Open CNC Furniture

Woodworking Workshop
Open CNC Furniture


Open design isn’t just for machines and electronics, With the rise in popularity of CNC routers and laser cutters, there is now an expanding open furniture movement. The result is a fabrication movement where designs are shared globally but fabricated locally and parametric design enables infinite configuration for personal fabrication. Every design featured in this article is available for download.

Lean Desk – Original OpenDesk, an open-source project commissioned by Mint Digital.

Open Desk

Edie Set – designed by brothers Joni and David Steiner, for their niece, Edie, when she was 18 months old.

The OpenDesk project provides free downloads of designer furniture files that you can CNC. They also unite buyers with a network of makers who can cut your files locally, or they’ll ship pre-cut, flat-pack “ready to assemble” parts to you. OpenDesk is quickly adding new designs, but currently the four main “designer ranges” are all created by established architects: AtFab by Filson & Rohrbacher, Lean by 00:, and Edie by David & Joni Steiner. At the time of this writing the Lean Desk has been downloaded more than 4,497 times.

Lynton Pepper’s Wiki Booth was designed to provide extra privacy in shared workspaces.

All designs on Open Desk are downloadable, but their attributes are not easily editable to adjust for different material thicknesses or spacial configurations. For parametric versions of some of the designs on OpenDesk, check out AtFab (more detail below).

The Layer Chair

Original Layer Chair by Jens Dyvik
Original Layer Chair by Dyvik Design

Jens Dyvik has created a parametric Layer Chair in the Grasshopper graphical algorithm editor extension for Rhino. Jens used a 2.5D process to create a “stair-stepped” 3D chair surface as an example of how to work with large organic surfaces on the ShopBot while making furniture for the HONFablab in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Just as intended, the original layer chair has mutated into several different versions, including; formal dining chairs in the shape of mountain peaks in Norway, a tall stool in New Zealand and a table and chair set in Amsterdam.

Left: Amsterdam Editions: Black MDF Layer Chair variations. //  Right: Wellington Layer Stool.
Configuring the Layer Chair with Grasshopper
Viking Edition: Formal dining chairs in the shape of mountain peaks in Lyngen Norway
Amsterdam Editions: Layer Table and Black MDF Chairs

Ronen Kadushin

Italic Shelf by Ronen Kadushin

Ronen Kadushin has been practicing open design since 2004 when he first explored the extension of open-source software concepts to industrial design. Kadushin’s Italic Shelf is an open shelving system that consists of two basic parts that can be assembled in many different configurations. Using Kadushin’s “Controlled Collapse” structural position locking, the shelf maintains its strength and stability, even when stacked high. His Fold Coffee Table prototype, pictured below, is laser cut from 3mm painted steel, bent by hand and then crowned with 10mm glass foldTable


SketchChair “Antler Chair” design

Released in 2011 after a successful Kickstarter, SketchChair’s open software makes it easy to design functional, customized furnishings using a 2D “sketching” interface that turns your drawings into chairs. Overall, SketchChair makes it easy to design functional customized furnishings using a 2D drawing interface. Files can then be CNC routed, laser cut, or made in miniature on a paper cutter. The software has a learning curve, but a manual is provided.

A gaggle of SketchChairs
MAKE Labs Alumus Eric Chu’s Laser-cut Sketch Chair in progress

EMSL CNC Workstation Cart

If you have your own CNC or just need a standing-height computer workstation in your shop, download the files for Evil Mad Scientist Labs‘s CNC Workstation Cart. EMS_Cart3 Faced with the ergonomic challenges of makeshift workstation solutions, the co-founders of EMSL designed a sturdy, standing-height computer workstation for their workshop. It has five drawers for storage, room for a VESA monitor mount and space for a PC tower — with additional counter space for a laptop or tools. EMS_Cart

Ultimate CNC Cut Height Adjustable Desk

After looking at many different height adjustable desk designs, Tyler Cooper discovered that many sit-stand desks used the same bases with custom tops. He purchased a base and modified the EMSL CNC Workstation Cart to become his Ultimate Sit/Stand Desk.

Height Adjustable Desk by Tyler Cooper, sitting position
Tyler Cooper’s Height Adjustable Desk, standing position


AtFabMakersNotebook Architects Anne Filson and Gary Rohrbacher are the creators of AtFab, a designer line of commercial CNC furniture whose six designs are also downloadable from OpenDesk. Yet Filson and Rohrbacher have higher ambitions — they’re currently creating fully parametric fabable furnishings whose dimensions, details, material thickness, and slot size can be easily transformed and fabricated. chestofdrawers As they expand their catalog, they’ve pledged to offer the files to the maker community before they are available for retail. Although you can’t yet export the DXFs, you can try out the early release of their browser-based Processing apps. AtFab_Parametric

You Had Me at Open Source + Parametric

AtFab Open Storage Unit

As a lover of all things customizable, I simply had to build a custom AtFab design, but the online apps couldn’t yet spit out DXFs. I inquired about an alpha version and received the “One to Several table” configurator as a set of Processing sketches. I used the Processing sketch to fabricate custom standing-height workbenches for the new MAKE Providence, R.I., office.

AtFab One to Several Table assembly

These efforts were documented and published as the “CNC Maker Bench” project in MAKE Volume 38. The new issue goes on sale next week. AtFab has also graciously agreed to allow me to distribute the sketch, enabling every maker to have their own custom CNC Maker Bench.

Interested in fabricating your own CNC Maker Bench? Read the full CNC Maker Bench tutorial for downloads and step-by-step tips on how to design and assemble your custom version of AtFab’s One to Several table.

Anna Kaziunas France and one of her CNC Maker Benches in the MAKE Providence, R.I. office
AtFab Alpha Processing One to Several table configurator. Download from the CNC Maker Bench page

Where to Fabricate

There are numerous shared workspaces popping up all over the world where you can access a large CNC router, check MAKE’s Where to Get Digital Fabrication Access page for links to directories of tools or services near you!

Have you fabricated any of these open source projects? We what to hear about your builds!  Send photos, links and stories to anna <at> makermedia [dot] com. Check out all our CNC machining content here.

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Anna Kaziunas France is interested practical digital fabrication focused project documentation (anything that turns codes into things), as well as adventures in synthetic biology, biohacking, personal genomics and programmable materials.

She's currently working on the forthcoming book "Design for CNC: Practical Joinery Techniques, Projects, and Tips for CNC-routed Furniture".

She’s also the Academic Dean of the global Fab Academy program, the co-author of Getting Started with MakerBot and compiled the Make: 3D Printing book.

Formerly, she worked as an editor for Make: Books, was digital fabrication editor and skill builder section editor for Make: Magazine, and directed Make:'s 2015 and 2014 3D Printer Shootout testing events.

She likes things that are computer-controlled, parametric, and open— preferably all three.

Find her on her personal site, Twitter and Facebook.

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