List of Common Hobby CNC cutting materials

Hi all,

Happy Tuesday! I’ve been thinking about this for a while and have decided that it’s time to put together a more complete list of materials that your average hobby CNC user might reasonably come to use in their journey of using their CNC machine.

I think this would be advantageous towards not only exposing beginner CNCers to the wide range of materials that an average hobby CNC can work with, but could also potentially turn into a list of places to buy these materials, approaches on how to cut them, and suggestions on conservative feeds and speeds.

So to kick this all off, I’ve put together my initial list of relevant materials. If you think there are materials which should be added (common materials that I’ve missed) or removed (I’ve added materials that are too rare) then voice your opinions below. I’d love to hear what you guys would have to say on all of this and it will ultimately ensure that I can continue to develop resources that will be beneficial towards our ever-growing community :slight_smile:

Also, please share any other material-based knowledge that you think could be relevant! (places to purchase, advice / techniques, feeds & speeds, etc.)

Category Material
Foams EPS insulation board
High Density EVA
Medium Density Modelling Board
High Density Urathane
Plastics Polycarbonates (PC)
Acrylics (extruded)
Acrylics (cast)
Delrin (POM)
HDPE
Teflon (PTFE)
Nylons
Expanded PVC
ABS
PETG
Corian
Epoxy Resin
Softwoods Cedar
Douglas-fir
Fir
Pine
Spruce
Hardwoods Alder
Ash
Balsa
Beech
Birch
Cherry
Ebony
Elm
Hickory
Mahogany
Maple
Oak
Padauk
Poplar
Teak
Walnut
Manufactured woods Baltic birch ply
Bamboo
Cherry ply
Melamine
MDF
Plywood
Metals Copper
Brass
Bronze
6061 Aluminum
1045 Carbon Steel
303 Stainless Steel
Misc. Machinable Wax
FR-4 (circuit board)
Graphite
Ceramic Tiles

@trust_level_0

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@chrismakesstuff That’s a heck of a list you have there, Chris. :grinning:

Do you want to limit the materials to those that we carve with a router,or do you want to include materials on which we would a laser, a drag knife or a diamond drag?

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That’s an interesting question Grant. I’d probably say that I could make those separate categories and try to find another place to provide that information on our site.

I’d probably put most of the work into the cutting materials list first, but then providing that sort of information as well I think would certainly be advantageous. What materials would you recommend for those applications?

A list of places to feed this habit would be wonderful. I know of nothing on the West Coast beyond Reimer Hardwoods, and would love to know some neat places to put on the “explore and play” list.

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For the router, I can add: soapstone. Messy but it carves easily Picture matte. Cut with a Vbit, it does a great job for anyone who does not have a matte cutter.

For the laser: ceramic tile, foam.(including foam pumpkins)

For the dragknife: decal paper

For the diamond drag: glass, mirrors.

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  • I think you missed vinyl, with a drag knife *
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And leather with the laser

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It would be good if you looked at some Australian timbers as well.

I like to use Wenge for coasters but it is a very hard wood and the dust and any splinters can be hazardous.

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Which do you think would be the most pertinent Ian?

Bluegum gets used a lot here. Its super hard and durable
Silky Oak nice furniture timber not super hard

Any of the Gum tree varieties

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Alaskan Yellow Cedar and Catalpa both carve well. Catalpa should be durable outside for signs but I haven’t had one outside long enough to tell yet.

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I was just looking at a redgum clock my cousin in Vic made, and thinking about it. Is that a wood that gets mineral deposits in it?

Sapele is commonly used as a mahogany substitute.

And there’s African Mahogany, which is readily available in N.A.

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@chrismakesstuff With respect to all those sending in wood species ideas, Chris, I think that you will find that, if you try to list all hard and soft woods, you will have an extremely long list. Short of some really crazy stuff, I believe it’s safe to say that any soft or hard wood can be carved/cut with our Mills. Feeds and speeds will vary; maybe even bits, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that there is no impossible wood.

Now, watch, someone will point me to one. :grinning:

Lignum Vitae for $10,000!

Actually, I bet with carbide, the right feed and maybe an air cooling nozzle you’d be fine - I think you’re probably right.

It’s probably hard / soft and gummy / not gummy for 80% of use cases

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Yes I completely agree Grant. Originally I was compiling a list of over a hundred woods but I realized that I really didn’t make sense to do since there are just so many species out there to consider. I’m happy to hear everyones input though - with that input I can further consider what it and isn’t worth including :ok_hand:

Maybe a list of what can’t be cut would be shorter :grin:

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Fantastic list of materials. What would be nice to see are some speeds and feeds for 1/8" and 1/4" bits using your recommended router against these materials.

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@SteveFossey Actually, Steve, I cut lignum with ordinary woodworking tools. I use it for bushings and for blade guides on my bandsaw.

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