Z-axis upgrade : CNC4Newbie vs Beaver CNC HDZ vs tbdcnc supergrade

I’m in the process of shopping for a S3 XXL and already plan to upgrade the Z-axis.

I see 3 kits (+ the one you can find on ebay, which is like the CNC4Newbie) and am not sure which one to go :

  • CNC4Newbie (or ebay)
    • use slider bars
    • 259 US$ (345$CAN), shipping free
  • Beaver CNC HDZ
    • linear blocks
    • home switch can be added
    • mount for suckit shoe can be added
    • beautiful color
    • 350 pounds = 600+ CAN$ !!!
  • TBDcnc Supergrade
    • same linear blocks as Beaver
    • 259 US$ (345$CAN) + 50$ shipping

Despite the price, 2 use linear blocks, one use slider bars. Do you think one would be better than the other to mill aluminum ?

I suspect most here would recommend MrBeaver, I know I do. But, zero experience with the others.

Your third option is to build your own Beaver Linear Z.


Same position as Griff here, I have the HDZ (and I’m extremely happy with it, value for money is just right, to me) and I never tested the other two, but one thing you may consider is that based on the messages from this forum, it seems there is a large population of HDZ owners, while (much) fewer people have the CNC4Newbie (and I have not seen any reference to TBDcnc Supergrade yet). So irrespective of which one is “best”, having a large community of users that you can ask questions/share tricks with is something to put in the equation I guess.


I also highly recommend the HDZ. It is a very well built and rigid Z-axis assembly that you will not be disappointed with.


That to all for quick answers.

HDZ is twice the price (+ duties taxes), I hope I won’t be disappointed if I go this way :slight_smile:
Would really like to hear folks with any other models though.

I have the HDZ as well, really nice, top-notch quality and @Luke has been very responsive on support.

Recent review/feedback of the CNC4Newbie: Z-Axis Upgrade from CNC4Newbie.com Initial Review

A quick glaze of the TBDcnc, looks to be a little less stout. The HDZ has thicker aluminum plates (solid black plate vs the extrusion also) and larger size of linear rails. TBDcnc seems to be XCrave focused, might recommend looking at the XCrave community and see if anyone there has something to say about it.

@prune Don’t overlook the differences between the ballscrew and the lead screw. The HDZ is in a different category than the other two because of that alone. That’s where the cost is justified.


Dan and Neil nailed it.

The HDZ hands down is the most built of the three. TBD being second, and the CNC4Newbie being a distant third.

You can machine aluminum on the stock Z, these upgrades will be a beneficial improvement. However, your feeds and speeds will be first priority.

missing last link due to s****d limitations of forums :

Huh, I’ve never seen the Supergrade before. I have a CNC4Newbie that works really well for me. I am going to add a linear rail brace to the z-axis to brace it against the x-axis to provide more rigidity. I mill aluminum, wood, and plastic with it and don’t have any issues. I know the Beaver HDZ would be an awesome upgrade but I can’t stomach the cost right now and want to wear my CNC4Newbie one out before jumping to the HDZ. Although, I will probably try making my own HDZ like @Griff did.


I’ve edited that link in to your initial post and upgraded your account.


I’ve bought the CNC4Newbie, very happy with the upgrade vs the investment needed. My complete review Z-Axis Upgrade from CNC4Newbie.com Initial Review Got over 500 hours on it now and no major problems. As for going heavier in design and upgrading other components of the slider I’m not sure you will ever see the benefit. I’ve found as I push my machine the weakness of the X & Y axis starts to come into play. Found this out after pushing the capability (speed, accelerations, etc) of the new slider component. So eventually dialed back my speeds & feeds. Overall faster/more accurate than the OEM z axis, but cant get all the capability due to basic designs of the X & Y carriages. Only regret with the CNC4Newbie was he is now in progress of upgrading them to the linear rail vs round rod style. If I had waited a couple more months would have that.

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Thanks to all for your answers.
I think I’ll sell a kidney and get a Beaver :slight_smile:
Will let you know when done !


Whilst I am somewhat biased being the designer of the HDZ, I will say we’ve never had a HDZ returned to us. We stand by them and guarantee they won’t let you down.

As a shapeoko use ourselves we want everything to be heavy duty which is why our plates are thicker, we use heavy duty ball screws and sliders.

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Thanks @Luke.
I just emailed you about the dust shoe options… which one should I get ?
I’m ready to order when I have a solution for dust collection (4" hose) that can be attached to the HDZ (as Suckit website seems to be out of order on everything)

I have two of the ones on your list. The Beaver CNC HDZ is an order of magnitude stiffer than the cnc4newbie one I have. It’s easily twice the material, and MUCH better built. The biggest difference isn’t the sliders (though that is a big deal), it’s the ballscrew vs. acme screw. The ballscrew has very low backlash, AND can handle high forces. An acme screw is limited in force at the spring in the anti-backlash nut. If your forces exceed the strength of that spring (and it’s a small spring at this scale) you will get chatter. My first cuts on the HDZ on aluminum looks fantastic compared to the ones I’m used to with teh cnc4newbie part. I should have bought the beaver one first, but it wasn’t quite available when I upgraded. I completely regret buying the cnc4newbie axis. I -did- get some benefit out of it over the stock axis, but the HDZ axis is a MUCH better value - it costs a bit more, but works much, much better. I consider the $250 I spent on the cnc4newbie axis just plain wasted at this point - I had to take it apart and rebuild it three times, I wore out the anti-backlash nut, and replacing it was a massive pain (it’s not a standard part, though they exist as standard parts), the fasteners are really cheap, and strip out heads esily…the list goes on. No one thing is that big a deal, but put them all together, and it’s a downer. Support from the cnc4newbies guy is kind of spotty.

The HDZ is really well built, high quality parts, very stiff, easy to adjust. Oh, and Luke is right on top of any questions.


I placed an order for the HDZ already :slight_smile:
many thanks to all for your advices. I’ll come back to the forum to let you know when all parts are received and S3 is set up.


I will only comment to say that I’ve had a CNC4Newbies sitting on my bench for the better part of a year and had my XXL for 2 1/2 years. I’m still using my stock Z and it works pretty well, albeit I mostly cut wood (I have successfully cut aluminum too). I like modding stuff, but I also kinda stick with “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality. I see so many posts about aftermarket parts and huge water cooled spindles I think it’s great, but a completely stock machine is very capable of doing 99% of what most of us throw at it. I think many newcomers think they absolutely “have to” throw a bunch of mods at a machine for it even to function correctly, and that just isn’t the case. My “opinion” is this, invest in and/or learn good software, learn how to use the machine backwards and forwards, then if it’s still not able to perform the jobs you want it to do, start throwing mods at it (or buy a more robust machine to start with). Just my $0.02



Very well said Dan and Mike. I’m a massive fan of the shapeokos and would say that a stock setup is perfect for most users.

When you start to learn and push it or fit larger more powerful spindles that’s when you might look to upgrade.


While I think your mostly right, and as it’s in my budget, I’d rather build the machine once with all the good parts than spending time tearing it on an off to add/mod something.
Of course I’m a new comer to CNCs so I may be totally wrong. I’m still pretty sure adding the HDZ from the start will save me some headache at some point :slight_smile:

ps : this is also why I went with the S3 over the X-carve, so I have less parts to change from the start without knowing if I do really need them. At the end it’s just about money you through in those machines right ?

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