CNC Router Suitable Materials & Chip Load

Get better finishing results on different materials with our CNC Routers. For better routing results, it is very useful to familiarise yourself with the difference between the various materials and the correct chip load data.

Chip Load Rates & Range

Chip load refers to the size of the chip of material cut by each cutting flute each time it passes through the material. Cutting with the appropriate chip load will result in the smoothest finish and will help prolong the tool life as well.

Click here for CNC Router Calculator with Feed Rate, RPM, Tool Bit Diameter, Chip Load and Cutting Depth for each material.

Starting depth of cut is 1 × Diameter ( ) of the tool bit. For deeper cuts, follow these guidelines:

Refer to tool bit manufacturer data whenever available. And trust your experience.

Good Materials for CNC Routering Machine

Include Plywood, Chipboard. Softwood comes from the Gymnosperm trees;
e.g. Pine, Spruce, Cedar, Fir, Larch, Douglas-Fir, Hemlock, Cypress, Redwood, and Yew.
Check below for Softwood v.s. Hardwood.
Hardwood comes from the Angiosperm trees;
e.g. Ash, Beech, Birch, Cherry, Mahogany, Maple, Oak, Poplar, Teak and Walnut.
MDF ( Medium-Density Fibreboard ) , Particle Board
Soft Plastic
Refers to polyethylene ( or similar ) soft plastic. The soft plastic can bend or is somewhat flexible. If you drop soft plastic on a hard surface, it will make a muted thump-like sound. Soft plastic usually floats in water. Also, soft plastic usually smells like plastic.
e.g. ABS, Polycarbonate, Polyethylene, PVC, Polypropylene, HDPE, Polystyrene, UHMW and Extruded Acrylic
Hard Plastic
Refers to polystyrene ( or similar ) brittle plastic. One example of hard plastic is the plastic of a model kit. It breaks if bent. If dropped on a hard surface, it makes a "click" or "tink" sound.
Both Coloured and Colourless Cast Acrylic Sheets. These are branded as Perspex Plastic, Plexiglas, FlexiGlass, ACRYLITE, Lucite, Acrylic Glass and many other names.
Soft Metal
Aluminium, Copper and 24 Karat Gold ( Who is Routering this?! )
Decorative High-Pressure Laminate, Laminate Floors, Formica, Max on Top.
Phenol Formaldehyde Resin, Phenolic Panels, Phenolic Boards, PCB Phenolic Prototype Boards. Maritex Aquarius, Bakelite, Novotext and Tufnol Plate.
Low Density Foam
All kinds of light foam and memory foam. A cubic metre of foam weighing less than 20 kilograms is considered to be low density foam, whereas 20 to 24 kilograms is considered medium density and above 24 kilograms is considered high density. There are no limits to using Low/Medium density foam on CNC Router, use any speed you feel comfortable with.
High Density Foam
Ultra High Hardness Packaging Foams. The hardness of foam refers to its firmness and is measured by taking a standard piece of foam and recording how much pressure is needed to compress it. Hardness and density should not be confused with each other as high density foam is not necessarily hard and low density foam is not necessarily soft.

Softwood v.s. Hardwood

Softwood Hardwood
Definition Conifer trees have needles, but normally do not lose them. Comes from deciduous trees that drop their leaves every year.
Uses Widely used as woodware for buildings ( homes/cabins ) and furniture. Used for trimmings and furniture but less frequently than softwood.
Examples Examples of softwood trees are pine, spruce, cedar, fir, larch, douglas-fir etc. Examples of hardwood are mahogany, teak, walnut, oak, ash, elm, aspen, poplar, birch, maple etc.
Cost Softwood is typically less expensive as compared to hardwood. Hardwood is typically more expensive than softwood.
Growth Softwood has a faster rate of growth. Hardwood has a slower growth rate.
Properties Less dense; less durable; high calorific values; coniferous trees. Broad leaves; enclosed nuts; higher density: not all hardwood is hard e.g. poplar and basswood.
Type Evergreen. Mostly deciduous. Some European evergreen trees that yield hardwood are holly, boxwood and holm oak.
Density Softwood has a lower density, therefore most softwood varieties are softer than hardwood. Hardwood has a higher density and is therefore usually harder.
Shedding of Leaves Softwoods tend to keep their leaves throughout the year. Hardwoods shed their leaves over a period of time.
Colour Light Dark
Annular Ring Distinct Not Distinct
Weight Light Heavy
Strength Strong in tension but weak in shear ( strong along the granins ). Strong in compression, tension and shear ( strong along and across the grains ).
Structure Resinous and splits easy Non-resinous and close grained
Fire Resistance Poor More
Conversion Easy Difficult

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