Shapeoko3/CNC beginner journey, one year later


This is a follow-up of this post, where I shared my experience of the first month using the Shapeoko3. Well, it’s been almost a year now since I stumbled upon the Carbide3D site and this forum, which then lead me to buy the machine.

I have now documented my take on things, good and bad, after one year. I figured it could be interesting to share here, for beginners like me who embarked on the Shapeoko journey:




I have had your page detailing your experience with the Shapeoko 3 bookmarked for some time now. It has helped me through the learning process. Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences with the community.


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Great write up Julien. Mine is due in Tuesday. Super stoked about getting started. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.


Excellent journal. Very informative. I’m 4 months in and have followed a nearly identical path.

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As someone who is getting their XXL next week. Your beginner blog makes me feel a little less anxious about a level scrapboard. I’m kinda freaking out about having a level surface.

Hi Stephen,

No reason to freak out. You do not need to level your wasteboard to start working and learning, and depending on what you do you may not need to surface it at all. Surfacing the wasteboard is only necessary to get a better precision, and later to restore it to a fresh state once you have damaged the surface too much after many jobs.
If the machine is reasonably squared, and the wasteboard does not vary too much in thickness across its dimensions, forget about surfacing it for now, you’re good to go.

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Thanks! I just have a bad habit of freking out over things I probably shouldn’t.

This is what I’m planning on doing. I just want to make sure everything is level and square or I won’t be satisfied haha… Damn OCD.

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Hi Julien

Thanks for documenting your journey! I am at the 4 month point, fun most days. Installing the touch probe today and its not going well, waiting for support to respond. You and I have done some similar things. Like your summary about bits! #201 is my go to bit. The cost of bits has me looking for different sources. Have tried some of the Freud bits with success. Being in Canada exchange rate is not my friend. when I get close to the one year mark must do the same.


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First thing I did when I got my XXL set up was put a piece of 3/4" MDF on top of the wasteboard, drilled a half dozen countersunk screw holes along the edges and screwed it down. Then I used a 3/4 bottom clearing bit to surface the whole thing. Works like a charm, and for starting out I did not want to destroy the pretty wasteboard that comes with my XXL. For certain projects, like through the board v-carving, I have some 1" hardboard that I’m using on top of my MDF wasteboard to avoid damaging it too much. I just use tape/CA to hold it down, then tape/CA to hold my project to it.

drillman1 on Ebay is my first choice for endmills. I ordered 2 - 1/4" 30 degree carbide v-bits on April 22, received them on April 30. $42.65 CAD delivered to the door. He offers discounts on shipping, has very reasonable prices.

Busybeetools has a 1/4" ($21) and 1/8" ($17) endmill available from Craftex Blue Tornado.

Elitetools has the Freud endmills, but they’re pretty pricey, $35 for the 1/4" downspiral, while Amazon has them for $24

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