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 or for orientations. If there aren’t any posted, reach out on the CNC slack channel or email

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

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 “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. You can attend an unlimited number of help sessions, but 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. CAD computer account (4×8 only; for logging into the CNC computers). Email 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.

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?

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? has a large selection of affordable bits online. You might try eBay or Amazon.

Regular router bits usually work okay for wood.

What software do I use?

For CAD, Inkscape, Adobe Illustrator, Affinity Designer, CorelDraw, are good for 2D. Fusion 360, SolidWorks, SketchUp and a huge selection of other programs can be used for 3D.

For CAM, there is a lot of software out there. We have a license for VCarve Pro that is available to all members. Fusion 360 is another option that is free for hobbyists. You need a GRBL post-processor for the X-Carve, and a Centroid post-processor for the 4×8.