Here is a collection of 101 books for the CNC hobbyist. Only a small number of people even know what a CNC machine is, and even fewer still have one of their own. Because of this, there are only a handful of CNC dedicated books available. This shouldn’t slow you down though. With a little bit of effort, you can find plenty of books to inspire your work.
Many of the books on this page are here to help you think outside of the box when planning your next CNC project. If you see a topic that looks interesting, you can either buy the book through Amazon.com (which would make my day ) or you can further study the topic at your local library.
Now, I obviously haven’t read all of these books. When shopping Amazon, make sure you read the reviews so that you can be sure the book is really the one you want.
CNC Learning Books
Here is a handful of books on several different aspects of CNC machines. This stuff is obvious, the rest of this page won’t be.
A couple of books about the parallel port for the technically minded individual. This is how most CNC machines plug into the computer, so knowing a little bit more about it could come in handy.
Here are a couple of books from WoodMarvels.com. Wood Marvels is a commercial site that works with laser printers, and these books are filled with projects that are based around their plans. It should be possible to adapt them for use with a CNC machine.
If you have a CNC router, you will almost inevitable work with wood at some point. Because of this, it’s always a good idea to learn more about it.
Adapt one of these puzzles for cutting out with a CNC, and you’ll be able to make one for every person you know, thus solidifying your place as king of the eggheads.
Books for making toys, lots of them. The toys in these books are great for bribing your kids to do the yard work. For the practically minded, they are also great examples of mechanical wizardry from which you might learn a few tricks.
Origami / Stuff that Folds
Engineers have found many uses for origami. NASA, for example, might use it when trying to figure out how to fold a solar panel so that it will fit inside of the rocket during launch.
The fact that these complex shapes start out flat makes them easy to cut out with a CNC machine. No doubt that you can find inspiration for lots of projects with these books.
Boxes, you put stuff in them. What more could you want?
Nothing cooler than watching your CNC machine build another machine. These books should help with your plot to build a self replicated robot army for complete and utter world domination. (You’ll have to beat me first though, and I have a head start. Kansas is already under my control. What don’t believe me? Ask yourself this, when is the last time you’ve heard from Kansas?)
CNC machines and model making. Now there’s a match made in heaven.
In addition to the fact that making clocks is cool, there is also the bonus of getting to play with a lot of crazy gears.
Here’s a few woodworking books. No doubt there are quite a few projects in them that can be adapted to a CNC machine.
Inspiration for New Materials
Let’s see, there’s wood, metal, plastic, what else could there possibly be? If you think these few items are the only materials available to your CNC machine, then the books below will blow your mind.
Making a mold can be easy when you have a CNC machine. CamBam+, for example, has an option where you can automatically generate toolpaths for a mold of whatever 3D model you desire. The books below will help you learn the finer points of mold making and casting.
Stuff to Make with Molds
Once you get the hang of making your molds, you can next start looking into the different projects that you might be able to make with them.
Coloring books??? As it turns out, coloring books are a great source of projects for CNC machines. They are after all just black lines on white paper. Using a program like Inkscape or Illustrator, it is possible to have a computer trace these lines which can later be turned into G-code for your CNC.
Here’s a unique idea, carving optical illusions with your CNC. I haven’t tried it myself yet, but I wonder if any of the illusions in the books below could be made with a CNC machine. If someone does pull this off, I wouldn’t mind seeing a picture.
Lots and lots of patterns here. These will almost certainly provide inspiration for a CNC project or two. There is a lot more in this series than just the three books below. You can find several books on Amazon by Shigeki Nakamura that focus on designs from many different cultures.
You’ll find clever ideas left and right inside Da Vinci’s head. I wonder what he could have made if he had access to a CNC machine.
Although you’ll probably be carving these projects with a CAD program instead of a hammer and chisel, many of the same principles still apply. Check out these books if you want to add lots of detail to your next 3D CNC project.
Perhaps the pinnacle of DIY projects is to make your own instrument. Perhaps even further up the pinnacle though is to have your own robot that makes them for you. I don’t know, it’s a toss up.
Any music minded individual should find these projects interesting. I personally am curious to see if it’s possible to program a 4-axis CNC machine to cut out one of those flutes. Granted, I don’t actually play the flute, nor do I have any real desire to learn. Mostly, I just like making stuff.
Last but not least, we have several more books that are so unique that they didn’t quite fit anywhere else on this page. Look them over closely because there is some really cool stuff in these books.