Hobbyist or Producer?

I’m interested - how many here are into this as a hobby or doing it to produce income?
In a reply - are there platforms where you go to list your products to sell? Or where do you list your shop to find clients to do design build?
I am ruminating about how to put my shop out there to do design builds or just be a jobber shop. I know that I did this to augment my woodshop to be an income producer.

Hobbist or Producer
  • Hobbyist
  • Produce Income
  • Undecided yet

0 voters

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Have a look at some of the prices on protolabs for CNC prototyping prices. It will really make you want to move forward. If you concentrated on the wood, plastic side of things instead of the metals…could be a tidy profit.

I probably should put down undecided - because if I really want to have a shop that hums I’ll probably step up to a larger machine that will really crank it out. But, as a way to learn CNC from a cradle position, this first one is great. Provides me with a low coast table to make growing pains easier.

Two less expensive machines is faster than one machine that costs significantly more. Since you have to be there while it runs you might as well be loading and unloading another machine or two, finishing, cleaning and packing orders.

The biggest benefit of the V1 builds is you can have 5++ V1 machines for the cost of the next significant machine up the food chain. If you have one machine running a 8 hour job, what are you going to do? If you had several machines you start the longest job then get the others humming on the shorter ones. I understand larger machines are nice but buying one of those means you HAVE to make money to justify it. If that is what you want to do full time that makes sense, but you should still have more than one. Anything less than full time job shop I do not understand $8k-$15k++ machines.


Solid point! Plus - I really enjoyed putting that first one together! That point really put out the real problem - space. Right now I would be considered a hobby CNCr. Until I have a real life shop and not a Pinocchio one trying to be a shop to do all the things needed to do. I’ve got plans to open up the carving for real once I have the dedicated space for it. I saw a MPCNC with four 3d printer heads in the forum - now that would be something for production cuts! Can you imagine a Lowrider2 synced up to cut even two products off the same controller? Wild!

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I think it is healthy to keep good accounting in your hobbies. If you do that, and you sell an occasional piece, what really is the barrier between hobby and producer?

If you’re serious about it, then make your pricing serious, kick start it with some seed money and donate some hours. Then reinvest the earnings in ways to increase sale/lower costs. You will either find your self in a growing business, or very confident you want to quit.

Full disclosure, I do not take this advice. I mainly use my machines when I am bored and I want something to stretch my gray matter. I don’t keep track of my spending very well. But I also just get a few donations and don’t sell anything. My profits are feeling like I got off the couch today and an escape from the stresses in the rest of my life.


I have my Cnc in the same sprit as Jeff… learning and something fun to do hobby wise. I have had a few random projects thrown my way that perhaps would be an entry to a production business, but I have my main career to keep rolling along. So nothing ever comes of those deals. I used to work for a well known loca fab shop and know the prices are eyepopping at that level (industrial and military clients). We did see projects from smaller outfits there… smallest was turning throttle links for older mustangs. Not sure how the shop got those kind of jobs (other than attending the same church etc), but that would be the market for entry with diy Cnc imho. Like Ryan mentioned, avoiding metal work would be best until you know there is enough growth to invest in like a haas.

One way you could supplement income on the side with little stress is selling laser etched junk on Etsy, lol. All kinds of action going on there to be honest.

I create different art items for sale at local shows.
Also do a lot of one of solutions for myself and family, hobby.
Eventually I will retire (10 more years… unless I start selling custom carved home accessories like doors) and will use this as a supplemental income.