Prototyping with a desktop CNC machine?


For a new house build, we are going to make our own furniture/fixtures/fittings with CNC. I’ve done design, specify and build CNC furniture in the past years (built in wardrobes, cupboards, childrens study hutch/desks, etc) using Egger boards and local CNC shops. Looking forward to going to the next level and considering buying a Maslow.

Until then (we are still working with the architect on the house plan …), I want to spend some time using a desktop CNC (e.g. a Banggood 3018) to design and prototype on a small scale. I know that I have quite a few things to figure out here (e.g. software dxf / g-code / etc … vague memory of hand g-code in my engineering degree 25 years ago !) and it’s not a plug and play process.

Any thoughts, pointers, etc on this? e.g. people who’ve done it, recommended machines / materials, etc?

Not sure I understand what you are trying to do? gatorfoam works well for architectural mockups. It’s like foamcore, but stiffer. Most plastic distributors sell it.



I want to design and build at a smaller scale (say 5:1) in smaller (my apartment, evenings), faster (less cutting, smaller board) and cheaper (less materials) way, then when happy, produce at original size. Using smaller board (basswood?).

I guess I could just use foam and manually cut it, but my preference is to do the design, build, test and iterate cycle electronically.


I would look into 3D printers for making smaller models. You could print your work in individual pieces or already assembled. There’s also a plethora of 3d models available that you could use to fill out details like appliances or plants.

I stopped doing this for large projects because the perspective doesn’t really translate for large pieces. A much more valuable tool for me has been importing models into VR. In VR I can see what it looks like as I walk by it, how the angles change when I stand and sit, etc.

Thanks, that’s good advice!

Ideally what I want to do is have the same design (e.g. say it was an opendesk table, spit out a smaller scale as it would at a larger scale with significant modification. Both to evaluate the shape and test the fit - feels to me important to be able to test the actual assembly. Using a 3D printer would work, only require removing unnecessary timber (3d printer is additive, cnc is subtractive). I like the VR idea as well, and will consider.

Much appreciated