Should i upgrade to Aluminum Bed

i have an XXL with HDZ. i was thinking about upgrading to an Aluminum plate bed or 8020 bed. I was wondering if it was worth it and what benefits people found from upgrading

The answer depends. If you are doing mostly metal the upgrade might be worth it. If mostly wood not so much. Open your wallet, look at the contents and determine cost benefit. Would your money be better spent on tools and material to achieve your goals. If you have no defined goals for your system I would suggest making some goals before spending money without any defined road map.



On top of that, if your requirements are ridigity and stability from the bed on the XXL then first design the bracing to bolt that big sheet of aluminium to in order to reinforce it.

Good points. So currently i cut about 50% wood, 25% delrin and polycarb, 25% aluminum. My goal is to speed up the aluminum cutting process and get more repeatable accuracy I have also been having problems with Z axis height accuracy. This has been in all materials. I was thinking the problem could be due to bed deflection.

There’s a good thread here with lots of folks discussion of aluminium base for the machine;

There is certainly sag and deflection in the baseboard of the XXL, I measured the amount of deflection (up and down) in my spoilboard and decided to bolt the whole machine down to a rigid base;


What sort of problems with Z height BTW?

The Z Plus has a single mounting point for the router mounting collar. The Belt Drive X/Z has two mounting points one higher and one lower. Depending on where the user installs the mounting collar on the Front Z plate of the Belt Drive Z axis, there are two different operating heights. The Z Plus advertises 3 inches of travel and provides more than that. Your reach is different from that of the lower mounted point of the Belt Drive Z axis. There are 2 options for reaching work when using the Z Plus. A longer endmill or lifting the work up with say a spoilboard.


Plan for DIY EZ tram plate:

i have had issues with down cut endmills. They will not cut all the way through the wood. However if i switch to an upcutting endmill for the last pass it will cut through. I have also had some issue with getting the correct Z height. if i do a couple spring passes it will get closer. This could be due to my zeroing

That sounds similar to the sorts of issues I was seeing. My main issue was that I’d flatten the spoilboard and then a couple of weeks later discover it wasn’t flat any more but bowed in the middle meaning I’d get cut through in one place and a skin left in others so I had to set all my cuts to go 0.25mm into the spoilboard to get a reliable cut through.

If you press down or put weights on the middle of the spoilboard on the XXL you’ll see there’s a measurable amount of deflection, this might be contributing to what you’re seeing if the bed deflects down with downcut pressure.

If what you’re after is eliminating possible spoilboard movement in Z as a cause then I, personally, would start by bracing the baseboard & spoilboard you have now before going to the expense of aluminium which would also need bracing to not deflect in the middle.

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i just read your post about mounting it to your table top. Have you seen any warping due to humidity changes?

I also have access to a fair amount of 1x2 aluminum square tube 1/16 thick. Would this make a decent bed?

a lot of folks with an XXL put a foam board underneath (one of those insulation ones) and they cut little holes in it for the “feet” so that the whole machine rests flat on it…


Not yet, but I overbuilt my torsion box and it’s sealed with poly lacquer. In the winter things might be different.

Very likely if you can join or weld it, but as fenrus suggests, I’d start with something quick and cheap like a cutout of rigid foam to see if stabilising the bed helps first. I blocked my baseboard up with wood shims to test before bolting it down.

I like the foam board idea. I have some laying around. Will give it a try tonight

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Years ago, when I upgraded my standard SO3 to XL I removed the included leveler feet, knocked the nuts off and mounted my machine to an MDF torsion box. I mounted a MDF base on top of that, squared and trammed my machine then leveled the base board. Sealed the board with numerous coats of shellac then skim faced it to restore level.

The base board (now) has several sets of mounting holes with threaded inserts to enable mounting different iterations of spoil boards. One is a 1/2” aluminum plate I machined and leveled and is the size of the XL’s actual work area. I use it for when I cut aluminum.

I mostly cut wood so my regular spoil board is a chunk of MDF cut to match the XL work area with holes on 2” centers for threaded inserts. I also mostly use tape/CA for work holding so, since I’m lazy, I install threaded inserts as needed. And, finally, I sometimes also use tertiary, smaller waste boards for setting up jobs with special circumstances.

So, save yourself lots of $ and build a torsion box. Of course if you’ve got money to burn, get Saunders Machine Works bad boy!


Seems like a torsion box is the way to go. Is there any special magic to a torsion box or is it just a strong table?

Just a heads up the Saunders Machine Works plates can also be ordered with the new cross bracing supports that add a huge amount of rigidity to the base plates and prevents any bowing.

They do raise the machine up a couple inches and it looks kinda odd but it’s a damn solid base to work off of. However it’s a very expensive add on for an xxl size machine.

Keep in mind my braces are Beta versions and the newer ones may be different they are about $100.00 extra for a standard SO3 and as you can see the machine finish is flawless.


Those looks very solid. What was the reason for upgrading your base?

No magic, just a tic tack toe pattern of internal MDF supports 3-6” wide sandwiched between two more pieces of MDF. Just make sure all the supports, sides, ends are exactly the same width. Easiest way to do that is cut them all at the same time on your tablesaw.

The magic comes in to play when you bolt your machine down, square and tram then level/face your base. Any mistakes here just multiply as you add spoilboards, fixtures etc.


I mainly cut aluminum so I needed the better work holding options, more rigidity, and more Z clearance as I hated the T-track system. It was good for boards but mounting a vise was a pain and the loss of Z clearance made using a vise harder. Also the Aluminum will never warp or need resurfacing because of high humidity or use of mist cooling.

With all the mounting holes it’s easy to put a few bolts in to line up stock and do 2 sided jobs.

I also wanted the SMW Modvise as it is a great low profile vise that fit’s my work flow as I don’t have finger function so mounting with painters tape and CA glue is not an option for me.

Plus who doesn’t love the look of machined aluminum plates.


Did you surface it? Do you use aluminum screws with it?