What is CNC?

CNC stands for computer numeric control, which means computer control of machine tools. CNC can generally refer to routers, mills, lathes, laser cutters, 3D printers, and many other tools that are computer-controlled. However, at the Hack Factory, the CNC shop specifically refers to CNC routers.

When is CNC orientation?

Check our Eventbrite page for orientation:

What machines are available at the Hack Factory?

  • X-Carve
  • Sequoyatec 4×8

What materials can a CNC router cut?

Wood of all types, plastics, foams, composites, aluminum, brass, and more.

When in doubt, email [email protected]

How accurate are the machines?

Accuracy is a complicated topic, and we cannot make a general statement about how accurate the machine is.

How do I get checked off?

For the X-Carve, take a class, or watch the video and take the quiz.

For the 4×8, attend a 1-on-1 help session, where you can get in-person help running the machine. If after the help session you feel comfortable using the machine, and the shop manager or volunteer determines that you have demonstrated sufficient care for the machine to use it safely, you will be signed off. If you are very new to CNC, we recommend learning on the X-Carve.

What do I need to use the CNC?

  1. Material to cut (i.e. stock)
  2. Software for generating toolpaths (e.g. VCarve Pro (included in membership), Fusion 360)
  3. Router bits (using your own bits is recommended)
  4. TC Maker Domain login (4×8 only; for logging into the CNC computers). Email [email protected] to request an account.
  5. Tool check-off training

Is there a fee to use the CNC?

The X-Carve is free to use.

There is a $5/hr suggested donation to use the 4×8, to support the upkeep of the machine.

How do I get updates about the CNC shop?

Sign up for the newsletter:

Sometimes more info is posted on the CNC Slack channel by members.

Where can I get more information?

CNC wiki page:

4×8 wiki page:

Shapeoko wiki page:

Are end mills/bits/cutters provided?

There are usually some available at the shop, but community-use bits tend to be in poor condition, so we recommend you purchase your own.

Where can I get end mills/bits/cutters?

You might try eBay or Amazon.

Regular router bits usually work okay for wood.

What software do I use?

Lots of options. Here are just a few:

Vector drawing:

  • Inkscape
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Affinity Designer
  • CorelDraw
  • VCarve Pro


  • Fusion 360
  • AutoCAD
  • FreeCAD


  • Fusion 360
  • SolidWorks
  • OnShape
  • FreeCAD


  • VCarve Pro (we have a license for all makerspace members)
  • Fusion 360 (free for hobbyists)
  • FreeCAD (with CAM extension)
  • Use a GRBL post-processor for the Shapeoko or X-Carve. Use a Centroid post-processor for the 4×8.