Which Wood Would You Use?

Whether you’re new to CNC technology or a trained professional using a routing table, it’s important to know about the different types of wood you can use for your carving projects. From engineered wood to softwoods and hardwoods, knowing how these materials will cut and the settings that you’ll need to adjust when using them are very important to creating the highest quality CNC cuts possible. From MDF to pine to beech, you have a broad selection of lumber to choose from and use on your CNC router table. Click here if you’re interested in purchasing a CNC router table to create your own custom woodcuts.

Manufactured Wood

There are a few different types of engineered woods that can be used on a CNC router table. This includes plywood, MDF, and particle board. Though plywood comes in different levels of quality, it is not recommended for any serious projects. Plywood is manufactured by layering sheets of material in plies and gluing these sheets together. The wood grain can rotate up to 90 degrees from one layer of material to the next, making the wood more likely to chip and splinter. Plywood is a good option for anyone new to a CNC router table to practice using the machine or to initially test how a design is going to look. If you’re looking to cut a high-quality piece with more intricate designs though, consider a higher quality wood.

Another type of engineered wood that you could use on your CNC router table is medium density fiberboard or MDF. These boards are created using a mixture of hardwoods and softwoods, wax and resin binders, and formed by applying high temperatures and pressure. A CNC router table will cut MDF with ease, however, it is not the most beautiful of materials. Consider using MDF for projects that will be painted or when the material will be covered up in some other way.


Hardwoods are a great option for projects on your CNC router table. As their name suggests, these wood types are generally harder and can stand more wear and tear. These woods come from deciduous trees that are broad-leaved, drop seeds, and lose their leaves annually. Hardwood grows more slowly, producing more dense wood. Their color is generally darker than softwoods. Due to how slowly they grow, as well as the previous exploitation of the lumber, hardwood is a limited resource and tends to be more expensive than other wood types. However, because of its more durable qualities, it’s an ideal wood for projects that require more intricate details and smaller cuts. Just be sure to adjust the RPM settings on your router bit because too high of an RPM will cause hardwoods to burn. Different types of hardwood include mahogany, walnut, oak, ash, birch, maple, and cherry. If you have a desire to start producing beautifully engraved wood plaques or other woodcutting projects, check out our selection of CNC router tables today.


Another great option for your next CNC project is using softwoods. Softwoods come from conifers — trees that have needles instead of leaves and do not produce seeds, but rather reproduce by dropping pine cones or nuts. These types of wood are easy to machine because of their softer quality, but can splinter if the routing bit is dull or of poor quality. Softwoods are lighter in color compared to hardwoods. It is also important to note, just as not all hardwoods are actually hard, neither are all softwoods soft. Some harder softwoods include longleaf pine, Douglas fir, and yew. Other softwoods include pine, spruce, cedar, fir, and larch. These woods are a great option to use on your CNC router table.

From plywood to MDF to birch to cedar, there are so many wood options available to you for your next woodcutting project. Ultimately, this is not an exhaustive list of materials that you can machine. If you’re considering using a type of wood not mentioned, the most important property to know is the density of the board so that you can adjust your RPM settings and switch out your router bit accordingly. At Wright CNC, we want you to be creating the best custom cuts possible, so we offer one of the best CNC machines possible and the resources you need to create professional cuts that you’re proud of. If you’re looking for more technical guidance on how to operate your Wright CNC table, check out our course specifically tailored to operating our CNC machines.

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