Looking into a new hobby to cut wood and hard materials and create new unique items? If so, you will want a CNC machine! CNC machines are a lot of fun and can help you create a lot of new things that are just too time-consuming or hard to do without them.
No one wants a new hobby or side business hustle to cause them more hassle and stress, do they? We review 5 CNC machines that are affordable and do not compromise on quality!
From 2D to 3D the only thing holding you back on unique new projects and creations is your mind. We even help you in that department with some fun projects we have come up with that are tailored for CNC machines. Be sure to check them out at the end of the review.
Top 5 Cheap CNC Machines
In a hurry? Why not check out our top pick and best overall CNC machine before dashing to the checkout!
Our Top Pick Cheap CNC Machine
Bobs CNC Evolution 3 CNC Router Kit
Today’s winner and all-around best pick are Bob’s CNC Evolution 3 CNC Router Kit. It’s one of our pricier options today, but we think you will be pleased with the quality!
The CNC machine features a rigid cut laser frame that provides fantastic durability and longevity when using it! The rigidness of the device means you won’t need to worry about any wobble while working, allowing you to get the cuts you want!
The spatial movements between X and Y are extremely smooth, providing you with a smooth and enjoyable experience. After all, the last thing you want is jagged or jumpy movements when working with your CNC machine!
You also get a consistent connection with the screw to the motor, which makes your work even easier to complete. Bobs Evolution is not just limited to wood as you can work with hard plastic as well.
The included software is easy to use and created with designers in mind! You shouldn’t have any issues navigating the software and creating your pieces perfectly the first time round!
The cutting area of 610mm x 610mm is a perfect size for those working on small-scale projects and is supported with an SG20U rail system to ensure your wood stays firmly in place!
Bobs CNC Software Tutorials (Free)
For those beginners in the room, too, Bob features a whole host of tutorials on their YouTube channel, allowing you to follow along or gain some exciting new insight into the wood cutting world.
Customers loved the machine, praising its easy assembly and sturdiness once set up! They also praised the complete set, noting that you had everything you needed to get started, perfect for beginners!
While the CNC machine is on the pricier side of those included today, if you have the money to spend, you will not be disappointed! The smooth and easy-to-use machine is sure to be a great addition to your workspace.
Runner-Up Cheap CNC Machine
Mcwodit Upgraded Version 3018 Pro CNC Router Kit
Another fantastic choice is the upgraded version of the 3018 Pro CNC Router Kit! The CNC machine is an affordable option, great for those seeking a budget option!
What’s great about the router kit is that it is an ideal size for desktop use! You can use the router offline, too, making it easy for a range of environments. Simply download the necessary files onto a USB drive and plug them into the machine for offline use!
When using the tool offline, you can store up to 1GB of information. You can also use an SD card reader when offline to root G-code files, support a manual adjustment of the X, Y, Z-axis location, the engraving staying point, and manually open and close the spindle! Who needs an online connection when you can do all of this offline!
What materials can the Mcwodit 3018 Pro CNC Cut?
It’s enough space for most users and their projects, allowing you to work offline if needs be! What’s more, you can use the CNC machine with a wide range of materials! Not only will it carve wood, but plastic, acrylic, PCB CCL, and soft metals like copper and aluminum! You’ll have plenty of materials to keep you going!
You can assemble the machine easily, too, so you can get the machine up and running quickly! The software is straightforward to use, too; in no time at all, you will be up and running.
Customers praised the spindle engraving and the quality of the machine. They noted that the customer service, in particular, stood out, with speedy responses and replacement parts sent out when required.
Some customers did note that the instructions were a little challenging to follow when setting up the machine or using it for the first time. Few customers reported the problem, so you should be fine! Remember to use online tutorials and YouTube videos to help with the setup if you have any issues!
You can use the machine worry-free too! The upgraded version comes with a 12-month warranty, so should anything go wrong, you are covered! The CNC machine is durable but not the most durable on the market. Some wear and tear should be expected, but don’t let that put you off! You can still expect years of use from the machine!
While the CNC machine has lots of fantastic features, it is not ideal for larger-scale projects. For those beginners or advanced users creating smaller projects, the machine will be great for you!
The Rest of the Best Cheap CNC Machines
SainSmart Genmitsu CNC Router Machine 3018
For those after a reasonably priced CNC router machine, SainSmart has the one for you! The machine is a small one, great for beginners looking to take on small tasks.
SainSmart’s CNC machine is perfect for use online and offline. Online use provides you with access to a whole host of features operated by the small screen. The screen is easy to use, too, with the 1.8-inch display being easy to read and handle. It provides an account of your machine’s working, too, keeping you aware of what it’s doing. It’s a handy tool for beginners, providing more information about your new CNC machine and how it works!
The machine arrives pre-assembled, allowing you to be set up and ready to go within 30 minutes, including the time it takes to get the machine out of the box! Some customers reported issues with the instructions, finding them difficult to understand.
Few customers reported the problem, but for beginners, the initial instructions might be challenging. Be sure to check YouTube for helpful tutorials with your new CNC machine.
SainSmart uses an aluminum body to provide durability and added stability. Wobble during use will be a thing of the past during the use of the machine. Optocouplers are added to the machine, too, offering extra protection to the mainboard, adding to the machine’s longevity.
The machine features acrylic baffles lined sides to provide extra safety for yourself while keeping an eye on the workpiece. The baffles also work to keep the dust controlled in one place, keeping the rest of your workspace and your eyes clear!
Unlike other machines on the market, SainSmart’s CNC machine does not need software to be controlled. Using a handheld remote, you can control the X, Y, and X axes yourself. Great for those who want to use the machine offline!
There is also an emergency stop control should anything go wrong or you need to stop your project. The button is visible and easy to access, allowing for an immediate stop should you require it! Just the presence of the button provides peace of mind that even offline, your safety does not need to be compromised!
Customers praised the sturdy construction of the CNC machine. Many customers also noted that once they accessed tutorials, the assembly was also not too challenging too! They enjoyed the range of compatibility, too, with the software working with Windows and Linux operating systems, providing a diverse use of the machine!
After a durable CNC machine that won’t break the bank? Check out the SainSmart CNC machine today!
Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO
After an affordable option, why not try the upgrade from SainSmart 3018? The machine is even easier to use than previous models; no parts need to be assembled, you can get started quickly!
Genmitsu’s PRO machine featured a 4cm base height, allowing for a stable use compared to previous models. The machine is easy to assemble, with clear instructions provided, allowing beginners and advanced users alike to be working quickly! Some customers noted that the instructions weren’t clear, slowing down the initial setup and first use of the machine.
Few customers reported the problem, but it is something to consider before making your purchase. If you are finding the instructions tricky to understand, be sure to check out some online tutorials for further help!
The CNC machine features an integrated mainboard, full of custom software! The integrated system allows for a seamless design between the software and hardware of the machine. You won’t even notice the time it takes for the software to align with the hardware!
Speaking of software, you get fantastic software built into this machine! Genmitsu uses Grbl, running on Arduino. The software allows you to control the movement of the machine with ease.
It’s also effortless to use and dependable. Grbl is used as a standard across the industry, providing you with the knowledge that your software is the right one to be using. Its popularity also means there is no shortage of information online. For beginners especially, there is lots of support available when using Grbl!
What’s great about the 3018 PRO is how diverse it is! The CNC machine can cut through not only wood, but plastic, soft aluminum, acrylic, PVCs, and PCBs. It’s a fantastic choice for those wanting to work with a range of materials across multiple projects!
Overall, customers were impressed with the CNC machine. They praised its ability to engrave soft and hardwood well. They found it offered great value for money and was well suited to beginners.
If you are after an easy-to-use and pre-assembled CNC machine, why look any further than this offering from Genmitsu?
MY SWEETY DIY CNC Router Kits
For those after a relatively affordable CNC machine, look no further than My Sweety’s DIY CNC Router kit! Their machine is compact and great for those working with small or limited space.
The included spindle has an impressive move length of 45mm, allowing you to create designs without worrying about running out of space! It provides an outstanding level of flexibility that other compact CNC machines don’t offer.
It is also compatible with a range of operating systems, capable of running on Windows 10 or Linux, where other CNC machines cannot do so. Although a laser does not come with the unit, you can add one to add calligraphy or different intricate designs to your woodwork.
You aren’t just limited to woodcutting with this CNC machine either. My Sweety’s DIY machine can cut through soft materials and metals, such as aluminum and copper, without any issues. Talk about a diverse machine!
You can use the machine worry-free too, thanks to the one-year warranty! Should anything go wrong, you will be covered with a replacement or full refund, so you never need to worry when cutting or engraving your materials!
My Sweety’s CNC machine does have some limitations, though. The machine is not compatible with Mac devices, taking it out of the running for Apple fans! Also, the machine does not come with any software included, which can be a letdown for some customers.
However, you can use open-source software found online to use with the machine. It’s not ideal, but an excellent solution to the issue. It’s a problem that few customers reported too, so you should be fine!
Customers loved the CNC machine, praising it as excellent value for money! They found it fantastic for cutting softwoods and other similar materials, allowing their creativity to flow. Where it stood out to customers was its performance as an engraver. Customers found it extremely robust, with some citing it as the perfect tool for engraving!
While it is not compatible with all devices, for those wanting to cut and engrave wood without compromising quality, why not try My Sweety’s CNC machine?
Best Budget CNC Buyer’s Guide
Not too sure what you need from your CNC machine? Let our buyer’s guide help you there!
CNC Spindle vs Router
When it comes to CNC machines, the two most popular are spindle or router machines. Generally, you will choose between the two, so let’s take a closer look at both of their features.
CNC Spindle Machines
A spindle machine is better suited for heavy-duty or industrial use. These machines use an inverter and three-phase lines as power, providing outstanding cutting power that is not impacted by the speed.
The spindle machines offer precise bearings to provide a smooth and accurate cut that looks stunning once completed.
They also usually feature high-quality and durable materials to deliver that unbeatable performance! It also means that the CNC spindle machine should last longer compared to others on the market.
There is a downside, though. These machines are often expensive due to the higher quality of materials used. Those on a budget are priced out of spindle machines and opt for a router CNC machine to stick to their budget.
CNC Router Machines
CNC router machines tend to be affordable, which is why we have included so many of them today! A router features a rotating cutting head and is better suited for those working with softer materials, such as wood.
CNC routers aren’t as accurate and powerful as others that we see on the market, but they are perfect for beginners or those with a budget! What’s more, you will find that most CNC routers work well with spindle kits. As your skills advance or you look to upgrade your machine, you can change your router for a spindle instead, delivering more accuracy and power!
CNC routers are great for light-duty jobs and make great additions to home studios. They lack the power of industrial strength spindle machines, but you can’t go wrong with a router, especially if you are looking to save some cash.
CNC Machine Size
The size of your new CNC machine is an essential factor that you will need to consider. As you will have seen, CNC machines come in a range of sizes, so there is bound to be one that suits your needs.
First, you will need to measure the area your machine will be placed in to ensure that you have ample space to use and maneuver around the machine. It’s also worth considering its weight and any units it might be placed on top of too.
As a general rule, smaller and more compact machines are suited to small tasks or individual use, such as small projects for a side business. Larger, industrial-sized CNC machines will take up a lot more space but are better for business owners.
When purchasing your CNC machine, consider your machine’s size and intended use to buy the right one for you. It’s best to size up when it comes to CNC machines.
As your skills grow and develop, you will want to tackle bigger and more challenging projects. It’s best to have the bigger space that allows that now than to repurchase a new machine!
CNC Working Area
Alongside the size of your CNC machine, it is essential to look at the working area your machine will have. The working area of your CNC machine is vital, as it determines how large your creations can be.
We often advise that you consider the work you want to create and size up a bit. If you have the extra space and can afford to, sizing up gives you more leeway when making your pieces.
It also means that as your skills develop and you want to take on new pieces, you have space to do so! Buying a CNC machine with a larger workspace can save you money in the long run as you won’t need to repurchase a larger machine or extend your work area.
Weight of CNC Machine
The weight of your CNC machine is just as important to consider like the size of it. Consider if it is a desktop machine whether your existing furniture will be able to hold the weight or whether you need to factor in the additional cost of a new unit.
Generally, heavier models are built with stronger materials to deliver tough performance and durability. They also offer precise cutting and usually less vibration, which helps keep your work steady!
There is a downside, though. These heavier models aren’t easy to transport, which can be an issue for some users. In these cases, it’s worth looking at lightweight models that you can move from place to place easily, although they might be more susceptible to wear and tear.
Software For CNC Machines
When buying your new CNC machine, you must consider the software that it comes with and other software that would be compatible. Look at the different operating systems that the machine is compatible with to ensure that your new CNC machine is appropriate for your laptop or computer.
Not all CNC machines will come with their software; CAD or CAM are the best ones for beginners in these cases. They can take some time to get to grips with, so set aside a good few training days and practice sessions before getting into your machine!
Another option is to look for integrated packages that offer both CAD and CAM, giving you all you need in one easy place! These can be expensive, and often we advise only professionals seek these out as they are more likely to use more of the features.
Mach3 is another fantastic software option too! It’s more affordable than CAD and CAM software and is far easier to use too! We recommend using the demo feature first to understand the software fully, but we can’t imagine you encounter any issues with this software!
We would avoid less popular software packages. These are far less likely to be compatible with other CNC machines and can be harder to seek out help for if you are struggling.
You can find fantastic communities online on CNC forums that can help you with any questions. These spaces are perfect for beginners and hobbyists to meet people and get the support they need.
You will have seen that some machines included are not compatible with Mac devices or did not come with the included software. You can find an extensive range of open-source software online that can be used in these cases. Why not have a look and see which software best suits your needs?
Consider Extras Provided With CNC Purchase
It’s always worth looking at the extra features your machine has included. After all, who doesn’t like getting fantastic value for their money? When looking for your new CNC machine, look at any additional features such as replacement spindles or extra pieces.
It’s also worth considering the warranty period to ensure that you are protected should anything go wrong with your machine. As standard, you should expect the device to come with a warranty; 12-months is a reasonable period. Alternatively, those purchased through Amazon are often covered by their returns policy.
CNC extras to consider:
- Preassembled or one that needs assembling. Note: most CNC machines need some assembly but there are some that do not.
- Extra tools or router bits
- Dust protection
- Collets and tool holders
As we mentioned earlier, not all CNC machines come with software included. It’s always best to look for included software packages as this helps to keep the cost down.
It also saves you installation time and gets your CNC machine set up quickly. If there is no software, packages can be quite pricey to purchase, and you will need to factor this into your budget.
Finding a cheap CNC machine is a challenge, isn’t it? Before long, your budget can get out of hand, leaving you with a surprise when your statement is due! It’s a good idea to set a budget before your search and stick it as best as possible.
Thankfully, all the CNC machines included today are affordable, so you are sure to find one that suits every budget! It can be helpful to consider your new CNC machine’s features that you would like to help set your budget.
CNC Frequently Asked Questions
What software is the best for beginners?
Generally speaking, Mach3 is a fantastic software for beginners. It’s affordable and effortless to use. In particular, the demo feature sets it apart from other software, allowing you to get used to the software before diving in!
As we mentioned earlier, for those looking to spend a bit more, CAM and CAD software are excellent options too. These can take a little longer to get to grips with, though, so we recommend setting aside plenty of time to navigate the software.
As you will have seen earlier, lots of the CNC machines we included came with software praised for being easy to use. When it comes to your CNC machine, be sure to spend some time familiarizing yourself with the software before diving in!
Can a CNC machine cut materials other than wood?
Yes, they can! The materials that your CNC machine will be able to cut through will depend on the power of your machine and its type. For example, spindle CNC machines are great for cutting through aluminum or copper, whereas some router CNC machines struggle to do so.
Usually, the machine’s description will list the materials you can use your CNC machine to cut through or engrave. It’s important to check this information so that you don’t overpower your CNC machine. Overpowering the machine can damage it and leave you with costly repairs.
Are CNC machines hard to assemble?
It’s the downside to CNC machines, as many can be tricky to assemble! These days, manufacturers are trying to make the machines easier to assemble to start using your machine quickly! Pre-assembled CNC machines are becoming increasingly popular, halving your set-up time!
It’s worth keeping an eye out for machines that come pre-assembled, or at least with parts of the machine assembled. If not, look for CNC machines where customers have praised its easy assembly or detailed instructions that will walk you through the process.
Don’t forget to use online tutorials too! There is a wealth of information online that can help you not only set up your CNC machine but provide inspiration and helpful tips when it comes to using it!
And just like that, we have reached the end of our CNC machine journey today. As you can see, there are plenty of fantastic options on the market that will leave you with cash in your pocket for a bit longer.
These easy-to-use machines are sure to be a welcome addition to any workspace, allowing you to create the wood shapes of your dreams for craft or work purposes. Remember to check the compatibility and offline functions before purchasing to ensure your machine will make a happy addition to your workspace!
Whether you are opting for a spindle or router CNC machine, we are sure you will be able to leave here and make the best purchase for you and your needs! Remember to use our buyer’s guide when shopping to secure the perfect CNC machine without breaking the bank.