Using a CNC to make built-in furniture

Hi, i’m pretty new to the forum and CNCs in general and I was wondering…

Given the high cost of relatively simple custom-built in furniture it seems like a perfect use of a CNC. However, I can’t seem to find many examples of people using hobby grade CNCs for this purpose. Is it just because most of the cuts needed are easier to make by hand, or is there another reason.

I don’t mean anything complicated, just lots of straight cuts with a reasonable level of accuracy. For example, something very similar to this quick model I whipped up cost over $6,000 (though a reasonable portion of this was material cost as it was built using fancy Baltic Birch Plywood).

Is there a reason more makers don’t seem to build these kinds of things or post them online (or perhaps I am just terrible at finding them). As a novice, it seems to me that with a well calibrated Maslow and plenty of experience this kind of thing would be relatively straightforward to achieve by someone far better at CNC machining than myself.



Hi there! A cabinet recently made. Getting Back in the Game - #21 by MeticulousMaynard

It’s just a matter of space and budget. You can easy build a hobby grade CNC big enough for cabinets if you have both. The ~$500 Maslow is not the ideal candidate for this sole purpose as it is slow.
However I can see it doing the drilling for handles and hinges and the groves for joints and back panel.
The straight cuts


I have a makita plunge saw with a guide rail,and haven’t really concidered making cabinets with my maslow.
But now that you got my gears turning, placing all the hinges is very practical to do with a maslow. I could also put holes where i put dowels in to allign my guide rail.

But if you’re not as impatient as me, you could just make all the cuts on your Maslow.
You could also run a marathon in high heels, but there might be a more practical shoe.


I think if you incorporate a (manual) panel saw ability into the maslow frame, then doing full cabinetry with the maslow is much more conceivable. Most cabinetry is a series of straight cuts and a circular saw is way more efficient at doing them than the maslow’s router. I think by using the maslow, as was suggested, to do the “profile” work such as drilling holes for handles, hinges and pipes to pass through (like for a sink or something) and then cutting the pieces out with the panel saw, you can accomplish what you want in a timely manner. This is what the frame I’m trying to design hopefully will accomplish.


You guys have already covered some of the issues with making cabinetry on the Maslow but I will summarize my experience doing it.

For most of the cabinet, it doesn’t make real sense. The decks/nailers/backs are (on the most part) simple rectangles and don’t need a fancy machine to make them. I have done all that work with a combination of a table saw and hand-held router.

Depending on the style of your ends, this is where the Maslow can come into it’s own. I honestly think that the CNC is good for most kinds of joinery, especially tab/slot and dadoes. It’s also really good for locating hinge holes, as previously mentioned, and could even do line bores (admittedly slowly). I think line bores would ultimately be faster on the drill press with a jig, but not everyone will be working in a well-equipped shop. The Maslow also comes into it’s own if you have cut-outs for toe kicks, wires grommets, appliances, cat doors, or to fit a weird sloped wall.

The other thing I can see it being good at is MDF door panels. I plan on making Shaker style door panels for some of my built-ins, and I’ll post the results when I make them. You could also door raised panel style doors and even some edge details depending on the tooling you have available.

Now, if your machine is reliable enough, you can use it to partially automate your building process. There is something to be said for giving it a whole bunch of parts and then working on something else in the shop while it cuts. You could even continue drawing/modeling stuff in CAD while it’s working, so that it has something else to work on when it finishes it’s current nest. Definitely don’t leave it unattended, but you can still be with sight/earshot in case something goes wrong.


My advice regarding cabinet construction is to take a close look at your nearest kitchen wall cabinet and analyze just what it takes to make that thing work. Although a seemingly simple project, there is a lot going on there, some of which is suited for the Maslow, some not. The sheet goods portion (walls, back, top & bottom) would seem to be best just cut with a table or panel saw, but observe how all of it is joined… most likely the edges have rabbets that make for stronger glued joints, and the top and bottom horizontal elements are slotted (dadoed) into the walls and back. Most custom cabinet makers do this joinery work with either a router or special blades on their table saw. If your kitchen cabinet was manufactured, I am pretty certain all those parts were cut on a CNC. Then there is the face frame, which finishes the cabinet front and creates the support for the doors. Those parts also use rabbets to mate to the above case. And then the doors, also a combination of panels and frames with their special joinery techniques. Yes, there are many ways to skin this cabinet cat, and corners can be cut. But there is a reason why they are built this way… 100’s of years of experience and use has shown this technique yields the strongest, most durable, least warped result.

My feeling is that the Maslow can be your friend when doing all the sheet components that need dados and rabbets, especially if you do not have a table saw. BUT, the machine must be well calibrated, and the z axis needs to work with reliability and precision. To me, speed is not an issue, as the Maslow lives in the same space as my other tools, so I can work on the framing and door components while the panels are being cut. I have had some success with a small cabinet

and a workbench

But my next task will be shop cabinets that will serve as a prototype for a kitchen project. Before starting this, a little more tuning is necessary to the machine. More to come on that front.

Best of luck and plenty of dust!


mostly because pre-maslow there were not many hobby grade CNCs that can cut
things on what Bar has called ‘human scale’


David Lang

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hinge pockets for euro style hinges
holes for adjustable shelves
holes for other mounting hardware…
every panel really the same size
shapes other than rectangular (including kick recesses)

once you get started on the idea of using a CNC you keep finding more reasons.

yes, it’s slow, but (assuming you have space to keep the sawdust isolated), you
can be assembling one cabinet while the maslow is cutting panels for the next.

David Lang


Or as we call them, hinges :slight_smile:
I always wonder, if those are called euro style, are they common in america? And what hinges do you normally use?


Quick view:
Pretty much every style is used. non-mortise is most common at lower end.

I think that more importantly face-frame construction is very common in US.

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They are commonly available, but there are so many different hinges in common
use, that they are a minority of the hinges that people will run into.

David Lang