So frustrated thinking about selling

Where at in Michigan are you?

I’m Still looking for help.any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Saw a post that someone said they had made so much beautiful firewood while they were learning. Made a beautiful piece of firewood last night. I am learning also, slowly, step by step. Hands-on is my best way to learn also, but the crayon version has worked also. There are a lot of people here and on FB that offer help with specific questions. We, as I am now, have been in your shoes, Just getting the machine to move where I wanted it to go took me a week.

Good luck on your quest to master your machine. I look forward to you offering me help with an issue one day soon.


I’m on the fb groups and still can’t learn this. I mess up trying to create a flag use the wrong bit making a sign trying to do a fi al ready to give up.

My proudest moment was making a sign. A simple stupid sign. Then I took the same sign and made it better. Small steps. Perfection is not an option at this point of our learning


The answer here is simple Dennis, don’t try and create a flag, and don’t try and create a large sign.

You need to create something small and simple and increase the complexity as you get more comfortable with the machine and workflow.

Pick a small project or ask here for ideas. Then propose what stock you’ll use, and ask here, we can help confirm if that will work or not. Then propose which bits you’d use and ask here, we can help confirm if that will work or not. We can even help with some feeds and speeds and workflows and exact instructions.


I’m trying I just keep screwing it up its been over 8 months. The the money I got invested I could have bought a new car.

I understand that. Depending on your level of knowledge with the machine, design software, computers in general, you may need to communicate here before you screw up. We can help identify what part of your plan might cause issues and what issues you may run into and how to solve those.


I have a 60w co2 laser and after a couple hours of hands on training I was up and running. I just need a little bit of hands on.


A good write up.

My own experience in learning is based on attending many classes on new equipment when I worked as a computer tech. This was back when we actually went to in person classes.

The last day we would be asked to critique the class. My answer was always the same - I will let you know in 6 months of field work. Because until you take what you have been taught and do it on your own - just you and the machine - at least for me I haven’t learned.

As a hobbyist CNC user there is none of the ‘stress’ of having a customer watch you as you try to recall what you were taught in class.

Now with on-line classes for everything the customer is paying for the OJT of the technician. Under the guise of efficiency.



I think you might have the wrong expectations here.

A CNC router/mill is several orders of magnitude more complex than a laser cutter and will require more time and effort to learn than a laser cutter.

A laser cutter is a very “batteries included” machine. You rest your workpiece on the bed, you switch on the machine, it cuts. That’s it. For any decent machine, the software is similarly straightforward: you draw the path you want the laser to cut in Inkscape or whatever you prefer, you tell the laser’s software what material you’re using and it spits out a file to run.

You don’t need to think about workholding, toolpaths, zeroing, tools, chip evacuation or the limitations of the machine. You only need to work in 2 dimensions.

A CNC router though is much more complex. You can’t just throw something on the bed, you need to learn how to hold it in place so it doesn’t move as you plow a rapidly spinning piece of metal through it. You need to think about which spinning piece of metal to use. You need to design your part in 3 dimensions, not two. You need to use more complicated CAM software to plan the path for the tool to follow.

What I’m saying isn’t “give up, it’s too hard” but it’s going to take time to learn this. A couple of hours of hands on training might help you through your first basic part but you’re still going to need to spend weeks/months learning the ins and outs of how to use these machines and you should prepare yourself for that.

These machines are much more complicated than laser cutters but in exchange, they give you much more power and flexibility and it’ll take time to learn how to use it.

If you’re willing to put in the time and effort though, it’s really rewarding and you can find a way to make just about anything in just about any material.

As the others have said, start small. Don’t jump straight into something complicated like a flag. It’s easy for a laser but much harder on a CNC. Start with basic routing, like cutting out basic shapes. Start with the simplest thing you can, like a square. Then move up to a square with a hole in it. Then try a square with a pocket. Keep moving up in baby steps.

I tried to jump straight to the complex stuff too but when you do that, you’re basically trying to learn everything there is at once. It’s like trying to start writing German poetry before even trying to learn how to say “hello”.


@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.