September 13, 2022 11 min read

There are hundreds of CNC router projects on the internet, but finding profitable options isn’t always easy. To help with that, we’ve created a list of our favorite CNC ideas that have an almost guaranteed market.

Can You Make Money With a CNC?

Yes, you can earn money with a CNC machine. There’s a myriad of profitable CNC projects out there, that can generate a viable income. The key is to know which projects to take on, and which market you’re targeting.

Below, we’ll take a closer look at what gives a project sales appeal, and discuss some of our favorite CNC-made products.

Best CNC Router Projects to Sell

We’ve compiled a list of different CNC router projects that sell. Each of the following categories will delve into the main item, followed by different project ideas in that category.

Generally, the best wood CNC projects to make if you want to turn a profit have a few things in common. Some of these shared traits include:

  1. Being Evergreen - The best CNC projects that sell faithfully are things that people need all the time. For instance, we all need a calendar every year to keep track of work and other commitments. Hence, there’ll always be a market for them. People consistently need to know the time, so clocks are similarly evergreen.
  2. Being Easy to Replicate - The most profitable CNC projects are the ones that you can replicate time after time with little repeat effort. Things like shelves, cutting boards, and even certain holiday-themed items are easy to make over and over again. Once you have the design, it only takes the click of a button.
  3. Affordability - While creating some premium and high-range products is a fantastic idea, most CNC-based businesses make their income from selling many cheaper items. For example, you could make 5 walnut chopping boards, and they’d be worth a pretty penny. But, you’d be reaching out to a discerning buyer and they may not sell as quickly as you’d like. But, if you make beautiful, detailed, mid-priced boards from pine or cherry, you’ll target almost every food lover who needs a new chopping board.
  4. Simplicity - While there’s always room for some complexity, the best-selling CNC ideas tend to be simple. The idea is to get maximum reward for minimum effort. Using a CNC router, you can make something that looks incredibly complex without using a complicated design. The result? Something that looks like it took weeks, but only took minutes. Keep it simple.
  5. Authenticity - CNC routers make doing the usual projects easier. But, if you truly want a project that will stand out, you need to give it some flair. If you’re going to make shelving brackets, consider giving them unusual exterior shapes, or make wall art with intricate details. If you can design and create products that bring beauty to your clients’ lives at affordable rates, you’ll always have customers.
  6. Customizability - In a world where company image and branding are all-important, customizable products are a definite win. Any project, from coasters to signage, or shelving can feature custom design features. You’d be surprised how many businesses will pay to have their logo or slogan on everyday things they buy for the office.

In the following sections, we’ll look at eight profitable CNC projects that you can try. We’ll also point out different variants of these CNC ideas that we think are worth knowing about.

1 - Calendars

Calendars are some of the CNC router projects that are the easiest to replicate. Once you have a basic design, you can make similar calendars repeatedly. We see these detailed calendars also being processed by CO2 CNC laser machines as well.

Mayan Calendars

Mayan calendars are a bit of an oddity, but they’re currently remarkably popular. These strange devices don’t correspond to the Roman calendar (so don’t try to use them to schedule work).

Mayan calendars have a unique design and are still used by many people groups in South and Central America.

Instead, each Mayan calendar consists of three separate calendars: the civil, divine, and Long Count.

Since they’re highly decorative, and typically feature a myriad of intricate designs, these tools are ideal wood CNC projects.

You can even theme them, using anything from movie themes to celestial bodies or mythological deities.

CNC files for this type of project are easy to find on websites like this one.

Rotary Calendars

Rotary calendars are one of those easy CNC machine projects that you can make with great diversity. From engraved squares to rotating circles, the options are endless.

Rotary calendars are a fun way to keep track of the date, and wooden ones are essentially evergreen.

Their simplicity and ease of use mean that these devices have been popular for decades. Pick your theme and design elements, and you’re in business.

Surprise Calendars

Many people love surprises, and what can make your day better than a surprise to greet the morning? Advent calendars are one of the best-known surprise calendars, but why draw the line at Christmas?

Advent calendars are one of the best-known surprise calendars, but these novelties are suitable for nearly any occasion.

You can build a surprise calendar for just about any month. If you’d like to, you can even make one for each of the major holidays. Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas, or even St. Patrick’s day.

These are guaranteed to be profitable CNC router projects. If you’re so inclined, you can even create little ornaments to place in each of the surprise boxes.

Pro tip:Consider making birthday surprise calendars that allow customers to give their loved ones a small surprise every day of their birthday month.

2 - Clocks

They say that time is a friend to no man, yet clocks are one of the most profitable wood CNC projects. With a few pre-programmed designs you can duplicate any clock type indefinitely.

Naturally, you’d have to order the clock mechanisms, or partner up with someone who produces them.

There are hundreds of free CNC clock files out there, on websites like this one. Most of them are available for commercial use, meaning you don’t even have to put the effort into creating a design.

Engraved/Cutout Clocks

Clocks are generally a valuable commodity. Time is an essential part of our lives, and almost every household has at least one clock. Engraved clocks or devices with cutouts are only an improvement in one way: they’re really pretty.

Clocks with engraved or cutout designs remain consistently popular thanks to their charm and beauty.

Draw up your design on your CNC software, and you can keep making the same clocks, or implement some changes every time.

Frameless Clocks

Frameless clocks are fantastic router projects. Unlike most clocks, the numbers aren’t locked into place by any other part of the clock. Instead, each number hangs independently as does the centralized clock mechanism.

Frameless clocks typically aren't bound together. This is nearly a frameless clock, but the designer implemented a frame nonetheless.

Essentially, to make and sell these, you’d need to design the twelve numbers, as well as the clock hands. Since it’s one of the simple CNC wood projects, you can replicate this project innumerable times.

3D Clocks

If you want to make your clocks memorable, consider building three-dimensional constructs. You can choose to do anything from 3D polygons to 2D clocks with 3D numbers. The only limit to what you can create is what you can imagine and design.

3D clocks and modular clocks are excellent products that are easy to replicate and consistently popular.

3 - Furniture

Furniture is one of the many CNC ideas that small business owners rarely consider due to the perceived complexity or lack of experience. Yet, processing wood furniture with a CNC is a viable and profitable endeavor. CNC machines were created to help simplify the manufacturing process. Even in a small workshop, you can use that to your advantage to create beautiful furniture.

Kitchen Facades

Many large factories use CNC routers to help create and finish kitchen facades. However, factories produce a fairly limited amount of designs for a reasonable price. Customized facades are generally out of the reach of the people who love them most.

CNC machines have long played a part in creating kitchen facades.

If you want CNC projects that sell easily, consider making affordable alternatives to the everyday kitchen facades. Kitchens are one of the most remodeled rooms in the home, so people consistently shop for new facades and design elements.

Decorative Table and Chair Legs

Whether they’re round or polygonal, decorative furniture legs have been popular for a long time. Using your 3-axis CNC, you can easily make legs that look like Venetian marble, or with lovely classic fluting.

Many hobbyists and small furniture business will happily pay for furniture legs with the fluting and routing that they can't achieve in-house.

Many hobby woodworkers like to build furniture for fun, but don’t have the means to design and create intricately routed parts for their projects. These hobbyists, and small furniture companies, will happily pay to get the designs they want.

Stools, Benches, and Tables

As with kitchen facades, CNC machines often play an important part in the industrial furniture creation process.

From simple rustic furniture, to complex three-dimensional chairs and tables, you can make excellent furniture with your CNC.

No matter the size of your business, if you have a CNC router you can easily implement CNC ideas for furniture items. A few of the items people regularly make with this technology include:

  • Bar stools
  • Benches
  • Coffee tables
  • Writing desks

Depending on how many decorative elements you wish to include, you can even route each part of your project separately to add scrolling or thematic design.

4 - Holiday Items

Some of the best shopping times of the year are around major holidays like Christmas and V-Day. If you can tap into that shopping potential, you’ll have CNC projects that sell.

Valentines Gifts

What can be more special than a custom Valentine's gift or tag? February is an ideal time to sell small, love-themed CNC router projects.

Valentine's day offers many opportunities to implement profitable CNC ideas. Some of the products you might consider include:

  • Custom gift tags
  • Wooden gift boxes
  • Custom engraved cards

For many of these things, you can have a basic design with an editable message or name slot.

3D Christmas Trees

 From simplistic table toppers like this one to complex 3D constructs, Christmas tree table toppers are best sellers in the holiday season.

Many people who like a more modern aesthetic prefer the clean lines of a 3D wooden tree to that of an original type tree. Other people just want mini trees as table toppers.

Whatever the case may be, 3D Christmas trees are popular products. Since the design is fairly basic you can repeat it easily, and scale it up or down as needed.

Christmas Ornaments

Wooden Christmas ornaments and gifts are perfect CNC ideas that are sure to appeal to lovers of this holiday.

Almost everyone loves custom Christmas ornaments, which is what makes these CNC projects so profitable.

Just a few popular CNC ideas in this category include:

  • Photo frame baubles and ornaments
  • Fun engraved ornaments
  • Wooden candy canes, stars, ribbons, gifts, and snowmen

From Christmas gift boxes to three-dimensional snowmen and nativity scenes, you’re only limited by what you can design or find designs for.

5 - Wall Art

CNC engraved or routed wall art is popular among home and business owners. If you can find the right target market, this art will turn a tidy profit.

Like clocks, wall art is something that’s in constant demand. Furthermore, it’s easy to create these profitable CNC projects using your 3-axis CNC.


Hundreds of new businesses and corporations see the light of day every week. All of them want signs to let people know who and where they are.

That’s a perfect market for you to target. Naturally, you’ll have to design each company’s sign independently, but it’s often worth it.

Other signage you might want to consider includes catchphrases and cute wall hangings. There’s a huge market for awesome wall art, and designs are relatively easy to find.

Parametric Wall Art

Parametric wall art appeals to the hippy in us all. From concentric snowflakes to geometric galaxies, you can make hordes of different designs.

While these aren’t the easiest CNC ideas to implement, they’re popular household decorations, and extremely popular.

Engraved Paintings

Paintings are always a hit, and engraved paintings fit right into the modern art trends. While the design work can be quite demanding, the results are spectacular and easy to replicate.

From routed or engraved images of the Eiffel Tower to intricate flowers and landscapes, the possibilities are endless.

6 - Shelving

Which home or office doesn’t need shelving? This regularly installed item is one of the understandably profitable CNC projects.

Basic Shelf Brackets

The most utilitarian shelf brackets are simple triangular constructs. They're easy to make and produce and look great in rustic and farmhouse settings.

The most basic shelving brackets consist of three parts:

  • The top (upon which the actual shelf rests
  • The back (which attaches to the wall or another mounting surface)
  • A central connector (which attaches the top to the back)

The easiest brackets to construct are simple triangles with two longer sides. They’re simplistic CNC router projects that you can create over and over with little effort. Slightly more complex brackets (but still not decorative) may have a full wooden curve that connects the top and the back.

This shelving design is favored in farmhouses and other buildings with a rustic design style.

Decorative Shelf Brackets

Shelf brackets also range from slightly decorative to extremely ornate. If you can design it, you can probably find a market for it.

Basic shelf brackets are the starting point for a wide array of decorative options. You can edit the essential design to feature things like:

  • Shelf tops with engraved designs on the ends
  • Router or engraved centerpieces with ornate themes
  • Basic fluted, engraved, or routed designs on the backs and tops

Essentially, you can implement CNC ideas that involve complex designs, or basic decorative finishing touches. Preferably, you’d want to design a variety of decorative shelving products so that you can target customers in various niches.

Spice Racks

Cooking is a consistent endeavor, and trying to find the right spice in a shelf full of bottles can be a headache. Tiered spice racks like this one are an ideal solution.

Most kitchens have at least one shelf that’s stocked with a bewildering array of herbs and spices. Unfortunately, it’s often hard to find what you’re looking for because of all the bottles.

Spice racks are an ideal solution that makes it easier to find what you need. They’re popular products, making them some of the more profitable CNC projects.

They come in a myriad of designs, including standard flat racks, tiered racks with multiple shelves, and even sliding or rotating racks.

Most of the patterns are simplistic and readily adapted to create a product that suits your brand and image.

7- Puzzles and Games

Puzzles and games are some of the best router projects to make for profit. People are always looking for new ways to entertain themselves and their children. Here are a few of our favorite ideas:

Brain Teasers

Wooden brainteasers, like this one, are easy to create on your CNC router. They're also consistently popular with a ready market.

Brainteasers or brain teasers have long been a popular item. From simple tower games like the tower of Hanoi to complex multi-dimensional puzzle games.

There are myriads of easily replicable puzzled that you can make with your CNC, ranging from the mindlessly easy to the irrationally complex.

Once you’ve created, bought, or found a viable design you can keep making it. That’s the beauty of these profitable CNC projects. You can even vary the value of the items by changing between cheap woods like pine and expensive woods like walnut.

Animal Puzzles

Shaped puzzles that consist of various shaped pieces which fit together are popular games for young children, and sometimes adults.

Among children, and sometimes adults, few jigsaw puzzles are loved better than those with oddly shaped pieces. At one time, adult jigsaw puzzles with gecko, pumpkin, and other uniquely shaped pieces were quite popular.

Throughout the years, kids have loved puzzles like elephant puzzles built entirely out of elephant-shaped pieces. From dogs to cats and even unicorns, if you can design it you can create it.

3D Puzzles

3D puzzles like cars, rockets, and even famous landmarks are popular products with a predictable market.

Three-dimensional puzzles are a vast and varied category. They range from intricate versions like the Eiffel Tower and Taj Mahal to simple jigsaws with a raised surface.

While they may seem complex, many of these designs are available as CNC files. Others are relatively simple to create based on 2D constructs.

8 - Kitchenware

The kitchen is a wonderful place to implement CNC ideas, but most homeowners don’t have a CNC machine. That leaves a wonderful space for you to create some profit. Here are a few of our favorite kitchen projects.


Coasters are popular tools for protecting surfaces from liquid spills. You can make them either basic or ornate.

No one wants those ugly coffee stains on their beautiful tables and kitchen counters. That’s why coasters are CNC projects that sell fast.

From witticisms to the face of your favorite music star or your client’s business logo, the options are almost unlimited. Whether you choose to make coasters with cutouts, or simple routed designs, few things are nicer to have around.

Pot Holders and Trivets

Trivets help to keep your tables and counters safe from hot pots, kettles, and other cookware. They're fairly evergreen because people constantly need to cook.

Pot holders, A.K.A trivets, are basically large versions of coasters. As with coasters, their main purpose is to protect your tables and counters.

Concepts range from fancy geometric concepts that feature multiple parts that fit together to others routed with logos or images.

The nice thing about these profitable CNC projects is that they’re incredibly simple to produce and recreate. Many people experiment with these products, so free design files abound.

Cutting Boards and Plates

Routed cutting boards and themed plates are a common commodity for both household and industrial use

If you want to get into making CNC router projects for the hospitality industry, cutting boards are another option.

You can design shaped boards that look like fish, fruit, or other foods. Children’s plates are another popular choice for cutout designs. Whether it’s sheep, pandas, cows, or happy vegetables, kids love themed plates.

If you buy the rights to use them, you can even make movie-themed designs based on some of the most beloved movie icons.

Where Can I Find CNC Files?

If you’re looking for paid files for various CNC ideas, they’re easy to find. Many online marketplaces have an area specifically for buying and selling files like CDR, DXF, SVG, and AI.

Free files, on the other hand, are best obtained on forums or websites where hobbyists share their designs.

Be careful about which designs you use for CNC projects that sell, though. Not every design is registered for commercial use. If you use a private-license design for retail purposes, it’s a breach of copyright law.

Final Thoughts

Each of these groups of CNC wood projects are barely a glimmer of the total potential. There are so many things that you can do to help you make a living using your CNC machine.

If you’re not quite sure what you need to make the projects you want to build your business on, feel free to contact us.

We’ll tell you more about the optional extras that can help make your dream a reality. We’ll also help you understand whether you need a 6x12 3-axis CNC or if a 4x4 is big enough.

You canmake a living with CNC machine projects, and we’re ready to help you do it.

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