Optimal Table Area?

So possibly against better judgement I ordered a Shapeoko 4 XXL during the Black Friday sale and am doing what I can do prepare my shop for the arrival. Due to space, I’ll have to combine the CNC table into an outfeed table. My plan is to follow the same rough design that Popular Woodworking proposed. This is the video I’m following along for the general design.

I’m just thinking about the overall dimensions. I know the footprint listed on the website is 50" (X), 41" (Y), 19" (Z), but does this give any buffer on the edges, or would the machine fit ‘like a glove’ into these dimensions? I’ll have space on my outfeed table for a computer and such, so I don’t need that much room, but what dimensions would the community recommend for the machine considering I am slightly constrained here.

Thanks in advance!

For me, it is what I need, want to do. Like I said, it is a work in motion. I have room to continually change to find the right spot.

Right now I am set up on some steel benches with room to spare. I moved the machine to the front so I can access the table easily. That is not working right now. Planning to make a new table to hold the machine with other tables off to the 45 degree angle for my computer and bits.

It is a work in motion as I still don’t know what I want.

I envision a space ship console, If that eventually works ???

Keep at it, your first design may work or your fourth

Just to give you a sense of scale and practical constraints, here’s my Pro XXL sitting on the bench I built to size. I was also somewhat space constrained, but this is my third (or fourth?) iteration on a bench+enclosure and I’ve been bitten before by making it “just large enough”


I know the 4XXL has slightly different footprint than the Pro, but just by 1".

This is 59" wide, 51" deep (and enclosure is 39" tall above the bench surface)

The very first question you need to answer is whether you think you will (need to) build an enclosure around your machine in the long run. There is a 50/50 chance you will want to, for noise and dust containment. If you do plan to add an enclosure, the base surface needs to be wider than the machine footprint.

  • you want to have enough margin/clearance on the left and right sides of the machine for maintenance/clean-up activities. On a 4XXL, you will need to re-tighten the vwheels from time to time, and not being able to comfortably fit your hand and tools on the sides is getting old quickly.
  • in the back, very little margin is required, the machine won’t extend beyond the back plates
  • in the front however, do keep some significant margin for two main reasons:
    • this is where tool change happens, and in that position the router overhangs the front of the machine. If the front of the machine is right on the front of the bench, there will be a lot of “oops I dropped my endmill on the shop floor”, whereas having a little bench space there and some kind of cushion/foam will save the endmills
    • the router and more importantly the dust shoe and dust hose extend beyond the front plates when in the front position. If you ever need to build and enclosure with doors, you will be happy the front of the enclosure does not extend in the air beyond the bench limit.

Thanks for the thorough evaluation! Just a quick question though, since your platform is deeper than a standard 48" sheet of ply, did you just butt glue a piece onto it, or how did you go about doing the platform?

I know I’ll probably re-do things in the future, but I don’t think I’d do that for a while or at least until I change shops…hopefully. I was thinking about adapting this design to be an enclosure. Since the top lifts up to provide access, I thought about putting plexiglass/acrylic in the sides either in a groove or add on some brackets to hold it. Something that could be retrofitted and removable if necessary. Just spitballing at this point really. I don’t expect the machine to come for a while since I ordered on the last day of the sale.

I built (in a very amateur way) a torsion box, with internal beams arranged to fit the limited size of the sheets I used (MDF in case case, could be 48" ply)

You can kinda see where the beams are in my case from the pencil markings, and how I used one full sheet plus a partial sheet, on that pic:

If you arrange the beams and sheets correctly, using multiple sheets won’t affect the overall rigidity of the torsion box (much)

Here’s cool guide from @gdon_2003 on how to build a proper torsion box



I jumped around the video a few spots and couldn’t see what the overall concept was. Can you explain? Are you fitting the Shapeoko on top, below, or to the side of the nominal outfeed table surface (I assume for a tablesaw)?

Scott: You’ll want the platform to be as sturdy as possible and not have flex, if possible. A single sheet of ply isn’t going to cut it, unless you have support under it. Even then, make sure the support is uniform (like @Julien’s torsion box) particularly where the XXLs feet sit.

The good thing about sharing the outfeed table space is that you have space around the platform for work hanging over the edges. You will want (even if you build an enclosure) to make provision for pieces that are longer than your bed to “hang off” the ends. Some folks have built trap doors into their enclosures to open when they need to have boards go through. Since yours is an outfeed table (I’m assuming table saw?), I’m guessing you won’t want to put an enclosure on it.

The overall idea is that the CNC will sit on the platform below the outfeed table. You can see the table in the two ‘modes’ here and here. The top will have hinges so I can lift and get good access to the unit from above when needed/in operation. The original PopWood plans just used a kickstand, but the aforementioned video used gas struts which I think I would try.

You’ve brought up some great points. The design that PopWood put out is a pseudo torsion box design. The CNC platform is built on a cabinet base to give you something more rigid, while the outfeed table will hinge on the 4 corner posts that are there to prop that up to the correct height. (See my above post for some images). So the top/outfeed table portion of the structure is 1.5" laminated ply, but the lower platform for the CNC is a box construction for good support.

Everyone is different, but I feel the need to comment…

This picture just makes me cringe. I spend a lot of time setting up jobs, applying clamps, changing tools, pouring resin, etc. If I had this setup I would have to get down on my knees to do any of that. And reaching back with very little overhead clearance. As an old man this would really decrease my desire to use my Shapeoko.

But maybe you are planning to use your Shapeoko different than I do.

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@ColdCoffee Oh…I agree with you here…that’s a young-kneed person’s setup!

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Not cringing here. My first enclosure was similar snd I continuously bumped my head. I had no choice as I needed the space on top for storage from the footprint of my cnc.
I soon learned that I just got to ho out the garage and because of adding a spindle I needed 5” more in height. After doing that I’ve decided to sell some tools ie my lathe, panel saw Jointer and scroll saw. Went wit an 2020 extrusion version with lots of height.

I understand the concern, and I would be too if the top didn’t lift up. I was poking around and saw another user here that did a similar one like this that shows how far the top will pivot up. I plan on getting a nice rolling stool that I can sit at to monitor the machine, so no kneeling around either. With the lifting lid, do you still see complications? I think there’s ample headroom for bit changes and whatnot with the lid up.

I’m just trying to work around the limitations of my space and this is really the only way I can reasonably make it work without downgrading to an XL or selling other tools which I really can’t do given my shop is a traditional woodshop first and CNC space second.

Will probably work if entire unit can slide out on weight rated sliders…then you still have issue of vibrations. One can always put on bicycle helmets while working this CNC.
On the other hand it might be easier to have a top that lifts up or out of the way to expose the machine from the top.

If it were on sliders, you’d probably need to have a locking mechanism to stabilize it and prevent any vibrations. Might be better on a lift with a locking stop that scissors it up to table height and locks in place…Oooh…Ahhh! :thinking:

I also had to contend with space constraints
Here is my version (top raised)

I understand all of the comments about how low it is and having to kneel to set up. I use a short mechanics rolling seat to avoid kneeling so much.

When you can’t grow the shop you have to figure out how to work.


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