CNC routers are ideal for furniture, but where to find a good CNC furniture plan? Get started with CNC furniture today, using plans from these sources!
So you’ve mastered your new CNC router and the software needed to run it. You’ve created clamps, signs, and maybe a toy or two. But now it’s time to step things up and build something really stunning. Maybe even a piece of furniture!
The Internet is a forest, with good furniture plans hiding among the trees. In this article, we’ll help you uncover the best sources for CNC furniture plans, from a variety of vendors and organizations.
What we’re looking for here is pretty simple:
Our focus is on models that lie within the capabilities of a medium-size CNC router like an X-Carve or a Shapeoko. This means we’ve skipped sites focused on beds and other large furniture pieces, although many of the sites listed here still offer bigger projects for you 4 x 8 folks.
Let’s get started!
As long as you’re willing to pay for a CNC furniture plan, Etsy qualifies as a comprehensive and reliable source of downloads. Plans range from accessories and fit-together lamps to stand-alone benches, tables, chairs, and the occasional polar bear.
Files are generally available in DXF format. Most are described as laser-ready, but they’ll work perfectly well for a CNC router setup. Etsy plans tend to be a bit more pricey than some of the other sites, since most come with a guarantee and assistance from the seller. Although there’s no mention of Creative Commons licensing, vendors are accessible and often willing to work with folks who want to go commercial.
One of the biggest hurdles in building period furniture (think Louis XIV) is the ornamentation. These pieces have carved legs, flowers, and fruit everywhere, challenging even experienced wood carvers. For the rest of us CNC carvers, the difficulty is narrowed down to finding the right 3D model of the ornament you need.
AliExpress has a lot of these models – over 600 at the last count. They range from carved moldings and legs to entire headboards and sofas.
Most are available as STL downloads, priced from a couple of dollars to $20 for large pieces and multi-part collections. The site is easily navigated with the right search terms; we found “CNC furniture models” gave the best results. Downloads are quick, and the files look good!
What list of maker sites would be complete without Thingiverse? Although most commonly known for 3D printable objects, searching for “CNC furniture” delivered 79 results. The plans range from stools and chairs to corner and dining tables, and they even include a rocking horse! Some clearly show their CNC roots, although the “Shaker bench” shown above can easily pass as handmade.
As with all the 3D designs from Thingiverse, downloads are easy and instructions are generally pretty good. Models are covered by a Creative Commons license and commercial use is usually not allowed.
Yeggi is a search engine for printable models, but we used the term “CNC carved furniture” to find over 2,000 models in a variety of formats, from hundreds of vendors. One especially nice link took us to a post on CGTrader, which feels and looks a lot like Etsy.
Yeggi links to both free and paid downloads, turning up a few gems we hadn’t seen elsewhere. These cabriole legs on CGTrader, for example, come as STLs, cost four bucks to download, and should do well with a mid-size router.
Where would we be without Make, the magazine that inspires generations of makers? Makezine, the magazine’s website, contains a great article on open design CNC furniture. Eight makers are featured, each one showing quite handsome pieces of furniture. Following the links to the individual websites results in a slew of downloadable CNC furniture plans, some with instructions.
The modular shelves shown here are from Ronen Kadushin. They’re simple, yet striking, and can be cut on just about any CNC router. We really liked the pieces in Make’s article, and plan to go back and build some when time allows.
3Axis.co lists hundreds of CNC furniture plans and models in a variety of downloadable formats. Models range from 2D plywood cut-and-assemble pieces (DXF format) to more elaborate carvings in STL format.
The download information is hard to find (scroll down, on the left) as the site is crowded with conflicting sponsored ads. There’s also no search function, just some limited download format filters.
The good news is that this is a treasure trove of free 3D furniture models in usable formats. Some patient paging will reward you with many good project options.
DXFdownloads offers a long list of both DXF- and STL-formatted CNC furniture plans, depending on whether you’re cutting or carving. The site offers two business models: Participate by uploading your own plan and earn points towards downloads or simply buy points and download a plan. Models range from a couple of dollars to around $20.
The site isn’t well curated, and some of the furniture appears a little rough. Regardless, browsing through the site is sure to turn up something perfect for that little corner in the bedroom.
Opendesk has an interesting approach. They offer free CNC furniture plans, but they also maintain a list of local makers ready to custom-build the actual piece for you. Downloads are in DXF format; selection is quick and easy.
The items have a European feel to their designs, both slick and warm at the same time. The only fault, if any, is that there are only 30 items to choose from. Let’s hope they add more to the selection.
Inventibles, producer of the X-carve CNC router, offers pages of downloadable CNC furniture plans on their website. As can be expected, all of the objects are suitable for a medium-size tabletop CNC router.
Plans come with detailed instructions, and their robust user community is ready to help with questions. The only catch is that the plan needs to be opened in Easel. This shouldn’t be a problem since Easel is available free from Inventibles if you agree to share your new designs with the site.
Since we mentioned Inventibles, we should also mention Carbide3D. Their Shapeoko is just as versatile as the X-carve, and it’s fully capable of making furniture. We looked through the Carbide3D retail and community sites, and while there were tons of projects, a way to select just the furniture projects eluded us. If you know a quick way to find them, please add a comment below.
Obrary houses a small collection of free 3D models of handsome furniture and accessories. Its founders set out to create a place for supporting the community of makers, and they’ve done an excellent job curating its contents.
There are plans for 39 CNC router-created objects, about a third of which are 3D furniture models. The zip file downloads include either DXF or STL files and supporting documentation. Downloads are free, and objects are covered under a Creative Commons license that includes commercial production, if you’re so inclined.
Several of their models are quite unique. The Alex chair, for example, provides a live-hinge spring-like back and seat, adding comfort to what is, at its heart, a plywood chair. Need a beehive? They have 3D models for those too.
Finally, we couldn’t leave without mentioning Design for CNC: Furniture Projects. Available at Amazon, this is the first book to buy when you’re ready to design your own CNC furniture.
The authors are New York-based founders of the At-fab makerspace. They offer a wealth of experience, tips, and tricks for new designers.
Readers are also invited to download sample files, complete project models, and tutorials on using common CAD tools to design their own projects. The book is worth it, even just to learn the art of placing tabs and slots in the right places with the right size.
(Lead image source: Cristiana Felgueiras via Inventibles)
License: The text of "10 Best Sites for CNC Furniture Plans" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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