Back in the '90s, Ted Hall was a professor of neuroscience at Duke University. As a hobby he built boats out of plywood in his barn, but found cutting the shapes he needed using conventional tools was tedious. Hall then looked into a CNC cutter, but the going rate at the time—$40,000—put him off. Following that he figured out how to build his own CNC machine for far less, and went on to found ShopBot Tools to share his creations with the market.
That was in 1996. Today ShopBot sells a multitude of affordable CNC routers and even a five-axis number, as well as a variety of accessories and production aids. (If you recall from a video we shot at last year's AU, it was ShopBot machinery that allowed the design-build firm Because We Can to launch.) We caught up with Hall at this year's AU, where he was displaying ShopBot's most affordable model (and one you can definitely fit in your shop, no matter how crowded), the ShopBot Desktop. Check it out: