My Machine Modifications for Aluminium Cutter Test

Shapeoko 3 Enclosure #3 and list of other improvements.

#1, get rid of the plastic feet and bolt the machine down solid. I used a 2”x2” square tube and clamped the Shapeoko frame to it. I made a table from 4”x4”x¼” wall square tubing with ½” steel plate tack welded to it. It is amazingly flat after shimming and grinding. Then two layers of ¾” plywood bolted to the ½” steel plate and a t-slot waste board and ¼” NC t-nuts.

#2 E-Stop. No pins are available on this newer version of the board. So the e-stop button shuts off the power to the Shapeoko board. This stops all machine movement but not the spindle. There is a second switch below that I robbed off a table saw and it starts and stops the spindle.

#3 My t-slot waste board and ¼” NC t-nuts. I cut three inch wide strips of ¾” plywood and glued them down with 4-1/2” strips of ¾” plywood glued and bolted through everything into tapped holes in the ½” steel plate. They do not lift. I usually make fixture plates for each setup. The one in the picture uses dowel pins for realignment after flipping the parts around when the machine is too small.

#4 Dust extraction outlet. When I am machining very dusty material this can adapt to the dust boot or just be left as is. I need to add a fresh air inlet to feed fresh air into the top of the router. I can see the dust and aluminium moving in a circular pattern into the top of the router. The old sock method works a bit.

#5 Where is my impact? Always buried in a pile on the bench until now. I can change parts in a few seconds if I can find the impact.

#6 My very first improvement on my Shapeoko. A piece of leather apron zip tied in the back and wired in the front that stops most everything from getting to my z-axis belts and rollers. Aluminium was getting packed in until this happened.


This is the first cutter I am testing. This 6" diameter needed 1/2" faced off. 2mm Depth of cut. 25% overlap. 8 degree plunge. It wasn’t happy plunging steeper. 75 mm feed in the helical drill and 100 mm for the rest of the face. light WD40 spray as required. Cutter still looks new. Chips were hot on the skin but didn’t mark paper.


thats a pretty finish. :+1:

What RPM’s did you run the spindle at?

I use the Makita Router. Started at 4.5 and slowly increased it up to 5.5 on the speed control knob as the feed increased. I find lightly placing your hand on the top of the router and adjusting the speed until the router feels stable works.

wow, so about 28000 rpm.
That’s a lot faster than I would have expected.
I’m still learning feeds and speeds, and was under the impression you’d need a lot less rpm at that feed rate to avoid the material/bit heating up too much.

Still have yet to try any aluminum with my fixed speed (27500rpm) router. But hearing this gives me some more confidence. :slight_smile:

In my apprenticeship days for aluminium. Just enough speed to put the heat into the chips not the cutter. Too hot and they weld to the cutter. Too slow and the heat goes into the part and a smeared finish and hard to hit tolerances.

You clamped your laptop down :joy:

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I mistakenly made a slippery slope for it to sit on. Seemed like a good idea at the time.


Your SO3 looks a little like a Nomad, given that enclosure… : - )

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Taller so I don’t hit my head. Yes I copied the shape.

Hi on step #1 I would love to see some photos or get more info I think that would work well with my S03xxl but not quite visualising how you did it


One more thing I forgot with step #1. I had to remove the stock waste board. The steel tubes hold the machine square.

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