Why Should You Trust Us?
As I’ve already mentioned, I’ve been running a profitable carpentry business in my hometown over the past 12 years. I was first introduced to CNC routers when I launched my carpentry trade. Since then I have been using different models of CNC routers extensively at my workshop. So, you can consider me an expert user of these machines. And who can present you with more credential information regarding a tool or a product other than an industry expert?
Also, here at Drillly, we give unbiased reviews of metalworking and woodworking tools solely based on our product research and first-hand user experience. No particular manufacturer or brand sponsors us to promote their products and all we do care about is making your buying process easier and hassle-free.
We have developed this platform around five years ago when we could not find some reliable power tool reviews online. Those that we came across were not informative and few of them were actually promoting certain tool manufacturers with the sole purpose of making money. We felt the necessity to establish an online platform to fill in the informational gap, hence the arrival of Drillly.com
Understanding CNC Routers & Their Applications
A Computer Numerical Control (CNC) router is a computerized cutting machine that can be used to create cuts and shapes on wood, steel, glass, plastics, foams, and alloy materials. It can also be used by carpenters for various woodwork applications like sawing, spindle molding, and drilling.
The concept of a CNC router is almost the same with a milling machine. The only difference is that CNC is designed to work with a computer.
One of the greatest advantages of using the CNC router is that it produces beautiful, smooth, and accurate work with consistency. Unlike other routers and cutting machines like the drill press machine, the CNC router can produce the same cut repeatedly without any error. It can produce shapes in record time while waste is minimized, productivity is maximized.
Now, let’s discuss how CNC routers can be used for various purposes.
1. Cabinet Making
The best cabinet doors, boxes and shelves can only be made with the best wood CNC machine. Most of the components that are needed in the production of these wood projects are to be produced en masse and each design must be correct in all forms. Such level of precision can only be obtained by using a CNC router. Also, you can alter the designs as you deem it.
2. Sign Engraves
One of the most difficult carvings to make is signs because of the complexities in its design. With the help of a CNC router, you can carve out the most complex 3D designs on anything from aluminum to plastic, wood or foam.
CNC routers are used to create various woodcarvings like instruments, game pieces, and toys that would have been carried out by hand only. These projects are completed with utmost accuracy and speed by using a CNC router.
Gone are the days when prototypes were carved by hand and one of the disadvantages of handmade prototypes was the delay and lack of flexibility. With the help of a CNC router, you can create a working prototype in a few seconds. You can only enjoy these functions if you buy the best home CNC router.
Things to Consider When Buying a CNC Router
There are several models and brands of CNC routers available on the market. Buying the right product could be difficult. I have simplified your task by listing the major factors to consider before buying your preferred CNC router.
1. Capabilities of the Machine
The first question you should ask yourself is what you’ll be using the machine for and what you intend to achieve with it. Once you’ve answered these questions correctly, you are on a good path to buying the type of product that will match your goals. Sometimes, we went on blaming the machine, and discovered that the faults were with our techniques, not with the machine.
2. Availability of Spare Parts
One of the things you should consider when buying a CNC router is the ease of finding its spare part. This is very necessary especially when any of the parts gets deformed and needs to be replaced. Some of the most sensitive parts of the router that requires replacement more often are the router bits, drill bits, and profile cutters. Ensure that the manufacturer has these parts for sale especially when you will be needing them hastily.
3. Software Compatibility
You should buy a CNC router that is equipped with software which is compatible with your PC. These routers are made to be integrated with Window, Mac, or Linus operating systems. If your PC is running on Linux OS, you should buy a CNC router that is compatible with Linux OS. With the help of a software control system, you can use your CNC router to create the desired shape on your work piece.
One of the things you should consider when buying a CNC router is the size which will be determined by either what you will be using the machine for or your workshop space. Meanwhile, industrial sized CNC routers are usually large and often consume more space. However, the benchtop CNC router models are small and can be placed comfortably on the table.
It should interest you that the best small CNC router cannot be compared with the industrial type in terms of power and versatility.
Moreover, you can buy any of the benchtop CNC routers for home use since they can connect easily with your desktop and laptop computers.
5. Table Size
Not only is this an important factor for this machine but for other tools with tables as well, such as the cabinet table saw or the drill press table. The size of your CNC router table should be large enough to accommodate the material you’ll be working on. Thus, the size of your material should determine the size of the machine you’ll buy.
6. Spindle vs Router
A spindle CNC tool is more suitable for heavy-duty or industrial applications. They are powered by 3-phase lines through an inverter. With this, they produce more cutting power even at lower speeds than a router.
In addition, spindles have precision bearings which make their cuts smoother, accurate and more beautiful. Moreover, their components are made from solid materials to enhance its reliability and durability; but they are expensive.
CNC routers, on the other hand, are affordable and most of them are constructed to accept spindle kits, so, you can easily initiate the upgrade any time. All the same, it depends on your purpose of buying since routers can only handle light-duty tasks, unlike spindle which are suitable for commercial and heavy-duty applications.
7. Drive System
The only three drive systems that can be found in a CNC router include ball screw, lead screw, rack and pinion. Ball screws are the most expensive because of their ability to handle various materials accurately.
8. Motor System
The torque and cutting speed of the router is determined by the motor system. CNC routers with high motor ratings can perform faster and better than others with a lesser motor rating.
The part of the motor that handles the actual cutting with the help of a cutter is the spindle. Some of the outstanding features of the spindle to watch out include torque, input power, and Revolutions Per Minute (RPM).
10. Automatic Tool Changing System (ATC)
This feature is very important if your project requires you to combine with more than one device. The best CNC router should be equipped with an ATC system. With this system, you can change tools easily and effectively. Also, it minimizes delays and errors with the work.
CNC routers work with a careful integration with computers. Therefore, their software should be advanced and free of bugs. In addition, they should be able to receive updates directly from their manufacturers. Moreover, most complex applications require advanced software for the router.
The part of the CNC router that holds the work piece is known as the vacuum. Heavy materials can only be accommodated by a strong vacuum. The ability of a vacuum to cling to the material can be measured by its pressure.
13. Dust Collection
This is very important as it helps to keep your work environment clean. You should buy a CNC router with a dust collection port. Also, check for the power and capacity of the dust collection system.
14. Ease of Service
It is important to consider the type of maintenance that will be required by the product and the ease at which it would be maintained. While some machines are designed for DIY maintenance or assembly, others are not. Moreover, most of the CNC routers come with a warranty which you can always confirm with the manufacturer before and after buying the product. Also, some do come with after sales repair services.
15. Price-to-Quality Ratio
Price is another important factor to consider when shopping for a CNC router. You should get a product that lies within your budget. If your purpose of buying the product is to handle simple tasks, then you can get one of the cheap CNC routers.
How Did We Pick the Best CNC Router?
Now let’s explain to you how we picked, tested, and reviewed these complex machines; and then prepared this Top 10 Best CNC Router List. In fact, we followed the same testing procedure whether we reviewed the best dowel jigs or the best cloning machines.
First we spent 22 hours researching the existing products on the market and then we made a top 20 list. Then, we tested most these products ourselves to understand their basic features and we also looked into their comparative advantages over one another.
Since we could not try all these expensive CNC routers ourselves, we had to recruit a team of volunteers who conducted practical tests on those machines. Their feedback and reports helped us a lot in improving our understanding of these products.
During these tests, we focused on the specific features that are required of a good CNC router, including their dimensions, table size, software compatibility, ease of service, dust collection, motor system, automatic tool changing system, software, spindle, price, vacuum, availability of spare parts, and versatility of the machines.
But we did not stop there. We also took opinions from different CNC router reviews online and examined comments and posts from various consumers of these products. To strengthen our ideas, we took the pain to contact industry experts and professionals who have had years of experiences with CNC routers just like us.
Finally, we gathered all of the information from the volunteers, online reviews, real-life consumers, and industry experts. By combining these data, we were able to shortlist and come up with our list of the top 10 CNC routers. We are confident that our tests and exhaustive research have helped us to produce a buying guide to some of the best CNC routers on sale.
Our Top 10 List
Here is a review of top 10 CNC routers on the market. They have been carefully selected and analyzed to help you spot the best for your budget and needs.