Hello, first time on this forum and have a question regarding my Shapeoko 4 that will be arriving soon. I decided not to get the hybrid table to save a few bucks. Will it make a difference if I build my own wasteboard using mdf? Just want to make sure this machine will still be rigid enough. I’ll be using it to cut wood only. Thanks!!!
Welcome to the club then!
While the hybrid table is pretty useful (mostly to provide multiple workholding options), you can definitely install an MDF wasteboard and end up with a rigid enough machine for 99% of jobs, and certainly for wood. The previous Shapeoko3 model did not have the hybrid table, and folks (myself included) still used it successfully for all kinds of things. The SO4 without a hybrid table still has the large cross beams that addresses the one weakness of wasteboards on previous models: on the larger machines (XL and XXL) the MDF wasteboard could sometimes sag in the middle (there were fixes for that too). On a SO4 with a thick MDF sheet, supported by the cross beams, the machine will be plenty rigid.
The only drawback for you will be that you’ll have to put more effort into designing your wasteboard depending on the workholding options you want to use. Typically, in the SO3 days, folks would drill a sea of holes and install threaded inserts on the back of the wasteboard, to then use top clamps. On a regular size SO4, you can also not use top clamps at all and go for tape & glue workholding (I know I did), in which case the wasteboard boils down to a square piece of MDF bolted onto the beams.
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