Waste board question

Now that my machine is calibrate I’m looking to modify the waste board next. Does anyone have a strong opinion on adding threaded inserts to the original waste board? Or layering a sheet of mdf on top and modifying that piece, largely keeping the original board intact?

Right now I really just need to square up my work piece and assign 0/0 to the lower left of the machine with a 12x12 work envelope. I’m sure my wants/needs will evolve as I gain experience but my immediate needs are 12x12 work pieces, and I will be drilling completely through parts of the media.

If you have a strong opinion one way or the other I’d love to hear it.

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if you dont mind investing a bit, cant go wrong with this one. you can also get just the plate for cheaper i think.

nvm sorry didnt see you had shape… was looking on wrong sub forum.

There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to modifying the waste board. If you need a high level of precision, people are going with Aluminum with threaded holes or with Aluminum T-track. The other option is a supplementary wasteboard. I went with the supplementary wasteboard because:

  1. I don’t need a super high level of precision and the cost of doing the Aluminum wasn’t personally worth it
  2. The supplementary gives you a raised “island” of material to work with. If you surface it, so that you get a plane on your wasteboard that matches the X/Y plane of your machine, you get a reasonable level of precision. You cannot surface the existing wasteboard without creating a “pocket” since your machine can’t reach every inch of the base.
  3. If I bang up, chew up, or otherwise botch up my supplementary, it is cheap and easy to replace. I figure this is going to happen while I am in the early learning stages. Kind of like when you are a new driver, you want an old beater of a car, not something that will hurt if you damage it (which you will).

I can screw into, nail into, and other wise abuse the supplementary and not feel the slightest bit bad. I went with MDF and threaded inserts. Here is my first attempt at a supplementary board.


Thanks, I’m leaning this way as well. I guess it’s time to bite the bullet and get to work.

I have a metal plate with threaded inserts on my nomad, and t-track on a supplementary wasteboard on my shapeoko. I really like the threaded holes on my nomad, primarily because it’s easier to use a cam-type clamp, which are low profile. Having lived with the t-track on my shapeoko for a while, I find myself wanting different clamps to go with it, typical t-track clamps stick up a fair bit and get hit by the router if you’re not careful. When I do it again, I’ll probably try threaded inserts and see how that works out.

The big advantage to the secondary wasteboard is that it’s easier to replace if it gets overly worn. You can also manage that by using a “packing” board underneath your workpiece - it ends up working a lot like a secondary wasteboard, and when you cut through things, it takes the damage, not the wasteboard.

I did both, I originally put threaded inserts into my machine’s own board but then when I had some issues with flatness I added another board. I bolt that down into the ones in the machine and added lots of inserts to the top board.

I’ve tried a few kinds of inserts, I like these the most:


Thanks for the tip on the inserts. I actually saw your post when searching waste boards and am going to use the same inserts to keep the mdf from bulging.

I need to pick up some bolts to secure the new waste board to the original then I’ll post some pics.

One thing I didn’t have handy was a 6mm hex driver, cheap and will make installation much easier

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I used 1" HDPE and threaded the HDPE itself.


It’s hard not to over tighten those sometimes, and causing the MDF to bulge.
They’re what I’m using, but when I add another board, I’m going to us the T nuts, that install from underneath. You cant pull those through.
Not a real big deal, tho. If I strip one, I just drill another hole. I keep the drill handy :slight_smile:

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Ditto that, @jdg3. I have finalized my first wasteboard using underside T-Nuts to prevent bulging and deformation, then I ran a final leveling pass and I’m very pleased with the results. I started small initially, and I’ll eventually move up to larger sizes with the intent of changing out wastebaords as required, I did use inserts on the stock S3 to provide my sacrificial wasteboard anchoring.


WOW! That is a beautiful set up.

I had the chuck on my drill down to 3 and it drove the inserts perfectly to the bottom of the hole without lifting.

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I’m an aluminum t-track person because you can get a set of 3x 4’ sections for about ~$50 when you include shipping, and then the bulk of the cost will be what you’re mounting it into.

I did mine in HDPE which I had routed by a commercial cabinet shop with channels for the T-track:

To expand on Jonathan’s note — T-track is also available from specialty woodworking shops such as Rockler and Woodcraft — you may have one locally, usually they’re a locally owned franchise, so nice to patronize.