500w 12,000rpm Chinese spindle good enough? (wood, plastics)

So I finally bit the bullet and bought a Shapeoko 3. Waiting for it to arrive. I am looking for a spindle to use with it. I found one of these chinese spindles with the following specs:

Input: AC 110V / 220V switchable
Power: 500 W
Current: 4 A
Speed: Up to 12,000 rpm / min
Torque: 5000 G / CM
Insulation resistance:> 2 megohms
Breakdown voltage: 400V
Diameter: 52 mm
Chuck part length: 45 MM
Chuck part diameter: 16 mm
Motor length: 200 MM
High precision spindle error: 0.01 - 0.03

Is this good enough or wood working, some plastics, in the rare chance, aluminum? I am just starting so I think this is fine, but I also want it to be immediate-future proof, where I don’t have to upgrade in 1-2 years despite (presumably) growing my skills.

If it were me, I would stick to one of the two recommended spindles: the Makita or the Dewalt (see Carbide site). Especially If you are beginning with CNC/Shapeoko, trying to use another spindle will probably bring additional things to worry about (how to mount it on the Z-plate, whether there could be electrical interference between a cheapo Chinese spindle and the SO electronics, disappointment about the spindle performance, bad surprises about collet compatibility…)

Others may disagree, these are my two cents : stay in the comfort zone of a proven setup (SO+Makita or SO+Dewalt) at the beginning, the few extra $$ you will have to shell out will be more than compensated by the piece of mind you will get.



Thanks Julien, biggest factor to me is noise level, hence the decision to go with Spindles. I thought about this long and hard, since the router route seems more straightforward, but I am worried about the sound even if I plan an enclosure as I live in an apartment.

Right, if noise is a major concern the spindle approach makes sense (provided you can check that your target chinese spindle actually IS quieter than a router :wink:

I had similar concerns, my garage has a wall in common to my neighbor and I mostly do CNC late at night after work. I built an enclosure, sound-proofed it with wavy foam, and do 90% of my jobs at 12.000 RPM (i.e. lower end of the router rpm range), and from my experience in these conditions the router itself is not the loudest noise. Most of the remaining noise is from the cutter (depending on material of course) and the vacuum system (which, spindle or no spindle, you will need)

Just sharing my (very limited) experience, but since I don’t have a spindle, I cannot compare how much quieter it would be.

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Thanks. There is surprisingly so little data on noise level! Most compare noise level when NOT milling, which to me is useless information. Of course you won’t operate it without milling! I have read those who say spindle is miles quieter, but not so much on when their is actual milling going on.

I’ve been procrastinating having to think about the vacuum. If I do just wood, I will absolutely need a vacuum?

If you want it to be quiet, you will want to get a water cooled spindle.

For a beginner go for the Makita or Dewalt. The Makita has a wider RPM variation and is probably a good starting choice as it will allow lower RPM settings for plastics and aluminium. If you just want to cut wood I would get whatever is most readily available and best price. My advice go for the Makita and get a precision 1/8 collet (Eclaire corporation) along with the Makita supplied 1/4 collet. This will give you a solid start and good variety in common readily available endmills.

I went the Dewalt path and dont regret it, I have now however purchased a watercooled 1.5KW spindle.

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Technically you could live without a dust collection system (i.e. the machine will work fine), but in practice, when you see the amount of chips/dust generated during any non-trivial job, you will be convinced very very quickly that you need it.
hard wood chips are “just” messy, MDF dust is also very bad for your health and without a proper dust collection system, you are guaranteed to have a thin layer of MDF dust all over the place in your apartment (and some inside your lungs…)
I went for a regular vacuum cleaner running at the minimum setting (not a shop vac, specifically to keep the noise down), associated to a cyclone dust separator, and it is efficient enough for my need. I guess people that do this as a business invest in a more fancy dust collection system, with adequate filters, air quality control, etc…)

The Maikita/Dewalt are both in the 600-700W range. So a 500W spindle is a slight downgrade. I’d agree with others - the palm-router route is the best for somebody fresh to this. It’s the supported configuration by C3D, so if you have problems you’ll be fully supported. If you start hacking your machine, you can’t expect the C3D folks be much help.

I’d say that dust collection is not optional. Specifically with wood, a routing operation makes DUST of the tiny and extra lethal sort. Grab a cheap house vac from a penny shop, hook it to a small cycle and be don with it.

Good luck!

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How much did you spend for the 1.5KW spindle?
Did you appreciate the difference?
What makes the biggest difference, Spindle or enclosure? for noise reduction?

Thanks, I just ordered my Shapeoko XL, and I’ve got a baby on the way 4months out. I’m nervous my wife wont let/want me to run the CNC because its too loud. Our garage is attached to the house and sound travels easily throughout.

You can get a 1.5kW spindle and VFD for about $300 on ebay from a number of vendors. I upgraded recently and am happy I did. About twice the power of the palm router and noticeably quieter when running, plus (if you’re brave) GRBL controlled speed and on/off.

If sound cancellation is your goal, you’ll want quite a stout enclosure for BOTH your CNC and dust collection/vac. Build a big MDFbox and insulate it with either rigid foam, acoustic insulation panels, or loose batts with some cloth pulled over.
There are some really good threads on here about building enclosures as well, be sure to check them out.

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I got my 1.5KW spindle and VFD for about 300USD. I needed to get some other items to complete the setup including good quality VFD cable, waterpump, radiator, reservoir, and tubing (approx 500USD for spindle and all accessories). Depending on the lengths of your running time and ambient temperature and size of reservoir you could ditch the radiator all together. I got a 240mm x 120mm PC watercooling radiator and a decent Eheim aquarium pump.

You will still hear all the cutting noises which can be some what loud but not terrible. Dust extraction is still the real killer in terms of noise.
An enclosure is a good option but for me limits visibility and hinders troubleshooting, wasteboard replacements etc. I would always run some dust extraction in an enclosure or not as I would not want the dust/chips getting into the spindle system or the linear rail systems.

A watercooled spindle, a modest but specific designed woodworking dust extractor should suffice and be at a respectable noise level.

If you are doing 2.5D cuts and you get good at selecting the right endmills, tooling paths and feeds/speeds you would be surprised at how fast your projects will take form. Its the 3D carves and intricate engraving that can take considerable time.

Short bursts of modest noise about the same loudness of a household vacuum cleaner shouldn’t disrupt the peace too much :grinning: