Clever CNC holiday projects? Help!

Doing this Gallery post back-ackwards, I know. Hopefully that will be reversed soon.

Being non-clever nor artistic I need a lot of help here.

So, I’m reaching out to our little community for inspiration and hopefully, examples of some clever holiday, especially Christmas, CNC centered projects. By clever I mean other then the 2D ornaments, decorations, plaques etc we’ve all made already. Which are fine, I’ll be doing more of those this year I’m sure.

I’m hoping for something more 3D maybe, multi parts, ummmmm- you tell me.


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Keychain/zipper fobs. Easy, small, fast, customizable.

Those shown here are enameled but filling with powdered rock and CA glue would work as well. Although seemingly of minor use the big advantage is tayloring to the recipient. The Uffington Horse here is what I put on my friend’s headstock when I made his guitar.


Been meaning to try enameling, mind pointing me to a good YT or?

Check out entries in the Contests There are some incredible entries in those, working your way through those threads will definitely yield some good ideas!


@Griff I have no particular videos to recommend on the overall process of enameling, most of them relate either to aspects of the process or to torch firing which may be of interest to you if doing small pieces. I’ve built a small kiln for my own work (link below). The best book, in kindle format, is also linked below.
The technique I used for the fobs is termed champleve. Pockets are cut out of the metal, using the Nomad in my case, to be filled with enamel. One issue with enameling is that you are basically restricted to using gold, silver or copper (some aluminum and steels can be enameled too). But pure copper doesn’t machine well and if you add other metals to produce, say, brass, the machineability improves but the coefficient of expansion precludes enameling. I’ve found 145 Cu (aka “Tellurium Copper”) machines and enamels well but this material is only available in forms 1/4" thick and greater.


Well, this looks interesting…I’m getting that feeling again…yet another hobby to explore.

Thank you!

I see McMaster Carr sells this. 2”x12”x1/4” for ~$38, is that reasonable?

For C145 (aka C14500) see also Saturn Industries:

They also have a presence on Ebay:

At least the Ebay portal includes shipping, you’ll need to take that into account comparing to other sites. (Many other sizes are available via Ebay, navigate to seller’s page.) I like that McMaster Carr includes hardness, harder the better for maching. That said, the Saturn sample I am using machines very well, I’ve run 0.178 mm bits in it, just needed a slight surface sanding with 400 grit to clean it up. I’ve also machined to where the uncut metal dividing the pockets in only about 0.15 mm wide, about as thin as cloisonne wire.


I’m about to attempt my first key fob. Will be using crushed stone/ca. Is 20 thou deep enough for the cavity or should it be deeper?

First prototype cut in aluminum, I’ve never cut anything this small, fun stuff. Only broke two .024” mills trying to get aggressive.

Thanks again for the inspiration @bpedit!


0.020" should be OK, I typically mill closer to 0.8 to 1.0 mm (0.030" -0.040").

If you are going to mill out, and inlay, the background you should leave a ring of unmilled material around the hole. You can also do the opposite of what I did, that is mill out and inlay the design itself. I chose milling out the background for the Uffington Horse because of the very narrow lines.

I did figure that out, after the fact. Also, I went with .04, thanks for the confirmation.

Good point on positive or negative, hadn’t considered that. Going to have some fun with this!