A Beginner’s Guide To CNC Routing: Understanding the Basics

Lake Oconee Boomers

A Beginner's Guide To CNC Routing: Understanding the Basics

Are you interested in getting started with CNC routers? If so, then you’re making a great choice. CNC routers can drill, saw, bore, engrave, and more. Learning how to use a CNC router is a great way to earn a living.

It’s also an essential tool for many industries. However, there’s a lot to learn if you’re brand-new to the world of machining. Learning how to use CNC routers can seem a tad overwhelming as a result.

Fear not, as we’re here to break things down for the absolute beginner. Here’s a simple guide for understanding the basics of CNC routing.

What Is a CNC Router?

First, we’ll start with a simplified definition of CNC machining. CNC stands for “computer numerical control.” It refers to controlling machines with computers. You can control lathes, mills, routers, and grinders.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on CNC routers. They’re cutting machines that use a hand-held router as a spindle. You can cut various materials with a CNC router, such as:

  • Wood
  • Composites
  • Steel
  • Plastics
  • Glass
  • Foams
  • Aluminum

As you can see, there’s a lot you can do with a CNC router. If you have the need to cut thick materials such as the ones listed above, a CNC router is the perfect tool.

CNC routers are highly accurate and ideal for repeat use. You can make 100 copies of the same part and they will all come out identical.

Learning the Software

The first step is to learn the software involved. You’ll need three programs for a CNC router: computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), and computer numerical control (CNC).

It’s wise to begin with CAD drawing software. That’s where you’ll learn how to draw the designs that you create with the router. G-code is what takes your designs and uses the CNC router to create 3D designs.

It’s possible to pull off some basic machining on your CNC but the real fun begins when you start using the software. It takes time to learn, so we recommend looking up video tutorials.

Practicing on Demo Objects

Now that you’ve been tinkering with your software and CNC router, it’s time to start practicing. The best way to do so is to use “demo projects,” or pieces of material that you use to test out new ideas. Try creating different designs and styles to see what the machine can do.

Understanding the Basics of CNC Routing

As you can see, the process isn’t as complicated as it may seem at first. All you need to get started are a few video tutorials. From there, start creating “demo” designs using scrap materials. After a while, you’ll become a true CNC professional. For the time being, as you learn from a beginner’s guide to CNC routing, there are services to do it for you. You won’t be a master of the craft from the beginning, so make sure to enlist help when you need it.