So frustrated thinking about selling

@DennisG I think, by this point, you’ve read all you can stand of people’s frustrations with starting in CNC-ing and how they overcame those with trial and error and perseverance. You would think that, if everyone (myself included) has gone through these frustrations, that SOMEONE would write a book, or series of videos - that capture the kinds of challenges a newbie is going to face.

I’m with you with regard to the question, “Why isn’t there a single place to go to learn about this?” I’ve asked it many times - whether it’s speeds and feeds, hold downs, planning and designing projects, etc.

You have purchased a Shapeoko. I have said it before: There are two motivations for getting a Shapeoko - and it’s reminiscent of why folks bought VW Beetles back in the 70s: You either love to tinker and be your own mechanic, or you’re trying to save some money and still have a car. It’s the same with this tool. Consequently, you are among a lot of tinkerers/engineers who LOVE to learn by experimentation and trial and error, as well as folks who want to print their own adapters, or strip their Shapeoko down to it’s barest of bones and build it back up, “better”. It’s a badge of honor. And they’re often willing to spend MORE than what it would have cost them to just buy an industrial CNC from the get go - because the joy, for them, is in the journey.

If you’re just trying to use the tool as you would use a planer or a tablesaw, you’re in for shock. For something with so much precision, it’s remarkably imprecise. The flexibility of the platform makes it complex and error-prone. You sound like you’re looking for instructions that say, “Do this and this will happen”…and that just doesn’t happen at this level. I hear it happens at the industrial machine level - but then you’re not in control of as many of the variables. That trade off is one I didn’t understand originally.

Personally, I’m a professional woodworker who has a prior life in software and I thought it was the best thing to put the two together - My goal was to use this tool to make components for furniture I sell, but I wanted to dip my toes before jumping in - I went low cost, not realizing what that meant…I’m NOT a tinkerer…so I share some of your frustrations with the inconsistencies of the platform.

I felt like giving up as well, but I had invested enough time and money to see if I could stick it out. I have (a year later) gotten to a point of competence that I can use my Shapeoko as a reliable tool in my arsenal. I feel comfortable enough that it automatically comes to mind when I’m making construction and design decisions. I may choose to upgrade to an industrial machine someday in the future, but for now, I’m getting enough success with my Shapeoko to keep growing with it…and there’s still much more to grow into.

I would say to you, don’t give up. Acknowledge and accept that you’ve chosen a tinkerer’s platform, but recognize that it’s still production-quality and turns out high-precision results. You just have to accept that you will fail a lot of times before you succeed.

  • Gary

I will note that if folks ask about courses for our machines we will respond with:

There aren’t any school courses which are specific to Carbide Create and Carbide Motion which we are aware of.

There are courses in CNC at an industrial level which are taught for CNC machinists, and the principles are the same, but necessarily the software is different.

We have step-by-step tutorials:

and video tutorials:

and a number of videos on our YouTube channels:

and there are a number of unofficial tutorials such as:

The machine’s designer, Edward Ford wrote a book:

and I wrote up a bit about Carbide Create at:

and a number of custom tutorials such as the prototypical make a coaster project: Let's make a coaster — while obsolete with CC’s new corner options, it is still a useful tutorial on Boolean operations or doing this to imported or drawn objects.

We also do one-on-one video instruction as noted on our contact page: Contact Carbide 3D Sales and Support

If you just received your machine and would like some help getting started, schedule an onboarding session: Calendly - Nicholas Meastas

If you already have your machine and need some troubleshooting assistance, please schedule a 30-minute meeting: Calendly - Nicholas Meastas

If you get stuck on a file or project, please let us know and we will do our best to either find a tutorial which addresses your difficulty or if need be, write one specific to your needs.


@WillAdams This is great list of available resources…which, to my knowledge, is the first time I’ve seen them all in the same place. Perhaps your post should be sent to everyone who purchases a Shapeoko so they don’t have to come across all of it independently?

I will also point out that, even your list - which is a good list - is not a “course” that systematically takes you through how to get up and running with a Shapeoko. It’s information rather than education. For someone who knows little about CNCs and comes to Shapeoko (which is one of your main demographics because of the price point), trying to glean a systematic education from a disparate set of information sources is daunting.

Note that just about everyone in the forum has gone through it. When I read through this thread, it’s obvious to me that there’s an opportunity for Carbide to do better. There isn’t one person on this thread saying, “Go here for the Shapeoko guide”…because no such animal exists. Everyone is saying, “Yes…I went through the same frustrations…I found this helpful - or that helpful…”

Some of the brightest minds in this forum (many of whom you named in your unofficial list - including yourself) have chipped in to try to resolve the problem. That’s why your list exists. So, while your list is excellent, it’s not really a replacement for product documentation.

FYI: When I first got my Shapeoko and was pulling what little hair I have left out of my head, Nick M was AMAZING at helping me out on a Skype session…but the things he had me do (looking back) were so basic (depth settings, speeds, zeroing techniques), they could have easily been made available to me before I experienced the issues. Learning through disparate sources, and trial and error is kind of frustrating for many people.

  • Gary

Arguably, the test pieces of advancing complexity would be:


the problem is, our customers want to make wildly disparate things and have wildly varying levels of experience and expectation — we are trying to balance having enough documentation to help folks along, but not so much that folks ignore it as too much to read.

Preparing custom tutorials at need is the best balance we’ve found.


I guess you also have to consider, CNC is not for everyone. Just because someone see’s the projects completed by others and wants to do similar things, a person clicks the “Purchase” button. No practical mechanical experience, maybe not even a “Hands on” background, just the desire to create items.

I have seen issues posted here that make me wonder why some people even have a CNC.
Some have absolutely no real expectation. Just type in a few variables and hit enter and the machine goes to work…that’s not how this works. Actually, I kind of fall into the category of a person who does not want to design things, just purchase the licenses to reproduce items and click Run. But even in that realm, one does have to be able to correctly measure, design, position, secure, and choose end mills and materials.

The Shapeoko is priced low enough that most anyone who wants to try can afford to do so. The thing is, “Experience” and practical skills are not available as “add-on” packages.


When asked about this, my suggestion has always been that folks should:

  • work up a design
  • draw up the design in a suitable tool
  • import the design into a suitable CAM tool
  • select a material to cut it out of
  • research the tooling and feeds and speeds necessary to make the cut
  • assign toolpaths
  • preview

folks who are successful with that, and who find it a workable way to work up a design usually enjoy having a machine.

That said, it would be nice to be able to use a customizer to make files.

For a while there was:

as noted at:

unfortunately, the .c2d file format has changed and the tool seems to no longer work.

I wrote up a bit about such designs at:

and put up a couple of examples on Cutrocket:


and if anyone has difficulty working up a box of a particular size for a particular thickness of stock, please let us know and we’ll do our best to work things up.

Hmm, I’m not so sure about that! I may be old, but I still think of myself as NewTo This!

1 Like

There is much more to it then thet my guy. You don’t just turn it on and it cuts

@jepho your list is a great start and a lot of the videos and resources are out there but they could be compiled into a list like you have. Here is a start that I quickly put together of resources I used over the last few months as I got started. The assembly video was obviously changed to the Shapeoko 4 assembly.

Assembly of the Shapeoko 4

Yes, Will, it is because of this set of unknown variables that a formal introduction to truing the assembly is required. This is setup 101 and every user needs to know it.

Tramming your Shapeoko

Squaring, tramming, and calibration

Nick M was AMAZING at helping me out on a Skype session…but the things he had me do (looking back) were so basic (depth settings, speeds, zeroing techniques)

After setup 101, there needs to be simple profiling exercises along with DOC, WOC, spindle speed, cutter selection, feed speed,

Shapeoko Feeds and Speeds Chart

Again, if someone knows of a video summarizing this it would be awesome

origin and depth settings. This would allow the new user to draw and cut shapes of specific sizes. Square, rectangle, circle, triangle, diamond, oval.

Shapeoko First cut basics

This is a great resource but is probably too long for someone just starting out. If someone created a video to cover some of this that would be a great addition.

Tutorial Projects

The vexed issue of feeds and speeds could be handled by requesting that everyone use the provided #201 cutter to run the lessons. Just following the tool library recommendations will ensure that people achieve the expected results.

This is kind of handled by the resources above.

Work holding via painter’s tape and CA glue is easily sufficient for a start in CNC. What would a lesson be likely to look like? I envisage one for each shape to be cut in profile.

is another great video by @wmoy

This is a quick summary of lessons and could definitely be improved. I like the idea of putting together a basic course for getting started with a combination of existing videos as well as some new ones that maybe @wmoy could create. I learned so much watching his videos during my wait for my Shapeoko to arrive. When I have some more time during an evening I may try and put together a course and lesson plans for each topic. I would definitely need help with it though since I am just getting started and really don’t know what I don’t know yet.


I own one and use others, I’m simplifying a bit but I stand by my overall point that a laser cutter is a drastically simpler machine than a CNC router/mill.


With every new endeavor/skill, there is the problem of terminology.

Anyone who is confused should research that and learn the specifics of language used in the field which they are learning.

1 Like

I don’t see that any of the terminology used was obscure.

Yes, folks buying and using the machines should be selected for to be that group of folks who can read and understand the owner’s manual for the trim router and the machine and abide by and adhere to all safety guidelines as well as the checklist:

We will gladly work with anyone who wishes to learn to use the machine, providing them with any information or clarification which they ask for either here, or at, and will afford folks the chance to do their own customized didactic sequence.

Hey Will…Are you saying that there is nothing more that the company should do as far as education, documentation, etc.? What you guys have now is what you feel is all that needs to be done?

I am saying that anyone who needs any sort of assistance should write in to and we will do our best to assist.

Based on what we see there, additional content will be made as is deemed appropriate by the folks who decide that sort of thing.


I think that Carbide3D goes above an beyond what most tool manufacturers provide when it comes to education. It is honestly the main reason I selected the Shapeoko as my tool of choice. When I saw the 1 year warranty with the 30 days warranty covering my own mistakes I figured there was no one else offering anything even close. The option to email support, call or do video support as well was very enticing. Pair all of that with and sites as well as @WillAdams being so active on Reddit as well as this forum. Also the various Youtube videos from multiple providers but mostly @wmoy you can’t get much better support. I have seen multiple instances of staff providing step by step tutorials in this community along with fixed Carbide Create files for people.

Yes it would be nice to have a place where all the things that I needed to search for in one place but the support available from Carbide3D is phenomenal. I think it also is difficult as Will Adams said since everyone is at a different starting place and has very different needs. I think that anyone starting out has to be willing to ask some questions and search a little too. Most people starting out seem to get the help they need from this forum or support if they are willing to ask the question and provide the details needed to answer it.


I appreciate everything everyone has done to try and help but I’m done and I’m leaving this group. I’m tired of being talked down to because I’m no expert CNC operator so good luck to you all.


What are we looking for here, guys?
I teach middle school (12-14 year old). I teach them to ask specific questions to receive the answers they want.
As long as I’ve had my SO3 (2015), I’ve never seen a specific question go unanswered.

Yes. They will not show you how to design a part from scratch and generate toolpaths.

@DennisG Do you have a question?


Not anymore thank you fro the help

Dennis I have been following the thread. Do you have a Woodcraft near you? I know the Woodcraft that I go to had a weekend class on CNC from designing a project to cutting your project. Not a Shapeoko but would be the same workflow and process.

Do you have a maker space near you? Most spaces have classes or guys that would be willing to help you. If I was near you I’d try to walk you thru it.

CNC is more complex than a laser even though they are both considered CNC. Don’t give up, once you get the workflow down it will get easier.

I jumped in feet first, bought some MDF and just started cutting things, if it didn’t work I sat and assessed what happened and tried again. Then I got the hang of it.

I had one project that was so simple but bit me 3 times before I got it right. Bit broke, a letter broke, forgot to set z. It was just a bad day. It’s a hobby so I take my time and do it when I can.


@DennisG I don’t want you to go either…and I think that your input is SO valuable because it surfaces a major point.

Internet research is both wonderful and problematic. On the upside, everything you can want is out there, with good instruction and accurate info. The trouble is, there are also a bunch of awful videos, incorrect information, and flat-out bad practices — and the onus of filtering those falls on the viewer. Plus, if you really have little knowledge of the CAD and modeling, even knowing what to look for becomes problematic. Additionally, training requires a curriculum. You build on prior knowledge. There is no such organization in the videos.

I’m also not conflating training with support. Carbide’s support is TOP NOTCH. If you ask a question, you get a good answer - and they go above and beyond to do it. But that’s not training…and proper training might just reduce the number of questions!

Training (course curriculum and documentation) is a professional skill. Not every software developer or engineer is capable of it - and, unfortunately, many underplay its importance believing that those who can do, can teach…and that’s just not true. It’s an investment that requires an appreciation for the value of training your clients. Professional software companies (like Adobe, Microsoft, Intuit, even Apple) make those investments for a reason. Hardware companies tend not to do it as well…however, even most hardware products come with pretty good user manuals that cover more than installation and set up - focusing on general usage. Even my table saw comes with a user’s guide that covers usage (and safety, and usage trouble shooting). Why not my CNC?

If you could learn simply by watching videos, there would be no professional golf instructors! Count the number of videos there are on correcting your slice or hitting “ball-first”. There’s a reason you go to a professional for real training. Another example from my prior life: There are also a bunch of really bad software coders out there, who don’t know what’s in their code because they cut the snippets from stuff they found online (that works) without learning or understanding what’s really behind it.

This discussion is important…or it’s not. It really depends on who the demographic for the product is. If the demographic is for folks who want to tinker, experiment, research, and trial and error to learn - then full stop, we’re done. But if the goal is grow a usage base of CNC enthusiasts from people who are interested in getting precision router control to make components for larger projects as part of a production process, or to make and sell crafts at a reasonable price, then there is some work to do.