Are CNC Routers for Woodworking Different Than Ones for Metal?

Machine cut steelCNC routers have a broad range of applications no matter what type of material you are working with. Whichever material you choose a CNC will have the same benefits; the main ones being superior automation and efficiency. Many CNC machines can be run throughout their whole cycle without the presence of an operator. Another major benefit of this technology is the high level of accuracy and ability to repeat specifications. That means that once your program is verified, whether you produce two, two hundred or two thousand work pieces, they will all be identical.

Though a CNC machine is more often used for cutting wood, it can be used for cutting aluminum (or other non–ferrous metals). For cutting non-ferrous metal it is not so much that you need a different router but that you will need to use it differently.

Here are a number of differences to keep in mind:

  • The “sweet spot” for metals’ optimum speeds and feeds is much smaller than that of wood. If you don’t stay within this optimum bracket, your cutters will begin to wear out much quicker or break frequently and your surface finish will be low quality.
  • Some metals, such as aluminum have a tendency to stick to the cutting tools. Build-up of aluminum deposits on the edges of cutting tools and result in the bit welding itself to the metal. It order to cut successfully with aluminum you should:
    • use a feeds and speed calculator
    • use carbide coated bits
    • clean chips and deposits regularly and thoroughly
    • make more passes at shallower depths to make cleaning easier
    • use fewer flutes and increase cut width
    • don’t reduce the speed rate too much
    • use a mist to lubricate to help prevent chips from sticking to the cutting edges


At CAMaster, we use machinery, hardware and software to facilitate and increase your company’s productivity and efficiency. Our team has a vast knowledge base and we are committed to sharing our experience with you to help you take your enterprise to the next level. Call us today to talk to us about our CNC router options.