Anyone using the HDM mainly for wood?

Howdy y’all!

I recently sold my Shapeoko Pro XXL when I moved cross country. It turned out it was not large enough for cabinetry and furniture production, so I started using it to make small items, for which the machine was much too large - I rarely used more than a quarter of the work area.

I was mainly making small trinkets and boxes out of solid wood - fairly hard species like bubinga and padauk. I’d like to sell these products, but I found that the Shapeoko Pro XXL would not pump them out quickly/cleanly enough for the numbers to make sense. Basically I could not find the sweet spot between speed and surface finish - faster on the machine meant more time afterwards erasing tool marks, while slower on the machine helped with finish quality but still required some cleaning up afterwards and too much time overall.

I got close to the overall manufacturing time needed for these items to make sense financially, but I do need more performance - either same feedrate with better finish or faster feedrate with same finish.

The options I am considering are:

  1. A standard sized Shapeoko Pro with an upgraded Z axis and spindle.
  2. An HDM

Here are my questions:

All else being equal (same sharp tools, same spindle, z-axis, equally well trammed, same feeds/speeds), will I have a noticeably better surface finish on a standard sized Pro vs the XXL due to the reduced length of the x-axis?

Part of my process require hogging out lots of material to form the inside of the boxes - I think the ability to use 1/2" tooling would really speed that process up - can anyone provide any insight on how well the HDM handles 1/2" tooling? Is it reasonable to expect that I can remove twice the amount of material with the HDM in the same amount of time compared to the Pro?

Thanks for the insights y’all!


Did you see:

An HDM would be awesome for wood, so long as the parts/stock fit, esp. if you wish to use larger tooling — the 80mm spindle on it gets one an ER-20 collet and it has the rigidity to take advantage of it.

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I have the 2.2K spindle on my HDM and at this point I use it mostly for wood and plastics. I do have some 1/2” tooling, but limited to a 3/8” roundover and a Amana RC-2250 surfacing bit. I do have a 8mm cutter with a 1/2” shank and the bigger size gives it extra rigidity. I can definitely hog out some material with this bit pretty efficiently, but as far as endmills go, I don’t think I’d want to try anything much bigger. You might be able to run a 9 or 10mm at the minimum spindle RPM.
If you don’t need the extra size, you have the extra money, and you can run the 220v spindle, the HDM might make sense for someone wanting to just do wood. I think for most people the Pro5 is going to be a better fit for a wood only operation.


Thanks for the reply! I did see that announcement. Looking forward to seeing some stats/examples of the new machine in action, though given the price points I’d have to guess the HDM is still significantly more rigid, right? Or is the majority of the price difference between the 5 Pro and HDM in the spindle?

Thanks for the input. Was the HDM your first Shapeoko machine?

The 5 Pro looks interesting but the ~$2000 lower price (or maybe $1250 or so after you buy a spindle) has me wondering if it is as capable as the HDM. Speed and rigidity are more important to me than size but maybe the 5 Pro balances all 3.

Curious how much rigidity is lost on a 4’ x axis as opposed to a 2’ x axis. It would be interesting to quantify that.

I ran some paduk and some other hard woods on my HDM. The main thing I did was 3D landscape stuff. The finish was better running faster than the SOPro I also have. 3D carves are hard to clean, so the extra rigidity allowed for some extra speed while keeping a better finish. At that point it was up to the tools used and my programming.


The HDM is definitly more rigid. The X extrusion is so thick walled that it sounds solid. It also has significantly stronger stepper motors, as well as the spindle. The 1.5kw version is matched by C3D’s for the Shapeoko 4/Pro/5. the 2.2 kw is my suggestion if you have 220V handy.


I agree with all comments above the HDM or the SP5 should be solid for you, Though the best way to get awesome surface finishes is to switch to Fusion 360 for CAM, the learning curve is a bit challenging, but once you have proven recipies you will love it. So many better tool paths for roughing and finishing


The HDM is my first CNC of any type unless you count my 3D printer. If I had it to do over again, I’d still get the HDM even as opposed to the Pro5, but mostly because my currently available space limits me to nothing larger. If mainly what you are doing is wood, I can’t imagine running into much of anything on any of the Pro5 machines where rigidity is going to be a problem for the hobbyist and if you have the space the extra size available, those machines are going to be a bigger advantage for most people doing wood compared to the advantage of a slightly more powerful spindle and a bit more rigidity. Another advantage to the Pro5 is the ability to work past the hybrid table for vertical milling which you don’t get with the HDM.


I wish I could get past that learning curve as the advantages to Fusion 360 are tremendous and quite possibly essential for many metal working applications. As far as CNC woodworking for the hobbyist, it’s hard to beat Vcarve Pro. It’s a bit more difficult to learn compared to CC, but gives you a ton of capability.


For metal, it is well worth the mental investment in learning Fusion 360! The ability to control the lead-ins/outs, the option to slow down in corners, adaptive clearing (!!) and the multitude of options that you have to different toolpath strategies is amazing to let you figure out what you’re doing.

And, I have to say, the best part is the simulation ability. Fusion 360 will simulate the movement of the tool and warn you if you have any collisions, rapids into the stock and you can inspect exactly how each operation is going to be performed instead of just seeing a final static picture.


I hear that - I jumped straight into Fusion when I got my Pro - Lars Christensen quickly became a hero of mine. That said, I still haven’t gotten into the real nitty gritty with all the settings.

Thanks for the input.

Haven’t messed around with V-Carve yet - though plan to at some point when I have a nice solid grasp on Fusion and money/time allows.

I agree with @BubbaOriley and @crpalmer.

For working in metals F360 can’t be beat. I also use it for plastic projects as a lot of the same machining strategies work great in plastic too. But F360 craps itself with large mesh files and is garbage at decorative stuff. So for decor pieces and most 3d carving, I use Vectric VCarve pro. However, Carbide Create has come a Looooooooong way in the last year or so, and the Pro versions gets you the greyscale height mapping stuff that Vectric only has in Aspire.


Just to add to what @SLCJedi said about having an arsenal of software for different applications, there’s nothing wrong with Carbide Create for certain projects. This fall I made a pile of fairly simple signs out of 1" rigid foam insulation and I used CC because I didn’t need anything special in the toolpaths and I could bang it out much faster and it was much easier to play with fonts and alignment / layout than it would have been in Fusion 360. If I was making the same signs out of wood, I would also have used CC.


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