Thinking about getting a Pro XL what other kit do I need?

The Pro machine is quite robust. The Z-Plus that comes as standard is alright but since you are going pro go for the HDZ (Heavy Duty Z). The HDZ is fantastic and if you decide to later upgrade to a spindle instead of a router you are ready. The Z-Plus can only hand a small spindle due to the weight handling of that Z system. The HDZ is the way to go from the start and saves money from getting the Z-Plus and then upgrading later and what to do with the old Z-Plus. Most of the C3D stuff comes standard but as others mentioned you need bits, material and TIME.

The time to learn any CNC is quite a steep curve. It is not an insurmountable curve but it is steep. So unless you are going to want to spend the time to learn I would recommend not getting any CNC. Without spending the time to learn the machine will become a dust catcher and you will feel ashamed of yourself every time you walk by. I dont want to discourage you but the time to learn is real and must be accounted for. You need basic computer skills. You need basic woodworking skills to prepare material to feed to your machine. You need internet access, not for the Carbide Create/Carbide Motion but to learn on youtube and other sources like this forum.

So CNC work is like eating potato chips, you cannot just eat one. The machine is just the start to a major investment in materials and tools. If you already are a woodworker you likely have the needed tools to feed your machine. The CNC itself will need certain tools itself like digital calipers, router bits, clamps and various other sundries.

So be sure you sit down and analyze you needs and wants before you start down this commitment road.

Good Luck

Is the HDZ orderable in lieu of the Z-plus? That does not appear to be an option in the online store. Would I just need to contact direct to do that. What would be the price differential?


At this time, it is only possible to order the HDZ as an upgrade to the Z-Plus for a Pro/SO4— please write in to for more details on this.

Sorry I did not know it was not an option. Definitely talk to sales because hdz is superior to z+plus. Last time I checked in store z-plus was $250.00 and hdz was $450.00. prices may have changed but if you are going big go really big. If you need to upgrade later for a big spindle what are you going to do with a $250.00 z-plus besides collect dust.

Most folks don’t need an HDZ — it’s nice, but the unit for the Pro/SO4 doesn’t have the compelling advantage of being narrower and increasing Y-axis movement — it’s only for folks who:

  • need to mount a heavier spindle
  • need the increased Z-axis precision (though that’s mostly theoretical)
  • need the increased rigidity, though compared to the Z-Plus on a Pro/SO4, that’s not the slam dunk it was back when it was the HDZ vs. a belt-drive Z-axis on an SO3
  • are using the machine so much/pushing it so hard that the wear on the lead screw becomes a potential concern

(and I say this a a person who could probably ask for and get an HDZ for free for his Pro XXL)

I am not trying to dis the Z-Plus I have had one and it is a good Z. The difference is you are going for a Pro so go all the way. If they will upgrade you for the cost difference of $200.00 it is well worth it if you have any aspiration of getting a 220V spindle in the future.

If you would be happy with the router or the smaller 110v spindles the Z-Plus would work just fine. If I were ordering one I would get the HDZ but I am not spending your money you are!

Can you ask for me?? :smiley:

Another reason to go the HDZ would possibly be getting a spindle that would be quieter than a screaming trim router. Quieter and less run-out would probably be what I would be interested in, though that would probably push the price a bit much.

I have been working through the tutorials to get a sense of the software, as per one of the other suggestions. Probably going to initially stick with Carbide Create unless there is some compelling capability that I would gain with one of the other design software. That I guess is a balance between capabilities and learning curve. I am assuming that some of the learning from Carbide Create are conceptually transferable to the other software.

I keep remeasuring my space for the system. I can fit the XL on my big bench, the XXL is pretty close to fitting, but would overlap with my miter saw set up by a few inches. Do folks feel limited by the XL size vs the XXL? I am thinking whether I can relocate the Miter saw, or build a riser to have the front of the XXL be above the board path for the miter saw. One question with raising the CNC is failure mode from broken bits, do they tend to fly off (a possible issue if the CNC is mounted closer to eye level) or are the failure fairly contained to the machining field?

Thanks to all for sharing your knowledge!

John (OP)

The noise of a trim router doesn’t bother me (probably too many hours wearing headphones in the Air Force) — the sound of cutting is much the same whether one has a spindle or trim router, and dust collection is a separate consideration.

As I noted, my take on size is:

  • if working on small stuff, get a Standard
  • if working on boards, get an XL
  • if working on sheet goods, get an XXL

If you think you’ll be working on sheet goods/stock which is >16" deep (and up to 32" wide), then yes, making room for an XXL makes sense.

Correct, Carbide Create uses the same concepts as most other vector drawing software — I touch on this in:

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Thanks for all the feedback
Today was payday, tomorrow will be XL order day :smile:

I’ve been thinking too hard and just need to pull the trigger


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There is never anything wrong about analyzing what you want and need. I used to work with a few PHD folks that were paralyzed by analysis. They could study and study but never pull the trigger and just go for it. They would get paralyzed by analysis, always one more thing to consider and never come to a conclusion.

So good for you that you thought through what you wanted and will take the plunge.

Being a PhD folk, I have to fight that urge all the time.
Trigger has been pulled and the order is in the queue.
Any notion on typical delivery times? I know it says ships within 2 business days, but how slow of boat do they send it on with the free shipping? (not that a boat will help here in a middle of a drought :slight_smile: )

Probably should start a separate thread on this, but what additional tools made assembly easier? I am going to order some hex ball tip screwdrivers (always came in handy building scientific laser systems). I am thinking some ball tip driver bits for the umpteen screws in the hybrid table (4 and 5 mm ?)

Any other assembly tips?

Thanks again for the help


The community had some notes on tools on the old Shapeoko wiki:

A nice ratcheting tool for a hex key helps a bit — I used a Silca T-Ratchet:

which is probably one of my most favourite tools (and which finally got me to stop searching for a vintage 1/4" Snap-on ratchet on the Extremely Big AuctionY site)

(I pair it w/ a nice set of 1/4" adapters/sockets/bits, including a set of Bondhus ball-nose bits)

Some folks put there machines on a sheet of foam — I did that and it helps deaden vibration and seems to dampen noise.

A nice set of flush cut pliers helps esp. if using lots of zip ties to arrange the cabling nicely:

Get a good quality pair of wrenches for collet changes (13mm low profile and 22mm stubby for the Standard Carbide Compact Router/Makita RT0701/0700)

Start w/ a level and begin by leveling the table — precision has to start somewhere.

A good quality square will help lining things up.

How thick of foam will I need to set this on? What are most folks using? Insulation board or something else?


Usually it’s insulation board — 1" is typical.

I have my SO3 XL on thinner “Anti-Fatigue” mat (2 sections) from Harbor Freight (w/ a cutoff from an old Yoga mat to cover that), while my Pro XXL is on a foam section left over from a machine delivery at work (it’s the same sort of cheap foam one might see used for a cushion from a big box fabric/crafts store).

It’s not a necessary thing, but I find it helps as noted above.

I am not familiar with the Pro model foot mounting but on my Shapeoko 3 XXL I put down 3/4" foam insulation. At the time the 4x8’ sheet was about $12.00. I removed my screw on feet and placed the Shapeoko right on top of the foam sheet that was cut to the exact outside dimensions of the Shapeoko 3XXL frame.

The Shapeoko 3 XXL has a tendency to bow in the middle support. Again not familiar with the Pro under carriage but the foam insulation stabilized my XXL and prevented the sag in the center of the SO3 XXL.

The foam is easy to cut with a razor knife, just be careful and be neat. If you have a dull blade you will get tearout and makes your foam edges unsightly. Remember you will see those edges every time you use your Shapeoko.

Additionally I built a torsion box to go under my Shapeoko and foam. Attached are my instructions for building. It is not a direct relationship for the Pro but if interested in making a torsion box it may help you get some ideas.

torsion_box.pdf (2.0 MB)

I dugout my old Dell Inspiron Mini 10, but found it would be challenging to upgrade beyond the win7 I’ve got on it now.
I see some folks are running the Fusion5 windows tablet for Carbide Motion. (I’ll do design stuff on my laptop inside the house with the bigger monitor). Is the Fusion5 a good option? If so which version (there seems to be several… S1, S2 etc)?


Folks seem to like the Fusion 5 tablets — whichever model you get it needs to:

  • have full Windows, or be able to be taken out of Windows S-mode
  • an Intel or AMD processor

Ideally it would meet all the system requirements:

but memory in particular seems something which can be skimped on so long as CM is the only program running.

I use a Samsung Galaxy Book 12 (used to use a Toshiba Encore 2 Write 10, which I should really haul out and test)

It doesnt take much horsepower to only run CM. If you are in t he US take a trip over to Walmart and in the electronics section they have some reasonably priced laptops. Pay attention if they came with Windows 10 or 11 because there are some that still offer 10. Now if you like tablets then a tablet that meets the requirements of CM would be good. Personally I like a keyboard and not a virtual one. The more you touch the screen the more you have to clean it. Over time on a touchscreen you get buggers and other foreign material that can impair the touch screen functionality. Plus if you use the tablet to read while eating you take the chance of getting food and drinks on it. Again meaning you need to clean it regularly. For my Android phone I got a case and screen cover to help protect it from accidents. So similarly as case for a tablet would seem important.

In my shop I have a portable table that I place my laptop on when I am operating my Shapeoko. The table is adjustable for height and I use the table to prop my feet on when reading magazines or just sitting and pondering life while in the shop. For a tablet you would need to make a stand to put the tablet on. So for me personally a cheap laptop would be better because not only do I have a full powered laptop as a backup to my primary I get the keyboard and stability of a laptop sitting on a table.

Just a few things to consider.

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