Shapeoko shopping list

Hi All,
I’m a long time Nomad user, and while I still love the old girl, it’s time for me to make the jump to a Shapeoko XXL!

My question is, what do I need to buy that is not already included with the machine? I’m in NYC, so I’d like to get it all in one order, if I can. Note that I’m pretty green, since the Nomad comes ready to rock, so I’m not sure what will be necessary in terms of calibration etc.

Any measurement devices I should own? I have calipers, but no dial indicators etc. Should I get some?

I’m going to use it primarily to cut wood and plastic things, and maybe a little aluminum eventually. Probably also going to make my own cardboard packaging on it, with some sort of drag knife. Any brands that people like for this?

Any and all suggestions for this not-exactly-new-newb will be appreciated!

Oh, also, is there a reason to prefer the carbide router over Makita or Dewalt?

The machines are wonderfully complementary (I often use the Nomad to make hardware for a large project otherwise done on the Shapeoko, and the Shapeoko to make replacement MDF wasteboards and so forth for the Nomad).

The Carbide Compact Router differences which would argue for choosing it:

  • longer cord
  • speed dial has detents so shouldn’t vibrate off a setting

and of course it’s black and colour-coordinated.

Calipers are usually all folks need — the machinist types who need precise dimensions would have micrometers of course, and some folks use a dial indicator, esp. one with a shaft which matches the size of a precision collet to good effect.

The notable drag knife brand is Donek, but it’s pricey enough I haven’t bought one yet — I did work up a 3D printed design for one: which design could probably be adapted to milling on the machine.

The full list from the wiki FAQ:

  • eye and hearing protection:
  • a trim router (you can order with a machine, but Carbide 3D only has our Carbide Compact Router, but if you prefer you could get a Dewalt DWP611 or Makita RT0701)
  • some endmills (one is included with the machine, but they’re consumables: )Â If one is starting with just a 1/4" collet:
    • three 2-flute 1/4" straight endmills (such as the #201 endmills from Carbide 3D — one will be included with the machine, a pack of two will fill one out with: 1 for initial experimentation/roughing, 1 for finishing passes, and 1 spare
    • two 2-flute 1/4" ball end endmills (such as the #202 endmills from Carbide 3D) — if one wishes to do 3D modeling or cut parts which have rounded profiles along the bottom (often a good idea in woodworking for increased strength)
    • two 90 degree V-bits such as the #301 from Carbide 3D — if one wishes to do V-carving or cut joints which use this angle
  • If you wish to do small-scale or precision work you may want a 1/8" precision collet (we sell one for the Carbide Compact Router (also works for the Makita): ):
    • five 2-flute 1/8" straight endmills (such as the #102 endmills from Carbide 3D [9]
    • two 2-flute 1/8" ball end endmills (such as the #101 .125" Ball Cutters from Carbide 3D)
    • two smaller straight endmills (say 2 mm or so) (such as the #112 0.0625" endmills from Carbide 3D)
  • Additions:
    • V-carving bits (say 30 and 60 degrees) — these are excellent if doing text
  • you should already have ​a place to set the machine up (the Shapeoko is more suited for use in a shop environment) — note that you’ll want to have access to the front and back of the machine so that you can feed material in from end and out the other if working with oversized material (you can process an entire 4x8 sheet by cutting it into thirds and feeding it incrementally into an XL or XXL — an SO3 would require 1/6ths)
  • ​dust collection suited to the material which you are cutting (at least a shop vacuum — many of our customers rig up dust shoes and formal dust collection) — you’ll want to tie into existing dust collection if you have it — Carbide 3D doesn’t have a dust shoe at this time, but one is in development. Designing and making one has for a long while been a right of passage, but there are a number of commercial designs available
  • ​workholding (some way to hold the material in place — we have a T-track and clamp kit: but many folks work up their own — we have a pair of tutorials: and
  • calipers
  • good quality square for assembly or positioning parts
  • tools to break stock down
  • tools to post-process stock (files, deburring tools, &c.)

​and of course, material and designs to cut. I recommend that folks start by drawing up a design (follow along in one of our tutorials: and watch our videos: and read through: ) and working up toolpaths all the way through 3D simulation — if that effort seems workable to you, you should be in a good place to get a machine.

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On the calipers I have both analog and digital. For the CNC I prefer the digital. You can simply change from imperial to metric with the touch of a button. You just need to make sure you have a spare battery. When the battery on the digital starts getting weak it makes the accuracy go haywire on the digital.

Will’s advise is good from above but I would add:

Get your self dust collection. It does not matter if you get a shop type vac, hepa or a real dust collection. If you are in NYC you may be working inside your home and the Shapeoko makes a major mess. If you are in a a dedicated workshop it is still important. If you get a shop vac then get a dust deputy to make it a 2 stage dust collection system. If you buy a larger dust collection system then get one with the cyclone already integrated into your dc.

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A lot has been covered, my take on it is

Suckit or PwnCNC Dustboot. I have owned the original suckit and have just ordered the PwnCNC - I like these because they are independant of the Z-axis

Combine one with a cyclone separator like a Dust Deputy or similar and a Vacuum or dust collector. I use a Festool CT Midi with a HEPA filter - but there are many cheaper options that work well. As mentioned above, if you’re indoors, get a HEPA filter to protect your lungs. The SO3 chews through material and will make a LOT of dust if you work it hard

If keeping sound levels down is important then an enclosure is a good option, a good thread here Nomad and SO3: Custom Enclosures (the enclosure zoo)

I have no experience with the Carbide3D router, but I can certainly recommend the Makita, I ran one for several years on my original SO3, no brush replacements, no bearing issues, it was super reliable.

Something to look at and think about is the wasteboard and your workholding. a lot of people happily use Myers Woodshop wasteboard, Cam clamps and fence, @myerswoodshop has put a lot of work into the files, which he provides either for free or purchase. I run T-Track and clamps on my XXL and it works well for me, its really personal taste.

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Thanks very much to @stutaylo @gdon_2003 and @WillAdams. I have purchased the Shapeoko and many of the recommended items, and am eagerly awaiting delivery of my new robot friend.


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