SO3: Should a Newbie Purchase one?

I am not a highly skilled cnc’er and am not super mechanical. I have used a CarveWright for a couple of years, but am looking for some additional capabilities. I am especially interested in pocket cuts for inlay, speedier cutting, and smoother edges. All that said, is the Shapeoko3 a reasonable purchase for me? I would prefer a larger working area, but 16" X 16" would be sufficient for most uses. I am apprehensive about assembly as well as learning the software. I use Mac OS, and even though CarveWright says it works with Mac, there are issues. I don’t suppose it needs to be stated, but cost is a real issue. Also, is a trim router a long range solution, or is a legitimate spindle a better solution? Is a spindle even available?

Thanks for any help given!

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The ShapeOko 3 is designed for easy assembly, esp. the Carbide 3D version which uses tool-less fasteners for the wiring.

There are some examples of inlay and projects similar to what you describe: http://www.shapeoko.com/projects/projects.php

Software can be whatever you want, though the new Carbide Create software runs well on recent MacOS versions and there is documentation for Mac OS X Toolchains: http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Software#Mac_OS_X

Trim routers work well, and afford the most reasonable option, but this is a kit, and one may modify it as desired, and one may mount a real spindle, or any other tool: http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Spindle_Overview

I think the ShapeOko 3 is the best value available for a CNC. Let us know if you have any other questions, if you’ll let us know where you are, you may even be close enough for someone w/ a machine to give you a demo.

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Thanks for your reply. I am in Northport, AL (Tuscaloosa). This is about 50 miles SW of Birmingham.

Ever get to Mobile?

The ShapeOko wiki ( http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Main_Page ) lists a machine at the Mobile Makerspace: http://makerspacemobile.org/2014/07/17/shapeoko-build-day/

If that won’t work, register on the ShapeOko forum and see of anyone there can do a demo?

I think the ShapeOko 3 is the best value available for a CNC. Let us know if you have any other questions, if you’ll let us know where you are, you may even be close enough for someone w/ a machine to give you a demo.

For the work volume, kit pricing and kit quality, I’m in total agreement with @WillAdams.

I would prefer a larger working area, but 16" X 16" would be sufficient for most uses.

There is a type of machining - tiling - that allows longer pieces than your machine to be worked (wider cannot be done because only the front and back of the machine are open) with little difficulty. Here is an example:

I use Mac OS, and even though CarveWright says it works with Mac, there are issues.

I use a Mac too! MeshCAM, Carbide Motion and Carbide Create run great!

Trim routers work well, and afford the most reasonable option, but this is a kit, and one may modify it as desired, and one may mount a real spindle, or any other tool:

I’m also in total agreement with @WillAdams. Routers are an excellent value.

There is a vendor - SuperPID - that allow one to do a minor modification of a router and turn it into an almost a spindle:

Spindles have advantages over routers - precision RPM control - even programmatic control - low noise, smaller runout, and longer life.

That said, they cost. If you’re on a tight budget, a router, for sure. Spend a bit more, use SuperPID to gain adjustable - and precise - RPMs.

Spend a bit more - bite the bullet - and go with a spindle.

I am apprehensive about assembly as well as learning the software.

That’s what we’re here for… to help.

Just take your time. Many people say to NOT take everything out first, to take them out as you need them. YMMV.

The assemble manual is WORLD CLASS. There are several excellent videos out there that make things easy. Here are a few examples:

I am especially interested in pocket cuts for inlay, speedier cutting, and smoother edges.

Piece of cake for an SO3 - @WillAdams is so correct about this.

There are software packages that assist with inlaying. One of them is Vectric VCarvePro. We have high expectations that Carbide Create will add the necessary support for inlays.

mark

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I am also a Newbie with in the CNC world. I converted a milling machine into a CNC about a year ago. Lost interest in it because of the software side of things. I don’t have time to try and figure it out.

I got the Shapeoko 3 about 4 months ago. I have made some mistakes with it, but the machine held up to my stupidity. End points and such. For me, bar far the best part is the Beta software. It makes it possible for an idiot like me to quickly turn out some nice parts. It is easy to use and figure out, and I love using it. I did an inlay with in a couple of hours of using the machine.

I run the thing all the time. Oh and and the best customer service out there. That is worth the price.

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I’m a complete noob to cnc and bought the shapeoko 3 almost a year ago. Really liking it so far and its been a really great experience. If you are an absolute novice like me I recommend getting limit switches.I’ve broken maybe 7 bits due to my computer losing connection midway through and accidentally clicking rapid position without verifying the coordinates. To be fair im using a dinosaur laptop to run the machine and if I wasnt as strapped for cash I would replace that in a heart beat. Would also recommend investing in 3d or 2.5d cam software as I’m still desperately trying to find one that i can even afford. For reference I’m 16 and am cranking out some pretty decent projects with a bit of luck, so I think almost anyome can do it with a bit of youtube, google, and help from the forums.

TLDR: yes get and learn along the way.

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Go for it!

I had zero experience in cnc when I ordered my standard shapeoko 3 a year ago. I have made a few mistakes along the way, but learned a great deal. Start on carbide create - it’s simple and powerful, as mentioned above, the vectric software is powerful and great for inlay work and v-carving. If you get keen even try fusion360, it’s less friendly for a beginner but a little more traditional 3D CAD/CAM style.

The carbide guys offer excellent support, and the machine is well designed and easy to assemble and work on.

I have just ordered the XXL kit and will be lending my standard SO3 to friends to get them into it!

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Enter the amazing world of desktop cnc’ing! You won’t regret it. Also, the people on the forum and the Carbide3d people are going to help you through it if need be. I entered this world with an SO2 with no experience and survived :slight_smile: I now also have an SO3. You’ll do more than fine. The SO3 really is great!

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I got a Shapeoko 3 XXL last mont. I saved for 2 years to do it and researched almost weekly what to buy. I haven’t had time to write a review just yet but I did get time to play with a few other machines… one was a Zen kit, another a XCarve and even a Pirahana… I am 100% convinced I made the right choice… I had a few very minor bumps, Edward was totally on the ball with responding to my questions and my machine is amazing. Dollar for dollar I could not have done better.
Please message me if you have any specific questions you want to ask someone that has just built and is still learning their machine. I’m 200% newby… but glad I went with Carbide 3D!!!

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I bought a Shapeoko3 last year and it’s been a great so far. I had zero experience with CAD/CAM/CNC before starting. There’s been a learning curve, but I’m producing parts in wood and aluminum.

  • Start slow - get to know the software. Personally, I didn’t care for the Carbide software and ended up using various other options (Universal G-Code Sender, Fusion 360, EstlCam) depending on my needs.
  • Limit switches are essential and I like using the probe function for setting tool height.
  • I think that workholding is the most crucial aspect. I wish that the wasteboard shipped with T-Slots or threaded inserts, but it’s not a huge undertaking to add that yourself. There’s information on the shapeoko forum.

Edit - FWIW: this is my current table. I replaced the two-piece wasteboard with a single piece (used transfer punches to mark holes. on top of that, I attached the T-Slots. The MDF in between the slots is simply press-fit so that it’s easy to replace if I crash a bit.

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Absolutely you should. I dabbled in manual milling for a while before getting a Shapeoko 3. I have had allot of fun and frustration so far - there is lots to lean but you can make some very cool things on them.

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I started with an x-carve in June this year as a complete novice then moved to a shapeoko 3 xxl a couple months ago and I am having a blast.
Vcarve desktop was a worthwhile investment and something to consider and as for limit switches, I have them and have never used them, but that is because I have not taken the time to learn how to use them yet.
The forum members are awesome and very helpful so Good luck and have fun :yum:

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6 months ago I knew nothing about CAD/CAM/CNC but I took the plunge and bought the SO3 XL. For the price it can not be beat. It has everything needed to get you started but one of the great things is it’s upgradability. My XL now has a “sea of holes” for fixturing, a vacuum dust collector system, a SuperPID spindle control and I’ve upgraded to better CAM and CAD software. Are those things required to get you started…no. Not including those with the kit keeps the price down…and then you can upgrade as needed as you progress in your CNC journey.

Long story short. The SO3 is very capable, easy to assemble, the software that comes with it is easy and intuitive to use, and the Carbide 3D team and everyone on the forum are great resources.

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If you have even seen a CarveWright in person, you are light years ahead of where I was a month ago. I bought the Black Friday special, SO3 XXL. Just finished assembling it last night and it only took that long b/c parts were delayed due to the volume of sales on Black Friday.

End result, assembly was a piece of cake. It took me about about 10 hours total but I’m a perfectionist and could easily build it again in 2.5 hours. I can’t speak to the software side yet, but this machine is everything I expected it to be so far. Actually, was easier to assemble than expected. I was asking similar questions as you before my purchase. As a 100% newbie, I couldn’t be any happier. Get crazy today and take a risk. Buy one! You won’t regret it.

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