Shapeoko 2 tabletop CNC machine

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The Shapeoko 2 is a tabletop CNC machine. It uses a rotary tool as its spindle, and is driven by an Arduino running the grbl firmware.

The Shapeoko 2 was donated to Twin Cities Maker by Instructables, its manufacturer.

Where it lives in the shop

The Shapeoko is currently set up in the CNC area in the west end of the wood shop in it's own cabinet. There is a power strip and shop vac for cleanup. When finished with the machine please be sure to clean up any mess and vacuum out all of the mechanics

Who can use it

The Shapeoko can be used by any member. Prior CNC experience is a plus, but is not required -- this is a good learning machine. If you've not done CNC before, pick up some cork at your favorite art/craft supplier, and run through the Getting Started tutorial on the Shapoko website.

If you'd like training or to discuss how to use the machine talk to Alex Deeba or Jer Davis.

Personal protective equipment

Safety goggles should be worn while using the Shapeoko. Ear protection might be needed, depending on the materials being cut.

Who's responsible for it

Scott Hill



Any software that generates standard G-Code can be used with the Shapeoko, however there are some limitations to line length. Some tool chains, including MakerCAM, can generate G-Code with too many decimal places. You may want to run your code through a truncator script or manually review it prior to cutting. You can use Universal G-Code Sender to send files to the Shapeoko, and also to manually control the head position.

You will need drivers for the Arduino's serial connection. The easiest way to get them is to install the Arduino IDE software.

For more information on software, see the software section of the Shapeoko documentation.

A Typical tool chain

  1. Design your part in a vector program such as Inkscape.
  2. Open MakerCAM and import your drawing.
  3. Setup your toolpaths in MakerCAM, then calculate and export G-Code
  4. Send the G-Code to the Shapeoko with Universal G-Code Sender

Tips for MakerCAM

  • If you're designing your part in Inkscape, be sure to go to "Edit" -> "Preferences" in MakerCAM and change the resolution to 90 or 96 (you may need to test this depending on your version of Inkscape). Do this before opening your SVG file to set the correct pixels per inch values. Failing to do this will result in your parts coming out larger than expected.
  • You may want to drag your part as close to the X & Y intersection as possible, with the X & Y lines to the left and bottom of your part. This will help you understand where to zero the tool on your stock.
  • If you calcualte a profile to cut your object out of your material, you may want to use the "Add tabs to selected" feature. This will add tabs of a fixed height and width to hold your part to the stock material.

Tips for using Autodesk Fusion 360

  • Fusion 360 will add additional Gcode settings at the beginning and end of the file. These settings include some homing commands that could potentially lead to tool crashes at the start or end of your run. When using Universal G-Code Sender, you'll notice that the "Reset Zero" button only resets the current Work Position to zero, but not the Machine Position. When sending Gcode from Fusion 360, the tool will attempt to home based on other coordinates. I've found that trimming these extra commands from the beginning and end of the Gcode is the most reliable method of dealing with this. Another option would be to try to completely reset zero for the machine prior to beginning your operation. You can accomplish this by finding your zero position, clicking Reset Zero, Unplugging the Arduino from your USB port, plugging it back in, and observing that both the Work and Machine positions are now 0, 0, 0.

Hooking up the Shapeoko

Right now the Shapeoko does not have a dedicated computer -- you will need to use your own.

  1. Carefully move the electronics and wire harness off to the right side of the Shapeoko.
  2. Plug in the power supply brick and the rotary tool. WARNING: Do not attempt to plug the power supply into the Arduino's power plug! The Arduino draws its power from the USB connector.
  3. Connect the power supply's lead to the pigtail coming off of the driver shield. The blue power lamp on the shield should come on.
  4. Connect the USB cable to your computer. The three green lights on the driver shield should turn on.
  5. If cutting Aluminum or other conductive material, please be sure to set up a shield of somesort between the Shapeoko and it's electronics (and your computer!). A scrap piece of board from the wood area usually works well.

Todo items for the Shapeoko

  1. The two lower v wheels on the Z carriage are chipped. We'll need to order replacements, ideally with a few spares. These can be ordered from Inventables.
  2. Purchase a better spindle. The Dewalt DWP 611 (full router) or DNP 611 (replacement motor) is a highly regarded option and the new default tool for the Shapeoko 3. This is a 1.25 HP variable speed spindle.
  3. Machine or purchase a better mounting bracket for the spindle. If we purchase a DWP/DNP 611 there are plans available for creating a mount.
  4. Build or purchase an enclosure for the electronics. The Arduino and GRBL shield are currently totally exposed to the environment.
  5. Better work holidng system. Purchase or build a T-slot bed for work holding. Alternatively mill and set threaded inserts or t-nuts into the wasteboard (replace and surface wasteboard prior to this).
  6. Purchase a precision collet system for the new spindle.
  7. Find a more permanent home for the Shapeoko in the shop where both wood and metal can be cut.