In this article we will introduce you to the best CNC routers for hobby, tell you how to choose such equipment, what types of wood it is capable of processing and what products can be made with the help of this machine.
Top 3 CNC routers for hobby
What should a hobby milling machine look like? The first thing that comes to mind is a compact machine that can easily fit into a medium-sized workshop or even at home. At the same time, it should be reliable and productive, so you can enjoy working with it.
We have brought together the best value for money in this top list. You will find the perfect hobby CNC router for the home that fits on a normal table, as well as large floor-standing models for a large workshop.
Wattsan 0404 mini hobby CNC router for home use
The Wattsan milling machines labelled “mini” are table machines. The dimensions of this model are only 715x710x740 mm and the size of the working area is 400×400 mm. The machine is perfect for relief engraving and milling of small-sized products: decorative elements for furniture and interiors, ornaments and patterns, inscriptions, emblems and drawings, shelves, stands, holders, cutting boards, models and prototypes, wooden toys, puzzles and other items for hobby or art.
The weight of this machine is 100 kg, which is quite a lot for its size, as the bed is cast iron. This gives excellent stability and minimises vibration during operation, as well as increasing the overall service life of the machine.
The spindle power is 1.5 kW and the speed is 24,000 rpm, which is sufficient for basic machining of all wood materials and plastics. The clearance of the portal is 100 mm – excellent for deep milling, but not enough to connect the rotary unit, so it is not possible to produce, for example, carved balusters on this machine.
Despite its small size, the machine is equipped with HIWIN 20 mm guideways in the X and Y axes. These guideways are also used on large format CNC milling machines. As a result, the accuracy of the Wattsan 0404 mini is 0.02 mm and is maintained throughout the life of the machine thanks to the sturdy frame and well thought-out design.
Advantages of the Wattsan 0404 mini
- Compact, table-top,
- Power 1.5 kW,
- HIWIN 20 mm rails,
- Precision of work 0,02 mm
Disadvantages of the Wattsan 0404 mini
- Small working area
- Gantry clearance 100 mm, no rotary device can be installed
- Idle speed 7000 mm/s
Wattsan 0609 mini desktop CNC router for hobby
Another table-top machine, but with a higher weight of 140 kg and a larger working area of 600x900mm, its dimensions are 915x1210x740mm. This is the only difference that makes it possible to produce larger products, including small furniture such as chairs.
Otherwise, this model is identical to the previous one: solid cast iron bed, HIWIN 20 mm rail guides, inductive end sensors, 0.02 mm accuracy, simple, clear and efficient NC Studio control system, reliable gantry and ball screws for spindles up to 2.2 kW. A 1.5 kW spindle is fitted as standard, suitable for high performance machining of wood and plastics.
This machine can even be installed at home as it is equipped with a water-cooled spindle, which is many times quieter than an air-cooled one.
But before you buy one for your home, visit our online demonstration to assess the noise level and check with your neighbours, as they may not like the idea. In any case, a hobby CNC router is better suited to a cottage or small workshop than a flat.
Much less noisy are laser engraving machines, which you can read about in our article: Top 5 Laser Engraving Machines for Wood. So, to sum up the Wattsan 0609 mini.
Advantages of the Wattsan 0609 mini
- Compact desktop machine
- Working field 600X900 mm
- Spindle 1.5 kW
- HIWIN rail guides 20 mm
- Working accuracy 0.02 mm
Disadvantages of the Wattsan 0609 mini
- Gantry clearance 100 mm, no rotary device can be connected
- Idling speed 7000 mm/s
If you are specifically interested in desktop models, read our article «Desktop CNC Routers for Home & Business». And we move on to floor-standing machines.
Wattsan А1 1616 large format hobby CNC router for the workshop
If you are more serious, look at floor standing machines. Wattsan floor machines are based on a fully welded rectangular tube frame that undergoes a mandatory heat treatment – annealing. The annealing of the welded bed allows metal stresses to be removed, ensuring that the geometry of the bed is maintained throughout its life.
The sturdy frame can withstand heavy loads, including heavier spindle weights and material resistance when working at high power levels. In addition, the idle speed of the Wattsan A1 1616 has been increased to 15,000 mm/min.
In addition, after annealing, special robotic equipment is used to mill perfectly flat areas and drill holes for the installation of guides and racks. This ensures that the guides remain aligned and parallel, which is very important for the precise operation of the machine.
To minimise the amount of debris and dust in the room where you are working, install an extraction system on the machine, this will act like a vacuum cleaner to extract all the waste from the cutting area.
The gantry clearance has also been increased on the Wattsan floor-standing machines. In the case of the Wattsan A1 1616 it is 200 mm. The spindle power is 3 kW, when ordering the machine you can ask for a 4.5 kW spindle. The size of the work area is 1600 x 1600 mm, the machine dimensions are 2260x2130x1550 mm.
Advantages of the Wattsan А1 1616
- Large working area
- Spindle power 3 kW
- All-welded bed
- Idle speed 15000 mm/min
Disadvantages of the Wattsan А1 1616
- Takes up a lot of space.
It is also possible to choose a model with a smaller working area, 1300×1300 mm, the Wattsan А1 1313. In this case, the spindle power will be 2.2 kW.
As this article is about CNC routers for hobby or home use, we do not recommend Wattsan’s more serious milling machines, in particular the M1 series floor-standing machines. They are equipped with a more powerful spindle, a reinforced frame, a reinforced gantry with 300 mm clearance and planetary gears.
Examples and more information about our CNC milling machines can be found in the article «5 Best CNC Wood Router Machines in 2023».
How to choose a CNC router for hobby
Although this article is about hobbies, buying a hobby CNC router is a serious investment, so you don’t want to waste your money or be disappointed with your purchase later. We will now look at the most important aspects of choosing a hobby CNC router.
Hobby CNC router spindle
The power of the spindle is the primary indicator of its efficiency. The power of the spindle also determines the size of the collet and therefore the ability to use certain cutters.
For example, the Wattsan 0404 mini and Wattsan 0609 mini hobby milling machines have an ER11 collet to accommodate cutters with shank diameters from 1 to 7 mm, and the Wattsan A1 1616 has an ER20 collet to accommodate cutters with shank diameters from 3 to 12.7 mm.
CNC router work area size
First and foremost, the size of the work area indicates the maximum size of product you can make. The larger the work area, the more creative and versatile you can be.
When selecting the work area, consider the space available in your room and remember that the actual dimensions of the machine are larger than the size of the work area.
Hobby CNC router control
Of all the control systems, Wattsan chose NC Studio as it was the most practical, user-friendly and functional. It is easy for new users to learn and has a wide range of functions.
As an option, we can equip the machines with an external DSP controller, which makes operation even more convenient.
Quality & Reliability
The service life of a machine tool is affected by all its components: from the frame and gantry to the spindle, motors, gearboxes, ball screws, guideways, racks and end sensors. The tempering of the bed, the milling of the guide rails surfaces and the correct assembly and adjustment of all machine systems are very important.
Wattsan has been manufacturing CNC machines for over 20 years, during which time we have introduced over 50 refinements to our machines and continue to improve with more and more refinements based on feedback from our customers and meticulous testing by our development department.
If you have any questions about choosing a quality CNC router for your home, hobby or business, please leave your contact details on our website and our managers will get back to you.
What types of wood can be machined with a CNC router for the home or workshop
Hobby CNC routers can work a wide range of woods, including:
1. Soft wood: CNC routers are excellent for machining soft woods such as pine, spruce, larch and birch. These woods tend to be less dense and easier to machine.
2. Hard wood: CNC routers can also work hardwoods such as oak, ash, maple and hornbeam. Hardwood has a higher density and stiffness, so it requires machines with higher power and tool strength.
3. Wood composites: CNC routers can also work with composite wood materials such as plywood, chipboard and MDF (medium density fibreboard). These materials are commonly used in furniture making and other industries.
4. Exotic woods: Many CNC routers for hobby can work with exotic woods such as mahogany, walnut and teak. These woods are often used to produce high quality furniture and decorative items.
It is important to note that when machining wood on a hobby CNC router it is essential to select the correct settings and tools for the specific type of wood to achieve the desired results and avoid damage to the router or the material.
What products can be made
CNC routers for hobby offer a wide range of possibilities for creating various products in the home or small workshop, as part of a hobby or even for running your own business. Here are some examples of products that can be made on these machines:
1. Decorative elements: hobby CNC routers can be used to create a variety of decorative elements such as carved panels, paintings, murals, ornaments and carved furniture decorations.
2. Furniture: Furniture items such as tables, chairs, shelving, chests of drawers, beds and wardrobes can be made using milling machines. CNC routers for hobby allow you to create intricate carved parts and unique shapes.
3. Models and toys: hobby CNC routers can be used to make models and toys. You can make models of cars, aeroplanes, ships, houses, robots and other objects, as well as a variety of wooden toys, puzzles and construction kits.
4. Wood carving and engraving: CNC routers can carve wood with high precision and detail. You can create carved wood panels, carved picture frames, carved window casings and other decorations. Combined with the carving capabilities, you can create custom emblems, logos, lettering and images on wood panels, plaques, coasters and other items.
5. Artwork: hobby CNC routers allow you to create works of art in wood, including sculptures, reliefs, busts and other artistic objects.
These are just a few examples of what you can do with a hobby CNC router. The possibilities and limitations depend on the specific machine model, your experience and creativity. You can combine CNC milling machines with other equipment, such as Laser marking machines for metal.
In order to choose a hobby CNC router for your workshop, you need to determine how much space you have available, which will determine the size of the working area of your future machine. Then decide on the power of the spindle and be sure to pay attention to the machine bed and accessories such as gantries, motors, end sensors, ball screws, rails and helical racks.
Make an appointment for a detailed consultation with the Wattsan managers and we will help you to find the best solution for you – a machine that will serve you faithfully for many years and make you happy in your hobby.
We offer an official warranty on our CNC milling machines and provide unlimited information support to our customers. We are also happy to help you with commissioning and training. If you need technical support, you can always count on our engineers as we have offices all over the world.