What Is CNC, Anyway?

A CNC (Computer Numeric Control) tool is used in prototyping and full production for cutting, carving, machining and milling in wood, MDF, plastics, foams, and aluminum.

Learn more about how CNC tools work. Visit our training and tutorials video page.

With a ShopBot CNC tool, you use the included software to design your parts on your personal computer, then, like a robot, the computer controls the cutter to precisely cut your parts. In the past, CNC tools were strictly industrial tools only used in large factory settings. Now, all the types of computer-driven tools that create things by cutting material away (such as CNCs or laser cutters) or building up material in layers to create an object (3D printing) are called digital fabrication tools. ShopBot's innovations in CNC technology have made these powerful tools affordable for individuals and small shops.

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How CNC Works

ShopBot Tools, like all CNC tools, move a cutter around a big table (X and Y axes) and move it up and down as well (Z axis) allowing it to make 3D movements and cut all sorts of shapes. The cutter looks like a drill bit and is spun by a motor called a router or spindle. Unlike a drill bit, a router bit is designed to cut from the sides as well as the tip. By precisely moving the cutter through material, a ShopBot CNC tool can create virtually any pattern or shape and will do it in materials such as wood, plastic, foam, aluminum and many composites.

  • A ShopBot CNC can cut material in the same way you would with a saw. It can cut in the X or Y direction ...

  • Or on any diagonal. It can also make the cut at any depth, or even at varying depths. 

  • A ShopBot can also cut circles and holes. These can be any size from as small as the size of the cutter itself to the size of the whole table. It can also cut arcs, ellipses and curves - at any depth or at varying depths within the cut.

  • arches… 

  • …or chair parts


    In short, a ShopBot can cut any type of shape you can draw - a shape with any level of complexity.

  • What is sometimes surprising to those experienced with traditional tools:  It is just as easy for a ShopBot CNC to cut a curved or complex shape as it is for it to cut a straight line.

There's a ShopBot CNC for Every Project, Job and Shop

We make CNC tools for every situation imaginable, right down to completely customized machines designed to fit your exact specifications. Whether you’re looking to boost small business production, prototyping, or factory-level fabrication, there’s a ShopBot for your needs.

Learn how to choose your CNC tool,
and see our tool packages.
Call 1-888-680-4466
or contact sales

ShopBot Full-Size Tools
Full-size shop tools 96” x 48” or larger that perform day in, day out, year after year.

ShopBot Desktop MAX
A work area of 36” x 24” with 2 bed options, including a removable tool bed for end-machining applications.

ShopBot Desktop
A 24” x 18.” work area, delivering incredible precision in a small footprint. Runs on regular household power.

See the full line of ShopBot CNC tools

Applications for CNC

The precision, quality and consistency of work produced has placed the CNC router on the cutting edge of production. More and more industries are discovering the benefits of a programmable tool that can cut virtually any material, and today’s machines are being used by professionals, educators, makers and tinkerers of all skill levels.

Other Popular Applications

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Each new ShopBot tool comes bundled with two powerful software programs to create CNC projects.

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