The best thing about a good CNC router machine is that it can easily pay for itself if you play it smartly.
Even if you bought your CNC purely as a hobby, there's no harm in earning a good side income while having fun.
What makes CNCs great from a business point of view is that once you make a single part, it isn't too difficult to make a hundred more of those.
Once you master the basics of CNC, the next step in the process is choosing what to make.
This article is all about popular CNC project ideas that you can sell, where to find the templates, and how to sell them.
Wood CNC Projects that Sell
Wood is the most popular material for CNC router projects due to its easy workability.
Also, there is the fact that wooden items are always in demand due to their natural look and feel.
A good CNC machine will give excellent results in carving, cutting, and shaping the wood, thus producing an article with a premium finish and good market value.
Coasters are an excellent project for beginners to start with.
It is the most basic item that you can even make even out of scrap wood.
Due to their small size, they can be easily carved on a 3040 CNC router.
You can also add a personal touch to it by carving a custom design on it.
Almost every household and every business place need signboards.
People love to hang wooden signs with engraved letters or signs with raised letters.
It is an easy project which is always in demand, and with access to a good CNC router for sign-making, you can get creative to try unique designs.
Examples include business signs, house number plates, welcome signboards, etc.
Wooden clocks can look great if made from CNC.
You can try various designs with different types of wood to make your project unique and impressive.
Wooden Games and Blocks
You can make various toys and block games that are always in demand for every household with kids.
A puzzle or a maze game is also a good project to turn small pieces of scrap wood into a profitable product.
Keyholders and Keychains
A wooden keyholder with a beautiful design can easily find its place in every home.
You can pair the keyholder with custom-made keychains, adding a personal touch to the product and making it unique.
Keychains ae generally small in size and you can use an affordable CNC router for small businesses to make these projects.
For hobbyist applications, you can use a small-size CNC such as New-Carve by CNC4newbie to make keychains and other small woodworking projects.
Monogram signs have become a very popular gift item because of their minimalistic and modern design.
You can also combine two ideas and make a monogram keyholder.
Another easy project is oversized items like wooden dice which can be used as a decorative item or you can size it up for an outdoor dice game.
You can be creative and make anything fun by oversizing simple objects like an oversized ruler which can be fixed against the wall for measuring the height of your kids.
Personalization can make your product unique and you can charge a little extra fee for it.
Large-size CNC routers, such as the Full-sheet router variant of Millright Mega V are ideal for carving oversized designs.
Trays and Cutting Boards
Trinket trays and cutting boards are some of the best-selling wooden items and are easy to make.
You can even join planks of scrap wood and carve beautiful trays out of it, but use good quality hardwood for making cutting boards.
Be creative, try different shapes and designs by combining different shades of wood to make your product unique and attractive.
You can also engrave a fun design or personalize them to gain a little extra profit.
A small-size CNC router, such as Shark SD120, is best suited for this type of project.
You can also opt for Shark HD520 which provides a work area of 28'' x 63'', ideal for larger projects.
Laser engravers can also be used for these projects, but when comparing laser with CNC engraving, CNC engravings can have variable depths, making them ideal for 3D engravings.
You can also try tissue boxes with beautiful carving and minimal design.
A beautiful religious artifact adds to the interior of the place while developing a spiritual environment.
A wooden cross with spiritual engraving always looks beautiful on the wall.
Wooden Flags and Maps
There is no doubt about a man’s love for his country, and a wooden flag with perfect colors will look beautiful hanging on a living room wall.
Another interesting CNC project can be wooden maps that are beautiful and have a minimalistic-modern look.
Based on the customer demand, you can also make personalized maps of certain cities or countries that might have emotional importance for the customer.
Artwork and Topographic Projects
These types of projects require an artistic mind and good skills in CNC machining.
Art panels make for an amazing gift that can be hung on the wall to beautify the interiors.
Topographic maps are a bit difficult to make and require a very skilled person to design them on CAD/CAM software.
It can be a bit stressful and takes up a lot of time when you are designing a particular topography for the first time, but its uniqueness and personalization can earn you a good amount of profit.
This is a CNC project that might look easy to the eye, but it has complex shapes that require a lot of time and precision.
Proving your skills on good quality chess set with a premium design and quality wood can hold a great deal of value.
Having access to a CNC machine, a 3D printer, and a laser cutter can further improve your capabilities to make an excellent chess set.
Watch how we used Snapmaker 2.0 (a 3-in-1 CNC machine) to make a chess set from scratch.
Acrylic CNC projects that Sell
Acrylic, also known as plexiglass, is another material that can be used in making CNC projects and is available in different colors.
It has the machinability of plastic with the optical properties of glass and can be found in transparent, translucent, and opaque forms, which makes it an ideal material for making various beautiful CNC projects.
Just like wood coasters, acrylic coasters are also easy to make and are always in demand.
Being easy to make, they are abundantly available in the market for cheap prices, so you have to be creative and personalize the coasters to make them unique.
You can also try other wood project ideas that you think could look good in acrylics.
Custom-made guitar picks with the initials of the guitarist engraved on them is also a good CNC project that would sell.
Colored acrylic sheets cut into various shapes like stars, hearts, beads, butterflies, etc can be used to make beautiful hangings.
Acrylic LED Signboards
The optical properties of acrylic can be used in making interesting LED signboards.
You can use a translucent white acrylic sheet with an RGB LED strip to make a cool signboard or you can use colored acrylic sheets with a normal white LED.
Engraved LED Lamps
Acrylic can be used to make amazing engraved lamps with custom messages or designs that make it a quick-selling product.
All you need for this project is a block of wood for the base, an LED strip, and a transparent acrylic sheet.
These lamps are easy to make and are a beautiful gift item that can be placed on a bedside table and can also be used as an ambient night light.
Metal CNC projects that Sell
Metallic projects can be a bit costly but they are known for their durability and strength.
So before working on these projects, you need to make sure that you have a rigid CNC machine capable of machining metals.
Metallic items are usually heavy and can be dangerous around kids, so, avoid making kids' items using metal.
Just like wooden clocks, metallic clocks also have a good market value.
You can make some unique designs in different size options and even personalize them on customer requests.
Jewelry items are another great idea for making profitable projects on your CNC.
Customized signature-style name necklaces or some other unique necklace designs with a personalized name or message engraved on them are good projects to get started.
Pet owners always like to have beautiful personalized name tags for their pets and a CNC router is the best way to personalize such tags.
Collecting unique things is the most common hobby and knife collection is one of them.
Crafting unique knives with attractive designs can be a very profitable project because knife collectors are always willing to pay a good price for a unique addition to their collection.
Metal desk accessories is a good project idea where you can make a lot of different things like spinning tops, pen holders, car models, etc.
This type of project requires good crafting skills and knowledge about CNC bits used for machining metal because one small mistake can ruin your artwork and cost you money in the form of time and material wastage.
If you have access to a laser cutter or engraver, it can simplify your task of making complex and unique designs with great precision. You can also use the laser engraver for a variety of other projects.
All sorts of artworks, like solid metal artwork, wire-frame artwork, etc can be made in different sizes to earn a good profit on them.
Where Can You Sell Your Projects?
Social media like Facebook Marketplace and Instagram can be great avenues for reaching out to customers and showcasing your projects.
You can also use popular platforms like Amazon Homemade and Etsy to list your items for sale and reach global customers.
Another popular idea to sell your projects is by participating in local fairs and exhibitions.
Topographic artworks related to your local area could be hot-selling projects for such fairs and exhibitions.
The key to getting a good price for your products is to focus on high-paying quality customers by branding yourself well.
Even if you sell on third-party platforms, once you reach a certain level, setting up your own website is a good way to go.
Easily set up your store using Shopify or Squarespace once you know that your products are selling well.
You can also grow your brand through other platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, and Tiktok.
Transition to unique quality products and avoid mass-produced items as it's difficult to compete with their low prices.
Where Can You Find Free Templates For Your Projects?
There are many free template sources that you can use for your projects.
Some of the websites where you can find these templates are:
You don’t necessarily have to step into multiple categories to do well.
Having good craftsmanship in two or three types of products can also help you set up a profitable business.
Keep an achievable goal such as a $1000 profit at first and then move on to bigger goals.
Remember that CNC is an automation tool, and if you design your processes and workflow well, scaling is easy.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do if my projects don’t sell even after having good design and premium quality?
If you can’t sell your projects despite having a good design and premium quality, then you need to focus on your marketing skills. Try to reach out to a greater audience through social media, upload attractive and good-quality photos of your projects and reduce your profit margin to a minimum until you develop a good market for your products. You can also ask your friends and family to promote your product among their circle.
Can we use the free templates for profit-making projects?
Yes, free templates can be used for profit-making projects. But these products are abundantly available in the market and have a competitive price range. In order to earn a better profit, you should create your own designs or customize the free templates to make them unique and attractive.
Which metal is used for making artificial jewelry?
Some of the most commonly used metals for making artificial jewelry are nickel, copper, cadmium, stainless steel, and brass. Apart from these, any metal that has good machinability, shows good resistance to corrosion and is cheaper than gold or silver can be used in making artificial jewelry. You can also use acrylics and resin to add beauty to your jewelry item.