As CNC routers become more compact and affordable the ability to monetize them from your home or garage is growing by the day. On online marketplaces like Etsy or Facebook, people are always seeking out customized, one-of-a-kind products. There are a ton of CNC projects to sell that you can make with little to no prior woodworking or CNC knowledge.
One of the biggest advantages of a CNC is you don’t need a full woodworking shop to get started. With a CNC and shop vac you’ll have all you need to get up and running.
CNCs come in a huge variety of sizes from small 12″ x 12″ working surfaces to machines that can handle entire sheets of 4′ x 8′ plywood. This means that almost anyone can find the space for their machine in their home or shop.
How to Make Money with Your CNC Router
We are part of a CNC Facebook group dedicated to owners of the Shapeoko CNC. In it there are frequently stories from new owners of CNC machines talk about making their money back within weeks of owning their CNC. These machines start at over $1,300 so that is no small feat in such a short amount of time!
We’ll discuss this more in the CNC projects section but the Facebook marketplace is a huge opportunity when it comes to selling CNC projects. As many CNC made items can be heavy and bulky selling locally removes any shipping costs and helps preserve your profit margins.
Where to Find Free CNC Project Files
One of the biggest hurdles for new CNC owners is creating designs to make and sell. Starting from scratch can be an incredibly daunting task! Luckily there are a ton of great resources that provide 100% free CNC project files. Some of our favorites include:
- CNC Facebook Groups
CNC Projects to Sell
Coin trays are a great way to use up extra pieces of hardwood or add a decorative flair by routing them into marketable shapes like states or animals.
Wood American Flag
American flags are a huge seller and there are a ton of files available with almost any variation you could imagine. Selling these on local marketplaces is a perfect place to start making money with your CNC without having to worry about all the logistics that comes with shipping.
Wall Mounted Bottle Opener
Adding bottle opener hardware to a customized wall mount is a quick and easy way to make personalized gifts that sell well and are easy to ship. Take some time to come up with creative phrases that will fit in a man cave, bbq area or garage.
BBQ/Shop/Man Cave Signs
Let your customers turn the spaces around their homes into their own with a customized sign. Set up the basic design then allow for customization by adding their names to make it their own.
Small home decor accessories that can be quickly batched out make for great sellers and can boost your shop sales if you’re selling on a marketplace like Etsy. A small walnut board can easily be turned into 6 – 8 pencil rests even on a smaller CNC machine.
Another small accessory that can be quickly batched out on your CNC. These practical type items are often something customers don’t even realize they need until they see it. Good photography of items like these will go a long way in boosting online sales. Profit margins should also be strong as shipping costs should be minimal as well.
Wood Wall Maps
Large or small these wood maps are a unique item that make a great addition to a potential customer’s home office. They can be made from inexpensive plywood and with a little planning should end up yielding little waste.
While we believe the wood topographical map market has become quite saturated there is no denying that these types of items stop customers in their tracks. If you’ve ever visited a holiday bazaar or craft market where these are being sold you’ll know that they always draw a crowd. If you live in an area that draws a lot of tourists these can be a perfect item to sell in local gift shops.
Cell Phone Stand
Knockdown cell phone stands are another quick to make and easy to ship item. Add in a bit of customization and they can be a no brainer for your shop.
Customized Wall Signs
Let your creativity flow with customized CNC wall signs. These could be anything from seasonal designs routed into hardwood to letters cut out of MDF, painted and glued onto a display board. Finding a good niche in this space can be a hugely profitable direction to take your CNC business.
This is another product where creativity is king. Welcome signs, personalized name signs, and seasonal signs are all huge sellers on marketplaces like Etsy. Since these items are displayed front and center on your customer’s homes they come with great word of mouth advertising as well.
Customized Cutting Boards
CNC engraved cutting boards are a popular item for professionals like realtors or loan officers to give to new home buyers. Cuttings boards can be cheaply bought in bulk and personalized. By making yourself available to be on call to personalize cutting boards you can pick up recurring business that can supplement your income year-round.
Wall Panel Art
Abstract wall panel art is a fun way to let your creativity flow and show off just what a CNC machine is really capable of. Flowing patterns, shapes and backlighting are all ways to stand out.
Commemorative plaque orders tend to come in as one off designs and can be deeply personal to the customer. Adding in elements like badge holders will make for a gift that the recipients will cherish forever.
Wood Name Signs
CNC name signs are a hugely popular seller in the baby and kid space. Nursery decor is a great niche and making customized name signs is a perfect way to stand out.
Knockdown end tables have a sleek, modern look that can be produced cheaply and shipped easily. Plans for these types of tables are readily available and the tops can be upgraded to glass or hardwood for a higher end look and feel.
Custom Business Signs
Setting up accounts with commercial clients can be an extremely profitable path to utilizing your CNC. While the customers will often expect unique designs they will also often be willing to pay top dollar.
Seasonal mantle decor such as phrases, wood Christmas trees, decorative designs, snowflakes, or rustic patterns are all great sellers and can boost your online shop with seasonal customers looking for the latest trends.
Drink coasters are another small, easy to produce CNC project to sell that is easily marketable both online and to commercial customers as client gifts. Coaster blanks are cheap to buy in bulk which leaves plenty of room for a solid profit margin.
Taking advantage of seasonal shopping trends is a solid strategy for keeping your online shop humming year round. Christmas ornament shopping will start ramping up here shortly in the early fall so keeping a few products on hand to bring customers into your shop is always a good idea. Christmas ornaments like CNC trees or snowflakes are a perfect project to serve just this purpose.
House Number Signs
Custom house number signs are a fun way for homeowners to add a creative touch to the outside of their homes. Modern styles with sleek fonts and contrasting colors are very on-trend right now.
Entire Etsy shops have been built solely on selling custom wood clocks. One incredibly popular design is to cut out numbers and/or letters on the CNC from MDF and gluing them onto a large round clock blank. By adding your own artistic touch you can carve out a niche in this space as well.
Jumbo Letter Tiles
Create your own sets of oversized letter tiles to serve as learning aids for kids, a fun patio game or to serve as interesting drink coasters. The letters can also be displayed on shelves or the mantle as a decorative piece.
Coin Collection Displays
Coin collections are a valued item for many families but more often than not they end up sitting in a box in the closet. CNC coin collection displays are a great way to help potential customers show off their collections and can bring in a premium price as a result.
Personalized Trailhead Signs
Almost any hiking trail around the country is going to have similar style signs pointing out the trail names, directions and distances. Creating personalized signs in this style is a fun product for customers looking for signs for their kids rooms, garage or backyard.
Create your own police, firefighter or other customized badges for display or for kids to use as a toy. Vector files are cheap and readily available in a ton of different styles.
Wow your friends, family or coworkers with a custom carved retired display. There area number of vector files available for purchase that are ready for customization.
Wood crosses can range from simple with modern lines to incredibly intricate designs that can be cherished for generations.
Wood CNC growth charts are a fun way for parents to track their kid’s growth without having to pull the trim off a doorframe when they move. Adding names and birthdays adds a personalized touch that sells great both online and through local marketplaces.
Customized Pizza Paddles
Home bakers love using pizza paddles to remove pizza or bread from their oven. We make pizza peels for our own Etsy shop and frequently get requests for custom engraving. Reaching out to local woodworkers or buying cheap, blank pizza paddles in bulk to engrave is a great way to get into the kitchen tool market.
Custom cribbage boards, checker/chess boards or scrabble boards make great display pieces and a fun talking point for customers to show off to friends and family. Adding in options like engraving their last name will make your products stand out from the crowd.
Catch All Trays
Catch all trays are a great way to have a little fun with your designs. They can take any shape from a simple dish to intricate animals, trucks, food, etc.
Name puzzles are a fun display piece for new parents to show off in their kid’s room. As the kids grow they can become a learning tool as well with removable letter blocks.
Bottle Cap Holders
Bottlecap holders can be made into almost any shape. Map styles seem to be the most popular but there is always room to add a creative twist.
Put your desktop CNC to use, or maybe even add a laser for really intricate work, to create your own jewelry! Earrings and necklace pendants are popular projects in this space.
Final Thoughts on CNC Projects to Sell
As you can see from the above list the sky is the limit when it comes to projects you can make and sell with your CNC. Whether you are looking for beginner CNC projects or you are a seasoned vet we hope that you were able to take some inspiration from these ideas.
What are your favorite projects to sell with your CNC?
Derek grew up woodworking in his father’s shop and has since gone on to start up a successful woodworking business on Etsy. In his spare time, you can find him mountain biking, skiing, or writing.