Cool Things to Make on a CNC Machine

Written by clare edwards
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Cool Things to Make on a CNC Machine
CNC machines can cut out detailed designs. (CNC Steuerung image by Roland Pavic from

CNC stands for computerised numerical control. Users input information such as coordinates and speeds into the computer controlling the machine, which then cuts out shapes according to the information it has been given. You can use a CNC machine to accurately cut two and three dimensional shapes from various materials. CNC machines can be used for many purposes including making accurate scale models and mock-ups of products, cutting out characters for signage, and making gears and other parts for tools and machines.

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Block Models

A block model is a precision-machined model of a proposed design. It is solid and has no working parts; however, it accurately duplicates all the surface features of the design. This is useful during the design stage of creating a new product, as you get to see how your design will look and feel in the real world. This helps with various aspects of design such as ergonomics.

Terrain Models

You can create accurate and detailed scale models of terrain using a CNC machine supplied with data from surveys and maps. As well as being very useful for planners, mining companies and architects, you could make CNC landscapes for model trains or role-playing games.

Model Buildings

Scale model buildings can be machined using a CNC device. In some cases, such as when one part of the building is a very different shape to another part, you may have to create the model in sections. Model buildings can be used for planning or by miniature enthusiasts. If made from attractive materials, they also make unusual ornaments.

Musical Instruments

Many musical instruments can be cut using a CNC machine. The machine not only allows great precision in cutting the body of the instrument, but also allows fine and detailed decoration to be applied. Examples of musical instruments that you can make partly or wholly with a CNC machine include relatively simple items like drums and xylophones, but also complex instruments such as dulcimers.

Turner's Cubes

Turner's cubes are complicated geometric shapes. They consist of a cube with other shapes cut inside, so that they move freely inside the cube. They were once given to novice CNC users to hone their machining skills. You can make Turner's cubes to use as ornaments, including holiday ornaments.

CNC Cookie Stamps

A CNC machine allows you to cut detailed shapes and images in all kinds of materials, including the ones you use to shape foodstuffs. For a fun project, you can machine a picture into the surface of some food-safe material, and use it as a stamp for unbaked cookies.

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