Shapeoko XL Assembly Guide

Unpack Box

Identify Components

Baseframe Assembly

Layout Cross straps (18” center to center)

Overlay wasteboard, install center 3 screws (M5x25mm)

Layout Front and Rear Plates, install feet (x4)

Install Rear End Plate using 6x M5x25mm BHCS

Install Front End Plate using 6x M5x25mm BHCS

layout: post-wide type: Document categories: Assembly title: “Step 3 Carriages” description: “Installing the Carriages” —

XZ Assembly

The X Carriage and Z Carriage are shipped together in the same box along with two small bags that contain two springs and the Idler Assembly.

The Z Carriage is the smaller of the two carriages shown in the image below. Carefully remove the Z Carriage from its protective wrapping; ensure that the belt is not damaged or removed from its initial installation location.

Install Idler

The Idler Assembly ships already assembled in the proper order. See the image below to verify the ordering of the various components.

Carefully remove the nut while ensuring the remaining components stay on the bolt. Insert the bolt through the slot located at the bottom of the plate - shown in the image below. Secure in place by finger-tightening the nut on the opposite side of the X Carriage.

Once the idler assembly is through the slot, loosely attach the nut on the backside of the plate. Some adjustability will be required to get the belt in place, so leave this lightly finger tight for the time being.

Install Spindle Mount

Align the spindle mount with the bottom set of through holes on the z-carriage. The carbide logo should go right side up, but the position of the pocketed hole on the spindle mount does not matter (left or right is fine).

The fixed pulley location should be on the left side of the plate, as shown in the photo. For further reference: the eccentric nuts will be on the left side as well.

Turning the z-carriage over, secure the spindle mount by installing (2x) of the M5x16mm screws through the back of the plate and into the rear of the spindle mount.

Tighten these screws down at this point in the assembly. Using some thread locker will help keep them secure and reduce the chance of vibration causing the screws to become loose.


Flip the Z Carriage and orient the Z Carriage so it is as shown in the image below.

Align the z-carriage with the bottom of the x-carriage, making sure the eccentrics on the z-carriage are positioned on the left side, as shown in the image below.

When aligning the carriages, make sure the groove in the v-wheel is aligned with v-rail on the x-carriage. The wheels will slide up the V, seating evenly and securely on both sides.

Examine the four bearings on the Z Carriage and take note of the V-shaped gap between the two black wheels as shown in the image below.

Routing the Belt

When the Z Carriage is attached to the rails properly, a portion of the belt should be exiting the top and bottom of the Z Carriage as shown in the image below.

Slowly pull the bottom portion of the belt and loop it over the Idler as shown.

The Idler can move up and down in its groove. You may have to loosen the nut to move the Idler.

Carefully wrap the upper portion of the belt around the top pulley as shown.

Tension Screw

Carefully place the X/Z Carriage on its back (resting on the motor) as shown in the image below. Slide the Z Carriage all the way to the top until it stops at the two posts shown in the image below.

Ensure that you have only finger-tightened the Idler Assembly before tightening the Tensioning Screw.

Use the hex wrench to tighten the Tensioning Screw as shown in the image below. As the Tensioning Screw is tightened, it will push on the Idler Assembly.

The belt should be tight enough that it doesn’t slip off the Idler and does not flex as the carriage moves up and down.

When the belt is tight, use a 4mm hex key and 10mm wrench to tighten the Idler Assembly as shown in the image below.

Install Springs

Lay the X/Z Carriage on one of its sides as shown in the image below. Place one of the spring’s loops around the Z Carriage post as shown in the image below.

Pull up on the spring and attach the other loop to the X Carriage post as shown in the image below.

Turn the X/Z Carriage on its other side and attach second spring in identical manner as shown in the image below.

Using the 2x M5x55mm screws, install into spindle mount. Do not tighten at this point, we will secure these screws after we install the spindle later in this guide.


Layout X-Axis extrusion and Y1, Y2, XZ Plates

Install Y-Left Carriage

###Install X/Z Carriage

Install Y-Right Carriage

Rail System

Roughly Position system in place (in line, but offset to right side)

Using the foam pads from the Y-left and y-right boxes, slide system into place and prop up with pads. Use 1x M6x12mm BHCS in front and rear of right side.

Lift left side into place, install 1x M6x12mm BHCS in front and rear.

Loosely install the rest of the screws for the extrusions


Identify belting components

  • Install Y-Left Belt
  • Install Y-Right Belt
  • Install X-Axis Belt

Wiring - Routing

This step of the assembly process involves attaching the drag chain brackets, wiring harness, and connecting all of the components to the controller.

Install X-Axis Drag Chain Bracket

The X-Axis Drag Chain Bracket is the smaller of the 2 stainless steel ‘L’ shaped brackets. Remove the protective film from bracket as shown in the photo below. (The underside of the film is black, the top side is a white/silver color.)

Pick one corner of the film up, and pull slowly in a diagonal direction towards the other corner of the bracket. If any adhesive residue is stuck to the part, remove with Goo-Gone or similar cleaner.

Install the X-Axis Drag Chain Bracket by loosening the two rear screws on the top of the X plate as shown in the figure below.

Note that when looking from the front of the Shapeoko XXL, the two screws are on the right side.

The screws only need to be loosened enough to slip the bracket between the screw heads and the plate. Because thread lock is used at the factory to secure the connection, using a pair of pliers (not provided) to grip the standoff, may be necessary.

With the screws loosened, slide the bracket between the screw heads and the plate as shown below. Re-tighten both screws to secure the X-Axis Drag Chain Bracket in place.

Installing the Y-Axis Drag Chain Bracket

Remove the two top screws holding the motor to the Left Y-Axis Plate as shown below.

The shorter M5x10mm screws you just removed can be set aside and will not be needed to complete the Shapeoko XXL assembly.

The two M5x16mm screws can be seen protruding through the back of the plate in the image below. Note that nuts have not been added yet.

With the two (2x) M5x16mm screws in place, take the remaining Drag Chain Bracket and remove its protective film as shown in the photo below.

Attach the Drag Chain Bracket as shown below and secure tightly with two (2x) M5 nuts using the 8mm wrench.

Installing the Controller

The Controller will mount to the Left Y-Axis Rail (when viewed from the front).

Using the M6 hex key, remove the cover from the Controller by unscrewing the two (2x) M8 head cap screws found on either side of the cover.

Inside is the Controller Board, a bag containing three (3x) rubber grommets (optional during assembly), and two (2x) M6x12mm button head cap screws as shown below.

Orient the Controller Board so the USB and Power ports are facing the REAR of the machine as shown in the photo below. Use the two (2x) M6x12mm screws to attach the Controller Board to the Left Y-Axis Rail by inserting the screws into the countersunk holes drilled in the aluminum plate and threading them into the rail.

Loosely re-install the cover of the controller. We have more work to do around the machine before connecting the wiring harness and want to be careful not to accidentally damage the controller.

Wiring Harness Installation

The Wiring Harness is pre-assembled at the factory for your convenience. All of the cables are routed correctly, and the Drag Chains are spaced the correct distance apart.

You only need to attach the Wiring Harness to the Shapeoko XXL and then connect the various wires to their respective ports on the Controller Board.

Locate the end of the Y-Axis Wiring Harness with the labeled female connectors, as shown in the photo below.

The Drag Chains will only roll/curl in one direction. It is important to look at the photos and make sure you are connecting the correct ends to the correct locations. Do not connect the wires to the Controller Board at this time.

Attach the Y-Axis Drag Chain

Use two (2x) M3x12mm flathead screws and two (2x) M3 nylon nuts to attach the Drag Chain to the Y-Axis Drag Chain Bracket as shown below. The screws are inserted down through the head of the Drag Chain and through the slot in the Y-Axis Drag Chain Bracket.

Attach the X-Axis Drag Chain

Using two (2x) M3x12mm flathead screws and two (2x) M3 nylon nuts, attach the Drag Chain to the X-Axis Drag Chain Bracket as shown below. The screws are inserted down through the head of the Drag Chain and through the X-Axis Drag Chain Bracket.

Attaching the two Drag Chains to the brackets will make the Wiring Harness more manageable and the remaining steps of the installation much easier.

The free ends of the two Drag Chains will be secured to the rails later in the assembly.

Installing the Limit Switches

With all of the wires connected and routed back to the controller, you can safely remove the controller cover again.

The Shapeoko XXL ships with three (3x) limit switches. One for the X axis, one for the Y axis, and one for the Z axis. Each limit switch is attached to a twisted-wire pair of black and yellow wires.

The switches are pre-installed to their respective plates during the harness assembly in the factory. In this step we will connect those plates to their permanent locations on the machine.

Z-Axis Limit Switch

Attach the Z-Axis Limit Switch by locating the larger plate from the end of the harness and connecting to the front of the X/Z assembly. This plate is visible in the image below.

You may need to adjust your wiring from the harness at this point. The wiring is zip tied together, but is not bound to the drag chains. Gently pulling on the wires for more length is acceptable.

The Z-Axis homing switch plate attaches to the front of the X/Z assembly using four (4x) M5x10mm button head cap screws.

Make sure the limit switch is located in the bottom left corner of the plate (when viewed from the front of the Shapeoko XXL) before securing to the standoffs. You can identify the location of the switch by looking for the small hex nut on the outside of the plate.

When routing the Z-Axis Limit Switch wires to the Z-Axis Switch, make sure it is behind or below the Z-Axis Motor Switch. Look at the photo below for the proper way to route the cable. In the photo below, it is the yellow and black cable.

X-Axis Limit Switch

Using two (2x) M5x35mm socket head cap screws and 2 1” standoffs, attach the X-Axis Limit Switch to the rear of the X-axis Plate.

Note the orientation of the plate in the photo above. The switch is mounted to the outside of the plate, the screws go through the plate, then spacers on the opposite side.

The screws will attach directly to the integrated nuts on the back of the X-Axis Plate as shown below.

Y-Axis Limit Switch

The Y-Axis Limit Switch mounts to the Right Y-Axis Carriage. When attaching the switch to the carriage, the switch goes to the OUTSIDE. If placed on the inside, the switch will not activate when the carriage reaches the rear End Plate.

Complete the installation by tightening the screws into the integrated threaded holes. When tightening the screws, insure the plate stays roughly perpendicular to the left Y-Axis Rail. Slowly slide the gantry to the back of the machine to ensure that the switch makes contact with the rear End Plate.

Enable Homing Article

Motor Extensions

Each cable in the Wiring Harness has been labeled with its proper connection. The connectors are polarized and can only be connected one way. Do not force a connector in place; check to make certain you have the orientation correct if any resistance is encountered.

Organizing all the wires is not necessary at this point and will be taken care of in the ‘Tidying Up’ section at the end.

The X and Z motors on the rear of the gantry will be connected first. Leave their wire leads wrapped as you found them in the package, we will not need the extra length for this installation.

The Z-Axis is the TOP motor, and the X-Axis is the BOTTOM motor. Connect each to their respective extensions shown in the image below.

The Y2 motor is mounted on the RIGHT Y-Axis Carriage (when viewed from front).

This cable will stretch ¾ of the way across the back of the gantry and connect to the Right Y-Axis Carriage motor as shown below.

Leave the cables hanging down at this point; all cables will be routed and secured in the following assembly section.

The Y1 motor is mounted to the Left Y-Axis Carriage (when viewed from front). Connect the wires as shown in the image below.

Route the wires/cables through the first port on the bottom (the hole closest to the rear of the Shapeoko XXL) of the Controller Lid as shown in the image below.

The easiest order is as follows:

  • Insert the three (3x) Limit Switch Cables (the black and yellow twisted wires) through the hole first.

  • Insert each of the motor extensions individually through the hole. They will fit, but need to be routed through carefully at the center of the hole. Do not attempt to insert two or more extensions together.

Wiring - Connecting

Connecting the Limit Switches

Each of the three limit switch cables are labeled (X, Y, and Z) at the factory prior to shipping. The Controller Board’s Limit Switch ports are labeled near the 10-pin connector (white) running across the top right corner of the controller.

From left to right, the X-Axis Limit Switch black-and-yellow twisted wires should be plugged in first, followed by the Y-Axis Limit Switch wires, and then the Z-Axis Limit Switch wires. Four metal posts will remain as shown in the image below.

Connecting the Stepper Motors

The motor extension wires have connectors that are polarized and can only be connected properly when inserted as shown in the above image.

Each port is labeled along the bottom of the Controller Board. The labels are directly beneath each of the four ports.

From left to right, the motors should be attached in the following order: Z, Y1, Y2, X.

Tidy Up




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