The most noobest of noobs

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The most noobest of noobs

Postby justynazab » Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:40 pm

Hi Everyone!

I'm very excited to finally get a CNC! But first, some research!

My question is: Will a shapeoko XXL do what I need it to do?

A little about my work: I am a scroll saw artist with a business.
I have been gradually getting much busier and I now need a way to increase my production (a laser seems to daunting and $ for me right now)
I attached a photos of a pretty detail piece. Can a shapeoko, with the correct bit, be able to cut this detail with precision?
I use 1/2" baltic birch ply.
declaire photo.jpg
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Re: The most noobest of noobs

Postby WillAdams » Fri Jul 13, 2018 1:01 pm

Yes, a Shapeoko would be able to do that, within the limitations of:

- workholding --- you'll need to secure the material --- see:
- endmill diameter --- you can only cut so small an interior detail --- see: but note that you can use a V carving to add detail at the top, alternately you could rework the design to take advantage of the V endmill, or finish inside corners by hand using a scroll saw or file --- see: ... carve/7101 for one discussion of the techniques for using a V endmill

If you have difficulties w/ a file or project feel free to send it in to us at and we'll do our best to help you work through it.
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Re: The most noobest of noobs

Postby AnonymousPerson » Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:36 am

Just to highlight what Will mentioned... be careful of the "endmill diameter" thing. The example you're giving shows very sharp corners on internal edges. A Shapeoko won't be able to do that, but you could probably get close using very very small diameter end mills (eg 1mm or so).

How hard is the material you're cutting? It affects the speed you can cut, which for small diameter end mills (eg the above mentioned 1mm) could put an upper limit on how fast things can go.

You mentioned having looked at a laser. Would it be feasible to get one of the cheapo Chinese ones (there are people on this forum with extensive experience of those), and use that for very rapid production of the smaller pieces? eg much of the letter/number/bird pieces in your photo look like the kind of thing which a laser should be able to do quickly, and in bulk. :)
Last edited by AnonymousPerson on Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The most noobest of noobs

Postby CrazyBillybob » Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:19 pm

The only downside with a laser is that the edges char so it's great for painted pieces, but natural finished parts are going to take more hand finishing (sanding, filing) and depending on the dimensional requirements/tolerances may need to but cut over sized and hand finished to proper dimensions. You will also need to make sure that the laser can handle the thickness of materials that you work most often in. depending on the model some of the cheap units struggle cutting 1/4"(6ish mm) wood, others max out at 1/8"(3ish mm).
Not to just point out the short comings of the laser. You will have to be mindful of the max thickness that your end mills can cut as well. The smaller cutters normally only have up to 4x the diam. in usable depth. (for example a 1/32"(.75ish mm) end mill may only have 1/8"(3ish mm) cutting depth). Long reach cutters can be had but there are limits. None of this means that you can't product a beautiful product with the tools. It just means that you have to take the tools limitations into account when designing the pattern. It's not going to be a 1 to 1 transition from a scrollsaw pattern. Just like you couldn't make scrollsaw cuts on a tablesaw. The Shapeoko can add embellishments like etches, engravings, cravings that are a time consuming skilled task by hand more easily. It's a give and take. The learning curve on the software is high...your first project will more than likely not be perfect and you will break endmills. But it can open up a whole new level of creativity if you are willing and able ($$$) to try.

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