Looking at a shapeoko xxl

I run a small woodshop in North Ga and we are looking for a small cnc. Our intent is to use it mostly during the holiday season when we do shows for marketing. There may be other uses that pop up after this but for now it’s just a way for us to utilize our scraps to make smalls to promote the business.

I used to own a x carve, we bought the 1000x1000 put it mostly together (to the electronics) then just ran out of time to mess with it. This is why I am looking at the shapeoko the price is reasonable and carbide3d states it’s an hour for assembly. Heck even if it takes 2-3 that’s better than the 10-12 in the x carve.

Now does anyone else use this hobby machine as a semi professional manner? Will it hold up to hard use? Last year we sold 120 cutting boards in 2 days so I’m thinking of taking 200 his year with carvings in some along with misc other things.

Basically if I pull the trigger am I going to be disappointed?

My take on this is that the Shapeoko 3 took all the lessons from the Shapeoko 1/2 and applied them to designing an all-new machine building on the strengths of the design, and addressing all the failings.

The X-Carve instead, was just a re-packaging of the Shapeoko 2, with some minor nods toward making the machine more robust and slightly easier to assemble.

We have a page on this: http://carbide3d.com/vs/shapeoko-vs-xcarve/

We have tried very hard to make the SO3 as close to turnkey as is feasible for a kit — the carriages are all pre-assembled, and we are now pre-assembling the wiring harness. You can see the instructions for assembly here:

Brandon Fischer (Improbable Construct on the Shapeoko boards) ran his Shapeoko 2 quite hard doing various upgrade kits: http://www.neontommy.com/news/2014/06/maker-movement-rise-indie-manufacturer — the SO3 is even more robust and a number of our customers are doing light production runs.

If you’re doing production work, I’d suggest buying the maintenance kit up-front: https://shop.carbide3d.com/collections/tools/products/shapeoko-maintenance-kit and sourcing spare brushes for your router, and if you can’t afford downtime, getting a multimeter to check wiring continuity and a spare control board.

I’ve owned the SO2 and currently own a SO3. I do something similar out of my garage with going to trade shows and selling smaller carved items, but probably not on your scale. From my personal experience any CNC machine requires regular maintenance, so expect to perform some tune ups on a monthly basis. Like cutting dovetails, it’s always easier with a sharp chisel. Same goes for a square CNC.


A one-hour set up is wildly over-optimistic, in my experience. Granted I’d never assembled a hobby CNC before, but like to think I’ve got a high level of technical accumen. Took me a solid Saturday to get the thing set up and run a test job. Physical assembly was probably 4 hours, including leveling and tuning.

I believe the issue you’ll run into is more with the spindle. I’d question whether the little palm-routers we use as spindles are up to production duty cycles. Maybe others have done and do, but I’d keep a spare set of brushes on hand at the very least.
Depending on the work you want to do with the CNC, a light-duty spindle might be a good upgrade. @wmoy has some great youtube vids on using a quietcut spindle with his shapeoko to great effect.


The router is pretty affordable you could easily have a few on hand if it really mattered. Even if the issue is just brushes you can refurb one while one of the backups is in the machine.

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Thanks for the replys. So basically keep extra belts and such on hand and I should be solid. I already have 2 of those dewalt palm routers, I don’t mind buying more but I’m also going to look into moving to a real spindle if they do start crapping out. The good thing is they do have a 3 year warranty so I could buy two and just swap them in and out as they break and need to go in for repair.

We’re still doing some market research to see if it’s going to be a good source of income. If it all checks out I’ll invest my time in learning the machine and getting all the templates set up then bring someone on to run it and sand while it’s running. I’m siked to give this a whirl, my wife is afraid (partner plus business partner) because she knows that this will only be a stepping stone and next time going to be asking to invest in a machine 5x this one. We will see.


I’d say it sounds like a plan. I’d defiantly go down the route of a spindle over the router. I’d also invest in some dust extraction kit, but If you have a workshop you will likely have the kit, you would just need a suck-it or similar.

The good thing is if you try it and it doesn’t work or want a bigger one the machines hold their value pretty well so you can easily sell it.

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On the subject of cutting boards, maybe this will help your value prop; Juice Groove Heaven

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