Breakdown & Rebuild XXL

(Vince Sandoval) #1

Hey everyone, first time posting to the forum. So I bought a used XXL last March and I’m only just really getting into it mostly because of the steep learning curve. I bought it from a guy that didn’t know much about cnc routers either so he had it poorly built.
I thought I would tear it down and build it better than the last guy. I did to a small degree, but since I didn’t know much of what I was doing I didn’t do so well. That was last March and I didn’t realize that I had assembled it poorly until last month when I tried to surface a piece of aluminum and it was full of ridges.

So then I started looking into squaring and calibrating the machine and this is where the post is headed. I started by gathering whatever info I could from threads found here and elsewhere online. Once I had a clue as to what I was doing I tore the machine down almost all the way.
The first time I assemble the machine I could not get the wasteboard to line up with the holes in the bottom rails so I drilled the holes out to give me the needed movement. This time I first made sure the end plates were square to the Y axis rails and the wasteboard lined up perfectly. So already I made some progress.
I also remember seeing posts regarding the sag at the center of the wasteboard. So I went ahead and bought some furniture leveling legs, drilled and tapped the holes and threaded the feet in a cross shaped patter along the center area of the bottom rails.
It’s a little hard to see in the pic but I forgot to take a picture during the mod process. This really helps keeping the center of the wasteboard from sagging. Next I starting making sure that everything was square, parallel, perpendicular, etc. Everything was mostly dead one except for one Y rail needed to be shimmed with .004 close to the bottom. This got me within 1 thou of square.
Once I got the whole thing reassembled I decided to put a raised wasteboard in the center cutting area. I cut out the grid and that’s when I noticed all my lines were not an even depth. So I finally found info that talked about tramming. I tried all the tricks that I found online but honestly the results were subpar at best. I bit the bullet and bought the Edge Technology mini pro tram.
I can’t speak highly enough about this spindle squaring tool. Wow! It got me within .0005 on the x axis and .0015 on the Y axis within 1 hour. I had been fussing with other hacks and tricks on how to tram my spindle for hours and hours and I was still getting deep ridges (.005-.012) when I would surface my wasteboard. I could have gotten closer but at that point I felt it was close enough. And sure enough, when I surfaced my wasteboard for the last time I could barely see a hint of a line where the stepover for my spoilboard end mill made its passes.
So… to sum this all up, you can get this machine almost dead square with some effort, knowledge, and time. If you are a newbie like me and you are having issues, go back to square one, make sure EVERYTHING is square, parallel, perpendicular, flat, etc. Shim where needed and properly tram your spindle. Sorry for the super long post.

(Luke) #2


Great post, thanks for the inspiration - I need to breakdown my XXL and do the same once I build the new home for my shapeoko in the next couple of months. Seeing your feedback on the pro tram makes me think it is worth the investment - same goes for the additional wasteboard installed on top.

A few questions, if I may:

The threaded legs/feet:
How do you adjust them? do they have a hex head or phillips head that you can access from the top through the spoil board?
How do you deal with portions of the frame/board that might be bowing up/are too high?
Shimming & squaring
What do you use for shims?
Are you squaring using a ratchet strap to pull it into square and just measuring the diagonals?
What bit are you using to surface the wasteboard?



(Gary) #3

I just recently did a rebuild with upgrades. Have a little tweeking left to do. Been on the laser more lately since it’s in the house. But getting back into the garage. Planning on redoing the gantry for the dust collector. Don’t like how it turned out. Will redo with single corner angle iron ans swiveling gantry. But thus is what it looks like now.

(Vince Sandoval) #4

Hey Luke, so as far as adjusting the feet goes, I didn’t think it would be something that needed constant adjustment so I didn’t design it with access from above. When I started rebuilding the Shapeoko I installed the bottom black rails and then set the leveling feet so that they just made contact with my work table. Like I said in the first post, I drilled and tapped holes 1/4-20 and I just set them by hand. It was easy to access without the spoilboard being on. I didn’t want them to affect the height of the rail in an upward manner, I just wanted them to prevent the rail from sagging.
And as far as the frame bowing, well luckily I didn’t have that issue. I made my work table as flat and level as I could and I think that is one of the more crucial steps as far as getting a squared and calibrated machine.
For my shimming material I used a soda can. I cut it into small strips. As far as I know aluminum cans measure .004 thousandths, at least all the ones I’ve ever used for shims have. You can buy shim stock in different thickness, but i had cans on hand. The trick is knowing how deep to place it, since I was limited to .004. You can move it around in the spot you are shimming and you can see how it affects the squareness.
I did not have to use the ratchet strap method to square my machine up. Since I was checking for square, parallel, perpendicular, at every single point of the build I was almost dead on when I was finished up. The little I was off I was able to nudge, and push the frame into square. I did check my diagonal and with the naked eye it look dead on but I was slightly off.
I used a whiteside 6210 for my spoilboard end mill. It was $28 on Amazon and it works really well.