Gaining more Z-height

What have people done to gain more z-height? I want to mill something 3.5 inches high and I can’t do that without milling significantly into my wasteboard. I need to fully clear the part so while the router can go up high enough, the part hits the x-axis gantry.

I know some people have added MDF blocks to their Shapeoko to raise the gantry and it is something I am considering, albeit with aluminum blocks instead of MDF.

I just have my router about 2 inches up in the holder as opposed to all the way down, if that makes sense.

EDIT: Just re-read your question and my solution won’t help you since it is hitting the gantry. Sorry. Should have read closer the first time.

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Will it fit at the front of the machine in the overhang area? If so, clamp there.

Otherwise, things to try/consider:

  • remove the wasteboard and place it under the machine (assumes an SO3 w/ single-piece wasteboard)
  • build/source a suitably sturdy table, remove the wasteboard and cross-straps, flip the endplates around and bolt them to the table
  • fabricate some steel plates which will allow you to extend the height of the endplates

You can mount the structural wasteboard underneath the frame.
EDIT:@WillAdams beat me to it by a fraction of a second. And he also provided other solutions.

I will tell you, as I’m putting together a Frankenstein SO3 from leftover parts, that the rails on a stock Z are 4 and 5/16" from the wasteboard (mounted under the frame).


Got it @WillAdams and @neilferreri.

I am considering option one and three as option 2 is infeasible in my current living situation until I move.

Thanks Neil!

Where would you do option 3?
A lot of us might be interested in that.

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I guess getting it watercut in a machine shop near me would be ideal. Otherwise mounting blocks to raise the gantry, similar to the link I originally posted is the other option.

If I pursue the steel plates, I need to model up the current ones.

There are some drawings listed at: and on the Shapeoko 3 page. You should be able to use them, measurements of your machine, and the dimensions from: to model pretty much anything.

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What’s the workholding like? You should have 4" under the gantry to the bed.

I’m planning to make a bolt on linear Y upgrade kit that includes a 2" lift with new Y plates but keeps stock belt system. Wouldn’t be too hard to do plus a huge ridgidity upgrade and still belt system.


You mentioned an upcoming upgrade, I’m looking forward to it. When will you announce something?

Are you thinking the Y plates? I had some made. Never had a need to increase height, so I didn’t change that. I was going to try some mods, but I was under a time constraint. Only thing I really changed was to add a slot for a potential external belt clamp. Happy to share the file.

I misunderstood Will’s comment to mean the front and back bent steel supports. I noticed that the ones on my XXL are taller than my original SO3. Maybe the newer SO3s are taller and that’s how @Vince.Fab has 4" clearance.

This is what I’m currently working on, but I can totally see how easy it would be to tweak my design to allow for a belt use. Undoubtedly would be cheaper. Just cut the slots in the Y plates’ supports ( the ones that sit on top of bearing blocks) to allow belts to go through. Obviously the plates would have to be made longer and belt tensioners added but it seems like an easy and efficient way to increase so3 performance fairly cheap.

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