What is a wasteboard?

Can someone explain the purpose of a wasteboard? Thanks.

@neilferreri will you help me with this?

The purpose of a wasteboard is to allow a sacrificial surface from which to hold objects down on and not be overly concerned when an endmill goes too deep and cuts into it. You need to mount your material onto something to mill it, that’s what is called a wasteboard.


The wasteboard is a consumable. If you need to hold an awkward, thin piece, machine a shallow pocket the appropriate size to support the part. Need to screw a workpiece or fixture down? Glue it down? Go for it. Need to drill through the part? Go for it. Need to run 50 identical parts? put locating pins and appropriate clamps right into the wasteboard so each part goes in the same place.

I have a pile of them, many for particular jobs. Several have sets of dowel pins to hold particular parts, one is primarily for circuit boards (surface the whole thing, then machine 0.5mm pocket the size of the board stock. This gives good support and a dead flat surface for the board blank)

It takes a long time for a wasteboard to get messed up enough to toss it. Minor surface damage, resurface with the machine. Major damage or wear to a particular area, avoid it. Eventually, they get to thin or chewed up, but it takes a LONG time. If it wasn’t for the special fixtures, I would have about 5, and that would likely last several years.


Ok that’s what I figured. Thank you for your help. @The_real_janderson

Thanks for your help @enl_public

I think @The_real_janderson and @enl_public covered it pretty well.
If you haven’t already, take a look at @Julien’s ebook… Perfect for anyone getting started with a Shapeoko (and those that have been doing this for a while).
Shapeoko e-book [V1 released]

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What are tabs used for in carbide create?

When you completely cut out a part, you may want it to hang on to the larger stock, so it doesn’t pop up and get destroyed, clog your vac, or ruin your project.


Here’s an example of them:

The part in the middle (a lid to a fitted box) is held in place by tabs, and a sliver of uncut material on the right.


So I assume I will need to further cut it out with a scroll saw or similar/useful tool? @WillAdams

I use a small X-acto knife with a razor saw blade, then finish it off with a flush cut saw.

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I like to use an oscillating saw to remove the tabs, it is small, gets into small places, requires very little setup and cuts fast.

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Does the waste board sit on top of the board that came with the shapeoko? Or can I make a waste board from the board that came with shapeoko?

It sits on top so you don’t ruin the one that came with the machine.

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Ok sounds good. Where do you get similar mdf? I’ll check around but does Home Depot have the same board type?

Just 3/4in regular MDF that you will mill on your Shapeoko. It does not need to be special but it has to be flat and cut to the right size at 90 deg angles. There are several videos on YouTube on how to make them plus several posts here.


Key features for a wasteboard:


Won’t damage tooling

Can be machined flat on the CNC after being mounted (not always needed, but sometimes you must)

Of sufficient size for the job being run-- Some people make up their ideal wasteboard for the class of work they do and make it last, like the table of a knee mill. Others (like me) swap them out with abandon. I use whatever will do the job, though most are MDF on my nomad. I have used aluminum jig plate, HDPE, PVC sheet, plywood, and I don’t know what else, on various machines for various jobs over the years. I tend to do a lot of different types of work (two very different careers at this time, as well as another I am no longer in, none of which are what I do for hobby work, or what my degrees read. Go figure) so, FOR ME, one wasteboard setup doesn’t work. All of this said, my most used setup on my Nomad is a bed-of-threaded-holes aluminum plate, which is similar in utility to many of the wasteboard setups (t-track and/or threaded insert) used on the Shapoko.

Consumable.-- It protects the permanent, higher precision parts of the machine from damage.

A slab of MDF from the big box is fine. If you don’t like MDF dust (really, who does?), some like starboard (an HDPE marine-grade board from King Plastics) or similar, though it is a bit pricey and tough to bond to if gluing parts down. Then again, MDF tends to lose a little dimensionally with glue, doesn’;t take tape real well under many conditions (been machined, been wet or exposed to any oil) and most adhesives take the surface apart sooner or later. Always the compromise. I hit a yard sale the other week, and they were selling “cutting board material” of unknown provenance in large sheets (4m^2 total, approximately, 12mm thick), but I passed as it was pebble finish rather than smooth. Price was right. Maybe I should have bit.

EDIT: If you go for something like the aluminum T-track or threaded inserts, using software that lets you define fixtures is very handy, to avoid cutting the expensive features. Ditto if you use a vise, for that matter. My good general bench vise is an old 5" milling machine vise where someone messed that up and cut one of the mounting ears off. Was told it was going to scrap so I bought it out of the scrap yard moments after it arrived. Half an hour with an angle grinder to clean up the boo-boo, and a great bench vise.


challenge acepted :smiley:

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