Newbie - Just Ordered, A few question

So I just ordered my Shapeoko XL a few days ago and I have a couple questions.

  1. Is there anywhere near Nutley, NJ that I could see a demo of the unit?

  2. How do I determine what software I should start with? My first projects will be with plexi / acrylic cutting.

  3. Any recommended reading for a CNC newbie?

  4. Any HIGHLY recommended accessories?

Looking forward and thanks for all your help.


1 - I’m in south-central Pa. Tried to do a list of publicly available machines on the Shapeoko wiki: — there’s one in New York if you get to the big city

2 - Software selection is personal based on philosophy, user-interface preferences, available computer hardware and intended projects. Plexi / acrylic cutting shouldn’t be a limit though. Community-maintained list here: but I’d really suggest starting w/ Carbide Create, then trying Inkscape

3 - Please see:

where a similar query was addressed and a specific text suggested. You may find reading through the Shapeoko wiki (linked above) of interest as well — I’d be grateful to know of any topic not addressed in it, or any suggestions for improving it.

4 - Dust collection / shoe is likely a necessity. A touch plate is the biggest bang for the buck improvement, or maybe a corner finder — there’s a commercial one which integrates both, but it’s a simple enough thing to make (if one just has the tool to make up the connections). I believe Carbide 3D is working on their own.

Clamps are pretty much a necessity, but it’s easy enough to make one’s own. Fixtures are usually specific to a project — you can see one such example here:


Where in PA? You can PM me if you like, I’d prefer to meet with someone who has good experience with this machine rather than a public access where the info is mediocre.

Any links to this?

I’d like to see some examples of clamps for reference.

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South of the Turnpike, East of 15 — Mechanicsburg and

@WillAdams Got it, are you opposed to visitors?

How well do fly cutters (with wood) on this machine? Any recommendations?

Sending you a PM.

Fly cutters are okay, within the capabilities of the router, and a reasonable depth of cut.

A precision collet is highly recommended, especially if you are planning to do work that will require you to use smaller mills. They are available from several sources (including C3D). Do a search and you’ll find several options.

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[quote=“djbetterly, post:3, topic:3863”][quote=“WillAdams”]
A touch plate is the biggest bang for the buck improvement, or maybe a corner finder — there’s a commercial one which integrates both, but it’s a simple enough thing to make (if one just has the tool to make up the connections).[/quote]

Any links to this?

I use the Triquetra touch plate with my Shapeoko 2. Read this thread to learn how to set it up for the Carbide Motion Controller.

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How do the DIY versions compare to the version you mentioned? I’m new to all of this yet so excuse my ignorance.

The DIY ones require that one purchase / use some specialty tools so as to nicely make up the connections — if you’re comfortable doing that, then the functionality between the twain is identical.

Got it.

Wow…people weren’t kidding when they said the assembly instructions were quite poor, I was shocked, but I was able to get everything running with the help of google.

They included some loctite but didn’t mention which screws should have loctite on them, any recommendations?

Any idea where I can get more of that double sided adhesive to secure the drag chain?

If you have any notes on what you had to look up, please share them — or get a wiki account and see what you can do to improve the instructions the community has begun working on at:

There are two schools of thought on the Loctite:

  • use on all non-adjustable connectors (everything which doesn’t involve belt positioning or a V-wheel eccentric
  • use only on those connections which have vibrated loose

Not sure about the drag chain adhesive — I picked up an M3 tap and some countersink flathead machine screws and am planning on drilling and tapping holes to install them thus.

Amazon. 3M “VHB” (Very High Bond strength). 3M knows “sticky” like nobody else. Be sure to clean both surfaces, press firmly, give it a few hours to set up before putting any stress on it (I don’t know why it needs this, but it does). Buy a roll, you’ll find a use for it, and it’s WAY cheaper than precut pads from someone.

It’s about as close to screws as you’ll get without screws.

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I also just purchased this device and happen to be from (and moving back to in several months) Hershey, PA. I look forward to reading and contributing with you!

That’s great! “Sweetest place on earth!” I of course, live in Mechanicsburg, “A good (or is it nice?) place to live.”

Now that the community is getting back to a decent size again (after the great fracturing of the SO2/3, Inventables/Carbide 3D split) we can hope to have clusters of us large enough for local get-togethers &c.

Stay in touch! (and when it’s time for you to move in, let me know — always willing to help out if schedule permits and have a truck).

Is there any way to send jobs over Ethernet

Not directly with the stock system. Options include:

  • change out the controller for a Smoothieboard with Ethernet
  • attach a Raspberry Pi with Ethernet and use it to control the machine

Both of those would result in not being able to use Carbide Motion.

Interesting…I only ask because I have a much better computer a few rooms over. I guess I could design on it and use a different comp for sending jobs.

how does carbide motion compare to universal gcode sender?

I do all my design on one system, then, for 3D printing, copy it to a Micro SD card (after pulling it from the printer) and then reinstall the Micro SD in the printer, power it up and then print — it’s quite convenient.

There was a time when I’d connect one Tablet PC (a spare Fujitsu Stylistic ST4110) to my SO1, then connect wirelessly to it using a second Tablet PC (my Fujitsu Stylistic ST4121) and use the latter to control the former of VNC, sending files via VNC’s facility for sending — that was pretty convenient.

These days to control my Shapeoko 3, I just cable up my new tablet (Toshiba Encore 2 Write 10) and use that to control the machine — there’s no reason why you couldn’t get a reasonably capable tablet (one which would run Carbide Motion well) and send file to it over your network using VNC’s file transfer and then use the tablet to control the machine using Carbide Motion.

Universal G-code Sender used to be the default communication / control program back in the SO1/2 days and worked quite well for people whose machines were able to run Java well — I mislike Java and never have good luck with Java apps (and have to use a couple of miserably coded ones at work, so am not impartial and my opinion on Java apps is not valid or well-reasoned, so I will not say anything beyond that) — Carbide Motion should be more tightly coupled to the hardware, plus it has the nifty diamond button layout (which I find very attractive), and easier to run, and it has the ability to jog the machine while one holds a button down on-screen (or at the keyboard I believe) until one releases it.

Both UGS and CM (and all the other graphical/interactive communication/control apps) should get a lot nicer once Grbl 1.1 support is integrated into them.

Some good ideas here, Thank you.

Out of curiosity, how often is the firmware in the controller updated or is it not?