Swap Left / Right X axis mounting plates

As I am waiting for my belts to arrive to finish building my first shapeoko, I notice by moving the gantry back and forth that the drill goes past the wasteboard in the front and will not allow access to the back by several inches. I am sure that this has been mentioned before about swapping the Xaxis mounting plates as it would give you more spindle access to the wasteboard surface itself, but are there some drawbacks other than aesthetics on why you wouldn’t want to do this? Would you have to constantly flip designs in carbide create or is there a work-around for that? Concerns about dust entering the stepper motor enclosures since they are located in the front?

I am sure this has probably been discussed ad-nauseum in posts that I just haven’t seen yet - so my apologies if that’s the case, but I am sure there are problems that I am just not thinking of and would appreciate some input/advice from experienced users. Thanks.

You trade space on the wasteboard for space in front where you can mill pieces vertically for example to cut joinery for furniture.

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I have done the swap on my XL, and I’m loving it. Some details:

  • You’ll need to drill a new hole in each Y plate to be able to move the X-axis belt. I used a 3D-printed drill guide (from the second thread below).
  • You’ll need standoffs, nuts, and new machine screws for the motors so they’re mounted far enough off the plate for the Y-axis belts to line up (the McMaster-Carr part numbers are in the same thread). You’ll want to sand down a side of one standoff per plate to gain pulley clearance. You’ll also need to pop the pulleys off the motors and flip the pulleys around.
  • You’ll need to make a stop block and remount the Y-axis switch (easy) or remount the switch (harder) so homing Y works.
  • If you use a Suckit, you will either need to make a stop block (easy) or cut some custom arms (not hard) because the black Suckit arm may crash against the large belt pulley nut.
  • You’ll need to finesse the wires a bit, probably (but I didn’t need to change any wiring).
  • You’ll need to change one and only one GRBL setting to update the Y axis direction. This is utterly trivial, and no changes in your designs or how you use them are necessary.

If you’re actively considering it, I can collect the information I used and get it all together here in a more concentrated format. I spent a little time ordering everything and getting it all together, but doing the actual conversion once everything was ready turned out to be pretty straightforward. I gained 60-some millimeters of on-deck Y axis travel, and that’s proven to be exceptionally useful when I’m using my J Tech laser (which mounts off the front side of the router mount).


I used two threads as references when I did my conversion. The first I used more as background:

The second thread had additional useful information, including some from me when I did my conversion:


Oh wow. That’s some fantastic information. Really appreciate the level of feedback given - way more than I expected. Thanks so much - gives me something to delve into if this turns into an issue for me or not - haven’t even done a “hello world” yet so I might be jumping the gun on whether or not this is an issue for me - just thought it was strange to be missing out on the extra space.

Hehe, half the fun of a Shapeoko is pondering what you can do to/with it, usually in excessive detail. It’s a bit of work to get everything dialed in, but it’s also nice to know that if you’re having problems, they can always be fixed – most often, but not always, by just learning what you’re doing wrong and not doing that. :grin:

Like Luc noted, some people make extensive use of the air in front of the bed. I, on the other hand, have found I’m not remotely interested in that (or in machining aluminum, which is another thing that people do to an amazing extent). For some reason, I seem to love making art out of southern yellow pine dimensional lumber (in spite of reading that it’s a terrible medium), and for how I use my machine, gaining bed space was absolutely worth the conversion.

Enjoy getting yourself up to speed, and if you (or someone else) think that the conversion is something that would really make their workflow better, now you’ve got a brief outline of what it’d take. (And helping other people modify or upgrade their machines is almost as fun as doing it myself… and a lot less work for me, hehe.)

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ha - story of my life.

Thanks and good deal. Appreciate the warm welcome and great feedback.

And you are right Luc - It never occurred to me that people might use the overhang to their advantage. Thanks for the explanation.

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