DIY Shapeoko Wasteboard
For this project we will use the machine to create a hole pattern in the base plate that ships with the Shapeoko. This is one of many ways to build a hold down solution into your Shapeoko CNC machine.
With some minor design tweaks, the same thing can be done on the Shapeoko XL and Shapeoko XXL.
Both files for this project can be downloaded below. The zip file contains both the Carbide Create design file (with toolpaths) and the G-Code file generated for Carbide Motion.
- Shapeoko CNC Machine
- 1/4″ square endmill (like the #201 endmill found in the Carbide 3D store)
- Threaded inserts (EZ-LOK 800610-13)
- T-Handle (or Allen key)
- Chamfer bit
- Cordless Drill
- Power driver for cordless drill (to match your threaded inserts)
We made the hole pattern in Carbide Create, using the snap to grid feature at the default 0.25″ increments.
There are two variants of columns that provide a variety of clamping options. Columns have a 2″ spacing (center to center) and the rows have either a 2″ or 6″ spacing (center to center). There are a total of 47 holes.
The general idea is to home the machine (back right corner) then offset the machine a specific distance, then set zero and run the job to actually create the holes.
Unlike most jobs, where we want to get the cutter as ‘short’ as we possibly can, for the situation we want to bring it out quite a bit. This is because we need to reach the bottom of the wasteboard.
The easiest way to tell if your cutter is long enough is to bring the gantry (with the machine powered off) in front of the front plate, then lower the Z-axis until it is nearly at its furthest travel.
Then adjust your cutter so it protrudes at least 1” below the front lip (as shown in the image above).
Once your cutter is at the correct length, remember to tighten the collet! Then move your Z-axis up, and slowly slide your gantry back towards the home position.
It is now time to power on the machine, and connect with Carbide Motion.
With your machine powered on and connected via USB, open Carbide Motion and connect to the machine.
To create a reference point that we can all use, you need to home the machine, this will send it to the back right corner of the frame.
Once the machine is in the back right corner, clear all of the offsets by clicking on the ‘set zero’ button. All readouts should now have a value of −5.000.
To bring the machine to the correct position, we need to move it away from the home position, and to the point we want to begin the job (this is called creating an offset).
The position we are trying to get to (relative to the home position) is
X = −411 Y = −322
To get there, we have two choices.
- Use the built in jogging feature (by clicking ‘Jog’ at the top of the window).
- Enter the values directly into the MDI. In this example we will do the latter.
MDI button at the top of the screen, this will bring you to a prompt (as shown in the image above).
Enter the values just as you see them in the image (G0 X-411 Y-322) then press the SEND button.
Your machine will immediately begin traveling to the position you entered. When it gets there, it will stop.
This is a very important step, and something that beginners often forget. Now that we are at our starting position we need to
ZERO the machine.
We will begin by zeroing the X and Y axis. Because these are already at their starting position, we can just go into the jog screen and click the
Set Zero button. Once you are in the zero screen, simply click
ZERO X and then click
Both X and Y values should read
0.000 after clicking the ZERO button.
Your X and Y axis are now zeroed!
To zero the Z axis, we will need to ‘touch off’ from the top of the wasteboard. If you do not know how to touch off, here’s a short video explaining the process.
Measure twice, cut once
With everything zeroed out, and your job loaded, it is worth doing a couple of checks to make sure you are in the correct position. See the gallery below for reference images of what position your machine should be prior to running this job.
The cutter should be:
- about 2.375″ from the outside of the front edge
- about 6.125″ from the left edge of the base board**
Running the Job
The job will take approximately 20 minutes to complete. Take note that the base board is made from MDF, and will generate a lot of dust. It is suggested you use proper PPE (personal protection equipment) when working with any material being cut on your machine.
Adding the Inserts
Removing the Wasteboard
After the job is done, we will need to remove the wasteboard from the machine.
To do this, remove the 8 screws holding the wasteboard to the frame. Once the screws are removed, you can simply slide the wasteboard out of the frame from the side.
Move your machine out of the way, and lay the part UPSIDE DOWN on your bench.
Why upside down? These are tapered and should be inserted from the BOTTOM of whatever material they are going into.
To prepare the wasteboard for the inserts add a chamfer to the holes. The chamfer will both help guide the insert into the hole, and also provide some relief for the displaced material created by driving the threads into the MDF.
These chamfers don’t have to be deep, just break the edge of each hole with a chamfer bit chucked into your cordless drill.
After your holes have been chamfered, you are ready to actually install the threaded inserts.
Installation can be done several different ways. You can use something as simple as an Allen key, or a T-handle hex driver. However, there are 47 inserts to install, and I can tell you from experience, that after about 10, you’ll want a better way to do the remaining 37.
This is where power tools come in handy. Using a cordless drill, and the appropriately sized power driver will significantly speed up how quickly you get this done.
Start with your torque setting very low (somewhere around 4 or 5), then gradually increate the setting until you find where you can drive the insert into the hole, but not all the way through the hole! You want the insert to sit about 1mm deep into the holes (shown in the last picture below).
Because the inserts are only 13mm long, and the wasteboard is 19mm thick, there is some wiggle room in terms of depth. But, you also do not want to insert sitting flush with the other edge of the material.
Once all of the inserts are in place, you will need to re-install the wasteboard.
Now that your inserts are installed, you need some clamps to hold down your work pieces! Head over to the clamps tutorial and make yourself a set!
Clamps Tutorial: http://carbide3d.com/docs/tutorials/shapeoko-clamps/