This has been a good purchase

I’m happy with my setup. Think I am done trying to trick it out. I have other plans but, It just works. I have a fence on the T-track so I only have to zero my Z-axis ever. Installed the signage today. I’ve got a flat drawer to hold my tools when I need them. Not crazy fancy but works for me.

Under $3k investment, worth every penny. I used to order my dimensional letters from Gemini and Steel Art, now I can make most of them for pennies.

I should note, I’ve made a bunch of mistakes, frustration! Eaten up a lot of time (days), gone thru sheets of material and tried a bunch of different bits. I think I finally found my comfort zone for making signage.

Great Little Machine. Next purchase will be a commercial machine.



Welcome to the party. There is always a learning curve that must be gone through. Even after you get the hang of it as you progress and try new things there will more learning. In the end it is very fun for me and I enjoy making stuff. I am not making a living out of my machine but it is very satisfying to get good results. If I make a mistake I chalk it up to learning and failures usually lead to success.

In other posts I have recommended a log book for your Shapeoko. It helps with what works and more importantly what does not work. I write in a notebook and take pictures and if some time has gone by it helps me remember why and how I did something. You may want to consider a log book.


What material are your letters made from. Would look good in the kids rooms.

Why are you considering a commercial machine? Larger work area?

I am using 3/4" thick pvc sheet. My local sign supply carries the brand name Sintra. $150 a 4’x8’ sheet. With the O-flute bits it cuts super clean. Any rattle can paint specified for plastics works well.

Yea, I dropped $3k on this setup. For $7k you can get a 4’ x 4’ bed with a real spindle that can tackle aluminum.

Oh boy, he said “aluminum”…


Lots of aluminum done here with DeWalts and Makitas.


While you need to spend more for a 4X4 bed, I find this funny that you think you cannot tackle aluminum as many of us have produce aluminum parts with a stock Shapeoko. I am just dabbling in aluminum but I produced several parts including aluminum bushings from a 1/2in billet of 6061 that fitted tightly in just a few minutes. While it will not give you 4X4ft bed, for about $1K, you can get an HDZ and a spindle to increase your capabilities substantially.


Hey Dennis,

Your work with cutting PVC looks great. Would love to see more pics of future pvc projects when they come available!

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Had a shop for 13 years always profitable. DONOT buy big high cost machines until you have the business! Debt is the killer of small business. Just a word of caution, however I did enjoy the challenge growing my business.


0 flute bits which ones? also I left mine stand open on the sides good for storage of wood…

I love my XXL but I’d kill for some more work area…

As mentioned, don’t discount the Shapeoko for aluminium. It won’t cut it like a commercial machine, but they are far more capable than most realise.


Depends on what size you need. Tools Today sells some HSS single flutes that work well. Otherwise the prices go up dramatically. I recommend you buy on AliExpress to get good deals as the manufacturers of single flutes here (Onsrud and Datron primarily) are expensive with each endmill costing $40+ each. I get mine on AliExpress and they work great in plastic and aluminum.

These guys make some good ones :wink:


Well that is probably true if you have time to wait. No worries, I get it.

More Sintra, PVC Signage.


@Dennis Firslty love your work, i have a workflow question with the Vape Escape sign how do you achieve the multilayer affect is that in Vcarve Pro - if so would you mind explaining how you do this or point me in direction of tutorial - i have tried to search but think i am asking the wrong thing as i keep getting multi layed text like this text but not like yours?

Thanks in advance


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If you do an offset of text in Carbide Create it will give you this effect.



I just tried it in VCarve and you write your text, convert to curves then create an offset. After this you would create two separate toolpaths, one for each layer.