2019 Shapeoko 3 (XXL) CNC Kit Review – Editor’s Choice

After we finished the assembly process, we were eager to get started with the Shapeoko 3 XXL. Thankfully, Carbide3D was kind enough to share nearly a dozen tutorials to help users get started.

These CNC projects range from coasters to storage boxes. We found them to be an immense help in becoming more comfortable with the machine and how it operated.

Test 1 – Shapeoko Sharpie Test

Before we attached the drill bit, we wanted to conduct the Sharpie Test that the manufacturer shared on its website. This simple and fun test consists of zip-tieing a sharpie to the spindle and watching as it traces the Shapeoko logo. It certainly helps to make sure that your machine is leveled and well-calibrated before carving into some wood.

Test 2 – All3DP Coaster

Inspired by one of the tutorials featured on the manufacturer’s website, we decided to start our CNC machining journey off with a special All3DP-branded coaster. After setting the dimensions and adding an SVG of our logo into Carbide Create, we sent it over to Carbide Motion.

Using a 1/4″ drill bit, we watched as the area surrounding the design was quickly but carefully carved out. After that, a large square was CNC’d out of the stock material, leaving us with a smooth-edged coaster. We ended up adding some paint and wood finish to freshen up the final product.

Test 3 – Super Mario Mushroom

We also wanted to see how the Shapeoko XXL dealt with engraving designs, rather than cutting out space around them. Going back to Carbide Create, we placed an image of the Super Mario Mushroom onto another square template and selected the Pockets feature, which clears out everything inside of the features.

This particular design featured more curves than the previous coaster, and so the drill bit left some rougher edges in these areas. But with a little sandpaper and patience, we were able to improve the edges dramatically.

Test 4 – Wooden Box

Shifting back to the list of Carbide3D’s tutorials, the next test we took on was Simple Box, a five-part wooden box that utilizes built-in construction tabs to keep the various puzzle-like pieces in place. The first attempt was unsuccessful due to the drill not cutting all the way through the wood material.

After adjusting the settings in the software, we cut out five wooden pieces, most of which came out in decent quality. Each part was held in place by a few wooden tabs. Removing the pieces, the edges had to be sanded quite a bit, but this fact was laid out in the tutorial.

We then use wood glue to connect the parts, using wood clamps to hold everything into place. It was the most intensive test we conducted on the Shapeoko XXL, but we found the machine to work diligently carving each part out of the same stock material.

Test 5 – Acrylic Test

Finally, we wanted to try another material aside from wood – and also wanted to play around with the engraving feature – so we mounted some Acrylic and put the All3DP logo to the test once more. The engraving feature is much more meticulous, requiring more time than the other processes.

The resulting engraving looked great from a distance, but you could definitely notice the drill bit marks within the materials from up close. While laser engraving would provide better overall quality, a smaller drill bit would likely improve the Shapeoko’s ability.

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