SO3: Question about milling brass before I buy

Question, has anyone on here used the Shapeoko 3 to mill brass? If so did you have to do anything to the machine to get good results?

Have not done it yet on my SO3, but I see no issues with it doing that easily. I milled brass slowly with a home built dremel CNC machine! If the dremel can do it, I’m sure the 611 can! The key will be to learn the feed rate per bit. Once you get the correct feed rate it should not be an issue. Take it slow and increase slow! Keep track of your feeds for the future as well!

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An SO3 can mill 6061 (Al Alloy). This is “tougher” than brass. Brass is also a metal (alloy) that is machined dry. No problem at all, just some learning and tweaking to get the “best” (time/finish) tradeoff.


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There’s a bit about it on the Shapeoko wiki:

I’ve had a back burner project which will use brass, but haven’t found occasion to do more than test cuts thus far.

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Thanks for the information guys. This will be my first cnc machine so I want to make sure I have my expectations correct so I don’t get frustrated with it…

So you don’t get frustrated too fast, practice drawing in a CAD program and getting it into gcode with your desired CAM software. Also it may help to learn a little gcode so you can manually build some small scripts like a straight line! It’s always nice to be able to make a quick gcode file in notepad to cut a slot of a desired length without opening cad, and then defining a toolpath in a cam software.

The largest learning curve is the software most of the time.

There is even an SO simulator that you can run using the G code.

Learn the entire process before your machine arrives!


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Don’t just draw and do CAM — figure out workholding, and preview and simulate jobs — see GrblGru on the wiki:

I’m still waiting for my SO3 XL to arrive (this week?) and have been practicing with Carbide Create. So far…total disaster! I’m trying to create a curved arm with nut pockets for tightening screws on each end. I draw the entire thing and try to create all of the toolpaths and the only thing I seem to get right are those @#%!ed nut pockets. Everything else doesn’t “cut”.

This is my first CNC and being an “Old F*rt” doesn’t help. The videos go way too fast and even though I’ve watched them over and over, it ain’t sinkin’ in.

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Please post a copy of the file and a step-by step description of what you tried what you expected and what happened.

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Here is a very rough drawing of what I am trying to create. It is a curved connector that will attach to two “handlebar-ish” brackets at 90° to each other. There will be a six-sided pocket (to fit a nut) and a through hole for a bolt on each end. The holes on the face are lightening holes.

I thought that I had saved the file with the toolpaths…couldn’t even get that correct.

$1,500.00 paperweight? I sure hope not. I have to figure this @#%! out!

Even if carbide create can not do this, which I hope it could. It’s not a paperweight, you can draw it in cad like sketchup by google which is actually fairly simple to do and then import it into another CAM program and go from there. It does make it a 3 step process then: 1) CAD -> Export .DXF or .SVG 2) CAM-> Export G-Code 3) carbide motion -> RUN
But I’m sure you can make it do it some how.
I’ll try carbide create and see if it will do that kind of shape.

Hi @BoscoBob

This is perfect, I was planning on doing a Carbide Create demo this week.
Can you add the dimensions?

Lets make this part.

The difficulty is likely the stacked paths of the circles at the end.

The way I would draw this up would be:

  • one outer profile describing the entire shape
  • a series of inner profiles which are the circles
  • one additional profile which is an inset of the outer profile, less the two endpoint circles

Then at CAM I would:

  • use a pocketing operation for the additional inset profile
  • use pocketing operations for the central inner holes
  • use an outer profile to cut out the entire shape

I have not used carbide create much at all, but I got it!!!

Lessons learned:
1)You have to create a curved line rough shape then add 2 circles and use boolean operations until it gets JUST the outline completed.
2) You then have to ADD the circled again on top of that.
3) you add the additional inner 3 circles
4) you define the center 3 as stock bottom / pocket
5) you define the 2 outer circles as pocket to however deep you want, I used .1
6) you select the entire thing and then choose pocket and set it to a depth you want the center portion, I choose .2
7) you select the outer line only and set it outer cut and depth of material.

This was a challenge because I am not very familiar with this software (I normally use cad) but after 5 attempts I got it to work.


Added two additional tool paths for the 2 end circles cutting OUTER and to the level of the inner pocket, in my case .2
This cleans the tiny fillets shown in the first picture.

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The dimensions between center bolts is 6.75 inches. I am attempting to create “Nori lights” for my mobility scooter. As you can see from the photo (NOT me BTW), it goes from the horizontal bar (side). I need to be able to flip the UV flashlights up to clear doorways. I’ll have a bracket that attaches to the horizontal and to a vertical UV light.

I should look similar to this, going down the road.

Holy CAD! Mine looked like something a 4th-grader would design and yours looks like…well, exactly as I envisioned…EXACTLY!

How thick is the part?
The thin dimension?
When it “flips up” is there a specific bearing you have in mind?

As you can see in @rogwabbit great work that you will be stacking shapes.

I would cut this out of HDPE first, to test the fit and function before going to brass.

Sorry, I was thinking .5" thick at the connectors and with the “arm” at .375". I’m going to cut radial “spokes” on the ends to enable them to lock with “spokes” on the brackets. I might be able to do those with a file. I was thinking of even using wood for a prototype and simply double the thicknesses. I do like the idea of HDPE though.

My problem seems to be trying to think and design in that 3rd dimension. (2D kind of guy) (holding it all together)

I started my shapeoko 3 milling brass, I changed at the bit twice to get a cut chipping and tried a few feeds and speeds till Igot it right. But i learned a lot to work with the shapeoko 3.