Z Axis Clearance

Hello everyone.

I have been looking into buying a Desktop CNC for some time now and have been searching around for the best option.
Shapeoko seems an excellent machine with an awesome community behind it.
I do however have a need for a minimum cutting area of around 600mm (24") on the X/Y axis and around 125mm (5") on the Z axis.
This is because a few of the clients I had at my old company want to keep working with me, and the projects I do for them require those cutting areas. For example a wood block of 450x550x120mm.
The X/Y clearance won’t be a problem with the XXL version, my concern is the Z clearance.
From what I gather, the Z axis won’t even come all the way down to the baseboard that comes with the machine. Is that correct?
The HDZ has 150mm of travel, so that should work if I manage to get the clearance on the X gantry, but how much does the Z-Plus have?
What options do I have to raise the clearance to about 125mm (5")?
Thank you.

Best regards,

Not sure about the z-plus but the HDZ has the range of motion you would most likely need - however using all of it effectively could be hard. Even when the router is fully lifted in the HDZ there’s still only about 4.5" of clearance between the baseboard and the HDZ frame.

You might be able to do what you want with a modification like this - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DI4OlUe9c9k


Hi @koyashi,

Welcome to the forum !

I’ll add to @Falcmike’s answer that the Z travel of the Z-plus is 100mm, but that travel is centered differently than on the HDZ, so that’s why you may have read about not being able to reach the baseboard with short endmills and/or thin wasteboard(s). As you can see in that post I linked, the ability to move up higher (that the previous stock Z-axis) was a design intent of the Z-plus. But in your case the real limit will be the Z clearance under the X rail anyway (especially considering you have to add a supplementary wasteboard on top of the baseboard).

The Shapeoko Pro has one extra inch of Z clearance (4"), so 120mm thick stock may work without any mods and if your usecase allows for not using a supplementary wasteboard (i.e. never cutting all the way through your stock…my guess would be that you don’t?)

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@Falcmike @Julien

Thanks for both replies.
I need to cut all though the block, and at some case a bit longer, eg using a ballnose.
If I manage to raise the entire frame and using the HDZ you think it would be possible?

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First of all I will note that if you would like an “official” answer you can also contact sales@carbide3d.com

Now, my personal opinion is that you will not be able to get 5" of clearance without a significant mod, so it all depends on the effort you are willing to put in customizing a machine. That video @Falcmike linked to is a very unusual mod but…likely representative of the effort you would have to do (i.e. cut a pocket in the baseboard, managing the steel straps under the machine, while preserving some rigidity).

But now I’m very curious, if you don’t mind me asking: what kind of endmills would you be using to cut through 120mm of wood ?

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The HDZ allows 140–150mm of travel, depending on which variant you have.

Sorry for the late reply.

I used something similar to this one, but with around 130-135mm length.

And I also had a special one with 100mm blade length and 4 blades for finishing passes but all this was using a Routech Chronos HT 5 Axis machine that would do the entire side face in one pass.
I don’t think these routers will allow to use collets to fit 20mm shank endmills. Not sure what’s the max shank diameter that these ones can take.
That being said I’m still looking for endmills for these desktop routers that fit my needs.

Thanks for the help :slight_smile:

Can only post 1 image per post, so here’s the rest.

Here’s an example of a part. Usually the wood block comes with 120mm so that I can face it because it’s machined both sides.

The part I need to cut all the way through is 87mm with a slight inclination, so around 90mm out of the collet should be enough since these router heads are smaller in diameter.

I can probably manage with 110mm clearance if the wood blocks arrive in better shape :stuck_out_tongue:

so get rid of the supplied spoilboard and the straps. Buy a long tooth bit and raise the router in the mount

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The Makita trim router I initially used on my Shapeoko took 8mm shaft endmills. I then upgraded to a 2kW spindle with ER20 collets, and it takes up to 1/2" / 12.7mm shaft endmills (and they look HUGE on a “small” CNC like the Shapeoko…)

I thought it would be difficult to find an endmill with 100mm+ length of cut and a shaft smaller than 1/2", but out of curiosity I searched and found that it does seem to exist (like the 1/2" shaft, 4" LOC one found here)

I suspect the challenge would then be to figure out adequate feeds and speeds to use them on a standard Shapeoko, because of the lever effect/deflection from ~130mm of stickout below the spindle collet…and the fact that the standard Shapeoko gantry rides on V-wheels. Hence my hint to the Shapeoko Pro and its linear rails.

That said, I would sure like to see such a cut being done on a Shapeoko, and I have been surprised multiple times in the past by what people manage to pull off on these machines (incredible aluminium parts, milling concrete of all things, etc…)

110mm of clearance is probably doable with a little work on the baseboard (or if it comes to that, removing the base and bolting the machine plates onto a flat surface like @MindlessCorpse said)

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One of the options I see is getting one of those spindles, because they seem to be longer and can be set lower, plus they take ER20 collets. One disadvantage though is it adds to the level effect/deflection you said, because being hanged so much outside of the support.
Thanks for the tip on the endmill :slight_smile:
Need to check some images or videos showing the bottom part of the Shapeoko to see what I’ll be dealing with.

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The online assembly instructions should be a good start to get a feel of what the machine looks like “down there”.

I’m happy to take specific measurements on my SO3 if you need, and I think @SLCJedi or other Shapeoko Pro owners could do the same on the Pro.

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Some specific endmill and brand recommendations at:


Julian encouraged me to go out and measure my Pro. Clarence from wasteboard to bottom of the X gantry is right around 4.125"… maybe very slightly more. If you remove the bed extrusions and slats you have close to 5", but you’d have to come up with a bed solution.


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