Can you run Shapeoko in a vertical orientation


Crazy thought - has anyone tried to run a Shapeoko in a vertical orientation?

I would like to do this but I am sure there are issues.

Let me know if you have tired and what you ran into.

And I will provide an update on the concrete engraving soon.

Thank you.

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The only way to find out is to do it. Personally I think gravity would not be your friend for a vertically mounted Shapeoko. For sure when you turn the power off the router will most likely slam downward by its own weight to either one side or the front or back depending on which way you mount it…

My first thought is “nah this won’t work”, and my second thought is “well…what if you installed strong springs on each of the Y rails to hold the gantry, compensating for the gantry weight, kinda like the stock Z axis works?”, that would be a wild experiment, but if this forum has taught me anything, it’s to expect to be amazed (remember that very first post from @Vince.Fab that is still alive 748 posts later, and changed the game of aluminium milling on a Shapeoko?)

As long as you understand the forces at play and are willing to acknowledge/accomodate the intrinsic (physical) limits, then many things are possible I guess. It looks to me like you have an opportunity to become 'that guy who engraves vertical concrete walls with a Shapeoko" :slight_smile:

Now, pep talk aside, I would be mainly concerned with how the X axis v-wheels behave when working in that orientation, with lateral force on them (assuming you compensate for gantry weight with springs or something, they would still not really “ride” the v-rails anymore). I guess this could ending meaning the need to upgrade to linear rails, maybe installing them on the (new) top of the X rail.

I’ll be following that thread with a lot of interest :slight_smile:

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It’s been considered — I think a couple of folks have tried it, but can’t recall anyone posting about long-term success — vertical storage makes more sense. Potential problems/issues:

  • loading on V wheels is at the absolute worst possible angle for the carriage — adding a counterweight via pulley makes sense but doubles mass
  • loading stock is awkward

Advantages are pretty compelling though:

  • saved space
  • dust collection greatly simplified

@gdon_2003 Yes, there is only one way to find out.
I agree that without power that gravity would take over.

@Julien The forces at work are definitely something to overcome. My first thought is perhaps an upgrade to screws on the Y axis rather than springs or counterweights. I love the simplicity of the belts but, as clearly demonstrated to me on the Z axis, they have limitations.

In regards to the X axis, we use heavy duty concrete cutting machines regularly that use a similar setup. Albeit, the V rollers are metal and not plastic.

I have another large project that has to get finished before this is pursued to aggressively.

I had hoped that someone in the community had figured out some solutions.

@WillAdams Well loading stock wont be an issue as I will be moving the machine to the “stock”. All of the work that I am using the Shapeoko for is concrete engraving. I am working on a particular project, well preparing for a project, that is horizontal. Once that is complete I would like to figure out to to move to a vertical surface - engraving the side of buildings. Here is a picture of the latest test run.


Shades of I believe it was David Kindersley engraving on the sides of the Victoria & Albert after the Blitz:

It’s not uncommon to build CNC machines in a vertical orientation, that video is from one of folks on the mycncuk forum who do this.

As you say, ballscrews on the X axis are likely to be a requirement, I’d also suggest, based on my deflection measurements, that you replace the V wheels carrying the Z on the X rail with linear rails. Dan Storey has made his parts for this conversion available on thingiverse.

Of course, if you wanted to hack about and try it out you could try counterbalancing the weight of the X axis, Z axis and cutter with a cable from the X rail, over a pulley to a matched weight, this would deal with the static gravity load which the steppers won’t be able to handle on belts but you might have to back off the speeds and accelerations to cope with the increased inertia.


Nice link to the vertical machine. I was aware but hadn’t seen a decent version, other than industrial.

Good to know about the deflection measurements and the V wheels. Can’t say I am a fan of the counterweighting.

Thank you for the link to the Dan Storey story.

I wonder if the Maslow CNC or similar would work for your application. You could go almost unlimited on size.

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That Maslow CNC is an interesting product. It appears that the work piece is at least tilted; I wonder if people can cut a work piece, the wall in this case, that’s completely vertical.

Out of curiousity, is a mask and sandblasting not an option?

Why not just do it by hand w/ a chisel?


Yeah, that was just a “what could I test in an afternoon?” idea for minimal cost and effort to see if things are practical.

Because when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. :smiley:

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@WillAdams. A lot of engraving on stone is done with the sandblast technique. This will only get you so far. And sometimes not at all depending on the concrete mix. A chisel is an option as well but not an option for me.

We are going to be engraving into very hard concrete to insert brass letters and plaques. The sandblast method was attempted and could barely even mark the concrete, let alone have a control depth. I will share at some point soon.


The Maslow is very cool but does not have the ability to hold tight enough to the wall. The standard z axis was not good enough so I doubt the Maslow could do it.


All funnin’ aside, if you haven’t already, you should look at concrete coring equipment.

They’ve found that vacuum is a good non-destructive holding method. (Its one of those Atlas and the World things. :smiley: )

Here’s one link to further the discussion.


Around a 6lb counterweight on a smaller linear rail would just about do it for a stock Z, little more for an HDZ. A Leadscrew could do it too, it would move the stepper weight off the Z and give a better tq and not back drive.

The hardest part would be to create a frame that is stable enough to apply the horizontal load. That’s assuming you aren’t able to attach it to the concrete wall.


Have you seen this?

The Shaper Origin is hand-held, vision-guided/motor-assisted router tool that might do the trick, don’t know if it can do things in a vertical orientation, but certainly something to consider.