Funded! This project was successfully funded on August 23, 2011.


We're preparing to release version 2.0 of our free, open-source plans for a robotic cutting machine that you can build yourself.


The contributor who makes the biggest donation between now (1:30pm Central time) and the end of the campaign will get a bonus reward: A BRONZE TWEET! This offer also applies to folks who've already pledged, and increase their contributions between now (1:30pm Central time) and the end of the campaign!

What is a Bronze Tweet, you ask? It's 140 characters (or less) of your choosing engraved on a bronze plaque. Kind of like this one we made a while back at Butler Street Foundry in Chicago:

What is it?

DIYLILCNC is a robotic cutting machine that you can build yourself.  It works kind of like a desktop printer:  send it a file, and the device uses this information to carve out an actual object.  The lil’ CNC handles many different materials, including plastics, wood, and light metals.  The things that you can make with a lil’ CNC aren’t just pretty to look at:  they can also be strong and functional as well!  Applications include making circuit boards, mechanical parts, sculptures, toys and more.

There are lots of bigger, fancier CNC machines that do similar jobs in factories and shops.  Unfortunately, they’re really expensive.  How great would it be to have an idea, then walk out to the garage and tell your robot to make it?

That’s where we come in:  visit our website,, to download a free, Creative Commons licensed copy of all the CAD plans, parts lists and instructions needed to build a little CNC.  With this information in hand, you can make a lil’ CNC of your own for as little as $700, depending on your access to a laser cutter.

If you’re new to CNC, visit our builder’s forum, where makers from around the world come together to share tips, propose expansions, and collaborate on CNC projects.  Check out our gallery for pictures of completed builds from the US, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Norway, and beyond.

Why Contribute?

You’ll be funding a new and improved version of the DIYLILCNC plans.

We’ve got some great ideas for upgrades to the design, like making it cheaper and easier to build with fewer parts. But it’s not just us two doing the thinking: folks who’ve already built the current version have contributed lots of great improvement ideas on our builders’ forum.

This is where you come in:  we’ll use your donation to buy R&D materials and to take the lil’ CNC to various communities at events like Maker Faire. When the plans are finished, we’ll distribute them for free, using the same Creative Commons license, on our site so that anyone can enjoy the new developments.

We’ve got some great rewards to thank everyone who contributes, so be sure to check them out. You can even use your donation to vote for specific design upgrades, or purchase them outright (see below).  Want a CNC that can draw portraits with a banana?  Considering starting your own tombstone-etching business?  Perhaps you need a robot that can carve totems into electrical poles?  DIYLILCNC is a community effort, and now’s your chance to help decide where we head next.

Design Improvements:

We’ve got a long list of community-suggested improvements that we hope to add to DIYLILCNC version 2.0.  They all sound great, but we’re a small shop.  We need your help deciding which modifications to attack first. 

The following upgrades will be added to version 2.0 if they get at least 5 votes:

  • Multiple file formats:  to include the most commonly requested file types
  • Limit switches:  prevent the tool from crashing at end of travel
  • Design for portability
  • Design for enclosure:  keeps dust/noise contained, easier to clean
  • Hardware part reduction:  decreases build cost
  • Laser time reduction:  decreases build cost
  • Upgrade to cutting tool:  improves performance, material range
  • Trapped bearings:  improves performance, reliability/repeatability

 Some suggestions are more involved than others.  The following upgrades will be added to version 2.0 if they get at least 20 votes:

  • Metric conversion:  improves access for overseas builders
  • Changing panel material:  makes gantry material easier to source
  • USB support:  removes parallel port requirement
  • Software stack:  improves overall work flow, file preparation

NOTE:  You can also make "write-in" votes if you have a request that's not represented here.  Get out the vote to see your pet mod in DIYLILCNC v2.0!


Pledge $10 or more

Your name will be included in the "contributor" section of the v2.0 plans (the same is true for every pledge level). You'll also get 3 DIYLILCNC stickers, suitable for sticking to things. See design below:

Pledge $20 or more

Get a robot-drawing based on the image of your choice!

Pledge $100 or more

Get a computer-fabricated mini-kit (wood). This CNC-fabricated Eccentric Drive kinetic sculpture turns rotary motion into linear motion.  International backers: please see FAQ for shipping details.


This entire DIYLILCNC project would not exist without Creative Commons licensing.  We like the scheme so much, we scoured the amazing lists of CC and public domain footage at the Internet Archive and Flickr to make our kickstarter video.  Here's a list of all the footage we used:

  • "cnc router work shop" by wire mesh of
  • "DIYLILCNC_Process (25)" and "DIYLILCNC_Process (16)" by Darrel Ronald of
  • "Assembling some DIYLILCNC Parts" by rileyporter of
  • "The Laser Cutter" by thornet_pics of
  • "Conquer by the Clock" RKO-Pathe
  • "Easier Way, The" Handy (Jam) Organization
  • "From Dawn to Sunset (Part II)" Handy (Jam) Organization
  • "Big Picture: The Army Postal Service" National Archives and Records Administration
  • "Miss Clark Introduces Panorama" Kerkow (Herbert) Inc
  • "Computers and the Olympics - Part 2" Computer Chronicles
  • "Reasons Why, The (Part I)" Prelinger Archives
  • "Something for Nothing" Handy (Jam) Organization
  • "Story of Television, The" Ganz (William J.) Co.
  • "Sunbeam Bread Commercial #5" Prelinger Archives
  • "Surprise For Jean" John W. Barnes and Gordon Weisenborn
  • "The Blacksmith" Raymond Rohauer and Joseph M. Schenck
  • "Time Pulls the Trigger (Part II)" Prelinger Archives
  • "Tuesday in November" U.S. Office of War Information
  • "Using the Bank" Encyclopaedia Britannica Films
  • "Western Union Telegram, 1950s (dmbb09316)" Duke University Libraries
  • "What Is Money?" Coronet Instructional Films
  • "Woodworker, The" Holmes (Burton) Films, Inc.


  • For the sake of simplicity, we're adding a flat $25 to T-shirt orders and a flat $50 to both mini-kits. In order to receive these premiums, please add the appropriate amount to your pledge.

    Last updated:
  • You bet! If you can't wait to get started, v1.03 is free to download from right now. This Kickstarter campaign isn't about starting from scratch; it's all about v2.0. We know the base DIYLILCNC design is solid, and we want to make it even better. What's more, the Kickstarter platform allows you to participate directly by voting on specific design upgrades.

    Last updated:
  • The fact that there are so many great CNC projects to choose from presents a fantastic opportunity to those looking to enter the field. Rather than try to be all things to all makers, CNC designs can now start to specialize in a landscape that's chock-full of great ideas. First and foremost, our project is educational. Half the fun comes from building your rig from the ground up. When you're done, you'll know more than a little about the whole CAD/CAM arc, covering model generation, toolpathing, machine-control, etc. Our kit is also user-serviceable, meaning that you can really experiment without worrying about throwing a crucial part. After all, it's just hardboard and stuff you picked up from the hardware store. Finally, as artists, we enjoy breaking down the last barriers to accessibility for folks that want access to industrial-level fabrication techniques. This is the future, y'all, and we want in on the ground floor!

    Last updated:
  • We've done our best to make this kit as accessible as possible. One concession that both facilitates and obstructs our goal of complete accessibility is the necessity of laser-cut parts. On one hand, laser-cutting allows us to distribute precise, digital copies of our plans for free. It also means that the end user need not spend countless hours fabricating components by hand. Many students and makers now have access to this technology, whether at their university or through online or local service bureaus.

    We know that the cost of laser-cutting will be a barrier to some. If you can't access laser-cutting directly, see our forum for posters who offer the service for a fee. periodically offers gantry panels for sale as well.

    Last updated:
pledged of $7,000 goal
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See full bio

  • Pledge $10 or more
    You selected

    34 backers

    Your name will be included in the "contributor" section of the v2.0 plans (the same is true for every pledge level). You'll also get 3 DIYLILCNC stickers, suitable for sticking to things. Design TBA.

  • Pledge $20 or more
    You selected

    5 backers

    Just added! Send in a photo and we'll have the lil' CNC draw it for you.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $25 or more
    You selected

    19 backers

    Get a DIYLILCNC T-shirt! Design TBA. International backers: please see FAQ for shipping details.

  • Pledge $50 or more
    You selected

    2 backers

    One pledge at this level gets you three stickers, one T-shirt, and one vote for a particular design improvement. Be sure to specify the modification you're interested in. You can also purchase multiple votes in one or more category! See the "design improvements" section at left for a list of available modifications.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $75 or more
    You selected

    8 backers Limited (42 left of 50)

    At this level we'll name one discrete part of the DIYLILCNC after you! Example: the "Upper Hastings Bracket".

  • Pledge $100 or more
    You selected

    5 backers

    Get a computer-fabricated mini-kit (wood). Design TBA. International backers: please see FAQ for shipping details.

  • Pledge $250 or more
    You selected

    1 backer

    Get a computer-fabricated mini-kit (aluminum). See the "updates" section for design details. International backers: please see FAQ for shipping details.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $500 or more
    You selected

    4 backers Limited (6 left of 10)

    Get a set of 1/4" hardboard (Masonite) laser-cut laser-cut DIYLILCNC parts. Please note that this kit contains only the laser-cut parts required to build a DIYLILCNC. Many other hardware components are necessary to build a complete DIYLILCNC. For a detailed list of all the parts required, please download the DIYLILCNC CAD Files & Assembly Instructions on our Downloads page at

  • Pledge $2,000 or more
    You selected

    0 backers

    Purchase one specific design improvement outright. If you pledge at this level, we’ll get your pet-improvement done before we work on anything else.

Funding period

- (59 days)