Initial Impression of my Brand New HDM

I just received my brand new Shapeoko HDM. TLDR: I’m extremely impressed by the machine and the company.

I’ve been following Carbide3D for years - since their first model Shapeoko. It’s impressive to see how far they have come and how professional they are. I contacted sales and customer service several times over the past year as I was deciding between various machines. I was all over the place - from the smaller and cheaper Shapeoko 3 (this was awhile ago), the more expensive HDM, and all the way up to 15-20K machines.

My goal is to work with wood, plastic, and aluminum. I’m primarily using it for prototyping and small volume runs. Nice to have would have been a vacuum table and ATC, but for my needs, I couldn’t justify the additional 5-10K price tag for machines that had that.

The need for machining aluminum and generating a production-ready finish were top of mind. That ruled out the Shapeoko 3 (and later, the 4) for me. While I know those machines can do it, they really shine with wood IMHO.

That left the HDM, Stepcraft D and M series, and a handful of other brands. I love the presentation of the Stepcraft machines and the M in particular has a lot of nice features. I’ve read some mixed opinions on the reliability of their machines, but nowadays with social media the way it is, who really knows? My interactions with their customer service were awesome.

Ultimately, the quality of the online community around Shapeoko, the outstanding pre-sales support from Carbide3D (< 24 hour response time in every single case), and honestly, some of the frank expertise being shared by people like Will on Reddit and on this forum spoke for itself. It’s obvious that the people behind the company love what they are doing, and over a period of years, have gotten really good at it.

I’ll write more about my setup experience and initial use once I get there. So far, the order process, direct to my woodshop shipping, and unboxing have been flawless. The machine comes very well packaged. I just need to phone a friend to help me lift it onto the table and I’m just about ready to go.

A big part of my decision making process also came down to the quality of the online community. Everyone who has been helping me choose bits, take safety precautions, and point out helpful resources online - thank you. Hopefully I’ll be able to contribute more as I get better at this as well.


Love the machine. I had it set it up about a week ago but had some issues with the bitsetter. Looked over other posts on this community and saw that it was not an uncommon thing. The specific issue I had was right after I initialized the machine. I followed the setup manual and went to Settings and turned on bitsetter. I loaded an end mill and had the machine go zero the height. As soon as it touched the bitsetter, it failed with a probe initialization error. Turns out there are a few reasons this could happen:

  • Two wires are crossed on the bitsetter
  • The top of the bitsetter switch isn’t properly screwed in
  • The bitsetter itself (the black part once you unscrew the housing) is too sensitive - i.e., too close to the top of the switch so it is always on
  • There is a motherboard issue

I went through the posts online and figured out that the problem was with the bitsetter itself being too sensitive. When I insert an O ring into it to make it a bit further from the switch, it worked fine. But this isn’t the best solution as none of the screws then fit and there was some instability to the switch.

I contacted customer support and they went through the above diagnostic list with me, and had a replacement bitsetter on my doorstep in a day or two. The replacement bitsetter worked perfectly.

It was showtime this weekend! I had been working on a design in Fusion 360 for some time. It was very exciting getting everything operational - the dust collector, cooler, and of course, the machine.

I have only a couple of minor gripes:

  • The instruction manual is a bit light on setup directions, especially for a total novice like me. Setting up the bitsetter was confusing because the heading of the section says to clear offsets, but you actually do that step at a different point (follow the numbered outline, not the header). Some rewording here would have avoided some minimal frustration for me. Not a big deal.
  • I was unclear on how the machine knew where zero was, and how that zero related to the part I was creating. It’s obvious in hindsight. You set the zero point in Fusion 360, then need to understand that the machine goes from negative to positive from left to right, bottom to top, and lowest to highest. A keep it simple stupid diagram connecting the machine axis with a 3D modeling axis would have made it super obvious for me. Again - I’m a newbie - I doubt most people who have any experience w/ 3D would have this concern.

The machine is amazing. It’s surprisingly rigid, extremely well constructed, and a serious beast. I’ve got plans to machine everything from wood, acrylic, and aluminum. Looking forward to using this really awesome tool.

Thumbs up to everyone at Carbide3D.


I just place my order for the HDM and the website says 2wks lead time for shipping. Is this accurate?

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Mine took just under 2 weeks to ship.

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Please write in to for more details on shipping.

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