Since you have the space for it, get the XXL. I was originally planning to get an XL when I upgraded from a competitor’s small machine, but I ended up with the XXL and have not regretted it. I just made a 20x20 plaque for a friend and it would have been trickier to do on an XL.
Using a BitZero and BitSetter is definitely a matter of personal preference. I have both but have not used either for a year or more. I only work with wood which generally does not need precision that you need in closely milled metal parts that have to fit together perfectly.
I also see great value in having multiple separate gcode files for each tool used or set of toolpaths rather than run them all end-on-end with a BitSetter.
Why? - multiple toolpaths allow you to :-
Split a long job up so that you don’t have to watch it for hours without a break (you should never leave a CNC machine unattended - bad things can suddenly happen!) . You can stop for lunch, bathroom break, talk to wife etc !
You can run a toolpath several times if needed. This is useful when v-carving text for instance - you might want to run it twice to clean up a few “fuzzies” or perhaps set the Z zero a tad lower to improve the effect. Or perhaps you need to slightly enlarge a pocket by test fitting a piece to insert.
For certain jobs, if you set up the work holding carefully you might run a particular toolpath on multiple pieces of precut wood before you need to change the tool for a subsequent toolpath.
It all depends on what you are trying to do - for me a BitSetter does not help me as much as I thought it would.
I have both - and personally think they are must haves! And really for the price, you’d be crazy not to get them.
Often I do use multiple tools for a job - so the Bit Setter is just brilliant. Are there other workarounds - probably, but life is too short!
You can screw around and wiggle a sheet of paper under the bit to set the Z zero, but why bother when you can get a Bit Zero?
So my advice - stop thinking, and just add them to the cart. IMHO they are the best two accessories bar none!
If you have the room, get the XXL.
My xxl sits on a 48x48 inch table on wheels. Recommend you put any size machine on a table with wheels. Being able to move machines are a defenite plus. I am older and like to sit in an office chair to babysit the Shapeoko. My table is 29 inches above the floor. You can make your table higher but I find chairs that tall uncomfortable for me to sit on. Openbuilds.com has many enclosures that are alum extrusions and make very nice looking if not costly but are practical and functioning.
I have both and only use the BitSetter - which I love. The BitZero gave me inconsistent results…I would probe twice and get different Zs without even moving the box. It was flaky. The piece of paper method works just fine.
BitSetter, on the other hand, is really nice to have. It’s accurate, efficient, and gives you the ability to have multiple bits worth of GCode within the same nc file. SOO much easier to keep things organized. Plus, you get the benefit of the advanced VCarve - which is nice too.
I also have the XXL. My recommendation is to go XXL, BitSetter. Bit Zero, at least for me, is a paperweight.
If you want to be able to machine larger stuff and have the space to keep it then the XXL is the machine to go for, especially if you’re primarily working on wood or plastics.
There are some differences between the SO3, XL and XXL in terms of achievable performance but this is primarily about the speed at which you can machine, not the final results. There’s more detail here;
You can do quite big things on the XXL, especially if you ‘tile’ the work by sliding it through front to back and maching part at a time, I’ve done pretty large and complex bits of birch ply for furniture this way.
Dust extraction is important so good choice on the sweepy boot. T Tracks are a matter of personal taste, there’s many threads on wasteboard layout, threaded inserts vs. T Tracks etc. but you’ll figure out what works for your work.
I like the bitzero but since putting a full VFD spindle on mine I use an edge finder almost as much as the bitzero. The newer bitzero V2 works on more corners, products are constantly improving.
What are you planning to put at the other end of the dust hose? A dust deputy style cyclone settler upstream of your shop vac is a good plan, if you don’t alread have a full on workshop dust extractor system.
The BitSetter is a great upgrade if you’re doing a lot of multi-tool projects, but if you’re mostly or entirely doing single-tool jobs then it will just be an extra nuisance (every time you initialize, start a project, or change bits you have to wait for it to be probe) and potential source of error (if you don’t use Carbide Motion to change bits every single time then it can get confused) with no upside. I think it’s a amazing upgrade after you get some time and experience with the machine and want to expand your options.
The BitZero (I have the V1, no clue how the V2 may be different) was much more essential for me when starting out, even though it’s definitely got some annoyances like: shifting around if your stock doesn’t have a nice 90 degree corner, the cord is always in the way and can push the block easily, the alligator clip is extremely frustrating (I found a third party modification that changed to a magnet and it’s way better), and if you don’t put the bit close enough it can fail probing and then you have to re-initialize. But even with all that it’s so easy to just run a probing routine and immediately have a precise point in 3 axes (precise enough for wood certainly), or do a quick Z probe for height.
The paper trick is totally doable, but I make enough mistakes already and I’d rather let the machine handle as many precision tasks as possible.
I would like to note that the router comes with the precision collets. I always encourage spares, but note that.
Speaking from buyers remorse, I purchased the xl and after a dozen projects I upgraded to the xxl. So, spend the little extra and don’tlook back.
So it depends on your space. Bigger is always better here in Texas but even in Texas some people just dont have the room for an xxl. All the SO3 machines are open front to back to make infinitely long projects. However if you have a small shop that may not be possible unless you have the room front and back of the machine.
When it comes to the size of your Shapeoko it is better to have it and not need it rather than need it and not have it.
I quickly outgrew the T-track system I got with the machine and removed it in favor of a threaded wasteboard. Everyone is different and I don’t think T-track is terrible, just not as versatile as a threaded table. As for the BitZero and BitSetter, I love and use both. The BitZero is great simply because I don’t have to fiddle around with a piece of paper and the keyboard to set zero. It is a significant usability improvement. The BitSetter is a must in my opinion if you need to use more than one tool per job. The workflow it enforces also helps to reduce human error when changing tools. I used to hate making things with more than one tool before I had one. Now it is no big deal.
Thank you all so much for your quick replies.
@LiamN hank you for the link there is some great further reading in that thread.
I have an old workshop dust extractor that works which I was planning on using for now until I earn enough to replace it. It was my grandads, so it is big old and noisy but it works well!
@SLCJedi thank you for the heads up but I already have the dewalt router in my garage!
I am based in the East of England, does any one have any good recommendations for UK based suppliers/info that would be useful. Most of the stuff I have found online is US based, which is great but sometimes hard to find the things they are referring to over here.
Since you are considering getting a Shapeoko, you might be interested in the (free) ebook:
It’s not specifically about the XXL, it’s actually not even very specific to the Shapeoko, but it might help clear up a few things about the machine and its associated environment/workflow.
Regarding accessories, I concur with what has been said above, my own preference list is:
#1 BitSetter (for the reasons above, and I still get the opportunity to use it while splitting the G-code into multiple files as @Hooby does, by using an alternate G-code sender and BitSetter macros)
#2 BitRunner (currently out of stock but should be back soon), it’s a relay that activates based on the G-code’s spindle start/stop commands, you can use it either to automate the activation of the trim router, or in my case the activation of the shopvac for dust extraction, and I must say I would not go back to having to manually start/stop the shopvac now, this is just too convenient.
#3 BitZero, for anytime I need to zero off a corner precisely (the rest of the time, I use the paper method as has been mentioned)
I’m based in France so I can’t help you about suppliers, but the Brits here will come up with many good tips I’m sure.
Thank you @Julien I had not found that ebook online before. I’ve had a read through the wiki but this looks easier to navigate.
There is a lot to learn for sure, but I have a design background and I have a few years experience with solidworks so I guess I just need to hurry up and get cutting!!
FWIW, @Julien’s book is mentioned at:
and on the front page at:
Hey, if it sucks keep using it, (just to confuse our American friends :- )
Will put a bunch of the end-mill vendors we’ve used over here onto the Wiki recently;
There’s a bunch of us from the UK on here so ask away.
Thank you for this, I am finding it quite easy to get lost in the wiki, there is so much to read. It is great though and one of the main reasons that I went for the shapeoko, there seems to be a very strong community of people willing to help and offer advice
There’s a lot to read and the initial learning curve is pretty steep if you don’t take things a step at a time.
Julien’s e-book is a great introductory map of the terrain which will give you an understanding of what the key topics are and how they’re related, that context makes learning the rest much easier.
When you get your machine you’re likely to want a solid, flat, level surface to install it on, a workbench or torsion box is a common choice here. I suggest you use the machine a few times before deciding if you want an enclosure and if so what sort.
Once you’ve done your initial setup Winston’s video on squaring things up is good;
After that you’ll probably start thinking about workholding and cutters, there’s many threads on here about that, it all depends on what you’re going to be machining.
I’m starting out with an XXL. Bed size seems OK.
As a Newb to this unit, I am on the learning curve.
Unit goes together pretty easily.
Carbide Motion would not load on my computer. Carbide3d Tech could not find a fix, even after numerous emails and a phone call. I eventually did find the fix with the Microsoft Software it uses. Fairly simple but frustrating. Now, I thought I was ready. Powered it up, went to initialize and it wont Home. Just sits after a bit of moaning. I’m trying to figure this one out. Now I am here on the Forums and reading of a lot of issues I wish I knew before my purchase. I recommend you doing your research. Best of luck.
For the machine not homing:
Make sure you’ve sent the machine configuration per the assembly instructions for your machine: https://docs.carbide3d.com/assembly/shapeoko/#assemble-machine and that the configuration matches your machine and its accessories. Configuring a machine using Carbide Motion 5 and for 517 and later: Setting Grbl Configuration in CM 517 and later or see the ~14 min. mark of this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krwt3C9aSTY — Note that it may help to temporarily disable or disconnect accessories when troubleshooting.
There is a basic page on troubleshooting the homing switches at: https://docs.carbide3d.com/software-faq/home-switch-troubleshooting/
There is also a Carbide 3D Answer video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7lOLMAcl_0&feature=youtu.be
For the new inductive homing switches:
and Adjusting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZDBza_B25Q