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The Shapeoko XL is desktop-size CNC that might fit a woodworking hobbyists’ needs

A Desktop size CNC at an Entry Level Price

One of the questions I’m most often asked is “would you do a review of an affordable CNC?”  Up to now, there’ve been few choices for woodworkers on tight budgets with small home shops. Here’s the thing: as woodworkers, we do pretty heavy duty work and that doesn’t seem to match up with what’s available on a hobbyist budget. So, I looked at a class of CNCs that are designed for “makers” — hobbyists who build all kinds of things using the latest technology tools. Usually, “maker” CNCs are very light duty and not suited for machining solid wood.

Then, I ran across a new entry from Carbide 3D called the Shapeoko XL. It’s unusual in two important ways: It’s light but very stiff and it will fit on a desktop. It’s cutting area is 33” x 17”, which is a useful amount of space to work in. That makes it a promising candidate for a woodworking CNC. It’s priced at $1,499 and comes as a kit in a 48” x 24” x 12” box.

An evaluation unit is in my shop undergoing testing for a full review that will appear in the Popular Woodworking’s December 2017 issue. Check it out when your issue arrives. For a preview, I made a short video on building it. No worries. It’s easy to assemble. They even supply all the tools. I put the Shapeoko XL together in just 2hrs.

Tim Celeski

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  • Matt_Rob

    I love the idea of a CNC machine but I still can’t get past the fact that other than carving 3D it is still just a novelty if not your business.. It may be my reluctance to embrace the newest technology but I believe for me it is the learning curve and the plethora of different approaches to making just a simple dovetail overwhelming. Reinventing the wheel is Bad ass but I need to travel on the roads I have and get a little wear on the tires before I change them. For me who is well versed in encoder driven stepper motors and have a rudimentary understanding of coding, the CNC is not where i want to be, I enjoy the feel of the chisel and the hammer.. Wham therapy for the soul.

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