Yet more supplementary wasteboard queries

Hello Liam, I ordered the Standard sized machine. I have insufficient room for anything bigger.

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My measurements aren’t directly applicable to you then, I have the XXL in a shed.

This thread may be useful to read;

This user has the Z plus which I presume is what your machine will ship with, not the old belt-driven Z axis.

A few suggestions;

  1. It appears the addressable area on the baseboard of the regular (from Will’s wiki link) is x=400mm x y=350mm
  2. This is not square because the cutter head can come approx 50mm forward of the front rail of the machine to allow for cutting things mounted vertically in front of the machine, your spoilboard is therefore smaller than your max Y movement
  3. You will very likely mill into whatever you first install as a spoilboard, MDF is a good way to start and if you’re cutting wood is a perfectly good base which you can surface down with a levelling pass of the machine when you chew up the surface. It’s called a spoilboard and it’s consumable :wink:
  4. Putting inserts in is good workholding, but maybe put them in the machine baseboard?
  5. Once you’ve used the machine for a few projects you’re likely to change your opinion of what workholding, clamps, jigs, alignment tooling you want to use unless you’re already expert, so make the first one or two cheap

If you’re going to be starting on wood not aluminium then I’d start with MDF and go HDPE once you’ve practiced a bit and got better and not cutting through into the spoilboard etc. I’m close to the end of life of my second MDF spoilboard and just thinking whether I trash it infrequently enough to go HDPE.

Edit - really important thing I forgot, if you make the spoilboard bigger than the X, Y addressable area + 1/2 surfacing cutter diameter you’ll end up with a raised lip at the edges which is a PITA.


Thank you for this valuable information. I had guessed that the router in front of the Z axis would be an additional constant to figure into all of the positional calculations. Am I correct in thinking that you mean the front rail holding the baseboard? Thank you for the dimensions 400 x 350, which will help me to make an accurate supplementary board.

I will need to learn about creating tabs as well as keeping the endmill and the spoilboard as far apart as is possible. I will have to purchase some MDF cut to size because I cannot handle large sheets in my limited workspace. The inserts worked well in the plywood spoilboard I had tested. Just that 15mm is too large for an 18mm board. I have ordered some 10mm inserts which will help that situation. I was hoping to be able to surface mill the board a few times once it became heavily scarred.

Putting the inserts into the baseboard (from underneath I think) would require longer cap head/set screws. With the Carbide s/s Gator clamps, I should be able to clamp many projects without getting the clamps into the path of the endmill bits.

I have some engineering experience (toolmaking 5 decades ago) but I am not an expert. I made a few jigs for my Snapmaker version 1 and one flat clamp jig. Initially I want to just mill wood initially so that I can assess my skill level, lean a lot more and try techniques such as insert milling in wood before trying anything really complex. I am going to start with Carbide Create and Carbide motion and as see how long it takes to get proficient enough to make a move to something like PunchCad Via 2D/3D. It is the 3D aspect of milling that I am interested in learning about so that is my target. Baby steps first because I don’t know what I don’t… as yet.

Additionally I have just bought myself a JTech 4.2W laser and I will be using Lightburn for that aspect of things. All in all, exciting times and I am looking forward to the next few weeks. I have a permanent smile etched on my face at the moment. (I am like a kid with a new toy).

Thanks for the edit note. That will save me some bother. It’s a good point and I will be sure to keep it in mind. My surface cutter is this one…


Happy to help.

If you didn’t read Julien’s e-book yet then now’s a great time to find out all the things you wished you knew before building your machine up

Yep - the main steel vertical frame at the front of the machine

@WillAdams did I read that right from your wiki page?

Ideally 0.0mm apart :wink:
Either measure the thickness of the stock you’re cutting every time and set that properly in the CAM or set Z zero to the spoilboard height and tell the CAM that the bottom of the workpiece is Z=0
You’ll get the hang of that with use.

My most recent mistake was to put the inserts in the bottom of the spoilboard with no hole below them in the baseboard so when I screw the bolts in I can hit the baseboard and jack the whole thing up :frowning:

More experience than me though…

There are a few folks here who’ve posted about installing and using lasers, including the JTech, search “laser” for some reading;

Looks good to me, I just use a Trend hobby 19.1mm straight, your’s should be better. I made that mistake like several other people in order to learn from it :wink:


I have read through the e-book by @Julien and I have referred to it whenever I have questions that occur to me. (especially while sitting awaiting the truck that brings me my new Shapeoko machine)

Hehe. I think I understand that. I am also awaiting a delivery of the Carbide BitZero probe. That should help with setup. I think delivery of that is backordered and scheduled for around late December so it should be a good Christmas present for me.

Whoops! I was considering whether the inserts should have a through hole for both the spoilboard and the baseboard. If I were to put the inserts in the spoilboard, it may save the holes from becoming blocked with chips if the baseboard had a hole under each spoilboard insert hole. Putting holes and inserts into the baseboard may be better for consistency and repeatability overall. There would also be no doubt about the extent of X and Y axis travel so that the insert holes would only be placed in the working area.

The boring of the baseboard operation would have to be after assembly. The insertion of the inserts into the baseboard would potentially require more squaring afterwards. This was my reasoning behind thinking about putting inserts into the spoilboard. They are easy to place and remove and putting a 10mm insert into an 18mm spoilboard would allow several resurfacing operations, thus keeping the surface of the spoilboard perpendicular to the router and with the correct geometry to produce accuracy.

I know when something is switched on or off… :nerd_face:

Yes, brilliant! Thanks for that. Lightburn is the software I will be using for the laser stuff and they have some connection with JTech so I will not be short of reading materials.

Trend are easy to find in the UK and they have so much stuff, I don’t think I will be exhausting their catalogue anytime soon.

I have been following your excellent work and that outstanding post on belt tensioning (apart from the arithmetic) and I did not realise that I would have to be a musician to tension the belts. I have obtained the Gates app so I am good to go. Thanks for your kind assistance, Liam. :+1:

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huge thanks. i found lots of useful information.
Liam, may i ask you any other questions if i would have any?

Well, thank @Julien for putting together the e-book :grinning:

Yep, please do, I’ll be happy to answer if I can, if not there’s lots of other people here with lots of different knowledge to tap into.

Yep, I also got 10mm inserts and put them in from the bottom, I’m down to about 12mm of the 18mm spoilboard now, almost level with the front steel and too close for another levelling.

When you say ‘more squaring afterwards’ are you thinking of trying to keep the inserts square to the machine X, Y for alignment of workpieces? If so I’d suggest separating the jobs of clamping and alignment by boring holes in the spoilboard for locating pins. Threaded inserts don’t always center on the hole and a thread isn’t the best alignment edge.

Will has compiled some of the frequently referenced tool vendors on the Wiki here;

There’s also quite a few threads about who people buy their cutters from such as;


Ah no… I was thinking initially of placing the inserts in the baseboard. This would require pulling everything asunder after assembling it all for accuracy. Once the spoilboard is trimmed and trammed, I would expect it to stay flat and perpendicular to the router. I think it would be far easier easier to bore holes in a sacrificial spoilboard. What method have you found an effective way to attach the spoilboard to the baseboard?

The threads appear to be reasonably vertical but I would not rely on anything with such gross locating threads to guarantee alignment. I also like the idea of using locating pins (hardened dowels in the spoilboard?) to assist with alignment. I have also seen a metal right angled jig that may have been a Carbide item but that looked great for reproducibility of part positioning.

That is a great list! I will have to take a look after I have assembled a few projects and earned a little cash to pay for them. For now, I have a Trend boxed set of 30 bits plus a few bits on a 1/4 inch shank that really belong on a 1/8th inch shank. I like the trend products for being great value as a set and the two flute design of straight edged cutter has the blades extending across the centre line of the diameter so they can be used for boring holes too.

As for 1/8th inch cutters, my preference would be to see them on a thicker shank, which may be a limiting factor on cut depth. Any bit can break if used beyond the parameters with which it was designed to be used. My Makita trim router had a 1/4 inch collet included as well as a 3/8th inch collet. So I am buying all 1/4 inch stuff at the moment.

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All sounds sensible.

I initially used no 8 woodscrews but replaced them with some M6 inserts in the baseboard to attach the spoilboard between my T tracks. I put the inserts in the top of the baseboards so that I didn’t have to pull it apart, although, I am working to resist the urge to order 1m x 1m of 10mm steel plate…

If you want to be able to remove and re-attach the spoilboard in accurate position, I suggest locating pins in the baseboard, that’s what I use for my jigs and things on top of my spoilboard. The grid for threaded inserts and locating pins is drilled by the CNC so I can put it back when I replace the spoilboard by just running the same file.

As for the locating pins, I use cheap 8mm and 10mm Aluminium rod from B&Q, it’s soft enough that when I accidentally send a toolpath or rapid through it most of the time the cutter wins and the locating pin has a scar to show for it’s experience.

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My intuition is that wood screws are ok if they are used in a once only fitting. I really like the M6 inserts as a fixture. Decent sized thread and very secure. I guess that it would be nice to have a pre-drilled baseboard so that inserts could be used if required from underneath the baseboard and put in at the building stage.

The short 10mm inserts should be good in an 18mm spoilboard, from the point of view of permitting a lot of resurfacing. Personally speaking, I am not wild about T tracks but I have only had experience of really cheap knock off varieties from China. These were really awkward to use and not madly accurate or secure. My first foray into home CNC machines was last year when I bought an “upgraded 3018 Pro” and after assembling it incredibly carefully, I was disappointed to discover that it never could run properly. (Arduino issue) Luckily Amazon accepted the return.

The steel plate would probably help you to wear out your endmill bits super fast. I quite like the idea of an aluminium plate but they are quite expensive and I have yet to be convinced of their advantages. In any event, I once purchased some T6 6061 plate in 4mm thickness and it was a pretty reasonable price.

The link below is to a place selling 6082 T6 in 20mm thickness. It would be very tempting to get a complete baseboard size for my standard sized SO3 (580 x 717.55) for a cost around £270 and I could drill and tap it for 6mm. A single 350 x 400 x 20mm spoilboard piece would cost £91. For the baseboard one could potentially get away with 2mm less than 18mm because the aluminium is only available in 16mm or 20mm. I am sure that it would contribute to the rigidity of the machine. That would cost £216 in baseboard size.

I will look a little deeper into locating pins as a method. When you bore the holes are you using Carbide Create? I want to bore the holes and then counterbore them and I am not sure how that works in Cabide Create and Carbide motion. (the sooner my machine is delivered and assembled, the sooner I get to find out). I have a relative who does a little locksmithing and they asked me to make a pinning tray for them. I have found a beautiful piece of olive wood and cannot wait to get going.

I did not know that B&Q sold such materials. It is a good tip and I will have a look, in lieu of something more permanent. I like the idea of the pins being sacrificial if the toolpath gets out of hand. Hardened dowels may well create a huge mess and lots of flying cutter pieces.

I well remember when learning some tool-making rudiments as a mere stripling, I was dressing a carborundum stone for the very first time. The stone was on a beautiful Jones-Shipman 540 surface grinder and I had misunderstood how small each manual pass should be. Rather than taking a tiny pass at a time, I took a stupidly large bite with the diamond on a stick and a magnetic base. The stone which was revolving at some 3,000 rpm shattered with a very loud bang. The dressing tool flew across the tool room and made a dent in a wall. I spent the rest of the day clearing up red carborundum stone pieces from all of the machines and the floor. Very embarrassing but I never made that mistake again.

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Ha, the plan was to put HDPE on top of the steel and surface that flat.

There are a bunch of folks who’ve done Aluminium baseboard replacements, the first step is to brace or bolt down the stock baseboard system;

Then there’s SMW (NYCCNC) who make a pre-machined version;

For all my CAM I’m using Fusion360 so, sorry, can’t answer re Carbide Create.

Cleaning up the mess helps cement the lesson :wink:


Thanks for all of the links. More reading until the machine finally gets here. Yup, cleaning up the mess is a great lesson. I have just realised that HDPE is slippery. Hmmm… time to rethink it.

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I had an HDPE threaded insert board for a while — despite being slippery it seemed to work fine (it was a textured cutting board though).

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Not if you use tape and glue to hold pieces.
Here’s a view of my HDPE wasteboard on top of the aluminium bed, it doesn’t have any holes so obviously limits the clamping options to tape&glue (or double-sided tape) only.


But the pleasure to not have to deal with MDF falling apart after a few months of using tape on it…well worth it.


Thank you for that information and the pic Julien. I could try one and see how it performs. I like the idea of an Aluminium baseboard and the possibility of a threaded spoilboard in Aluminium is something to consider.

Hi Will. I think using some sort of texture is a good idea. Is there any possibility that baseboards will be drilled in the future? It would make assembly with inserts a little smoother. At the moment one will have to assemble the machine completely, then bore the baseboard and then place the inserts from underneath. A pattern that works for each size of baseboard would be helpful and possibly it could be transferred to bore the spoilboard as well.

How does Carbide Create manage counterbored holes? Presumably one has to change the bit after boring the main through hole. Are the counterbored dimensions placed on a different layer?

No idea on future developments — you’d have to check w/ @edwardrford and @Luke on that sort of thing.

I’ve advocated for a standard hole pattern for fixtures — it would be nice to have at least a de facto standard.

For spoilboards, I wrote some notes at:

advocating for a three-layer system.


Excellent response. Thank you Will.

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