Comprehensive guide to upgrading my spindle?

Hey guys, I know this question gets asked a lot around here, and I’ve looked through dozens of threads from the last few years around upgrading spindles. But I am wondering if there are any easy resources I should look at that might have all this information organized in one place?

Basically, I want to upgrade my carbide router to something a bit more heavy duty and water-cooled. I have an HDZ, and am running on 110 volts in my shop. The vast majority of my work is with hardwoods. I am hoping to gain more power, more stability, more precision, more speed, less deflection, etc. Plus the natural rush that comes with turning your machine into an even bigger beast than it already is :slight_smile:

So I am hoping to find suggestions around:

  • Which spindle would be best for my shop? Are my options limited with just 110v?

  • What else do I need to purchase with the spindle? (Pump, tubes, etc.) Is there a resource that lists all these in one place that I just haven’t been able to find yet? (I have heard from some folks that it’s best NOT to buy one of the kits on Amazon or Ebay, since the pump and tubes are kinda lousy, and to buy all the pieces individually instead.)

  • How difficult is the setup? Any good step-by-step or video guides?

I appreciate any guidance y’all might have! Hell, maybe one of you already has an inventory of everything you purchased for your own upgrade that you want to share with me :wink:

Also I am using this in my setup, not sure how much that matters:

Luke posted a bunch of very helpful stuff about spindle upgrades;

You’ll be needing the HDZ or at least the Z Plus for a smaller spindle due to the weight.

On 110V you’ll need to be careful not to buy a 220V spindle & VFD combo.

Lots of folks rate the GPenny spindles on Ali Express / Amazon / eBay

You don’t need 2.2kW on a Shapoko, the machine hasn’t got the rigidity to need that power, but… I really like having the ER20 collet so I can use normal sized edge finders, center finders and other spindle tooling in my machine. I have pretty much given up using the bitzero now.


Or you could really have some fun and join the ModKita club;

There’s a lot of differerent approaches on the cooling loop, from PC coolers mounted on the Z to buckets under the table (I have an old RV water container under the table).

Info that might be useful;

  • The fountain pump in the kits is about the last thing I would spec for the head and flow rate through the spindle, the only thing those specs have in common with the application is “water”
  • If you want your own pump, a low voltage solar heating circulator or similar works well, you’re looking for 2-5 litres per min flow at about 5 metres head if you run the PU tubing along the drag chains to your spindle
  • The PU tubing is the major flow constraint, there’s ways to run bigger tubing up to the spindle and adapt down to the tiny 6mm bore adapters on the spindle, but they’re not necessary, the cooling load isn’t enough to worry about this
  • The CW3000 “chiller” and it’s eBay / Amazon clones make a really nice integrated, tidy solution, there’s loads of threads about making it’s fan less noisy (so you can hear the horrid HuanYang VFD fan), lots of users of it here to comment
  • You don’t want just water in the coolant loop, some anti-corrosion additive is highly recommended, I use anti-freeze and RO (de-ionised) water because I have it available

More generally

You’ll need to upgrade the drag chains or, IMO, preferably, install a couple of new drag chains for the spindle wiring & plumbing. The VFD and spindle wiring give off massive amounts of electrical noise and can put you in controller disconnect purgatory;

I used an EMI filter on the input to the VFD, screened motor wire and ran the spindle motor cable up the other side of the machine and along it’s own drag chains to keep it away from the Shapeoko stepper motor and signalling cabling. That also meant no messing with the factory wiring or drag chains. More discussion in the thread below;

1 Like

Yeah the disconnect issues are definitely a concern of mine. I am already having occasional disconnects when I set my Carbide router speed above a “4” or so.

Right now I have the router power cable going straight up to the ceiling, so it stays as far away from the rest of the wiring as possible. Even with this setup, I get occasional disconnects (misting the router with water seems to help). But I am definitely worried that a noisier system will make things worse, so I’d want to take every precaution possible. Who knows, maybe taking as many extra precautions as I can will end up giving me a more reliable system, even with a noisier router/VFD. But then again, I’ve learned how disappointing optimism can be :slight_smile:

Have you grounded the Z carriage and X rail yet? When you install a VFD spindle grounding the shell of the spindle is necessary, this grounds the Z carriage pretty handily.

It might also be worth using an antistatic hose on the dust boot if you’re running one, and grounding that hose.

1 Like

I do have an antistatic hose for my dust boot, but it is not actually grounded to anything. Still seems to help — I could actually feel the static when I was using a cheap hose. I have not grounded the Z carriage and/or Z rail yet. Honestly, I don’t really know how to go about it :-/

If it’s useful to you I can properly ground my X rail as well as the Z, check it works and then do a how-to post? I’ve been meaning to finish grounding that floating X rail for a while now with more than just a multimeter test lead :wink:


That would be amazing! I know I would sure appreciate it, I am sure many others would as well.


I’ll put that on my “will actually get round to doing” list then :wink:

It will likely involve one of these for folks who don’t like soldering things. They make these in all different local plug formats.

1 Like

I ran a wire from the control board box, through the drag chains and onto the x rail where the drag chain attached. My spindle grounds the z assembly.

Solved a lot of problems. Even with a grounded spindle and anti static hose if the hose hit the z steppper I had a disconnect.

Now I have a ground wire ran all the way back the the cyclone and to the dust boot. Which is grounded somewhere in there.


This topic was automatically closed 30 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.