Let's talk about extra costs for a second

My machine arrives today and I could not possibly be more excited about it! I thought I’d kick off a thread to discuss some of the added costs beyond the machine that might help someone in the future decide on if the machine they are looking at really fits their budget or not.

Software: In the time since we ordered the machine (my shop partner ordered it because he has a new credit card that gets better points than mine so he paid for it and I paid him) I have been playing with a few different piece of software to see what will best suit our needs and I’ve arrived that VCarvePro is the right solution for the size of the machine and the in-lay capabilities that are lacking in Carbide Create. That is an almost $700 uplift in cost! I already pay for Fusion 360 at $60/month but it lacks the native tools to do inlays very well and I’d easily spend more time making the negative piece in the software than it would ultimately cost me for the other software.

Endmills: The machine comes with a #201 .25" flat endmill but as someone who has broken enough tools in his life to know that you should always have spares on hand I have more en-route at $45 each plus 60 degree bits, 30 degree, 15 degree, upcut/downcut etc…

Workholding: I’m fortunate that I have a pretty decent wood shop already because of my furniture side business and I standardized on Rockler t-track many years ago so I have a pretty good collection of hold downs and fixtures but if I had to buy them that is an added cost. I did buy a good bit of painters tape and CA glue for things that might go closer to the edge of the work piece than I feel comfortable with (we have a saying at our shop ‘I do like my friend Clearance!’). Having a 3d printer handy for making hold downs is probably going to come in real handy here soon. Easily a few hundred dollars worth of clamps for this.

Dust collection: Again I’m fortunate that I already have a big(ish) dust collector (Shop Fox makes decent stuff for a good price) but I did have to buy some adapters and a grounded hose to fit it for my machine. Dust collector is $405 plus hoses and clamps and adapters.

Material prep and finishing. Saw a thread a few days ago about someone asking about essential tools and I maintain that if you get a ‘decent’ table saw (read: not a Craftsman with some weird sized miter slots), a palm sander, and a good drill you can do just about anything you need (I will tell anybody who will listen that one of my favorite time saver tools is the Kreg Rip-Cut and a circular saw - holy crap it makes ripping down sheet goods to a workable size a breeze). This subject is entirely too subjective based on available space and needs. If you don’t have a table saw you will definitely rely on your big box store to cut down to your working sizes but it’s a workable solution.

I did buy my machine to augment the other tools we already have and for the customers we already make stuff for (and some personal projects of course) so your mileage may vary for your needs.

What other costs am I forgetting about?

Chris

I should also mention that VCarve Pro doesn’t run natively on a Mac so if you want to use it you need something like Parallels or VMWare Fusion plus a Windows license. I have a Proxmox host in my basement that I run a Windows virtual on and then just remote into it which saves that one step but it’s still a potential added cost.

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Unmentioned, but non-negotiable is eye and hearing protection — assume you already have that in your shop?

Metrology equipment? Do you have a good/decent pair of calipers? If you can keep them in batteries, a Harbor Freight pair will do. If you’re doing metalwork you might want a pair of micrometers — I find a centering rule invaluable when setting up cuts since I often use center for origin

Additional assembly tools: Flush cut pliers (or scissors — fingernail clippers can also be used to cut a short zip tie with a nicely rounded edge), Needle nose pliers, Tape measure or ruler, Level, Pencil; possibly also Easy-peel masking tape, such as blue painter’s tape (nothing that leaves a residue behind), Adjustable wrench, Flashlight

If you’re doing small-scale work, then 1/8" endmills may make a good fit, and are a bit less expensive (but more easily broken) — conversely, for larger work you may want to consider 8mm (5/16" tooling) which is far more rigid, albeit hard to move fast enough to balance chipload and rigidity.

pendant option of some sort:

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I have an obsessive amount of hearing/eye protection for sure! I used to work in a machine shop and that was rule #2 behind ‘never wear long sleeves, gloves, or your hair where it can be caught in a machine’ (rule #3 involved never putting your fingers where you’d never put your… you get it).

I didn’t even think about mentioning measuring devices. I’ve had most of my mics and calipers so long I don’t even remember buying them and I have a borderline fetish for good tape measures. I HIGHLY recommend FastCap Lefty/Righty tape measure since it has really clear markings and a freaking pencil sharpener built in!

Tramming tools! Having a friction arm with a magnetic base and a reliable dial indicator is a must for any machine setup. You don’t need to spend the Mitutoyo or Starrett tax but they’d be the only ones you’d ever need for the rest of your life, your kid’s life, and their kid’s life.

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You might want a BitSetter ($120), and a BitZero ($120) - optional accessories, but time savers. You’ll want to add a kill switch for the whole shooting match and a momentary pause switch configured to the Feed Hold pins (another, maybe $25 - 100, depending on how fancy you want to be).

You’re lucky you bought the Shapeoko that already has the higher performance Z axis…I upgraded mine to the HDZ for $450. But I’m guessing you’re going to want to upgrade to whatever Carbide puts out as the new, better, more stable framazoid.

If you want to add a laser to the set up - which I do recommend - that will run you another chunk of change (sub $1000, probably). I went for the JTech 7w laser (and love it). It will drag in another expense for smoke/fume removal…at Jay’s suggestion, I bought a cheap vacuum cleaner (Stinger) and refitted the filter with a carbon filter - it’s dedicated to laser fumes.

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In business, every on cost is just the cost of doing business. It is an acceptable/necessary expenditure if it improves or facilitates an improvement in production and a reduction in time or labour costs. As a hobbyist, I enjoy the luxury of buying what I want without necessarily having to justify the cost to the management.

Software for Mac users can be an issue and I would rather stick hot pins in my eyes than use a VM like Parallels or VM Ware, both of which I tried and hated. I have not any skill with Fusion 360 so I have scoured the world. I am currently trying Cheetah 3D, Wings 3D, Inkscape, Blender and Meshmixer to see where I can fit them into the proposed processes I want to undertake. Oh, I forgot to mention FreeCAD, which is likely going to be a good fit and I am putting in 1 hour per day to learn it. My target is after 3 months I want to be proficient in its use.

You should budget for anything going wrong and have a contingency fund/plan for when it does. Anything mechanical or electrical can fail at any time. My machine is not crucial to my existence but I would hate to be without it. I have a weekly routine of checks and cleaning by way of planned maintenance so that I may catch anything before it goes seriously wrong. Where you have customers awaiting your work, it seems sensible to have a plan B and do all that you can to avoid needing it.

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You’re also going to want to build a stand and maybe even an enclosure. These could run you another couple of hundred dollars, or even more…

Oh and then there are the mandatory upgrades that you will want to consider: Read THIS THREAD for those…

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Don’t forget about a computer to run the router.

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Also the second machine to play around with because the first machine is doing production work all the time.

Also, don’t forget the expensive gifts you will need to offer your significant other, as a compensation for her/him agreeing to that expensive, messy, noisy, and time-consuming hobby :wink:

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No-one mentioned the Rum yet?

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Rum? Was there supposed to be some in the packaging?

https://media1.giphy.com/media/w7M8g9cTom0Du/200w.webp?cid=ecf05e471f7axzv9l959sn36cwi2m63po4wlyxbpquw6qbub&rid=200w.webp

@Julien my wife and our home have DEFINITELY benefited from my prototype and 'I feel like making a '. One of the first things I made on my cnc plasma table was a 4x4 steel logo for her soap business.

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