Shapeoko 3 XXL Upgrade to 4' x 8'?

After 1.5 years with the above listed machine I am hooked!

However, I regularly find myself wanting to cut bigger, full sheet, FS, 4’ x 8’ pieces of plywood and MDF you know? Or maybe even just get to a little over 48" x 48" - that would be great.

I have tried a few of the pass through methods, combining pieces, etc - it never really works out as good as a true 4’ x 8’ work area does.

Okay, after seeing lots of upgrade videos like this one for an extension ( and I’ve even seen some things like this “Maker Slide” (

Before embarking on a crazy adventure I am wondering if there has been a solution for significantly upgrading the Shapeoko beyond the roughly 32" x 32" stock cutting area?

I mean if all the motors stay the same, and it’s just the extrusion with rollers, is there any technical limit that will not allow such expansion?

Thank you so much!

The one thing to consider with upgrading to a bigger platform is you will need to manually send the configuration to the controller. There are many people on the forum that could help with that but you cant just add extensions without modifying the configuration data held in the controller.

The second thing to consider with the Shapeoko is it is a belt driven machine and the longer the belt the more issues you may runinto with belt tightness and stretch. I think these things can be over come but it is a limiting factor.

So you can buy a Volkswagen Beetle and weld a trailer hitch on back and try to pull a 10,000 pound trailer but you wont pull it very far because the Beetle was never meant to carry such a load. So the Shapeoko is a pretty good little Beetle but it is not a heavy duty truck. Maybe you should look at another platform for a machine that is 4x8. There are a lot of DIY machines like at open builds and CNC cook book that may suit your purpose better. You can get a heavy duty truck for cutting on a large scale. Although it may be fun to soup up a Shapeoko I think in the end you will be wasting your time and energy.


Thank you for the reply!

  1. That is good to know about sending a configuration to the controller. Where can I learn more about this?

  2. Could we just upgrade the belts? I have heard that there are belts of the same dimension, in any length, that are infused with either nylon, kevlar, or steel to reduce stretching. Do you know of these and would they help?

  3. I read you on the craziness of 4’ x 8’. But even the Avid CNC machines are nearing $10k. I feel with $1k of aluminum extrusion, and not getting too fast with the machine, and it could be totally worth it! Heck even a 4’ x 4’ would be a game changer!

For instance, I have seen a few people get another extrusion kit from Carbide and then join them end to end to make a longer track. Well what if we beefed up the whole situation with parallel lengths of some 80x40mm extrusion? Then touched it off to the bed midway to prevent bowing in the Y-Axis (8’).

I feel like this could be done technically and with an overall significantly smaller price tag than a Avid. We shall see after more research!

There’s a long thread about belts and belt stretch. The Carbide belts are now, I believe, steel cored, or there’s the kevlar cored belts from which I’ve installed, this is sold by the meter so you can run any length you think will work.

The Carbide extrusion is one of the over-engineered parts, if you can get a longer section then it is probably still not going to be the weak point, you could always fill it with epoxy granite if you wanted to damp out the vibrations (more important over those distances).

A machine that size is really going to need a rigid base, not to be hanging off it’s own transit rails. You’ll probably gain the most by welding a steel box section base or building a large plywood torsion box to attach the machine to rigidly. There’s quite a few threads here about pimping up the machine. At that size you’re not going to be able to use any of the chassis front-back rails or stock wasteboard assembly so you might as well build something more rigid to start from. This is why the Avid machines have that large extrusion chassis and the welded steel leg frames. If you can’t hold the work square, level and rigid then it doesn’t matter what your gantry is doing.



Thank you for the links!

There is a lot to think about here and I am going to see about giving it a try!

I figure that with the Avid, although I’ll eventually get one, they are 8 weeks delayed and coming up with $10k will be difficult right now.

I am going to ask the shop about extra extrusion or possibly bigger sizes.

Thank you!

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