Yet another Shapeoko vs XCarve question... from a guitar maker

I don’t think I can add much that hasn’t already been covered (also coming at it from a Nomad 883 owner, and eventually an S3). I will say that the support has been amazing. I’ve had a video call when I first got my machine used to get a more experienced set of eyes on the machine, and go over basic maintenance, I also had a controller board issue and that was quickly resolved and followed up on (and they sent the part for free, which is crazy). I’ve sent e-mails about work holding thoughts/demo projects, I’ve called support and asked a few questions which turned into an hour long discussion with various topics involved.
I’m working through another hardware issue now, and every e-mail gets turned around really fast.

I’m not trying to be a shill here, but at this point my experience with the Carbide 3d team has been fantastic and even if cheaper hardware is out there I’m okay with the slightly more expensive price to have that support in place.


Fellow Canadian here. I purchased from the robot shop. No problems.Great service and delivery. I also purchased the Makita router from them at the same timne. Maybe they don’t sell them any more. My circuit board failed a month or so later and the manufacturer in California had a new board to me in a few days. Awesome support.
I mainly machine aluminium on a stock Shapeoko 3. Only modification is a leather piece to stop the aluminium chips going into the z-axis belt. Also seal the box containing the circuit board. The smallest hole will let dust in.


Hello fellow Canadian, and welcome! I can’t add much here that hasn’t been said already. From a fellow newbie (about 7 months?) I can tell you that you won’t be sorry for buying from Carbide3D. Support is excellent, a fantastic community, and a really well designed machine. With anything like a CNC machine, with many moving parts and sensitive electronics, users do have problems. Most issues can be resolved by asking for advice and help, but be prepared to do maintenance and troubleshooting.

The best thing about a CNC is that it will do exactly what you tell it to… which is also the worst thing. Learning how to tell it what you want is the biggest learning curve. Having a ready vocabulary of swear words is a necessity. But once you get a design that works, you can run it a 100 times and it’ll produce the same product every time.

I absolutely love my machine, and I can’t imagine doing without it. I have a shop full of tools that have been demoted to just prepping stock for the CNC, or helping me finish a project. Don’t expect things to come off the machine ready for assembly, although with certain techniques you can get it pretty close. There’s always some clean-up to do, but it can get you a long ways. As you learn new techniques, you’ll find new ways to incorporate them into your designs. I just learned how to produce crisp painted v-carve designs today, and I’m super excited for future projects.


Good tips, Tom. I’ll seal up the box. Thanks!

Machine is assembled short of the final ‘dialling in’ as we left for a ten day camp trip before getting a test cut in… looking forward to getting her running upon return.

Good points, Steve. I anticipate a ton of learning (as well as tweaking) and like the idea of getting a run dialled in and then being able to repeat… Nice work on the V-carve!

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You’ll enjoy the machine. Once you have it dialed in you will not have to tinker with it much. They are workhorses. You’ll always have to be careful about human error, but the machine will function well.

Good luck.


Hey gents - thought I’d jump back in and post an update.

The machine arrived a few weeks ago and I spent most of the weekend building by table, arranging the shop and assembling. A camping trip put the brakes on for 10 days, but once back this past weekend, I got to running the ‘Hello World’ file - seemed like an appropriate ‘rite of passage’.

My next project to get my feet wet will be the hold down clamps from the ‘Tutorials’ section.

  1. I’m wondering if the 1/2" HDPE plastic used is essentially what the white cutting boards are made of. Google showed mixed comments on that. I guess an alternative would be to mill down some hardwood using a 6"x6" piece…

Another thing I did was create a waste-board; essentially, I copied the ‘kit’ as closely as I could that is available here. I had a ton of 3/4" MDF that I ripped into strips and separated them w/ 4 lengths of T-Track.

  1. I’m wondering if there is a tutorial out there on how to level the wasteboard. Because mine covers the entire bed of my machine (like the XXL Kit), I’m guessing the levelling process won’t get right to the edges.

Here is the bit I bought from Amazon as recommended by another member:

I just don’t know where to start with the levelling process. Also, what is everyone doing with this ‘full-size’ waste-board in the areas where the router can’t reach?

Thanks in advance.

Great to hear!

1 - yes, most plastic cutting boards are HDPE — inexpensive ones may be LDPE

2 - I wrote up a bit at and Notes on rapid positions and wasteboard leveling and c.f., Wasteboard Plans with threads

The tramming in a lower section is actually something of a problem — that’s one of the things I like about my previous wasteboard / T-track setup w/ the loose pieces — I’d cut and re-arrange them and cut them so that the sections outside the cutting area were lower than the cutting area, then I could shim up to make clamping work as necessary, but if I had a slightly oversize piece it would align to the level of the trammed working area.

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Thanks Will -
Is that to say that your wasteboard is smaller than the stock MDF base, in other words, an island?

I’m starting to think I should revise my full sized bed/t-track to fit the working area of the XXL - perhaps I should have researched this a bit more before going to task…

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Clarification needed: :slight_smile:
I found Winston Moy’s video on dialling in the waste board.

At timestamp 6:35, he demonstrates a poor-man’s tool to check ‘square’. I fashioned one and noticed that when ‘west’ is just touching the waste board, east is just under a quarter inch off the board. As a note, I set up a small square on the wooden ‘jig’ to make sure the jig itself was square to the router. I then tried to tilt my gantry upwards as Winston mentions but even w/ loosening the bolts, there isn’t much movement at all in the rail.

A 1/4" seemed like a lot to be ‘out’, so I kept watching…

At 7:12 he mentions running a flattening function, and then checking with his jig and then running the flattening function once again (vs the alternative method mentioned later, which just confused me). Would that be the correct process - 1) Run a levelling operation with the machine ‘as is’; 2) Check with the jig / make necessary adjustments; 3) Run the levelling operation again?

On a side note, is there a section in the forums (that I’m missing) that walks new users through setting up a file from scratch to create a levelling function? The tutorials are great along with the various files one could download. However, it would be great if there were walk-thru tutorials to take users from ground zero to a finished product (i.e., creating the artwork, setting everything up and running the project). Disclaimer: If it’s here, and I’m blind, please ignore the last paragraph.

As a very basic walk-thru, I’d like to learn how to create this levelling / flattening ‘file’ for my XXL (even though it may seem extremely basic and I may thing 'that’s it!). Like anything, it’s easy when you know how.

Thanks again.


You want to have T track at least half a clamp’s reach outside of the working area — that was the mistake which I made when I set up mine the first time. Having the work area be an island/higher than the surrounding area allows you to do things such as cut a board to longer than the work area and clamp it so that it’s flat on the work area, not propped up at the ends.

There are entire books written on this stuff, and it’s always a compromise/trade-off on some axis:

  • convenience
  • clamping rigidity
  • expense


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