A Desktop size CNC at an Entry Level Price
The question I’m most often asked is “would you do a review of an affordable CNC?” Up to now, there have 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 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 fits on a desktop. It’s cutting area is 33” x 17”, which is useful. 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 put together. They even supply all the tools. I put the Shapeoko XL together in just 2hrs.