Best 4x8 CNC Routers in 2021 for Milling a Full-Size Sheet

Best 4x8 CNC Routers in 2021 for Milling a Full-Size Sheet

Best 4x8 CNC Routers in 2021 for Milling a Full-Size Sheet

If you are looking for a CNC Router to work a full 4x8 sheet of plywood, MDF or any other sheet material, then this guide will help you choose the right machine for your need.

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I went through at least 20 different popular CNC Router brands to come up with the best choices for each price category.

The most important factors I considered were accuracy, speed, software availability, ease of use, ease of assembly, warranty, customer support, the community around the product, and longevity.

Considering all these factors I found the PRO4896 4x8 CNC Router from Avid CNC to be the best overall choice due to its efficient and fast cutting, highly rigid extruded aluminum frame, dual drive rack, and pinion drive system, and maintenance-free operation.

Best 4x8 CNC Router under $10,000

1. Avid CNC- PRO4896 4x8 CNC Router

Avid CNC PRO4896 without the Table
Avid CNC PRO4896 without the Table

The Avid CNC-CRP4896 is the best and only choice in my opinion, if you are looking to get a 4x8 CNC Machine under $10,000.

The brand and the product are highly reputed in the CNC community due to the quality of their machines.

All Avid users I know swear by their Avid, and these are people who've been using the same machine for at least 3 years.

Unlike 4x4 CNCs and other smaller CNCs, 4x8 CNCs are complicated due to the long travel distance that's involved.

The Y-axis being 8 feet (96"), the best choice for the drive of a 4x8 CNC is a rack and pinion system, and the avid uses that.

The frame of the CNC is high-quality extruded aluminum, which stays rigid without flexing even when run at the highest speeds.

Although some machinists insist on welded steel as the frame material, like some of the models that come in the later part of this review, the frame on the Avid CNC is strong enough to produce accurate cuts for even medium-grade production work.

The avid PRO4896 runs its Y-axis on dual drives, meaning each Y-axis is run by a separate NEMA23/34 stepper motor.

This helps avoid an issue called racking which's common in 4x8 CNC gantry's, due to the long Y-axis length.

Racking can cause the X axis to flex and produce inaccurate cutting.

The Z axis of the avid uses a precision ball screw drive which is much more accurate than Acme drives.

Since the Z-axis need not cover large travel distances, you don't need it to be as fast as the X and Y axes. This makes the lead screw drive an acceptable choice here, instead of rack and pinion.

This 4x8 CNC comes as a router kit and needs to be assembled using the manual and Avid makes it as easy as possible using their well-documented manual.

I personally loved the cable management tracks which run by the side of the avid. Any CNC machine of this size comes with a lot of cables, as expected.

In terms of pure specs, the cutting area is 49-½"x 97-½" which means a 4x8 full sheet material will fit in fine.

The size of the bed can be expanded later, by buying additional length of frames if necessary. This can arise if you want to work with 5x5 or 5x10 sheets like large baltic birch and MDF sheets.

If you don't want to custom-build the electronics, Avid offers a fully bundled plug-and-play solution for the electronics of this machine, which has to be bought separately along with a few other things like the z probe and Mach4 software.

I loved the electronics bundle which is incredibly powerful and also packed neatly inside their custom industrial NEMA enclosure.

Avid CNC NEMA 34 Electronics Bundle inside Enclosure
Avid CNC NEMA 34 Electronics Bundle inside Enclosure

Mach4 is the software option if you go with the plug-and-play bundle. A new license for Mach4 will cost you $200.

If you do production work, I highly recommend you get the NEMA 34 version which can achieve a cutting speed of 500 ipm and a rapid speed of 1000 ipm (yes!).

The stepper driver used in this kit is CRP8070 drivers that can handle up to 7A.

With this machine, you are looking at an accuracy of 0.005" and repeatability of 0.002", which is more than enough for almost any woodworking CNC job.

I compiled a table to show how much you will need to spend to get a fully setup Avid CNC Pro 4x8 Machine:

PRO4896 4' x 8' CNC Router Kit (NEMA 34 compatible and 12" Z travel)$5,575
Plug and Play NEMA 34 CNC Control System$2,575
4 HP Plug and Play Spindle with spindle mount and ER20Collet$2,179
Pepperl + Fuchs Proximity Sensor Kit$245
Auto Z and Corner Finding Touch Plate$130
Mach4 Software$200
Total$10,904

Cost of a fully setup PRO4896 4x8 CNC Machine with max configurations

Yes, I know that came to $10,904, but this is the cost with almost all the features maxed out (except maybe the 8 HP spindle).

If you choose the CRP4896 standard CNC kit with a router instead of the Avid 4x8 PRO kit above, you can keep the total cost to $7,600.

If you are not doing production work, a NEMA 23 electronics bundle will work fine. The NEMA 34 just helps in achieving the cuts faster which is important for production.

All users of the avid speak very highly of their customer support with a direct phone line in case you have issues.

Started in 2009 under the name CNC Router Parts, this US based brand renamed itself to Avid CNC in 2019.

Overall, this is the my recommendation for a 4x8 CNC if your maximum budget is around $10,000.

Pros:

  • Best and only viable 4x8 CNC under $10,000
  • Excellent customer care and community support

Cons:

  • Need to assemble it yourself
  • Uses an extruded aluminum frame and not a steel frame

Other 4x8 CNC routers under $10,000 that didn't make the cut

I also considered the Zenbot 4896, Stepcraft Q.408, blackfoot 4x8 (from buildyourcnc), Maverick 4x8 (legacy), mechmate (for the crazies), and CNC4Newbie among other machines in the under $10,000 category.

Best 4x8 CNC Routers between $10,000-$30,000

A better decription of this category would be routers costing between $20,000 and $25,000, because beyond the avid CNC, most CNCs cost between $20,000 and $25,000 for their most basic 4x8 models with all essentials included.

At this price range, most CNCs come fully assembled or as pre-assembled modules, unlike the Avid CNC which comes as a kit that needs to be assembled and trammed for accuracy.

These machines are for you if you run production work all day, every day.

After going through most of the reliable options available on the market, I zeroed in on the PRSalpha 96-48-8, Camaster Stinger III, and the ShopSabre RC8.

Note that all these brands have really high end 4x8 CNCs too, which cost upwards of $50,000.

But my review is only regarding their models under $25,000 which I think is the category where most people fall in.

1. Shopbot PRSalpha 96-48-8

ShopBot PRSalpha 4896 CNC
ShopBot PRSalpha 4896 CNC

The Shopbot PRSalpha 96-48 is my first choice in this category because its a really powerful machine and also because shopbot is a great company to their customers.

It's a tad bit more expensive when compared to the others in this list like, the Stinger III and ShopSabre RC8.

The PRSalpha 96-48 costs ~$24,000 and it includes almost everything you need to run the CNC except the router bits and a dust collection system.

But then, those have to be bought extra for any CNC.

So, what will that kind of money get you?

Shopbot promises a robust machine capable of doing the production work in a 3-shift factory. That means all day, every day.

This is one area where the avid CNC falls behind, as it is not designed for 24x7 production work.

The chassis/frame of the PRSalpha is high quality steel with bolted connections.

The bed size of this CNC is 105" x 49" which is more than a 4x8 sheet. The Z axis can move by a maximum of 8" height.

Shopbot offers custom bed sizes for this model like 5' x 8' , and even a 5' x 12' size. You can also choose to have 14" Z travel as extra.

The X axis is dual drive with two stepper motors to run it. The X axis has hardened steel rails which gives it high rigidity even during heavy cutting.

The PRSalpha has X,Y and Z axes running on a rack and pinion drive.

How fast is this CNC? The PRSalpha has a rapid speed of 1800 ipm and a cutting speed of 600 ipm. That's almost twice the rapid speed of the avid CNC.

This 4x8 CNC is most commonly used for working wood by woodworkers running a business.

With all these features, the PRSalpha can give you a positional repeatability of 0.002".

One drawback I noticed is that the PRS alpha ships as a 4 module half-assembled box. You need to assemble the table using the parts and manual provided.

PRS alpha CNC pre-assembled modules
PRSalpha 4896 CNC pre-assembled modules

The gantry comes pre-assembled and is to be just placed on the table after the table is set. It's not too difficult and there's no tramming or accuracy check required, but there is a bit of assembly.

The shopbot is controlled by its own proprietary software that is included with the machine purchase.

It is an incredibly easy to learn and use software with enough features to accomplish anything you might need.

In addition, you get a free VCarve Pro license which is worth $700, to use as your design software.

Also you can run the shopbot using a laptop, which is not possible with the Stinger 3 and ShopSabre as they use WinCNC control software.

Shopbot offers a two year warranty on this machine and unlimited tech support.

The company ShopBot Tools, Inc. is based in north carolina and all the machines are designed and built in USA.

More than what's advertised, shopbot has a highly loyal user base, who speak very highly of their excellent customer support.

Among all the products listed here, I'd say shopbot is the best in terms of customer service. Added to this, is their highly active community forum which can answer almost any query you have.

For a few thousand dollars more you can add the automatic tool changer (ATC) accessory as well to the shopbot which can help speed up things a lot.

ShopBot PRSalpha 4896 dust skirt
ShopBot PRSalpha 4896 dust skirt

Overall, the shopbot is my recommendation in this category of 4x8 CNCs, especially if you want a hassle free hands-off experience.

If you think the price is too steep and you are not into heavy production work, you can consider the Shopbot PRSalpha Buddy BT48 which has a moving expansion table called powerstick which can be pulled out if you need to cut a full sheet.

The PRS alpha buddy sells at $20,214.

Pros:

  1. Best in terms of customer support
  2. Excellent community and widespread user base

Cons:

  1. Most expensive among the three considered in this category.

2. Camaster Stinger 3

Camaster Stinger 3 CNC
Camaster Stinger 3 CNC

The Camaster Stinger III is another good choice among 4x8 CNC Machines.

Stinger III is the least expensive among the three machines in this category. The full machine with standard accessories sells at $17,995.

This CNC has a welded steel chassis unlike the PRSalpha which has a bolted steel frame. This also means this CNC comes fully assembled.

Like all fully assembled CNCs you will need pallet jacks and help to move this heavy 1500 lbs. CNC into your shop.

The Stinger III has rack and pinion drives for the X and Y axes. Ball screw drive is used for the shorter Z axis unlike the PRSalpha which uses rack and pinion for Z axis as well.

The 8' Y axis is dual drive with two motors, as is with all good 4x8 CNC routers.

Stinger 3 has a maximum cutting speed of 500 ipm and rapids of 1000 ipm, which is the lowest among all the 3 CNCs in this category.

The standard version ships with a 3.5 HP Milwaukee Router unlike the PRSalpha which ships with a 4HP spindle, and that is a bit underwhelming.

For continuous production work, a spindle is always preferable to a router, because routers heat up rather quickly.

Speaking of upgrades, a highly popular upgraded version of the stinger 3 is the Camaster X3 option, whereby you get two 2.25 HP Milwaukee routers alongside the main central cutting tool.

The main tool can be another router or a spindle. Always choose the spindle in my opinion.

In the stinger X3 version, when you get to load two other tools in the two additional routers. This means you don't need to do a tool change unless you need a fourth tool.

Camaster Stinger X3 version
Camaster Stinger X3 version

You can call it a budget version of an ATC, and it's really all you need if you use only 3 tools. So the choice of upgrading to the X3 version depends on the intended application of your CNC.

If you choose the X3 version, the total cost of owning the Stinger CNC comes to around $22,000, which is close to the price of the PRSalpha 4896.

The Stinger 3 ships with a controller PC and that has a Windows 10 OS and 19" LED monitor. This PC is equipped with the WINCNC control software that runs the Stinger CNC.

Just like the PRSalpha, the Stinger 3 comes with the Vectric Vcarve Pro license included. You can install the Vectric Pro in a PC of your choice.

What kind of support can you expect? Camaster offers free tech support for the life of the machine and also a free remote support technician for the life of the machine.

How about the community? Just like Shopbot, Camaster also has a highly active community around their product with the "Camheads" forum being their watering hole.

Having a good community around the product is a sign of a company that offers excellent customer support. Camaster has a good reputation for taking care of their customers and this shows in their community.

Camaster also offers tech support to owners with second hand Camaster machines as well, which is quite great. The support is for the machine, whoever owns it then.

Camaster Stinger 3 after setup
Camaster Stinger 3 after setup

The company CAMaster, Inc. is based in Cartersville, Georgia and all their machines are designed and built in USA.

The Stinger 3 is a great option for a 4x8 CNC and would come a close second to the PRSalpha.

Pros:

  1. Excellent customer support
  2. Highly Active community

Cons:

  1. Ships with a router in the basic version.

3. ShopSabre RC8

ShopSabre RC8 CNC
ShopSabre RC8 CNC

The RC8 has a heavy welded steel frame just like the Stinger 3, and weighs around 2000 lbs.

RC8 uses a six leg design for the table for better stability and to reduce vibrations.

The cutting area on the RC8 is 55” x 98”, making it sufficient for sheet cutting.

The X and Y axes on the shop sabre uses a rack pinion drive system while the Z axis uses a precision ball screw system just like the Stinger 3.

RC8 has a maximum cutting speed of 500 ipm and rapids of 1500 ipm, which is lower than the PRSalpha but higher than the Stinger 3.

In the basic version, the RC8 uses a 3.25HP CNC router. Upgrade to an HSD spindle is available, of course.

Just like the other two machines, VCarve Pro license is included with the machine.

The RC8 is the least expensive among the three CNCs in this category. The basic version ships at $17,495.

But even with an upgrade to a 4 HP HSD spindle, the total cost comes only to around $20,000, which is a few thousand dollars less than the Stinger 3 and of course the PRSalpha.

The RC8 offers an automatic tool changer as an upgrade.

Just like in the other CNCs the freight charges are not included in the listed pricing, and that's extra.

The controller software on the ShopSabre is WinCNC like in the Stinger 3.

Gantry on ShopSabre RC8
Gantry on ShopSabre RC8

The company ShopSabre is based in Lakeville, Minnesota and all their machines are designed and built in USA.

Unlike the camaster, ShopSabre doesn't offer free support to second or subsequent owners, which is a letdown. It also makes a used ShopSabre less attractive compare to the other brands.

Of course, if you are the second owner, you can buy a new support plan which costs $2,000 for one year or $4,000 for lifetime.

ShopSabre does not have an active community or an active forum around their products and that's a major disadvantage, especially if you are a beginner in CNC.

There is a facebook group, but it's nowhere near what we have with the ShopBot and the Camaster.

Overall, this is a good, made in USA CNC and costs less than the other options in this category. However, you don't get to enjoy the community support with this machine.

Pros:

  1. Welded steel frame
  2. Six Leg stable frame

Cons:

  1. No active community around the product.

Other 4x8 CNC routers between $10,000-$30,000 that didn't make the cut

I also considered the Laguna Swift, STM1325-R3 among other machines in the under $10,000 category.

Budget Options for Hobbyists

If you think the prices of the CNCs above are too high for a hobbyist and you definitely need a 4x8 CNC, then I'd like you to consider two other options in the market.

The first is the BobsCNC KL744 with the extension kit and the Maslow CNC.

1. BobsCNC KL744 with extension kit

BobsCNC 744 with Extension Kit (4x8)
BobsCNC 744 with Extension Kit (4x8)

The BobsCNC KL744 is a 4x4 CNC Router that sells for $2875, with a birch plywood frame.

BobsCNC has an extension kit to the KL744 that sells for around $614 (without the table) which converts the KL744 into a full size 4x8 CNC router that lets you work on a full sheet.

That brings the total price to $3500 without the table. With a table that comes to $4,300. Also, you need to buy extra X rails locally, and that is not included in the extension kit.

The birch plywood frame is fine for hobby work and does not vibrate too much unless pushed to very high speeds.

The drive system on this CNC is belt drive, and not rack and pinion like the other more expensive CNCs in this list. That does mean there will be a bit of compromise in terms of accuracy.

As with many budget CNCs it runs on GRBL firmware on the Arduino Uno.

It is of course possible to just buy the KL744 (4x4) without the extension kit and manually move the sheet when you are done with one half of the sheet.

Pros:

  1. Less expensive compared to Avid CNC

Cons:

  1. Too slow for any commercial work.
  2. Plywood frame is not as rigid as metallic frames.

2. Maslow CNC

Maslow CNC Assembled
Maslow CNC Assembled

Costing just around $500, Maslow CNC is a 4x8 vertically mounted CNC that started as a community-driven open source project.

Maslow is now sold by several companies with their own custom adjustments. However, the one by Maker Made is the most popular version.

The Maslow CNC runs on ground control software which is compatible with Mac, Windows and Linux computers.

This CNC can work on many different materials like hardwood, softwood, plastics and MDF. It takes multiple slow shallow passes to remove material.

You do need to buy a separate router to use with the Maslow. Any fixed base router with a 1/2" or 1/4" collete will work with the maslow.

What you get with Maslow are the cables and the electronics. The easel-style frame that you see on the Maslow CNCs is built separately by each Maslow owner.

maslow CNC kit
maslow CNC kit

The Maslow community website gives the plan and detailed instructions to build the frame. It's not too difficult if you know basic woodworking and can be accomplished in a weekend.

You need some 2x4's, plywood, and two bricks as materials. The brick is for the sled which you also need to make yourself in addition to the frame.

Maslow Sled
Maslow Sled built by a hobbyist

The frame and the sled come to a total of around $100 in materials, so factor that into the overall price for getting a Maslow up and running.

With a bit of DIY adjustments, it is possible to do surprisingly good projects with this CNC. If you check the community section of Maslow, you'll get to know what it can do for you- Maslow Projects by Community.

You get a USB with ten sample projects that lets you try out the maslow immediately after you get it assembled.

A lot of people complain about how slow the Maslow is, but then you need to consider how cost efficient it is as well.

At a travel speed of 31 ipm, the maslow can seem slow compared to more expensive CNCs.

Additionally, the z travel you get is quite limited with 1-2" depending on your choice of router.

Because it is a vertically mounted machine, the Maslow doesn't take up much horizontal shop space. Maslow's footprint is only 10'x3'.

All things considered, Maslow really makes CNCs affordable to hobbyists who are getting started with CNCs.

Pros:

  1. Extremely low price.

Cons:

  1. Requires a lot of DIY building before you can get started.
  2. Very slow travel speed.

Buyers Guide: What to look for when buying a 4x8 CNC Router

1. Bed Size or Cutting Area

CNC Bed size
CNC Bed size

Decide whether you will be working with 4x8 sheets or 5x5 sheets or 5x10 sheets. If you need to go higher than 4 feet, then consider the size upgraded version of the CNCs listed above. All of them do have a bed size upgrade.

2. Drive System

floating drive on ShopSabre RC8
floating drive on ShopSabre RC8

For 4x8 CNCs it is essential that the longer X and Y axes are run using a rack and pinion system. Screw drives are too slow for such long travels and belt drives are too inaccurate for any serious work.

3. Speed

There are two kinds of speeds. The travel speed and the cutting speed. Both kinds of speeds are expressed in inches per minute for CNCs.

Due to the large travel distance along X and Y axes, you need to carefully consider the travel speed of your 4x8 CNC.

The Avid PRO CNC has a maximum travel speed of 1000 ipm whereas the ShopBot PRSalpha has a speed of 1800 ipm!

The cutting speed refers to the RPM of the spindle and how fast the CNC can eat through the material.

4. Cutting System

CNC Cutting System
CNC Cutting System

A spindle is almost always better than a router. Routers are not meant for continuous use and should never be used for production work.

Also routers are more noisy compared to spindles.

Also the HP ratings on a router cannot be compared with the HP ratings on a spindle. Spindles are more powerful and efficient and meant to run all the time.

If you really have to compare, take only half the advertised HP rating on a router to compare with the full advertised HP rating of a spindle.

The power rating on your spindle is related to how much cutting depth you need in one pass and the material you're cutting. A lower HP spindle will take more passes to remove the same depth of material as a higher HP spindle.

A higher HP spindle is also quieter. For any kind of production work, you should get at least a 2HP or higher spindle.

5. Ease of Assembly

If you want to get to production quickly without doing any DIY assembly by looking at the manual, then a fully assembled machine is what you need.

Typically most under $10,000 CNCs come in a kit form and need to be assembled.

You need to be careful during the assembly to ensure everything is square and aligned or it can affect the accuracy of your cutting.

Look for brands with good documentation regarding the assembly. Also watch youtube videos showing the assembly of your target CNC to see how hard it is.

6. Test the CNC

Most CNC brands sell all over the USA and you would be able to find someone who owns the specific model you're looking at.

Test the CNC with the material you plan on using and see how it performs.

7. Vacuum and Dust Collection

CNC Custom Vacuum Table
CNC Custom Vacuum Table

Vacuum tables can clamp the material down for you during the cutting and if you intend to do fast production work, then you will likely need a powerful vacuum.

You will need to fasten your material each time with fasteners if you don't have a vacuum table setup. This is likely fine if you're a hobbyist though.

All the brands listed above sell excellent vacuum solutions as an add on to the machine.

In terms of dust collection, if you are cutting full sheet goods all the time, then that will generate a ton of dust and you definitely need a proper dust collection system attached to the vacuum.

8. Warranty and Customer Support

It is essential that the seller offers at least a one year warranty on their 4x8 CNC.

Also direct phone line customer support can be of great help.

For many chinese manufacturers, this is not an option. While you might get the machine at a lower initial price, you might get subpar after sales support.

Also if you're buying a used machine, check if the manufacturer provides support to the next owner.

Camaster supports whoever is the current owner while ShopSabre does not offer free support to the second owner.

9.Community around the brand

All the best brands have an active community of users around their products. Typically, there's also an online forum where everyone shares their projects and any questions they have.

Not having an active community around the product is a red flag in my opinion.

About John

Hey I'm John. I talk about CNC's and Power Tools at Mellowpine. I'm a CNC hobbyist who has been making CNC's and writing about CNC's for a while. I currently also work as a consultant for business owners and hobbyists setting up their own CNC's. If you have any questions related to CNC, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at john@mellowpine.com

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John

Hey I'm John. I talk about CNC's and Power Tools at Mellowpine. I'm a CNC hobbyist who has been making CNC's and writing about CNC's for a while. I currently also work as a consultant for business owners and hobbyists setting up their own CNC's. If you have any questions related to CNC, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at john@mellowpine.com

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