Considering Shapeoko 3

Looking to get my first hobbyist CNC and the Shapeoko 3 is top of the list currently. My uses will be primarily woodworking with occasional aluminum work. Couple questions:

What router would you suggest?

What are the dust collection options?

I know there have been some upgrades since the SO3 came out, all of those are included in the current kit? I don’t have to search for anything else?

What would be some good starting bits? What is a good source for the bits?

Anything else I should consider?

The two suggested routers are the Dewalt and the Makita RT0701 (available in black as a re-badged MLCS Rocky 30) — discussion of them here: — there’s a link there to a page listing others

Dust collection is user’s choice. The aforementioned linked page lists a number of designs. A member of the Team sells a very nice one for the DWP611 at: and there was a recent Kickstarter for a new design which a number of people backed.

Yes, all the upgrades (Enclosed electronics, One-piece MDF table, 9mm Belts, New, more rigid Z plate, US-Made V wheels and eccentric nuts (these are more a sourcing change than an upgrade AIUI), Homing switches included, Adapter ring to fit Makita RT0701C router) are included in all the current Carbide 3D machines — I believe Sparkfun still has some old stock, but that should sell out presently and everyone will be on the same page. Other upgrades are listed at:

Starting bit selection depends on what one wants to cut, at what level of detail and whether or no one sources a 1/8" collet. Of course there’s: but also see:

There were two interesting threads on what else one might want on the Shapeoko forums :

My suggestions:

  • hearing and eye protection (not a suggestion, mandatory, see: )
  • a level (precision has to start somewhere)
  • a good quality square
  • a good set of calipers (if working on small scale parts, a micrometer)
  • pinch sticks, a tape measure, a piece of string, or some other way to measure the machine on the diagonal
  • spare endmills (they have to be considered consumables, but see below)
  • (optional) a 1/8" precision collet — if you get one, the community has a suggested starter set:
  • (optional) an inexpensive Windows 10 tablet which is set up so as to have a USB port to connect to the machine while still receiving power — use this rather than a machine w/ exposed keyboard to control the machine
  • (optional) an M3 tap, a suitable drill and drill bit and some M3 countersink flathead machine screws (to secure the drag chain brackets to the extrusion)

You’ll of course also need material to cut and designs to cut out, and some way to secure the stock (workholding: )

You may also want to get a book:

Thank you for the great info! I have the book on order. Can you point me towards some good build guides? Couple other questions: This will be kept in the garage, does the cold weather affect it? Do large changes in temperature affect it? How critical is the levelness of the table this is placed on? What level do you recommend? I’m getting a DEWALT DW088K laser level, would this be usable for the purpose?


We’re working on a better set of instructions — the current ones work okay for most people — just pick up with the limit switch installation instructions at the end — collection of links on this here:

The temperature thing has been debated a bit — the operating range for the belts is quite wide (23 – 158 degrees Fahrenheit if memory serves) — a couple of customers just warm the machine up with a heater before use and that seems to work for them. FWIW, I keep mine in the basement and move it outside when it’s time to cut ipe and the like and then clean it off and bring it in.

As I noted, precision has to start somewhere — any good quality spirit level would be fine. I find the electronic gadgets mystifying — probably it would work somehow, but I can’t help w/ it.

So does the frame have adjustable feet? If it were built on a perfectly flat table and then moved to less flat table where, say, a corner does not sit on the surface, I imagine this is bad?

Yes, the frame has adjustable feet as mentioned on the Packing List ( Leveling Feet, 4, install on underside of end plates), B.O.M. (, and shown here:

Note that the original SO3 used rubber bump-on pads, but this has since been changed so that current machines use (the same/similar?) leveling feet as the XL and XXL. FWIW, I didn’t bother on my XL — instead building the machine on a leveled Baltic Birch plywood board on top of an old Yoga mat (for cushioning and sound absorption).

As I noted above, precision has to start somewhere, and it would not be good for the precision of the frame to move it from one surface where it was leveled, to another where the four leveling feet were not then adjusted so as to have equal, solid contact.

Great, thanks for the help!