Shapeoko CNC Routers

Turn Your Workbench into a Business
Pumpkin sign

Guitar body

Engraved Barrel Head

Multi color sign

Expoxy filled sign

Star Wars mayan calendar

Aluminum motorcycle part

2.5D canada sign

Carved canada sign

Aluminum part with a grid of holes

Aluminum collet holder

Aluminum chain cover

What to Look for in a CNC Router

We get asked this question a lot. There are a lot of CNC routers out there, and it can be difficult to know which one is right for you. Here are some things to consider when shopping for a CNC router.

Size: You'll want to make sure that the CNC router is small enough to fit comfortably in your shop space, but also large enough to handle the size of materials you'll be working with. If the machine lets you pass larger materials through the machine, you can cut parts larger than the machine's table size.

Ease of Use: Consider how user-friendly the machine is, especially if you're new to CNC routers. Look for a machine with an easy-to-use interface that allows you to quickly and easily set up your cuts. If the controls look too complicated in screenshots, they probably are in real life.

Rigidity: Look for a CNC machine that's built with sturdy components on a sold frame. Things like fully-supported rails and a rigid base go a long way to giving you repeatable, quality cuts.

Cost: A typical CNC router can range from a few hundred to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Don't look at the cost of the machine alone, but also the cost of the software, training, workholding, and other accessories you'll need to get started. Cheaper CNC machines can end up costing you a lot more to get up and running.

Customer Support: Look for a company that offers excellent customer support and technical assistance. A CNC machine is a significant purchase and you want to know that you're going to be able to get help if you need it.

Warranty: Things break. A good warranty will give you peace of mind and ensure that you're covered if something goes wrong.

Training: Look for a company that offers training and support beyond just getting the machine to move. Maybe you won't need the help, but it's nice to know that it's there if you need it.

Software: Be sure the machine comes with all the CNC software you need. If it doesn't be sure you know the additional cost, which can be significant.

Workholding: Nobody ever thinks about workholding before they buy a CNC router, but it's a critical part of the process. Be sure your CNC router comes with flexible workholding that will allow you to hold a wide variety of materials.

Dust Collection: Dust is the enemy of a CNC router, and it makes a mess of your shop. Be sure your CNC router comes with a dust shoe that will connect to your shop vacuum to keep your shop (and CNC machine) clean.

Frequently asked questions

Shapeoko works with most free CNC software, but it also includes our Carbide Create so there's nothing more to buy.

Shapeoko takes 2-3 hours to assemble. Most of that time is spent on the Hybrid Table, which has a lot of screws, but the payoff is a rigid machine with great workholding.

Yes! Shapeoko can run 2D or 3D toolpaths with all motors moving simultaneously.

Shapeoko itself is very quiet. Most of the noise comes from the spindle (a trim router) and the shop vacuum, if you use one.

Unfortunately, we've done the math on the and it ends up being cost prohibitive to upgrade from a Shapeoko 4 to a Shapeoko Pro.

You cannot upgrade the size of a Shapeoko 4 or Pro. Upgrading from one size to another doesn't save much money from the price of a new machine.

Shapeoko 4 and Pro and use any 65mm spindle including the Carbide Compact Router, Makita RT0701C trim router, or our 65mm VFD spindles.

We have a lot of users running Vectric software with their Shapeoko.

Fusion 360 comes with a Carbide 3D post processor that works with Shapeoko.

Shapeoko can cut any type of wood from pine, to MDF, to hard woods like white oak.

Shapeoko can cut any common plastic including ABS, acrylic, polycarbonate, Delrin, HDPE, and PEEK

Shapeoko can cut aluminum but it will cut slower than wood and plastic so you'll want to take your time with it.

Shapeoko can cut brass but it will cut slower than wood, plastic and aluminum so you'll need to take your time with it.

Shapeoko can cut brass and aluminum but harder metals, like steel or stainless steel, are not recommended. We have users that have done it, but cutting steel takes a lot more skill and experience.

Sign up for the Carbide 3D Newsletter

We'll keep you up to date on new things in the world of Carbide 3D, and CNC in general.

No spam, unsubscribe any time.