Any good CNC machines for small stuff

What is a good CNC for making small parts.

I’m not trying to be snarky or a jerk, but if you know enough about CNC to make small parts, you would know the pros and cons of many CNC machines by now. It’s a huge topic.

I’d recommend learning to manually machine first – for that a Sherline mill can relatively easily be converted to CNC, when your skills and knowledge are there


Just get a manual mill / lathe, making programs for a lot of different stuff your only going to make one or two pieces is just not worth the time, by the time you get the code ready you could machine it by hand

But it depends on the complexity of your parts as well


That’s very good advice. No need to feel snarky. Ok so what’s a list of tools I should be looking for to start manual machining

Stepcraft seems to be a popular machine.

@Kingdom421 First (free) tool needs to be drawing, specifically mechanical drawing – doesn’t need to be more complex than a sketch that lets you know what side of part is supposed to be what length.

Next (free) tool is planning/visualization: you have a drawing, you have a chunk of metal. you need to figure out what series of cuts will get you from chuck of metal to part with correct sizes.

–do you need to make each edge square first, or is your blank already square(hint:it never is).

how are you going to hold the chuck of metal while you cut it.

once you’ve got your sketch (or draft), and your planned order of operations, then you will be cutting

the above free tools will be needed no matter how you make your part. Even though they sound simple, you’ll likely waste materials and time without them.

in general, if the the lines are all straight (like minecraft) then you will need a hacksaw or a mill if the exterior of the part is circular, you need a lathe. If you are needing curves, or are combining circular and straight, you need a machinist, or CNC

In real world, if you are making parts for one board, given the cost of a mill or lathe, you should either just find the part and buy it, or use a hack/jigsaw, along with some drilling and filling. It’ll take an hour or three per part to make by hand, but compared to $600-1200(each!) machine tools it’s probably the correct choice.


It might be popular, but it won’t be any good – the mechanical needs both for safety and physical motion(speed/ rigidity) are so vastly different for CNC metal/wood work, 3d printing and laser cutting that any company that claims their machine is good for all of those with a simple toolhead change are so clueless as to be an actual danger.

@olestra thanks man. Yes I have lots of sketches with actual dimensions. I want to make small parts for some other top secret kinda stuff I can’t let out to some shop. So all the info on diy machining is very helpful and appreciated

@Kingdom421 If your serious about metal working, I can’t recommend enough watching every youtube video “this old tony” has put out! Also the homeshop machinist magazine and forums are gold mines.

Be prepared for about $10K to setup ($2-5K in machines, $3-5K in tooling and measuring instruments, $3-10K in oops and I need ‘x’ specialty stuff) and about $3-50k more to change from manual to CNC

you can probably get that number down to $5kish if you are good at used bargain shopping and sweat equity.

If you can’t identify unacceptable levels of, 2. backlash and 3. squareness on a machine, don’t buy used or cheap.

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By the way, my personal CNC machine is a dynamyte 2400 that I’m rebuilding, for reference. image ^not my machine, just what it looks like


I will be doing lots of that YouTube. I use tutorials like college classes lol thanks.

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I am preparing for a big investment. Something life changing


get good enough at it, CNC machist jobs pay pretty well!

good luck to ya, @Kingdom421!

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You have not specified size / price range / material type / ect

For an brand new entry level but still reasonably capable desktop CNC to learn on and make small parts considering your in the states I’d point you towards the Taig. They even have a ball screw version available, I got one many years ago from Deepgrove1 (before ball screw was an option) As with everything this size it has it’s issues, the Z column can be knocked out of alignment in a crash and I had the headstock sliding down it’s dovetail under load taking a deep side cut. Put the machine to work to make a stop block and the headstock sliding down is no longer an issue. Get better and programing and don’t try push the machine to it’s limits and the column will stay put. Unless they have changed the one from Deepgrove1 also had to be treated as a kit, you got all the components but the wiring job on mine left a bit to be desired.

Don’t be fooled tho for actual machining this is not even comparable in ability to something like a bridgeport or clone, you want to remove material quickly or take deep cuts, forget it.

If you have much deeper pockets look at something like the Tormachs, Syil or Haas Machines. End of the day do you want to just make a few brackets and bits and pieces every now and again or do you want to go into production ?

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Is it me or is that DeepGroove1 an exact duplicate of the Taig?

Also, I agree with everyone here. Start with manual machining - you can get a decent Grizzly or similar for not too much money. 80% of what I do I do on manual machines (lathe and mill).

the other 20% is just too complicated or too precise for manual milling and that’s where CNC is great. If I had it to do over again I’d probably get the Tormach.

Also, I found that having a big decently rigid CNC router gives you lots of options you didn’t have before. And of course a good 3D printer

The combination of those 4 give you an amazing amount of one-off and small batch manufacturing capability.

I use LinuxCNC to drive my CNC machines, and CamBam to do my 2.5d pathing. For very little money it’s a surprisingly capable bit of software.


The DeepGroove1 is a Taig mill with a different electronics package on it.

I think Taig use their own control setup where the DeepGroove1 uses Gecko G540 drive

For small stuff with low volumes/feed rates, some are using an Omiocnc X6-2200L USB. I’m also considering getting one or building up a Sieg SX2.7.

I have been spending weeks just reading, watching youtube and figuring out in my head how to put all these together, and more importantly how to justify it to the Mrs. :grinning:

Also I basically have extremely low volumes for personal projects. So it’s really hard to convince myself to shell out several grand for a few motor mounts that I can get machined for a few hundred bucks at most.

The Omiocnc X6-2200L USB is a gantry style mill

The Taig CNC is a conventional style / column mill (can’t remember if this is the correct name…)

The Omiocnc looks to have a larger working area vs the Taig is probably more rigid. It all comes down to what your doing on which is better suited. With a desktop CNC they will never be and should never be bought with the intention of using them as a production CNC unit. You will find many more uses for them once you have them but like you said if your just doing a couple of motor mounts a drill press, grinder & a set of files will take longer and not be as nice but will get you there in the end still.

I had the same questions as you had when I got my first machine. I was first told to go manual and learn that way before I went Cnc later on if I felt the need.

Well I didn’t listen and bought a 2tonn industrial machine and I don’t regret it at all! It’s rigid and it can be used as a manual mill with a great DRO if I want to.

And even for simple parts I’m now often just as quick with making A drawing, adding cam toolpaths and hit cycle start instead of doing it manually.

A lot can be done with a manual mill but it’s so lovely to load in the tools I need in the toolchanger and just run the job without having to measure in new tools each time they are changed and having trouble doing all that a cnc can do easy.

My advice would be that if you are interested in a cnc then get one don’t get a manual mill just because someone tell you. You can learn how to machine directly on the cnc also. Be prepared to read up and study a lot in the start tho if you have little or no experience with machining.

Used or broken industrial equipment can often be cheaper then getting a new China router btw. Only issue is that the rigid stuff weight a lot and takes up a lot of space.

My cute little machine with Fanuc controls. image


Almost certain this has not only zero WAF (wife acceptance factor) but even negative WAF… :rofl:

Also… 2 tonnes hardly qualifies as “cute”… Haha

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