Flatness Counts with Intricate Designs

I purchased my Shapeoko 4 during the 2021 Thanksgiving sale. I am a hobbyist and do quite a bit of furniture building too. However, I’ve gotten into designs with V Carve that can be filled by colored epoxy. I was carving a border this week, and the depth wasn’t consistent in the V carve. I am using Carbide Create Software v7. At first, I blamed my bit zero. Then I checked my router mount, no issues. I know my spoil board is flat.

Then it hit me…my maple board glued up out of two pretty flat pieces of maple was NOT perfectly flat. So my V Carve at 0.200 inches deep was inconsistent to the point it made a difference. Once I clamped it using my (free) Workholding kit from the T-giving sale, the problem was solved! Lesson learned! And such an easy thing to overlook.

Start with the simple things when troubleshooting, the Shapeoko is so accurate it likely is not the machine if it’s set up well.


Glue ups are never flat. I run mine through the planner after glue up on both sides. One thing that helps during glue up is alternating clamps on the top and bottom. Also on the edge of the boards where they meet an F clamp keeps them from moving around during clamping.

So rub the board together to get the sticktion going and put the F clamps on moderately tight. Then tighten up your clamps moderately. Check the flatness and if necessary loosen the clamps and start over. After the board is flat tighten up the F clamps and then the clamps on the board. Do not give a gorilla tightness on the clamps. Doing that squeezes out the glue and gives you a weak bond. Tighten the clamps but do not give it all you have.

With any woodworking project square and flat board are required. Make sure your table saw is cutting straight and true with no burn marks. If you have a jointer run the edges to be glued over it a couple of times until the sound is the same all the across the board. If you dont have a jointer a router table with a split fence works as a jointer. You shim the outfeed side with small shims (printer paper. The infeed should be slightly further back from the edge of the bit and outfeed side should be even with the bit. Make a pass or two on the router. Always make your board glue up oversize so you can trim it to size after the glue is dr. All your table saw fence and blade should be parallel. Your miter gauge must be exactly 90 degrees to the blade. If you dont know how to do this there are a million youtube videos on how to line up your blade with the miter slot and then line the fence up with the miter slot.

All quality woodworking starts with flat and square boards. There are a lot of ways to make this happen but it takes attention to detail. If you dont know the details research them and get your equipment as aligned as possible for good results.

1 Like

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