool post will quickly turn and lock itself to that position.

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32. Use the Lathe Wizard Threading Cycle to help you program your lathe’s internal or external threads in inches or metric

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33. Use the Lathe Wizard Turning / Boring Cycle to help you program simple turning and boring cycles without having to go through a CAM or writing a long program with multiple passes

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34. Use the Lathe Wizard Peck Drilling Cycle to help you program your drill applications or for face grooving

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35. Facing / Grooving / Part Off Cycle Wizards – with Constant Surface Speed
These cycles can be used with Constant Surface Speed allowing the spindle speed to increase automatically as the diameter of the part decreases giving your application a consistent workpiece finish. With CSS built into the wizard, there is no need to break down the cycle into multiple paths and multiple spindle speed changes.

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36. This is our list of supported G and M codes which can be found under Tools > G Code/ M Code List in the MX
If you plan to use a third-party CAM software to generate your tool path program, use a generic FANUC post processor and edit it to match our list of codes. As an option, we also sell Visual mill/turn CAM software which comes with a guaranteed post processor for our machines to easily generate your tool path programs based on your CAD drawings.

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37. Our pledge to you…

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10. Run each tool path independently to study its movement
1. Run the machine on Trace mode. You can run each tool path independently, one line at a time to study the tool path movement on the machine to verify the position of the application and if any fixture/vise is in the way of the cutter’s path.

2. You can also verify your program by clicking on the Trace and Draw buttons together. This will allow you to view each tool path independently one line at a time in the Draw Window.

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2. Clutter Free Interface
The MX is engineered for the CNC MASTERS machine so you do not have to fiddle with a detailed complicated configuration that can be overwhelming. Just load in the MX and start machining!2. Clutter Free Interface
The MX is engineered for the CNC MASTERS machine so you do not have to fiddle with a detailed complicated configuration that can be overwhelming. Just load in the MX and start machining!

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3. Features Tour and Tutorials Included
The Features Tour will give you a quick run-down on all the features the MX can do for you. The Tutorials are easy to follow even for the first time CNC machinist.
Feel free to download the MX on any of your computers. We recommend downloading the MX along with your CAD and CAM software there at the comfort of your office computer to generate your tool path programs. You don’t need to be hooked up to the machine either to test your program in simulation mode.

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4. Navigate and Edit Your Program through the MX interface with Ease
With a few clicks of the mouse or using touch screen technology, you can easily navigate through the MX interface importing saved programs into the Editor from the File drop down menu. Using standard windows features to edit your program you can then lock the Editor Screen to avoid accidental editing, and if you need to insert a line in the middle of a program, just click on [ReNum] to re-number your tool path list.
You can create a program or import CAM generated G-code tool paths into the Editor
The X Y and Z W arrow jog buttons are displayed from the point of view of the cutter to avoid confusion when the table and saddle are moving. You can also adjust your spindle speed and coolant control while jogging each axis.

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5. Feed Hold – Pause in the Middle of your Program
Feed Hold lets you pause in the middle of a program. From there you can step through your program one line at time while opting to shut the spindle off and then resume your program.
You can also write PAUSE in the middle of your program and jog each axis independently while your program is in pause mode.

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6. Hot Keys
Hot Keys is an alternative method to easily control your machine using your hard or touch screen keyboard. One can press P to pause a program, press S to turn Spindle On, G to run a program, Space Bar to Stop, J to record your individual movements one line at a time to create a program in teach mode.

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7. Pick Menu – for conversational mode programming
Write FANUC style G-codes directly into the Editor or select commands off the [Pick] menu and write your tool path program in conversational mode such as what is written in the Editor box. You can even mix between conversation commands and G-codes in the same program.

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8. Pick Menu List of Options
Use commands such as MOVE, SPINDLE ON/OFF, COOLANT ON/OFF, PAUSE, DELAY, GO HOME…. to write your tool path programs in conversational mode.

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9. Draw the Tool Path to verify it before pressing Go
Hit Draw to view your tool path program drawing, check out its run time, or even simulate the tool path in 3D mode. This can be helpful to quickly verify your program before running it. You can also slow down or speed up the drawing or simulation process.
You can also hit Go within the Draw Window itself to verify the cutter’s position on the machine. The current tool path will be highlighted and simultaneously draw out the next path so you can verify what the cutter will be doing next on the program.

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MX Software – Easy to Use, Easy to Learn – Included with your machine purchase
The MX software is designed to work seamlessly with your CNC Masters machine. It is made to work with Windows PC – desktop, laptop, or an all in one – on standard USB. Use it on Windows 8 or 10 64-bit operating systems.
No internal conversion printer/serial port to USB software or additional conversion hardware is used with the MX.

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11. Counters display in Inches or Millimeters – Continuous Feed
1. When running a program, the counters will display a “real-time” readout while the machine is in CNC operation without counting ahead of the movement.
2. The current tool path is highlighted while the machine is in operation without causing slight interruptions/pauses as the software feeds the tool path to the machine. The MX internally interprets a program ten lines ahead to allow for “continuous machining” avoiding slight interruptions as the machine waits for its next tool path command.
3. “Run Time” tells you how long it takes to run your tool path program.

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12. Use the “Go From Line” command to start in the middle of your program
If you ever need to begin your program from somewhere in the middle of it, use [Go From Line] which you can find under Tools. The Help guide will walk you through how to position the cutter without losing its position on the machine.

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13. Exact Motion Distance without over-stepping on an axis while jogging
Use “Relative ON” to enter a specific coordinate to jog any of your axes to an exact location without having to write a program. It’s like using “power feed” but easier. You can jog an exact distance on any of the axes without needing to keep the key pressed down and mistakenly over-step the movement releasing your finger too slowly off the jog button.
Let’s say you need to drill a hole exactly 0.525” using the Z. So you enter 0.525 in the Z box. Next, adjust the JOG FEED RATE slider for the desired feed rate. Then “click once” on the +Z or -Z button to activate the travel. In this case you click once the -Z button first to drill the hole exactly 0.525”. Then click once on the +Z button to drive the axis back up 0.525”.

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14. Teach Mode – Jog Input
You can create a tool path program by storing each point-to-point movement by simply jogging an axis one at a time. Click on either of the Jog Input buttons to store each movement on the Editor Screen. You can then add Spindle ON, feed commands, and press GO to run the new program as needed. This is a great feature to help you learn to create a program by the movements you make on the machine without necessarily writing out an entire program first.

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15. Override on the fly to adjust the Jog Feed to Rapid or the Spindle Speed during the middle of a program
1. Jog Feed and Rapid with Override: You can adjust feeds using the slider from slow minimum 0.1″ per minute to a rapid of 100″ per minute of travel. You can even micro-step your jog as low as 0.01”/min. The [-][+] buttons allow you to fine tune feeds in 5% increments while the program is in motion.
2. Spindle Speed with Override: You can adjust speeds using the slider from a slow minimum RPM to the max RPM according to the machine setup. The [-][+] buttons allow you to fine tune feeds in 5% increments while the program is in motion.

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16. Adjust Counters using Pre-Set if you cannot begin the program from 0.00
In a situation where you cannot begin your cutter at it’s 0.00 location, you can “Pre-Set” directly into the counters by typing in your beginning coordinate. You can press Go from here to run your program. You can also “zero all” or “zero” your counters independently. With one click of the [Return to 0.0] button, all axes will travel back to its respective 0.0 on the machine.

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17. Set and Save your 0.00 position for future runs
Set and save your 0.00 position on the machine. These coordinates will be recorded as the first line of the program in the Editor Screen. Should you desire to return to this program at a later date, you only have to click on the Set Zero Return button. This will command the machine to automatically jog each axis to its saved “set” 0.00 position according to the recorded coordinates at the first line of the program.

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18. Create a “Home” position to clear your application and run multiple times
Let’s say you need to machine one application times 100 pieces. This usually requires a jig to retain that physical 0.00 position. But in this case, you want the program to end with a clearance of the axes to easily switch out the next piece of stock and start again. With Save Home, you have the ability to save this offset (home) position while still retaining your Set Zero position where the machine will mill your part out. Pressing [Save Home] will record this new position under the Set Zero line in your program.
Pressing [Go Home] will jog your axes back to your “saved home” position where you originally pressed the Save Home command. You can also input GO_HOME from the Pick Menu as its own tool path in your program. At the completion of your program the axes will end at your Home position. Replace your part, then press [Return to 0.0] button to allow the axes to return to its zero position, and press Go to start your next run.

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