Relatively Inexpensive Shapeoko XL Enclosure

I’ve seen quite a few expensive and labor intensive Shapoko enclosures here and figured I’d show off what I’ve come up with:

Just kidding, although I did run the machine like that for longer than I’d like to admit, I decided it should build something permanent. My requirements were: <$250, good working height, mobile, illuminated, waterproof (so I can use coolant if I want) and heavy.

I started out by building a steel table for the machine w/ $40 worth of 2x2 box tubing. I needed the MIG practice anyway. One of the main reasons I went this route was that if I decide to build a sturdier machine in the future, I can use this as the actual starting structure for that machine. Steel has the added bonus of being very stiff and heavy so it should help act as damping/bracing for the Shapeoko. I don’t have many pictures of the building process, but after all the lengths were determined in Fusion, I just cut the tubes out and shimmed them level on my garage floor. I went back and forth welding them in an order to try and keep the structure as flat as possible.

The welds are better than usual, but far from perfect.

I added some casters from Amazon and coat of paint. The casters were expensive and not as sturdy as I’d like, I expected more for $70. This is one of those places to try and save more money either buy building something more complicated but sturdier, or deciding the machine doesn’t need to be mobile.

For the actual enclosure part of the build, I stole an idea from Clough42 on Youtube and made it out of angle aluminum and corrugated plastic. This material is pretty ideal, it’s water proof, can easily be sealed with aluminum ducting tape, and is very easy to work with. Here you can easily see the trip tray which sits below the machine at an angle and funnels all the debris into a trash can. Using CAD sheet metal tools make this job super easy and I just printed out templates 1:1 on my home printer and taped them together.

Walls and lights going up. The LEDs are just $10 adhesive backed strips from Amazon with clear packing tape over them to prevent shorting to any stray aluminum chips. The panels are held on with self tapping screws to the steel and zip ties to the aluminum.

Here’s the completed enclsoure with my latest version of my 3d printed bit-setter, hold button, air routing and 5S accessories. There’s an access panel held on with velcro so I can get to the electronics box. Someday I’d like to move it outside the enclosure, but that’s a project for another day.

All in all the setup wasn’t all that expensive:

  • $40 - Steel
  • $70 - Casters
  • $50 - Aluminum, paint & fasteners
  • $50 - Corrugated Plastic 4x8ft sheets, qty 2
  • $10 - LEDs
  • $10 - Shower curtain

Total: ~$230

The computer is an rPi I got for free from someone, the LCD was $15 on Craigslist, and the arm was $20 on Amazon. I didn’t include them because they’re not really part of the enclosure per se.

Hopefully some others find this info useful or motivational.


I will note that the inner boxes, esp. when doubled up fit over a Shapeoko XL as a dust cover almost as if designed for it — it’s quite fortuitous, just the electronics enclosure isn’t covered.

I’ve got a question about your Shapeoko XL. When I look at your photo I notice that the electronics are mounted on the right side of your Shapeoko, but when I look at Carbide 3D’s pictures the electronics are mounted on the left side.

I noticed the (new) bitrunner is being shown as installed on the right, and I was wondering if there were advantages or disadvantages to having both installed on the same side (cable management?). Sorry if this is common knowledge, my Shapeoko XL is still in the box. I’ve started building the enclosure, and I’m to the point where knowing how the cable routing and management works would help me limit the quantity of mistakes I am making.

The design intent is to have the electronics and the BitRunner as widely separated as possible so as to reduce EMI issues.

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Your enclosure looks good. I see at the bottom you have a v shape for a drip pan. Do you intent to put a bucket under it or enclose the end in the future and still use a bucket under it.

Now, Guy, you know he’s going to have to add a “bit bucket” down there! :smiley:

Seeing this really makes me want to pick up my mig again…

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Thanks! You can actually see the black trash can I put to collect the chips in the last picture in the bottom right. It’s not perfect (I should add some more guides or get a taller can), but it works for now.

I’m a bit curious how much of an improvement I could get from increasing the weight of this table. Maybe in the future I’ll fill the legs with lead shot or maybe just sand.

I changed the design of my machine a bit to fit my shop. I knew from the beginning that the CNC would be in that location so I decided to move the electronics to the side that faced the inside of the shop to make it easier to service the machine.

For those who do metal work I had the impression the parts were misted not drenched. I have seen in big cnc shops they flooded the parts being milled. Some here even use air blast instead of liquid. My question is how wet does the Shapeoko get machining metal?

It depends on the metal you’re cutting. For aluminum, a mister works fine and you don’t really have enough coolant that it’s a problem, but it’s nice to have the enclosure be water proof. With the air jet, you do get wet chips hitting the side of the enclosure, but really the enclosure is there to keep the chips in.

For cutting steel, you have to use either only air or flood coolant because the mister is too inconsistent at cooling carbide and can lead to breakage of the tool due to rapid heating and cooling. I figured that if I was building an enclosure, I might as well do it once, but right now I do not have the equipment to run flood coolant. My base board is still made of MDF anyway so it would just fall apart anyway.