The aluminum threaded table is one way to go about securing material.
In its absence you can just use the MDF wasteboard, securing stock with double-sided tape (both of these are included with the machine) or fixturing wax, or work up some other way to secure stock.
I’ve been surprised more folks haven’t gotten T-slot plates — they’re quite affordable at the Nomad bed size ($39–53 on eBay right now) — just cut to size if need be and drill and countersink holes to mount them. Or, get some T-track and secure it to an MDF wasteboard, or work up a metal structure to secure to the table.
EDIT: I checked w/ the rest of the team — the threaded tables are being machined now and should be available in a couple of weeks.
I can’t offer advice on the best engraving software, but I can suggest getting to know at least Carbide Create. A full CAD package (like Fusion360) is real nice if you are doing more than basic engraving.
For fixturing, the threaded palette with cam and jam clamps is great for a lot of things, but the MDF wasteboard serves many purposes as well or better. Don’t be afraid to screw into it. You can make or buy more (I’d suggest adding the 5-pack of spare wasteboards to your order). Don’t be afraid to glue to it, cut into it, drill it for fixturing pins, or any other thing. That is what it is for. Do keep in mind that it may not be dead flat… there is a tolerance. But it will be close enough for many things.
For repetative work, drilling a few holes in the wasteboard for locating pins and/or holding screws can make your life much easier. The Carbide software has a few hardware referenced points that it can reference easily, and they are very nice for setting fixed points for fixturing.
I have a threaded table that gets a lot of use (not the C3D one, as it was not yet available at the time I purchased), and it is key for certain precision work. If you are not doing machining of parts to 0.02mm, you will do fine without it.
Without more information about what you are trying to engrave, and what other jobs you might use the machine for, it is tough to get into real detail.
As for taping down your work: it is quite effective, but requires a little care. I use a Nitto tape for a lot of things, and 3M 467 for things that need precise level (it is a linerless adhesive with very well controlled thickness of about 0.05mm, holds like a champ, but can be removed more readily than, say, canoacrylate). I also use these on the lathes, metal shaper, and full size milling machines. Good adhesives will surprise you.
#1 - lay in some softer low cost material for practice - HDPE sheets, some 6061 aluminum stock, renshape, wood. It’s less frustrating to ruin a few pieces when practicing than destroy good quality material while you get a feel for the CAD/CAM/Nomad process flow. Mistakes WILL be made.
#2 - as alresdy suggested - the MDF wasteboard is probably good to get you started with workholding. I (and many others) are big fans of the masking tape/superglue method explained here:
#3 - Spend some quality time cruising through/searching some of the older posts on here. I wont say everything is covered, but it has to be close now!
I installed some T-nuts on the bottom of the provided wasteboard. In fact, machining the holes was my very first Nomad project. I only needed four holes, having a very predictable use for them; this may not work for you if your intended use varies radically.
If you’re interested. I am making these threaded tables for fellow Nomad owners. These are M6 x 1 threaded table, 0.5’’ center to center, 0.5’’ thick, MIC 6 Tooling plate aluminum. The 4 holes in each corner was a custom feature added. If you need something custom, I can help out with that as well. Msg me if you’re interested! Here is a link to other stuff I’ve made. My Nomad Workholding Solutions
I’m currently in Japan, but will be back in 2 weeks.
Not sure what comes standard. I bought my Nomad used, but it came with a few mdf waste boards. I’ve made a less thick section in the middle on one. Going to do threaded inserts on another. Also had some scrap thicker mdf so I’m going to be making more waste boards that will have maybe indents on standard sized stuff if I ever find something I’ll be doing more consistently.
My Nomad was delivered earlier this week. I was pretty disappointed in the documentation, or lack thereof, that was in the box. I finally found the unpacking instructions on the C3D website (would it kill them to make a 5 minute video?). I downloaded Carbide Motion v4…but their website must still have instructions for version 3 because they were slightly different. Not a huge deal, but when you’re looking for a button they tell you to click and it’s not there, it’s a little frustrating.
I was able to get the wrench cut out after my second try (the first try it came loose because the tape didn’t work very well). It also took a lot longer to cut out than I expected. I’m ready for my next easy project, but can’t seem to find one anywhere. I wish they had 4-5 projects like the wrench that newbies could do (where they give you the cut file, tell you which endmill(s) to use and provide or tell you what material to cut). Someone with experience should consider putting together a beginner kit like this…with all the first time CNC buyers, I think they could sell quite a few…I would’ve bought one.
So now I have about 20 endmills…anyone care to share how you keep yours organized? Do I keep them in their little plastic tubes so I can read the specs on each one? Or should I just take a block of wood, drill a bunch of holes and put them in randomly?
Sorry you had problems with the first project as well as unpacking. It does get better!
For more prebuilt projects check out https://cutrocket.com/list/all/ as its a repository for the shapeoko/nomad projects.
If you pick one up for the shapeoko you may have to change the dimensions to fit the nomads 8x8 xy.
Additionally there is a tool organization board someone has made on cutrocket (there’s like 5 of them on there). I personally keep them in the plastic cases. I try and make sure I keep track of which ones have been used and which ones are still “new”. I should probably make a board and some drawers under for new bit storage.
Sizes are usually written on the side of the endmill - for me, 1/8" is by far the most common I use. I write the tool number on the side of the base at each row (I try and keep a few of everything…) . One of these keeps 10 tool types, with up to 5 of each with that method. They’re not physically all that large.