Designing a soundproof'ish enclosure for my new SO3

I have a tiny garage and built an enclosure around my SO3 that is about as wide/deep as your model: at times you will wish you had more access on the sides (e.g. maintenance, checking V-wheels), BUT mostly this is fine (and me, I had no choice anyway, that’s all the width I had). Height on the other hand…don’t make that mistake many, many of us did. Build it MUCH taller than you think you need, because of all the reasons mentioned previously, and because if quietness matters to you chances are you will eventually upgrade to a watercooled spindle, which means cooling hoses coming from the top of the spindle. Having to dive into a tight enclosure to check something in the back of the X rail, well I have been there, it’s no fun.

For the vac cooling, ideally you will want to design a baffle/muffler as Will said. Here’s a random pic from the interwebs that illustrates the interesting part: making sure the air has to zigzag to enter the enclosure


(no air outake in the enclosure itself in this pic, but you get the idea)

I went with poor/lazy man’s solution, cut a hole in the bottom right of my enclosure near the ground, cut another hole on the top left of the vacuum compartment, attached kitchen air extractor to that hole, wire the extractor to the same plug that activates the vac.


Oh, this is soooo true!

And it helps with dust extraction hoses/tubes, too!


I built a sound reducing cabinet - 3/4" plywood on 5 sides, door with large Lexan window for 6th side. The sides, back and top are covered in fiber board ( also known as homosote). I added cheap LED strips from amazon to the top for light (had to put thin boards in for the LED strips to adhere to). I put 1" styrofoam on the bottom. I also made a 3/4" plywood box lined with 1/2" sheet rock to house the vacuum. My phone says running the vac and SO3 is about 75DB, I find this is an acceptable noise level, I can even hear the radio over it :slight_smile:

A couple of things I learned:

  1. I made it a little too narrow, you should leave room to vacuum out the sides between the SO3 and the cabinet( I don’t always use dust collection). I have to find a narrow radiator nozzle for the vac in order to clean the corners.

  2. Cooling is a problem. Easy to get interior up to 90 degrees F. I finally wound up putting a quiet muffin fan in to circulate the air. Already had a hole to allow air to enter to make up air taken out by dust collection. All holes are covered by baffles as shown in another response.

  3. The door being so big and the frame of only 3/4" I had to put stiffeners horizontally to keep it sealed. The door uses foam weather stripping for door seals

  4. Now that the air is dryer, I’ve had several disconnects which were solved by removing the dust collection hose. I’m going to have to buy a conductive hose.

  5. I have drilled and tapped a hole in each of the rails and one in the router collar. I ran ground wires from each to a single point and then a wire from that to a 110V plug ground connection. I also tie wrapped the torroid on the router cable in place to keep it near the router.


My 2 cents as a 4+ year owner.

First, BEST solution to sound reduction is a water cooled spindle. 800-1500 watt packages are available for quite reasonable cost. Lots of help here on the forum.

Second, I’ve been running a cheap, small shop-vac-in-a-box, 1” foam insulation on all walls for several years, no problems even with 95 degree F operating conditions. 3” hole in the bottom.

Third, at least 6” clearance on all sides to enable changing v-wheels, belts, other maintenance. Ideally, full size doors on front and back.

Fourth, build as TALL as practical. You want to be able to reach all corners of the machine without contortions nor head-banging.

Fifth, torsion box base on cabinet with drawers. Mount the machine directly to the T-box i.e. discard the screw in feet included with the machine.


I made my enclosures 4 feet tall. I can lean in comfortably and I have room for vac hoses etc above it. Also the silence of a water cooled spindle is a must for keeping the noise down.
Vacs will get very hot when enclosed and may cause early failure but they do work. there are temperature controlled fans you can incorporate to get air flow with baffled entrances and exits, but it gets complicated. Or just let it cook and get one with a good warranty. Ridgid has a 203 CFM shop vac with a lifetime warranty. Very loud, 12 amps incredible static pressure and cost 179 at home depot. Currently out of stock.

When I was designing mine, I found this post which is known as the Enclosure Zoo. Lots of good pictures and ideas in there.

You’re getting lots of good advice here, especially with the height. I would also suggest leaving a slot/hole in the back of the enclosure (that can be plugged/capped). No matter what Shapeoko you have it is basically unlimited in size on the Y axis as you can “tile” large projects. Take a look at what @MarkDGaal accomplished.

1 Like

Ideally, and to make it a lot less confusing you’d want that hole on the front and back.

Thanks a lot for all the advice and suggestions. I’ve changed the design following all that advice. I’ve made the height of both the bottom and the top cabin taller and I’ve made the cabin wider, so there’s room to put some things next to the Shapeoko:

I’ve made a baffle system (from polystyrene) for the air intake and a similar one will be in the bottom cabin for the air exhaust:

Do you think it’ll that baffle system will work?

I’ve made a hole for the vacuum hose and whatever wires will go into the top cabin:

I’ve made the cabin doors open from the middle and made a window in the doors:

I still don’t know how I’m going to make the doors shut tight. Any ideas? Also, do you have any suggestions for making the polycarbonate windows as noise-proof as possible? I’ve been thinking about making many layers of polycarbonate to limit the amount of noise getting through.

I know people would probably like to go taller and wider, but I simply haven’t got the room.

What do you say to the revised design? Am I still forgetting something?


For the baffles polystyrene will largely just reflect the sound.

I’d suggest a heavy rubbery foam or rockwool wrapped in fabric.

Looks good ! I for one would put the baffle air intake at the top of the vac compartment, not at the top of the enclosure. I don’t think there is a need to have the “shapeoko room” in the air flow, and I don’t quite see what the air flow would be between that and the vac compartment ?

For windows, I just went with thick (10mm? can’t remember for sure) acrylic and it’s efficient enough (for my taste)

Since you did not mention it (I think?), you also want to think about lighting in the enclosure (LED strips or giant LED panels under on the roof will work fine)

Finally, think about where you want to put your power controls. You will ideally want to have a killswitch/E-stop button easily accessible from the outside, there’s no time to open enclosure doors when bad things happen.

You need extra room on the front and rear of the machine, the extra room in front for when the dust boot is attached it will not bump into the doors when coming forward for a tool change. The rear might need some extra room for the cables that hang off the back.


I think you have been watching too much Mythbusters, does your enclosure really need to be bulletproof? :wink:

1 Like

I’ve already measured my machine with the dust boot on and there should be room for that now.

Thanks for the input. What about MDF?

Thanks for all the suggestions. LED lights and a kill switch is on the list. It’s just not in the CAD.

The idea with having an air intake in the top compartment is that the air will come in from there due to suction from the vacuum. The vacuum will exhaust air in the bottom room where there’ll be an exit baffle. So the top and bottom compartment will be sealed off from each other except the hole for the vacuum pipe. Does that make sense?

1 Like

Ah, yes it does. The top compartment of my enclosure is not air tight (far from it, with a variety of holes for cables and stuff) so I am in a similar situation, just not designed-in :slight_smile:


MDF is also sound reflective to mid and high frequency as it has a hard surface, at low frequency it becomes transmissive. It would be OK as a structure but the basic principle of sound absorbtion is to have a material which the sound waves bounce around inside and get dissipated by conversion to thermal energy.

Rockwool does this by having the small glass fibres move with the sound, flex and have friction against each other, also the surface of rockwool is porous to let the higher frequency sound in.

You could look at things like Acoustilay mats, these are great for mid and low frequency, your labryrinth will inherently make the path for high freqency more difficult.


I’d love to pad my whole box (or at least the top part) with Acoustilay mats or something similar, but it seems kind of expensive.

Right now I have the top compartment padded with polystyrene. Do you think that’s a bad idea as well then? Would you pad it with Rockwool instead? Can I use any Rockwool or does the type matter?

1 Like

I don’t think the inside should have any material that would hold/capture dust, because there is no such thing as “great” dust collection, best you can hope for is “good” (my opinion). And if you ever cut MDF the problem doubles.

I would also suggest tweaking your design to have two holes from the upper to the lower compartment. Dust collection is going to generate a static charge, and even with grounded dust collection you will have less disconnects if your dust collection hose stays away from everything else (if possible).

Who knew building a box would get so complicated?

1 Like

Yep, it’s a heavy duty solution, I’d only use it for specific areas.

I would not use polystyrene at all, for any part of the enclosure, it’s just a flammable material you don’t want to deal with. Polystyrene has very little to offer in sound absorbtion, it is reflective to high frequency and not dense enough to do anything at all to low frequency.

Rockwool or other soft, fibrous or closed cell foam type materials are good, lots of people have used rubber exercise mats and similar. The key is to have flexibility and air gaps. Closed cell foams are good as they won’t hold dust.

As Robert pointed out, rockwool would need some sort of fabric to cover it to keep the glass fibres away from you (don’t breathe them in) and to keep the dust out of the rockwool.

As for grades of rockwool, the denser the better basically, most have some sort of kg cubic metre (or Imperial units equivalent) but whatever the heaviest stuff that’s locally easily available will do.


1 Like