CNC Book Covers: Journey in Design

On Ponoko’s blog by Yana there was an interesting comment.

Great resource! Now all Jon needs is a graphic designer to design a more visually palatable book cover.

That’s an interesting observation – I spend two years writing, rendering and designing and the ONLY criticism I ever got was the book cover! This is a great opportunity to see how my book covers have evolved over time. Of course, you get your own cover with contents by visiting Volume 1

This was my first book – Aug 2, 2008…, Volume 1: Top Sellers (Paperback: 102 pages, 8.1 x 9.6 inches, 9.9 ounces). Wow… things have changed tremendously since then. I had to teach myself desktop publishing, on-demand printing and formatting, so much work for only a hundred pages of contents! Back then, my designs used round wooden dowels for guides and strength (a mistake not repeated in later volumes) and I used two colors of wood for contrast. You can read about all the excitement here: Volume 1 Released! Volume 2

My second volume a year later – Nov 19, 2009…, Volume 2: Laser Cutting Plans (Paperback: 200 pages, 10.1 x 8.2 x 0.7 inches, 1.2 pounds) was a major step forward, the designs now look more accurate with burnt edges from the laser and no wood dowels – I had to redesign many projects so I ignored what I did in the first volume and put the updated designs in the second. The detail and model selection was far larger as well. This was a giant leap for me across all fronts! You can read about it here: Volume 2 Released! Volume 3

My third volume two years later – Oct 10, 2011., Volume 3: Evolution of Wooden Designs (Paperback: 200 pages, 10.9 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches, 1.2 pounds) was a minor hop from the previous edition – lots of great designs but I focused on making new things instead of publishing a book in 2010 and it paid off. The site grew tremendously during this time as I wasn’t caught-up on publishing which takes a solid few months to put together, edit, proof etc… it’s a massive time sink. The cover evolved quite a bit, form one model to showing a bunch of models… it’s a lot more colorful and to me, was more polished in the models it contained. You can read about it here: Volume 3 Released! Volume 4

My fourth and most recent book two years later – Sep 26, 2013. Volume 4: Rise of the CNC – Ultimate CNC Design Course (Paperback: 456 pages, 11 x 8.5 x 1 inches, 2.8 pounds). This project was a massive project, it has more pages of content than my last two volumes combined – first time I diversified (hence dropping into other CNC designs. My focus for this volume, unlike the others, was to actively teach people how to make neat models – my previous volumes showed assembly plans but I never made a book with interviews, a book that was for absolute beginners who may not be familiar with CNC nor did my previous books have anywhere near the amount of “tips” of this one. I went all out on this one using the feedback I’ve received over the past 5 years to create a resource that I wished I had back in 2008 that would have saved me years of work.

The reason why my latest volume looks so different is my other book, A Practical Mandarin Chinese Course (Volume 1) by Xiaobei Xing and Jonathan Cantin (Mar 28, 2012) – the amount of new layout and things I had to learn were tremendous and it helped me a lot for Volume 4… that’s also why I took two years between volumes. I was taking photographs across China which I started to do with my projects too. I started documenting things more with video and step-by-step of the evolution of the designs I made. All this helped when it came time to put it all together in my latest book.

I don’t quite know right now when Volume 5 will come-out.. there is so much in flux right now but I have a very clear idea of what I want in it… I think at 450 pages a book is a decent enough size, I don’t see myself doubling that as the more content, the longer it takes to put together and higher the price needs to be. People find it easier to buy a 200 page book for roughly 20$ than a 400 pages one for double that. It will have all new stuff though – that’s the exciting part as my last volume was basically closing the loop on 5 years of experiences, trial and error. Hopefully by then, I can get a lot more plasma projects under my belt… need to get a plasma cutter!

Want to learn how to design for CNC machines and make money from it? Get my latest book! Learn how to CNC!


Jon Cantin is the founder of He is a published author of 6 books, a world traveler and self-taught designer. and are an outgrowth of his passion about the CNC industry to bring these amazing tools to the forefront of consumer and industrial use.

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