Kickstarter project to make an open-source CNC router

Adam sez, "My friend Judah is attempting to crowdfund a project to build an open-source Kikori CNC router. As he says in the project description, the Kikori is 'essentially a robot capable of milling complex three-dimensional shapes out of wood, soft metals, and plastics.' The version that Judah wants to build is designed to be cheap (under $5000 to make), able to mill the parts to make more routers ("self-replicating" in the not-scary-robot meaning of the term), and capable of meeting the needs of makers creating everything from furniture to custom engraving and sculptures. As with any Kickstarter project, there are rewards for various levels of sponsorship. The higher-end ones include the parts to build your own router (which is awesome if you've got the skills to do so, something I freely admit I lack), but my personal favorite is the custom-engraved clue-by-four ('Know someone who needs a clue? We'll engrave a custom message into a pine 2x4 to help get the message across!')."

Kikori Open Source CNC Gantry Router


  1. Ambitious. Those are non-trivial pieces of machinery.

    The self-replicating economy seems closer every day…

    1. Sadly i suspect one will still need to get motors and control electronics from outside sources.

  2. I don’t understand all this DIY CNC (at least at this price point). $4,500 will buy you a nice solid cast iron mill with tighter tolerances, lower backlash and lower runout than any MDF monstrosity. $500 for some steppers/servos, controller board, end stop switches and a PSU and you can convert it to CNC.

    Admittedly, the working envelope may be smaller but as I was told when I learn to machine parts; “near enough is not good enough”. I’ll take accuracy and repeatability, thanks.

    1. You make a really good point. A mill is a WONDERFUL thing to own and to use. I think most people that are picking up big CNC machines like this one these days are thinking about using them on relatively flat things like plywood sheets and the like.

  3. Judah built his 2′ x 3′ prototype at The KOIpound* in Cincinnati. He’s very skilled, very motivated and knows what he’s doing. If anyone can pull this off, he can. Please donate what you can.

    *We’re the local burner/maker/art/performance space (aspiring non-profit). He used that prototype for one of his final design classes and we still have it. We’re hoping to eventually build a 4′ x 8′ like the one pictured in the video above.

  4. For $5000 I could just buy an already complete router, made of metal and everything. here’s one for $4300.

    Even if the DIY one is more capable, at $5000 it seems really dubious that it’s worth it to build your own when what you actually want to be doing is building whatever it is you want to make with your router. How far behind schedule are you because you had to build a router before you could start your actual project?

    It would be worth it if you saved enough money, but at $5,000?

  5. Some good points raised in this thread. DIY CNC projects, in my opinion, are better suited for smaller builds than the Kikori. It’s a bit of a paradox: if you know enough to need a big/accurate machine, and have that kind of money, there are commercial options out there as a couple folks have mentioned. That said, DIY CNC projects in general are awesome, and lots of fun :)

    Full disclosure: We are currently running a kickstarter as well for version 2.0 of our DIY CNC, the DIYLILCNC. We’ve had great success so far in distributing an open-source design for a smaller, cheaper mill, which we’ve found is a great way to teach beginners about the fundamentals of digital fabrication. Check it out!

  6. Does anyone remember the Popular Science’s plywood project contest?

    All of those designs (some very ingenious) are just begging to be milled on a 4′ x 8′ CNC machine such as this, then you have inexpensive, easily-to-assemble furniture/etc.

    They are still accessible on the Pop Sci website magazine archive.

    I hope that this Kickstarter project is a success.

    1. Actually, it’s for precisely stuff like that we plan to build one. The ability to throw a 4×8 sheet of plywood in and a while later pull out a die-cut piece of art, sculpture or furniture would be HUGE for us.

  7. Large flatbed cnc routers like this are quite different from CNC mills. I wouldnt want to try and mill a 4×8 sheet of plywood/mdf with a Bridgeport, or mill a smallish metal part with a ShopBot.

    Lots of diy cnc devices are popping up lately. One trick will be getting a large enough base of the same equipment that the community can help each other. RepRap is cool, but each bot is kinda unique. Makerbot aimed lower but the installed base makes for better shared tools/designs, etc.

    Next trick will be the software – both low level (driving motors) and higher (CAM/CAD). the MyDIYCnC bot stops at a parallel port w/motor drive pins. You need to provide computer, etc to do the driving, and conversion from CAD file.

    Some good shared open source driver hard/software that supports multiple sized bots will be the next need for this market.

  8. But if its a router that can make more routers, then isnt tht the exact definition of scary robot self replicating?

  9. $5000 is not much less than what I recently paid for my ShopBot BT48 – and my Bot is a 600+ pound rock solid chunk of steel and heavy gauge aluminum with great tech support, good software and a plethora of users. I agree with MauiMaker – it’s not the hardware that is in need of open sourcing but the software. Even if you build a CNC for $5000 you’ll spend $2000+ additional on software before you can cut a thing.

  10. Hopefully Judah or Kaz (my shop mate) will chime in on software here. I’m pretty sure we haven’t spent a DIME on software thus far.

  11. This is Judah; the kickstarter project is mine. Thank you all for you interest!
    On the software end of things, there are plenty of free and open source options for running a CNC machine. I use EMC2 which runs on Linux ( as my controller sofware, and as far as CAM software, PyCAM is a nice open source option ( Design software depends more on what you’d like to make, but there are plenty of options there as well, from OpenSCAD to Inkscape. You only really need to spend money on software if you want to do really complex high-efficiency milling.
    Another quick note: as I stated on the kickstarter page, one of my design requirements for the Kikori was that it cost LESS $5000, and it does. Much less. Actual kit costs will vary depending on how much the customer wants to source elsewhere, but they will all cost LESS than $5K.

  12. I had a question about the “open hardware” aspect of the project. There’s a copyright based license for open source software (e.g. GFDL). Is there something comparable for open hardware?

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