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Hey Vincent if you can be flexible on time I can try and help.

Set up notes copy pasted from my other message for posterity:

I had taken some notes on the CNC router workshop a few years back. Here they are typed out:

Operation with the computer

  • Instruction sheet is on the control computers desktop.
  • Also on the desktop is the Universal G-Code Sender with a Stylized 'G' logo.
  • Use the computer to start/stop CNC programs and perform carriage movements.
  • Note that the physical stop button on the router doesn't interact with the computer. Its an emergency stop for safety but if you hit it you'll lose your steps on the cut.
  • When moving the router with keyboard input just tap the keys, don't hold them down or a crash could occur due to lag in the system.

General Operational Notes

  • The router works best with a harder wood, make sure you have sharp bits on soft wood so it makes clean cuts.
  • The collet may still be a looser fit and need replacing. Keep an eye out for the bits coming loose.
  • Check your G-code first by running the router with the bit removed and the bed empty to make sure the movement extents are all good first.
  • The router on/off is with a physical switch on the router. This isn't controlled by the computer or G-code.
  • Always turn the router on before starting your process.
  • When stopping use the red shutoff switch button to stop the machine first, then shut off the router so the router isn't accidently rammed into material that it can't cut.
  • Both the stepper motors and the router spindle are limited, so make your passes slow and low.
  • The z-axis has 2-3" total travel, dependent on what is on the table and spacing.
  • Vacuum the guide rails periodically so dust build up doesn't cause issues.

Machine set up

  • Using the computer input manually drive the machine to the limit switches on the x and y axes to ensure that limits are known. Should be able to do some squaring with this.
  • "Lock out" the router by unplugging the router power at the black and white cable when changing bits and anything else that requires you to place your hands in the hazard area.
  • When setting the Z-axis home place a piece of paper between the bit and workpiece.
  • Set your Origin with Z=0 on top of your workpiece.
  • Advanced: Squareness of the carriage can be fixed by utilizing a limit bypass and moving the carriage by hand to the point where the limit switches engage/disengage.

Hi Pierre

Everything about the machine is different. We gave up on the vacuum table as it kept loosing effectiveness. Now we just screw things directly to the table or screw down some clamps

Then someone changed the OS to some form of Linux and the machine became too frustrating to use. There are other people who use the machine but I just gave up.

Hi Vincent,

Looks like nobody has responded to your post. I'll try to answer as best I can based on what I remember from two years or so ago when I last operated the Shapoko in the woodshop. If anything has changed from what I remember, or I just don't remember right, I'm sure Cunningham's Law will pull the right answers into this thread quickly.

The machine has a vacuum table system that Grant figured out. It allows you to secure fairly flat workpieces to the table without too much clamping. This is useful because you need to custom tailor your tool paths to not hit any clamps you have on the workpiece when you run the job. If you need to machine the part all-over, you may need to clamp the part, machine part of it, move the clamps, then machine the rest. Cutting off your clamps tends to cause flying workpieces. If you are using screws or other metal pieces in your clamping setup, you *really* don't want to hit them with the tool. Safety glasses, dust-collection, hearing protection etc is a good idea. Make sure the machine won't move before you put any body parts inside the cutting envelope of the machine. It can rapid across the table pretty quickly, and you are much easier to carve up than MDF. Anyway, the vacuum clamp is broken into 4 quadrants, there are 4 ball valves along the edge of the machine that turn on the quadrants. Turn on whatever quadrants you need to secure the part, use plastic sheet or garbage bags to cover as much of the rest of the table as you can. Any air that leaks around the part is taking away from your clamping. If you can't budge the part with the vacuum turned on, then you're probably OK to cut without extra clamping.

We were using Chillipepr ( to convert DXF files into G-Code at one point. There are other CAM packages. If you have a DXF you want to cut, I can probably help you get it converted remotely. The machine itself had an arduino running GRBL hooked to a CNC shield to drive the steppers. I think we used Universal G-Code Sender to move the machine around the table and feed the g-code to the machine.

Work flow looks like this:

  • Make a drawing of the part to cut
  • Lay out parts on a workpiece of appropriate size in CAM software
  • Convert drawing into G-Code with cam software
  • Secure workpiece to table
  • Take appropriate safety measures
  • Load cutting bit into the router
  • Turn on the router
  • Turn on dust collection
  • Send G-Code to CNC
  • Turn off router
  • Cut holding tabs from parts
  • Put away router bit
  • Clean up the mess
  • Sand down the tabs
  • Finish parts

How about you tell us a bit about your project and how far you've gotten and we try to figure out next steps?


I'm a brand new member of the MS community and I'm excited to start hacking. I'd like to make use of the CNC router table this weekend and was hoping I could get the appropriate run down before I get started. I'm familiar with wood workin, carpentry and Cadd softwares but have never used a CNC. I understand there is no E-learning available for this tool.Could I schedule to get shown the ropes on the machine please?

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