Review: Coast Runner Desktop CNC Mill

CNC & Machining Maker News
Review: Coast Runner Desktop CNC Mill

note: this machine is a kickstarter. Keep in mind that Kickstarter is not a marketplace with any kind of guarantee. Please do your own research into how often hardware kickstarters succeed or fail before opting to support a campaign.

Price: $2500 for the machine without tooling or extra material


Kickstarter URL:


  • 270mm x 425mm x 380mm footprint
  • 42 lbs
  • VFD spindle motor 1500 – 8000RPM
  • Self calibrating
  • built in conductive probe


The machine is packaged well. When pulling it out of the box, I was immediately grateful for the handles on the sides and wondered why everyone doesn’t add these. Looking at the machine, it has a layout that is different than what you typically see in desktop mills. The bed and milling head are rotated 90 degrees, a layout common in industrial situations but seen less in desktop machines.

fun fact, that famous design on the side was designed in the small Missouri city I live in.

Getting up and running took only a few minutes and almost all of that was simply installing the software. The mill itself only has to be plugged in, and the collet and tool of your choice installed.

In use

The bottom of the machine is wide open but the front, where you access everything has a magnetically affixed chip shield. This construction gives the first vibe of things being very barebones. There are no hinges or handles on the cover, you just yank it off and set it aside when not in use. The open bottom seems, at first glance that it could just be cost savings, but honestly I was happy with how I could simply lift the machine out of the way and vacuum up chips. If it was initially cost savings, it quickly became a killer feature.

just lift the machine away and your chips are right there, easy to clean up

Workholding is a bit different than what I’m used to, as most machines I’ve used have the milling head up top and the bed below. After adjusting how you think about workholding, there really is no difference except that the chips tend to evacuate much better this way. However, if you intend to mostly be milling larger thin pieces, you’ll have to think about how you intend to hold it much more than you typically would.

the current workholding system, with conductive probe attached.

One of the selling points of the Coast Runner is how it is supposed to be easy for beginners. This is mainly represented in the software called Coast Write. Visually it looks like it could be pulled straight from the 90s, which feels intentional judging by the graphics on the side of the machine, but the software itself felt pretty limited in function and polish. (note: This review was done in fall of 2023, so updates may have happened) Specifically, navigating through steps if you need to take a break or skip a step were buggy. Then again, they haven’t launched yet so hopefully that will improve.

I followed a tutorial to create a “turner’s cube” and found the concept to be fantastic, but implementation feels a bit underdeveloped. I love the concept. The software actually walks you through mounting your material, installing the tool, probing, etc for every step. There are a few little issues, like the fact that if you have to stop at some point, say you accidentally bumped the e-stop, you can’t skip steps to get back to where you were. If they polished this process and did a few more of these projects, I think this could be an incredibly great tool for learners everywhere.

The website doesn’t state how strong the spindle is but I found it to feel quite rigid and beefy. The turner’s cube exercise is steel, so I know it is capable. The chips coming off of the block were colored by heat but the block looked perfect, which is exactly what you want.

Pros and cons

On the positive side, this is comparatively cheap, beefy (for a machine this size) , and highly portable. It takes GRBL, so you’re really open on how you control it.

On the negative side, the existing software feels underdeveloped and you might need to get creative with your workholding, especially if you intend to work on thin materials. I asked them about workholding and they mentioned some pre-built options coming up soon

…will also introduce universal fixturing, a breakthrough feature that ensures the machine performs optimally in both horizontal and vertical formats. This innovation guarantees that the functionality you would typically expect from a vertical desktop CNC is seamlessly replicated in our horizontal setup. This versatility expands the scope of projects that can be undertaken, giving users unprecedented freedom in their creations.

Coast CAD

Another feature they have mentioned is something they’re calling Coast CAD. From what I can gather, this appears to be an online file hosting repository, similar to thingiverse, printables, thangs, etc.

I see the turner’s cube there, which I experienced as a step-by-step tutorial in their software. I’m unsure if these projects will also have step-by-step follow along style tutorials or if it is simply a repository like the other sites mentioned above. I guess we’ll just have to see!


I have to admit that at first glance, this machine didn’t look particularly interesting or capable. The classic visual design from the paper cups might have had something to do with it. However, within a few seconds of pulling it from the box I could tell that the parts that matter – the spindle and frame – were very well built. It appears to me that they have done a good job of saving money in some areas by going simple while still making a rigid and capable machine. It really does feel fully portable and as capable as you’d hope from a machine this small. You’re not going to be milling a new engine block, but steel shouldn’t scare you away either.

At $2500 for the machine alone, they’ve hit a very competitive price. I think this machine could compete with others that area easily more than twice this price in the desktop market.

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I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity I see in makers. My favorite thing in the world is sharing a maker's story. find me at

View more articles by Caleb Kraft


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