Introducing The Othermill Desktop CNC Machine

Plastic, schmastic. While the 3D printer was the first step toward easily making your very own firearms at home, the technology still has its limits. Namely, it can only really print in plastic — not exactly the optimal medium for something that goes bang. For centuries, metal’s been the gunsmith’s medium of choice. These days, crafting it into pistol parts is a job for a CNC machine. Unfortunately, they’ve been way too big and far too expensive for the average Jane or Joe to have one in the privacy of their very own home. Until now . . .

A Kickstarter project is aiming to take CNC milling out of the machine shop and put it in your living room. Or garage. Or basement. Pretty much wherever you have a little free space. I get the idea that the two San Francisco design whizzes at Otherfab who are behind the Othermill weren’t really thinking of firearms fabrication when they started their little project. Printed circuit boards! Jewelry! Molds!

As they state in their promotional video, the original goal was to make an affordable, easy-to-use CNC machine that’s small and light enough to carry on public transportation. But can you guess who we really have to thank for this brainstorm?

We began our work as part of a government funded push to revive high school shop class, with a modern twist: tools for digital design and CNC manufacturing.

Heh. They don’t specify whether that’s the state or federal guvmint. Talk about unintended consequences.

Othermill courtesy

If all goes according to plan, it looks like an Othermill will run you somewhere south of two grand to start. And prices would only drop from there. They say they expect to start shipping the first machines in August. Of 2013. Of course, how you choose to use your machine will be totally up to you. Just imagine the possibilities, though — milling your own firing pins, small barrels, frame components…almost any metal gun part that needs to be CNC’d could be fabricated on one of these. Right there on your desk.

They reached their original goal of $50,000 in 24 hours. As of now, they’re well over $200,000 with 13 days more to run. If they get to a quarter million, they have dreams of creating an easy-to-use software package to make better use of the project at home if more people donate. You in? [h/t Nathan B.]


  1. avatar PK says:

    South of two grand a SX2 mill can be converted to CNC. That’s currently what a lot of people tend to do and it’s all bolt on installation.

  2. avatar Aharon says:

    Halelulah! We’re almost free at last. Thank you government and San Francisco. You are finally good for something. Best of all it has been invented only a few miles from where Diane Feinstein lives.

    The machine can manipulate plastic, wood, and metal so imagine the firearm possibilities. A larger version can produce ARs, shotguns, bolt-actions. Five years from now will be even more amazing.

  3. avatar jwm says:

    You can’t put the cork back in the bottle cause the bottle’s been shattered. Wonder if you could make an all metal COP on one of these?

  4. avatar Aharon says:

    Othermill FAQ:

    Can I cut steel?
    Not at a speed you’d want to wait for, plus you’d need coolant and that just gets gross.

    Tech Specs:
    the metals that the machine can currently cut are brass and aluminum.

    1. avatar Jake L. says:

      Brass can hold the pressure of a 20 ga. shotgun shell, right?

      1. avatar jwm says:

        In the black powder days brass was used for pistol barrels, blunderbusses and cannon and mortars. A little further along from there and brass was used in the frames of cap and ball colt revolvers and the first Winchester repeating rifles, the henry and the 1866, had brass frames.

        1. avatar Nathan.B says:

          Aluminum is frequently used in firearm frames. The rest is just a parts kit away.

    2. avatar ADub says:

      We really need to make ammo. lol

  5. avatar Jim Barrett says:

    Yeah. I was kind of excited until I saw the 10″ cube dimensions. If the machine itself is 10″ cubed, what is the largest part that can be CNC’ed? Making my own firing pin does not really get me excited. Wake me up when someone makes a small machine like this that can mill out one of those AR-15 lowers.

    1. avatar Nathan.B says:

      I was disappointed at the small internal dimensions myself, but the bigger point is 1-2 years ago desktop 3d printers had these sort of dimensions. Everybody’s getting their panties in a wad over a low quality 3d printed AR lower, and an even worse 3d printed zip gun. If you can mill quality receivers/frames, even for an old .32 revolver or baby browning, the “oh, don’t worry, those guns suck anyway” argument is gone, as well as the notion that guns can be controlled.

  6. avatar Tommy Knocker says:

    Gee, the world is finally getting educated on the MACHINE TOOL INDUSTRY. The idea of “bootstrapping” is well,,,,like a 16th century concept. You can make a case for it going back to Pharonic Eygpt and Classical Greece. Mr Gatling needed to create machines to create his gun. Mr. Colt needed to create machines to create his gun. etc etc….

    Anyway, the folks out there in DefCad should be working on the plans for creating a 3D printer. With that would come a cascading of this “evil” technology. One 3D printer creating more of itself. Spreading the 3D technology at the price of a pot of printer goop.

    1. avatar Human Being says:

      It’s called a RepRap.

      1. avatar Tommy Knocker says:

        Ah…its a beautiful thing !

  7. avatar Bob says:

    Desktop CNC
    $5k and it’s a real product from a real company you can have today. Not some gay ass “kickstarter” pyramid scheme.

    Like someone above said prob could convert a second hand mill cheaper if your skilled.

    1. avatar Jake L. says:

      Now now, be nice.

    2. avatar PK says:

      Sieg SX2 mill brand new is under $1k. The CNC conversion kit with servos is about $900. Everything you need to bolt together a CNC mill minus the PC and software.

    3. avatar int19h says:

      >> Not some gay ass “kickstarter” pyramid scheme.

      What is the basis for this libelous claim of yours? We’ve already seen many Kickstarter projects successfully ship, including some that were gun-related (Aimpoint Micro cover comes to mind).

      1. avatar Human Being says:

        I think he’s referring to the limited utility of the the project versus the more professional models mentioned above.

        1. avatar Joke & Dagger says:

          That can’t be real money donated. $200k ? Love the gay ass Kickstarter comment.

  8. avatar gmgunsmith says:

    Again, like DefCAD this is only the beginning. I would say that within a year they’ll be producing larger machines at a cheaper price.

  9. avatar Anon in CT says:

    The initial release will be a little lame, but it will only get better from there.

    Here’s a thought – you want to have a full-auto M-16 for when TSFTF, but you don’t want to fall afoul of the ATF just yet. So long as you have the machine, the raw materials, a generator and fuel, and the design, you can wait for the breakdown of civilization to happen first, and then turn out your full rock and roll rifle, using the upper from a legal AR-15.

    1. avatar Human Being says:

      I get what you’re saying, but at that point ammo becomes a premium and full-auto rifles become a debilitating luxury.

      1. That depends on how prepared you are. Those sitting on 20,000 & more rounds of 5.56 might well relish having a “giggle switch” though a 3 or 4 round burst mode is more effective.

  10. avatar Anon in CT says:

    OT, but what an odd world when 5.56 is cheapter than 9mm!

    Both PMC FMJ.

  11. From the FAQ:
    Can I cut steel?
    Not at a speed you’d want to wait for, plus you’d need coolant and that just gets gross.

    Make the barrel on the lathe, and make the rest out of aluminum and hard plastic.

  12. avatar Don says:

    OMG with this you could make a gun SO SMALL that it will defy detection!


    Seriously though, NICE little mill, wow!


    1. avatar Gyufygy says:


      1. avatar Don says:

        Oh yeah! How about .10mm? for that “extra punch”.


        1. avatar jwm says:

          And the sub caliber wars were born.

  13. avatar William Burke says:

    So the girl carries the CNC and the Dorkiest Guy Ever carries a coffee cup? Dis am Bizarro World.

  14. Could this be used to make a rifling button, or at least contribute to making one? (asked the guy who barely knows what he is talking about, so please don’t set him on fire)

  15. avatar Jake in AK says:

    Desktop cnc machine for less then 600.00. Will cut steel with right bit- takes for.ever.

    Kinda fun though… Still need to attach it to a computer and have a fairly literate user… I am working on that last part. I’m sure it can do more if only I can be less of a retard…

  16. avatar JD says:

    a CNC router that’s smaller than most 3D printers: while I

    love innovation and anything made in America, and you

    certainly could make alot of stuff with this including

    receiver internals, the lack of power and small operating

    envelope really are limiting-better be really cheap.
    Better go with DIY Keling inc., Probotix or that DIY

    chinese plastic Zen Toolworks one. Or the very pricey

    Rockler or Oliver ready to go off the shelf machines. Size

    and power is everything. And of course routers limited to

    the tiny dremel sized bits. That’d be fine for some small mold making

    (assuming T slot table you can actually clamp work to), but

    the sieg x2 etcetera mills can take all the standard tooling

    from industry and while they also lack torque and HP, are

    just more versatile all around.

    I’d be making coins (and rings if they could make a 4th axis

    chuck small enough):


  17. avatar Dodo says:

    Desktop 3 and 4 axis CNC mills have been on the market for years now, you can find a better made one that can do bigger items with a coolant system for under $1400….$600 cheaper than this POS….so I kind of fail to see how this is innovotion of any kind, and not just a bunch of people who were unaware that tabletop CNCs already existed so threw away 200 grand.

  18. avatar Alan Rose says:

    Lets asasume time has passed and you can go down to Kinkos or Bob’s Gun Emporium or your basement and print your own high end gun. What happens when somebody prints a copy of a new design that still has patent protection? Is S&W or Glock going to go after one guy? What about when the files go viral? Will criminals evolve and plant viruses into the files to make a Kaboom special? Will the better designs be pay-per-print or remain open source? Will DefCad’s files transfer to a CNC machine without modification?

    1. avatar Dustin Doyle says:

      For physical objects you can legally make copies for your own use. A google search can bring up a few good articles with more details.

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