The Rules of ShapeOko

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Things have changed a lot since the below was initially written --- see old wiki edits to understand why Rule #1 and 2 were a thing for instance.

The new guiding principle would probably be:


The great thing about CNC is that given a properly prepared file, a machine set up which matches the file, and nothing going wrong in the cutting, a part will be made correctly.

The awful thing about CNC is that a part will only be made correctly if the file is prepared properly, the machine setup up to match the file, and nothing goes wrong in the cutting.


but even so, the old rules can be valid, and may be a fun read.

Rule #1 — You will run out of M5 washers.

Rule #2 — No matter how much you talk about Rule #1, newbies will not believe it, and they will still run out of M5 washers.

Rule #3 — You will be surprised by the accuracy of the machine, you will never get bored watching the machine work.

Rule #4 — You will be frustrated by the occasional inaccuracy and mystified as to how to correct it.

Rule #5 — You will be amazed (and embarrassed) at the places you will find little white flecks of HDPE (Corollary — dust collection is never good enough to satisfy one’s significant other).

Rule #6 — You will crash the gantry, dig the tool into the spoil board, and make noise which will annoy your neighbours.

Rule #7 — No matter how cool your latest upgrade or project is, some significant person in your life will be bored by your talking about it.

Rule #8 — You will consciously choose to discount shipping from the cost of the machine due to the need to place multiple orders ’cause of that one little bit which you forgot to order the previous time. At some point you'll sleep easier if you just stop trying to account for all expenses related to the machine.

Rule #9 — There is always one more part which you need, one more run to the hardware store which must be made, one part out of stock at this store (but hopefully in stock at the next), one more upgrade which will make your machine perfect. You know you’ve gone wrong (or right) when they know your name at the hardware store and ask how your project is going.

Rule #10 — No matter how much you upgrade your machine, it is still a Shapeoko (and all upgrades to machines must be recorded in one’s signature line and documented in the wiki).

No one is a professional Shapeoko user.[1]