Buying decision: XL or XXL

Hi everyone,
I have been researching CNC routers for a bit now, and after an overwhelming number of options, I have settled on the Shapeoko. I think it more than meets my needs.

My question for the community is this: I am debating buying the XL vs the XXL. I want to be able to cut panels of various sizes. The XXL is a bit bigger than I think I need and I’m concerned with have a monstrous sized machine in my garage. I won’t likely use this on a regular basis, but rather when I take on special projects. The reason I am thinking XXL is that I see people upgrading to XXL and I’m thinking that there’s probably not many people wishing they had bought a smaller one.

Second question: has anyone come across an option to attach a laser etcher? I’m really wanting to do laser etching on some of my acrylic panels.

Thanks in advance for you help!


I’ve only had my XL for a little while so maybe some day I will regret not getting the bigger model but right now I’m glad I didn’t. The XL is already plenty big. I’m pretty sure it has the biggest footprint of any machine in my shop with the possible exception of my tablesaw. If it were any bigger, I’d resent the space it was taking up. The fact that I can turn it sideways against the wall to free up space is a big plus.

If it were the only machine in the shop, that would be one thing but it’s just one tool of many in limited space, so it needs to be right-sized. Since I can hang work off the front and back, I can already work just as big a piece as I could with an XXL although I will have to have two jobs instead of one for the really big pieces. But how often am I going to do a job like that? That’s really the question I suppose, if most of my work was going to require me to reposition my workpiece and I could avoid that with the XXL and I had the room then the XXL would be the right choice. For me though, given what I know at this moment, the XL is the right machine for me.

As for the laser, I asked about this before I bought my machine and the answer that I got was that it voids the warranty. There is a third party solution out there though. I’m hoping Carbide releases their own at some point.

Thanks Kurt. I appreciate your feedback. I didn’t realize that I would be able to overhang pieces, allowing me to work on larger pieces but with a smaller cutting area. That really helps!

I wonder why a 3rd party laser attachment would void warranty? It seems to me that a community of 3rd party attachments would only make this platform better.

Thus far there’s only been one customer I’m aware of who ordered an XXL and then wanted a downgrade kit to get to an XL — and he (she?) moved into a smaller place — other than that, no one regrets having too large a CNC if they have room for it.

I’ve got an XL and would be glad to’ve gotten an XXL save for:

  • need to keep my machine man-portable to haul it up to the back deck from the basement for cutting Ipe and the like
  • limited space in the basement
  • I think the XL looks nicer than the XXL — this might change if I saw an XXL in person, but I think the XL has the nicest proportions of the SO3 line thus far.

As @KBieb noted, one can do indexed cutting to work on larger material, also some customers have added spoilboards which support the full cutting area — lots of options with either machine.

For lasers, the community does have some information on this, and there are a number of kits available: — the big thing is, we can’t support the machine unless you flash it back to the standard firmware (but 1.1 now has a laser mode?), and we can’t cover damage to it caused by the laser, and the company can’t say anything encouraging lasers from a liability standpoint (speaking unofficially based on my understanding/assessment of the situation).

IMO buying a CNC is like purchasing a Jointer for woodworking. Purchase the largest and best you can afford, will need it sometime and wish you would have bought a larger capacity machine sooner than you think you will outgrow it.

You can do tiling operations in V-Carve Desktop so you can effectively cut larger areas on the XL than the ~16 x 33 work area.

I upgraded to the XXL from the STD SO3, glad I did. If I had upgraded to the XL, I would still have some limitations to work around that I had on the standard SO3.


I have been planning out my solution for the size as I have a small shop, but need the XXL size-and more… I am working out a pulley platform system to clear my table when the XXL is not in use…

but there seem to be issues with a quiet redesign… My plan is to build a light weight enclosure over the XXL and hoist it to just below the ceiling with seriously under used pulley system and two different safety features to keep it in place when up… My ceilings are 8’ in the shop and running it up to within 18" of that will mean I can’t bump my noggin when engrosed in a non Shapeoko project-unless I am jumping in euphoria and leaning over my 4’ x 90" work bench-the flight path of the Shapoko will drop it within confines of one end of the bench top. Meaning I will have the entire table available with the SHapeoko in the air.
I bought this size to accommodate projects I already have planned that are on hold until my experience level is appropriate to them. That said, I will likely buy a rail upgrade soon after it becomes available to allow me to load and use full 4" wide materials. Those projects are not the bulk of my use yet, but I expect at some point they will be. In another thread, the current rails were proven more than capable to a length of 5 feet, I’ll replace two rails and belts when they become available after I find Carbide Create and Motion can address the additional size-or add a second machine in that size as the projects I mentioned earlier would be quicker and easier if I could use sheets in full width. I bought the XXL to Learn and grow through-to the next size upgrade,

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I usually buy the midrange model in whatever I’m shopping for. I didn’t do that when I bought the standard SO3. I wish I had bought the XXL form the get go. As I started making things that I hadn’t intended to make when contemplating the SO3 I quickly found it was just too small and limiting for my needs. My opinion, buy the XXL. I think it costs around $200.00 more for the upgrade kit but don’t forget you will have to make your enclosure and table larger as well. Once you have one I bet you will find more uses for it than you think.
Very addicting, this CNC thing!

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Thanks William. Interesting idea re: lift. Re buying XXL, I doubt there are many people that regret buying too big, just as very few people regret buying quality. I’m tempted to just go with the XXL and figure out the space restrictions.

I’ll check on the laser, would really love it if Carbide3d had a laser etcher… I would have bundled it with my order.

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Bill, I think you and others have convinced me to go with XXL.

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Thanks Craig. Appreciate the feedback. Going to go with the XXL.

If you have the space and the extra dollars you’ve made the right decision… enjoy and post up more when your machine arrives!


If you haven’t already, take a look at some of the Jeep forums - there are a number of ingenious lift ideas out there for removing/storing the Jeep hard top roof. I jimmy-rigged one myself for my bride’s Wrangler JKU out of stranded cable, a cheap hand crank winch (with brake), a few eye bolts and some 3/4" PVC conduit to prevent the cable rubbing the underside of the roof as it lifted the whole thing off the vehicle. It now turns a 2-person job into a single person job, and cost me less than $100 CAD all told (so around $0.65 USD!) to put together, and holds her roof securely to the ceiling of our garage over the entire summer period (around a day and a half! ;))

Many of these ideas could quite easily be adapted to raise/lower your XXL (similar-ish size/weight) instead?


You won’t regret it.

In the local boating world, they call it “2-foot-itis”… We’re really happy with our purchase at the time, but sooner or later we all wish we’d gone ~just that little bit bigger~… :wink:

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Darren, all too familiar with 2-foot-itis! :grin:

OK it’s Done! Now I’m really excited!!! I just ordered the XXL with the Dewalt router. I checked my local Home Depot pricing on the router and it’s far better price to order with the Shapeoko.

So … next question for you guys … this is going to be a big unit. What have you guys done for stands? Home built? Or is there something good out there that will fit well. I’d like the ability to roll this thing around. I have a Rigid table saw on casters and love the ability to move it when it’s in the way. Would like the same for this. Those of you with an XXL, mind sharing what you use for a stand?



Congrats! Get ready for the steady stream of cool e-mails that help you prepare for D(elivery)-Day!

Re: stands/bases, there was a recent post asking this very question that might be worth reading through:

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Congratulations and I forgot to mention the weight loss that comes with the machine. Instead of sitting on the couch watching TV and eating potato chips and buttered popcorn you will want to be carving something on your machine. So the benefits are twofold!

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I bought the XXL and have very limited workspace. I never wish I would have bought an XL. In fact, I wish I had a larger machine. The XL would have probably covered 90% of the parts I have made so far but I’ve made some very cool projects that only the XXL is big enough to handle. There are times I wish I had a full 4x8 bed.

Someone else brought up the idea of stowing the machine against the ceiling. I’ve seen others who built a table that folds down from the wall. Most shops could pick up a lot of space if they were well thought out and ridded of things that take up space but don’t add much value. The ceiling is a very under utilized volume where you could store other things to make room for a larger router.

That said, the XXL certainly isn’t for everyone. I use mine all the time so I can justify the room it takes up. If you only plan on using it a few times a year then maybe one of the smaller footprint options would make more sense.


Congratulations! You will LOVE it-and the painless support should you need it!
I Moved my XXL to its stand today-for a trial fit…T took out the cross braces and the wasteboards to make it lighter to move. I hope to cut and install my T-track tomorrow, and I will add pictures and details of the stand tomorrow. Congratulations again!

I have been considering all of top stowage ideas-as I have Verts too! Right now I am leaning toward a stainless 6 pulley system with vinyl coated stainless cable, leading to a 350lb rated bow line and a stainless cleat! a deck made of 1/2ish sheet of 3/4 oak, and square tubing. Leaning toward these:
Small diameter, but rated for 700KG/1500lbs…according to the seller…I wont ask but 40/45lbs each, and make them detachable to keep the cables out of the way when in use. When I sort all of that out I will post what I did.

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I have been looking at this too-don’t forget to protect your eyes!, from 3rd party solution providers to web based parts suppliers , to ebay parts like [15W TTL pulsed]( of my future XXL(and bigger) projects is to cut veneer-using a laser head sure would solve the clamping issues in a easy time and work efficient way…As Carbide 3D is obviously a motivated, resourseful, coherent, and thorough team, with has the best group of talented and motivated owners/users, I am picking my forays into tool development in the order they come up…and actively researching/reading the many forums-and Wikis(thank you WillAdams!) before jumping in to design and fabricate something someone here has already addressed-ApolloCrowe and his brilliant Drag Knife project jump to mind immediately-before I take my already over-booked available time and sort something out that has already been handled! I keep up with what is available, and look (and hope) for it coming available from Carbide 3d! when I am ready for it…buying here has proven to mean all of the hard work is done for us, and after a few bolts, maybe a firmware upgrade, and installing a plug or two we have something that works and is fully supported.