Difference between revisions of "FAQ"

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'''''What commodity code is used to describe this machine for customs?''''' --- “other milling machines, numerically controlled.” USPS has instructed companies selling kits to put “build it yourself kit” as the code descriptor.
'''''What commodity code is used to describe this machine for customs?''''' --- “other milling machines, numerically controlled.” USPS has instructed companies selling kits to put “build it yourself kit” as the code descriptor.
'''''Can parts be removed from the kit for a savings in price or weight?''''' --- No.  At this time, in order to keep costs (and price) as low as possible, the kits are put together in large quantities. As such, it is not possible to customize the kits.
'''''Can parts be removed from the kit for a savings in price or weight?''''' --- It is possible to order a Shapeoko 4 w/o a Hybrid table, requiring that the customer source a piece of MDF and drill holes as needed to secure it.  At this time, in order to keep costs (and price) as low as possible, the kits are put together in large quantities, as such, it is not possible to further customize the kits.
'''''What is the weight and size of the box for a full kit?''''' --- Full kits for the Shapeoko 3 weigh approximately 55 lbs (~25kg)[http://www.shapeoko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=4788&p=44113#p44112], and the box size is 30 × 18 × 8 inches  (762mm x 460mm x 204mm).  
'''''What is the weight and size of the box for a full kit?''''' --- Full kits for the Shapeoko 3 weigh approximately 55 lbs (~25kg)[http://www.shapeoko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=4788&p=44113#p44112], and the box size is 30 × 18 × 8 inches  (762mm x 460mm x 204mm).  

Revision as of 07:54, 18 July 2021


What safety gear do I need to operate a machine? --- At a minimum eye protection and heavy clothing to protect against a broken bit, hearing protection or a sound enclosure, dust collection and if necessary a filter mask or respirator depending on the nature of the material being cut. See the Operating Checklist.

Possibility of fire https://www.cnccookbook.com/survive-first-cnc-router-fire/

Use with a UPS: https://www.apc.com/us/en/faqs/FA158851/





Storage up against a wall via tilting is not supported --- better to use a series of lifts to move it up against the ceiling.

Electrical Current


Estimate of 11 amps: https://community.carbide3d.com/t/circuit-amperage/30075/10

What else do I need to operate a machine?

Further details are available at appropriate places in this and also see: https://docs.carbide3d.com/general-faq/machine-operating-checklist/ and be sure to read https://shapeokoenthusiasts.gitbook.io/shapeoko-cnc-a-to-z/ and http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920032021.do#

​and of course, material and designs to cut. I recommend that folks start by drawing up a design (follow along in one of our tutorials: https://docs.carbide3d.com/tutorials/#shapeoko-tutorials and watch our videos: http://carbide3d.com/carbidecreate/video/ and read through: http://docs.carbide3d.com/assembly/carbidecreate/userguide/ ) and working up toolpaths all the way through 3D simulation --- if that effort seems workable to you, you should be in a good place to get a machine.


For holding down materials we offer a couple of products:

  • Threaded Tables --- we have these for the Shapeoko:

https://shop.carbide3d.com/collections/tools/products/shapeoko-threaded-table and the Nomad: https://shop.carbide3d.com/collections/tools/products/nomad-threaded-table

  • a low profile vise (for the Nomad, but again, it's easily mounted to the Shapeoko:


  • T track and clamp kit:


Consumable options:

We also offer some tutorial options for making your own: threaded inserts for a wasteboard:

A good approach on that is a three-layered system since one wants to achieve three different purposes:

  • structure/bottom: original MDF baseplate (sealed with spar urethane or lacquer) with some holes and threaded inserts installed from underneath for adding points to secure from above --- a replacement of the original may be easily fashioned by sourcing a piece of MDF, removing the original, clamping it to the blank and cutting it to size and transferring the holes using transfer punches, drills, and countersinks.
  • workholding/middle: a threaded insert board no more larger than the working area by the reach of a clamp (but, see below) which has holes in that border area which match up with the threaded insert holes in the bottom layer to secure it (making it the same size as the working area may be simpler), a grid of holes in the working area field for threaded inserts installed for workholding, and additional holes with threaded inserts to secure --- discussion of bootstrapping this at: https://community.carbide3d.com/t/notes-on-rapid-positions-and-wasteboard-leveling/8131/2
  • spoilboard/top: a sacrificial cutting material the size of the supported working area plus the diameter of the endmill used for surfacing along X, and endmill radius along Y, (with a matching radius at the back corner) which has holes in it to match the threaded insert board for workholding purposes (these may be drilled at need) and holes to secure it to the threaded insert middle layer. http://community.carbide3d.com/t/wasteboard-plans-with-threads/3544/19 --- for surfacing the MDF supported by the T-tracks on a Pro see: https://community.carbide3d.com/t/getting-the-pro-setup/29048

threaded inserts:


and a variety of clamps:

as well as stops and indexing aids:


Is it possible to upgrade a ShapeOko 2 to a Shapeoko 3? ---No. The only parts in common are the V-wheels and a few connectors.[1][2] if there were such a kit, using it would result in one essentially having a second machine as a pile of parts.


The Z Plus has a single mounting point for the router mounting collar. The Belt Drive X/Z has two mounting points one higher and one lower. Depending on where the user installs the mounting collar on the Front Z plate of the Belt Drive Z axis, there are two different operating heights. The Z Plus advertises 3 inches of travel and provides more than that. Your reach is different from that of the lower mounted point of the Belt Drive Z axis. There are 2 options for reaching work when using the Z Plus. A longer endmill or lifting the work up with say a spoilboard.

Announcement: https://community.carbide3d.com/t/shapeoko-z-plus/19301/19

Plan for DIY EZ tram plate: https://community.carbide3d.com/t/flattening-bit-doesnt-touch-waste-board/20285/45


What commodity code is used to describe this machine for customs? --- “other milling machines, numerically controlled.” USPS has instructed companies selling kits to put “build it yourself kit” as the code descriptor.

Can parts be removed from the kit for a savings in price or weight? --- It is possible to order a Shapeoko 4 w/o a Hybrid table, requiring that the customer source a piece of MDF and drill holes as needed to secure it. At this time, in order to keep costs (and price) as low as possible, the kits are put together in large quantities, as such, it is not possible to further customize the kits.

What is the weight and size of the box for a full kit? --- Full kits for the Shapeoko 3 weigh approximately 55 lbs (~25kg)[3], and the box size is 30 × 18 × 8 inches (762mm x 460mm x 204mm).

What bits are included in a full kit? --- Carbide 3D bundles a 1/4" #201 endmill (though these may not be helpful in regions where the router comes with a 6mm collet).

Is the machine available in Europe (or anywhere other than the U.S.)? --- The Shapeoko 3 is now available from Sparkfun and its distributors: https://www.sparkfun.com/distributors as well as https://www.fablabfactory.com/collections/milling-machines/products/shapeoko-3 and https://www.robotshop.com/en/carbide3d-shapeoko-3-robust-cnc-router-kit-us.html

What defines a Shapeoko? --- http://www.shapeoko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=621

What are the differences between a Shapeoko and an eShapeoko? --- http://wiki.amberspyglass.co.uk/index.php?title=EShapeOko_FAQ

What are the differences between a Shapeoko 4 and a Shapeoko Pro? --- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AX1m7p0Jibw


Can the ShapeOko cut Material <X>? --- http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Materials

Is CAD/CAM program <X> compatible? --- the ShapeOko is usually controlled by an Arduino running Grbl which accepts G-codes (up to 50 or 70 characters per line/command), so any program which can export to G-code or which can create a file (.dxf, .stl, .svg, &c.) which one of the CAM programs here: http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/CAM will accept, will work.

What is the X and Y resolution on the Shapeoko? --- the resolution for the X- and Y-axis is 40 steps/mm (~1000 steps/inch). This was determined using inputs of 200 steps/rev, 8 micros/step, 20 teeth pulley, and 2mm belt pitch. http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Grbl_Configuration

What is a reasonable expectation for accuracy? --- If tuned properly you should be able to get to within ~0.003″ –- 0.005″ (~0.075mm -- 0.127mm) --- better is achievable with careful setup and an upgraded machine. Note that at such small dimensions many factors can affect this number --- temperature, humidity if using the MDF wasteboard (upgrade to an aluminum one), &c. One user was far more pessimistic: https://www.facebook.com/groups/232744457133521/permalink/284699991937967/?comment_id=284735568601076&reply_comment_id=284766828597950 Notes on area and scale: http://community.carbide3d.com/t/calibrating-belt-streth-maxmum-100-101-writes/7840/2

What are the dimensions of an assembled machine? --- The dimensions of an assembled, stock Shapeoko 3 are approximately 28.5″ × 24.25″ × 14.5″

How to make letters to cut out? --- A tutorial from the ShapeOko blog touches on this: http://www.shapeoko.com/archives/988 or see: https://wiki.shapeoko.com/index.php/Child_Name_or_Letter_Board

Can the machine cut 3D parts? --- Yes. http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Projects

How long can the machine run? --- http://www.shapeoko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=4674&p=34701


Upgrading the spindle? --- http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Spindle_Options

Upgrading to NEMA 23 motors? (for the ShapeOko 2) --- See http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/BOM and http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/ShapeOko_2#Upgrades

Are NEMA 23 motors necessary? (for the ShapeOko 2) --- No. They are helpful if one wants the machine to move faster, or if one needs to mount an exceptionally heavy spindle which requires the additional torque, but most users do not need the additional power (or weight and expense).

Limit / Homing switches? --- http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Home_switches and http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Limit_Switches

Increasing the work/cutting area (X- and Y-axes)? --- http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Scaling_Up

Can the Z-axis be extended? --- Yes. http://www.shapeoko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2241


What else should I have on hand? --- Safety gear as noted above. A good quality square, a digital caliper (inexpensive plastic is a suitable improvement over just a ruler), paper and tape, a plan for Workholding, stock to cut (tools to break down stock will make this more affordable), plans for Projects, a vacuum, and possibly Dust Shoe, and tools for post-processing stock (a deburring tool is handy for metals and plastics), and if need be suitable hardware and supplies to finish them. See http://community.carbide3d.com/t/considering-shapeoko-3/3842/2 and http://www.shapeoko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=5626#p41942 and http://www.shapeoko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2325#p17646

How do I reverse an axis? --- This can be done by either re-wiring the machine, or by flipping bits in the Grbl#Invert_Bits Grbl configuration---invert bits. For the Shapeoko 3, the Z-axis can be mechanically reversed by flipping the Z-axis plate over, and the Y-axis by swapping the connectors at the controller.

Placement of eccentric nuts? --- The circular portion of the eccentric nuts goes all the way into the matching hole: MakerSlide Eccentric placement

Do I have to tap the MakerSlide? (for the ShapeOko 2) --- Yes, if the extrusion isn't already tapped. http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Makerslide#Tapping The Shapeoko 3 kits have their extrusion already tapped.

Are larger versions of the diagrams available? (for the ShapeOko 2) --- Click on the images to open much more detailed versions.





Power supply


Homing switches

Make sure you've sent the machine configuration per the assembly instructions for your machine: https://docs.carbide3d.com/assembly/shapeoko/#assemble-machine and that the configuration matches your machine and its accessories. https://community.carbide3d.com/t/configuring-a-machine-using-carbide-motion-5/26338 and for 517 and later: https://community.carbide3d.com/t/setting-grbl-configuration-in-cm-517-and-later/27681 or see the ~14 min. mark of this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krwt3C9aSTY, for the Pro see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N975DYN9ynM and https://docs.carbide3d.com/assembly/shapeoko-pro/xxl/Shapeoko_Pro_assembly_guide_02-05-2021_v1_web.pdf

Note that it may help to temporarily disable or disconnect accessories when troubleshooting. For configuring a BitSetter see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I97XwLBmyuc&t=90s

There is a basic page on troubleshooting the homing switches at: https://docs.carbide3d.com/software-faq/home-switch-troubleshooting/

There is also a Carbide 3D Answer video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7lOLMAcl_0&feature=youtu.be

For the new inductive homing switches: Troubleshooting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zf8NPmxrEDs and Adjusting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZDBza_B25Q

If the machine moves down rather than up at first and is not on the Z-axis switch, address this by sending the settings, ensuring the homing switches are not active before initializing, righting the Z-axis spindle carriage plate on a belt-drive machine, or correcting the wiring.

​Please check that the switches are plugged in correctly, and work properly --- when the machine powers up the homing indicator lights should flicker on/off, then once the controller is booted up you can test the switches by putting a bit of metal up against them or pressing them --- the matching light should light while the switch is pressed (closed), and should go off when the switch is released (open). ​ Check that the wiring is connected properly and that all the wiring extensions and connectors are consistent. color-ordering should be consistent and all wiring extensions should be straight through.

​Please make sure that the machine can mechanically/electrically close the appropriate homing switch on an axis before reaching the limit of travel along that axis --- if it can't, it should be possible to adjust a problematic switch's placement by loosening the hardware in question, pulling it into a better alignment and then tightening it. Note that it may be necessary to lower the Z-axis switch on a Z-Plus upon arrival (it may have been installed at the highest point to prevent damage when shipping), also ensure that the aluminum post which activates the Z-axis switch is in place. The machine being out of square can also affect this, squaring up the machine, or more expediently, securing a small block or plate for the homing switches to contact may be necessary.


Per the machine operating checklist: https://docs.carbide3d.com/general-faq/machine-operating-checklist/ , the basic points of adjustment for a machine are:

  • Pulley set screws: http://docs.carbide3d.com/shapeoko-faq/shapeoko-3-how-to-check-the-pulley-set-screws/ --- be sure to check all axes/pulleys including Z.
  • V wheels / eccentric nuts: http://docs.carbide3d.com/support/tensioning-eccentrics (for SO3 and SO4 machines) --- for Pros verify that the linear blocks move smoothly on the rails and are well-lubricated
  • Belt tension (see the relevant step in your instruction manual, e.g., https://docs.carbide3d.com/assembly/shapeoko/xxl/step-5-belting/) Note that the X-axis motor is held in place on standoffs and if those bolts are loose this can cause belt tension issues. Also, belt tension for the Y-axis stepper motors needs to be even/equivalent on each side --- a significant difference can cause skipping on one side eventually resulting in lost steps on both.
  • Z-axis:
    • Belt drive: Belt tension --- the Z-axis should be guitar string tight (but careful not to bend the motor shaft) on deep cuts it may help to remove one spring from the Z-axis temporarily (which side doesn't matter), esp. if one hasn't added a spoilboard on top of the wasteboard --- it also helps to install the router as low as possible (installing the Makita adapter upside down will help). Some folks have found it helps to remove bolts which won't stay tensioned (M4 Z-axis tension bolt, various V wheels with eccentric nuts), apply a thin bead of threadlock along the length of the threads, then reinstalling. See the video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lIIb_PdziA
    • HDZ --- make certain that it can move for its entire extent (the coupler provides a good point to turn it) when the power is off, check that dust caps are all in place and not interfering with movement
    • Z-Plus --- verify that it can move from top--bottom and that the stop is in place at the bottom, and the cylindrical standoff which triggers the homing switch is securely in place

It is also important to be sure that the collet is correctly tightened, the endmill fits correctly and doesn't slip, and the router is mounted securely in the mount, and that the mount doesn't shift. Note that endmill pullout can happen gradually, especially when profiling against tall walls.[4]

Also feeds and speeds may be a consideration: https://docs.carbide3d.com/support/#tooling-support and see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9bceJxpqG0 for concepts on this and https://www.precisebits.com/tutorials/calibrating_feeds_n_speeds.htm for a testing technique and see the series #MaterialMonday: https://community.carbide3d.com/t/materialmonday-on-youtube/13092

Beyond that it's usually a matter of ​calibration and squaring the machine c.f., https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9E3VEYlfwA and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4VverLXpCI and http://docs.carbide3d.com/shapeoko-faq/how-to-calibrate-the-machine-for-belt-stretch/

Drag chain catches on homing switch screw

Usually this can be adjusted by loosening the hardware in question, pulling it into the desired alignment, then tightening it, sometimes slightly bending the drag chain bracket up will help. One option is to only use one screw in the rearmost hole on the bracket and the frontmost on the drag chain. Some folks have found it helpful to put a couple of washers under the drag chain bracket to push it out into a better alignment (the drag chain should slightly hang off the rear of the extrusion), other solutions include sourcing a longer drag chain bracket from the hardware store, or placing a piece of angle on the extrusion to guide the drag chain.

A straight-forward solution is to only use one hole (rearmost on bracket, nearest on drag chain).

Doubled belt prevents carriage moving back

Shorten the belt so the rear doesn't run over a doubled up belt. The space at the front has more area for the doubled belt.

Calibrating for Belt Tension


Troubleshooting Concepts

To eliminate the software, please check it in a 3rd party previewer such as CAMotics: https://camotics.org/

Verify that you are using up-to-date software versions including the firmware (Grbl 0.9 originally, currently 1.1 and that the versions match, Carbide Motion 3 with Grbl 0.9, CM4 or later with Grbl 1.1).

Review that the machine is properly assembled according to the assembly instructions and that everything checks out per the Machine Operating Checklist: https://docs.carbide3d.com/general-faq/machine-operating-checklist/

The software works by:

  • Carbide Create (or some other CAD tool) creating geometry
  • assigning toolpaths to the geometry
  • exporting toolpaths to .nc (G-Code) files (using the appropriate post processor, Carbide 3D Shapeoko for Carbide Create)
  • Carbide Motion connecting to the machine (and if need be sending the correct settings for both the machine and Grbl)
  • initializing (homing) it
  • moving the machine to the correct origin relative to the stock and setting zero there
  • sending the G-Code file
  • appropriately changing tools as prompted

​ ​The machine is able to move based on: ​

  • the controller interpreting the G-Code to make
  • impulses from the stepper driver --- usually if they don't work right there are horrible noises
  • sent through the wiring --- check the connections and wiring --- if you or a friend have a multimeter use it to check for continuity
  • received by the stepper motor --- these almost never go bad
  • which rotates the motor shaft --- check that this is true and not bent
  • which rotates the pulley --- check that it has two set screws at least one of which is on flats and that they are secure: https://docs.carbide3d.com/shapeoko-faq/shapeoko-3-how-to-check-the-pulley-set-screws/
  • which pushes/pulls on the belt (or screw) --- make sure that the belts track true through both the pulleys and the idlers and are in good condition, secure at appropriate points and well tensioned (see the assembly instructions)
  • which moves the machine along the V rails guided by V wheels (or linear rails for a Pro) --- make sure that the latter are properly adjusted https://docs.carbide3d.com/support/tensioning-eccentrics/ and the former clean and in good shape, lubricate rails as necessary

The machine then cuts based on:

  • the trim router being securely in place
  • having an endmill properly installed in a clean and well-fitting collet properly tightened
  • being moved along by the toolpaths without running off the rails and running into a limit of motion along any axis or any workholding or physical obstruction such as a cord, dust collection, &c.
  • which matches the toolpaths in the G-Code (which brings us full circle)

For electronic accessories, check the connectors and the wiring along the entire length and that they are properly configured and enabled.


Where is the FAQ for using the machine? --- Operation Troubleshooting

What skills do I need to assemble and use the machine? --- The ability to read and follow directions, tighten a bolt (used to be one needed to be able to tap a thread); and the ability to use (or learn to use) vector drawing (such as Inkscape) or CAD software and a CAM program and some utilities.

Should one motor be hotter than the others? (the Z-Axis for the Shapeoko 2, X-axis for the Shapeoko 3) --- Yes. holding requires more energy than spinning a stepper motor and these are not bolted to a large metal part which functions as a heat sink.

error: Unsupported statement --- Problem is likely that you have comma defined as a decimal separator in your localization file which your CAM program is wrongly using in the G-code.[5]

Communication program connects but machine doesn’t move --- Incorrect baud rate. Grbl v0.8 and earlier use 9600, 0.9 uses 115200.[6]

USB disconnection --- http://carbide3d.com/blog/2016/disconnect-problems/ [7] and http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Electronics#Recommendations

Machine cuts/moves at wrong size --- http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Operation_Troubleshooting#Machine_cuts.2Fmoves_at_wrong_size.2Fscale

What spare parts should be kept on-hand? --- brushes for the trim router, belts, Delrin V wheels, a pulley (the SO3 would want two different sizes), set screws and various other fasteners (though these can be acquired at any decent hardware store), stepper drivers or a spare controller (this last is a fairly pricey investment and arguably not needed unless down-time has serious repercussions)

Other things needed/other considerations

It depends on how you want to work and what sort of work space you have and other constraints. Let's break it down:

  • it helps to be able to break down stock (you'll also want to store it) --- the larger a size you can purchase, the lower the ultimate cost will be, but not everyone has the wherewithal to receive 4x8 sheets and to break them down (pretty much needs a panel saw or track saw) --- but at a minimum a hand saw (and some clamps and a miter box) to cut stock to length will help a lot
  • if you get rough cut lumber (big savings) you may want to plane it smooth --- a planer, or for small stock a handplane and a workbench --- alternately, clamp the stock to the machine and surface it using the machine
  • again, for rough cut stock, a jointer will allow one to dress an edge and set it to 90 degrees --- as for planing though this can be done on the machine instead (assuming it is properly squared and trammed)
  • stock then needs to be secured to the machine for cutting --- you'll need clamps or some sort of workholding
  • while and after cutting you'll need dust collection --- at least a shop vac
  • after cutting you may need a pull saw, razor saw, or a sharp chisel or utility knife to cut tabs or cut stock free from an onionskin layer
  • once stock is removed you'll want to post-process it --- a file or sandpaper block, deburring tool, or a countersink and/or chamfering plane can nicely finish off a piece
  • there are entire books written on finishing --- research and select an appropriate finish, prep the surface, then apply the finish according to the directions


There is a basic page on troubleshooting connection issues at: https://docs.carbide3d.com/software-faq/can-t-connect-to-machine-or-jog/

Things to check:

  • power supply plugged in --- it lights up after being plugged in and stays lit with a steady light?
  • power supply connected to machine and switched on (try toggling on/off a couple of times) --- if applicable, machine power switch is switched on and lights up? --- machine boots up, controller lights up with power, lights flicker on/off, motors lock?
  • machine connected to computer using USB --- computer registers USB device? red/green/white lights on controller begin to blink signifying USB communication?
  • How is the USB connection being made? 6' or less is recommended, and poor quality adapters cables are known to be problematic
  • Try pressing the reset button to see if that allows the machine to connect?
  • What shows in the USB Device Tree? Are there any conflicting devices? Even a pair of Bluetooth speakers can conflict

Disconnection Issues

Some notes at: https://shapeokoenthusiasts.gitbook.io/shapeoko-cnc-a-to-z/maintenance#disconnects

Try changing the brushes of your Router following the manufacturer's instructions.

  1. arrange the AC cable for the spindle (trim router) so that it doesn't cross or be near any of the other cables
  2. if you're using a laptop, ensure that it is plugged in, preferably to a grounded outlet using a 3 prong plug if possible
  3. if you're using a USB extension cable or unpowered USB hub, please directly connect the machine using a shorter than 6 foot USB cable --- if your cable doesn't have a toroid (metal cylinder often molded into the end of the cable) and you have a cable which has that feature, try it, if not consider adding one or getting a cable which has that feature
  4. try a different USB port, esp. if you have the option to switch from USB3 to USB2 --- if using a laptop try a good-quality powered USB hub --- some laptops undervolt the USB ports to save power. Make sure that the cable isn't being jostled or disturbed.
  5. if your spindle (trim router) power cable doesn't have a toroid, try adding one (note that what seems to be a toroid on most trim routers is actually an anti-theft device on all the ones I've seen). Note that worn carbon brushes or a loose connector on a trim router may cause arcing which results in EMI.
  6. if possible, connect the spindle (trim router) and the machine through a different circuit
  7. if you have a surge protector, please connect the machine through it
  8. check the ambient humidity, if low, consider a humidifier
  9. if using dust collection, ensure that your dust hose does not allow static build-up, or is properly grounded
  10. Connect the machine with a galvanic isolator such as this one: https://www.adafruit.com/product/2107?gclid=Cj0KCQiA5aTUBRC2ARIsAPoPJk_QzQ3Qjm2-l-wyL9heIWt_62QGVKLz2u_ytQJiniXgGNuPTVyfUI8aAi7qEALw_wcB

Please ensure that there aren't any extraneous wires which create ground loops (the default configuration doesn’t have this problem but folks have introduced it when adding dust collection, or trying to ground things themselves).

Z-axis moves down rather than up

There are several things which will cause the Z-axis to move down rather than up or to run in reverse:

Z-axis plunges too deeply

This may be caused by a number of different things:

  • Setup issues:
    • a disconnect in how the origin is set in the file and how the zero is set relative to the stock, see: https://docs.carbide3d.com/assembly/carbidecreate/video-tutorials/#job-setup and https://docs.carbide3d.com/tutorials/tutorial-homing/
      • if using the Probe this may be caused by setting the Probe as for an X/Y/Z probe at a corner, but probing for Z only, see: https://docs.carbide3d.com/assembly/touch-probe/userguide/#probing-xyz (the Probe should be fully on the surface, rather than only the body on the stock and the 3mm lip off the stock)
      • if using the BitSetter, changing a tool without using the Change Tool button can result in too deep or too high cutting
    • setting the Z-axis safety/retract height in the CAM program (Job Setup | Machine | Retract Height in Carbide Create) to a value greater than is available above where the machine expects the top of the stock to be, resulting in the machine bottoming out against the top stock, thinking it is too high, then plunging down too far in an effort to travel down as far as that failed effort would allow. Setting the origin to the bottom of the stock/wasteboard surface, while setting the zero to the top of the stock may also cause this problem
    • Grbl misconfiguration --- check that you have the correct Z-axis enabled, in particular, having a Z-Plus, but configuring for an HDZ will cause overtravel in the Z-axis
  • Operational issues:
    • a mechanical difficulty --- check pulley set screws, Z-axis belt tension (if using a belt drive)
    • an electronics issue --- check the wiring and connectors
    • the endmill gradually working loose --- check that an adequate length of shaft is in the collet and tighten using two wrenches per the instructions
    • the endmill getting pulled into the cut --- keep tooling engagement as low as possible --- esp. avoid slotting, where appropriate add geometry and cut as a pocket down to at least tab depth: https://community.carbide3d.com/t/adding-geometry-to-cut-as-a-pocket-with-a-finishing-pass/9993

Router Feeds and Speeds

The router speed setting should match the feeds and speeds for your selection of endmill and material. For #201 endmills in a Shapeoko and #102 endmills in a Nomad please see:


(there's a row matching dial settings to RPMs at the bottom)

There's an interactive version at: https://public.tableau.com/profile/willadams#!/vizhome/Carbide3DCNCFeedsandSpeeds/Sheet1?publish=yes

Note that the feeds and speeds calculations in Carbide Create were updated for trim routers in 433 and 440 and later use a curated set of feeds and speeds which are stored in CSV files.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9bceJxpqG0 for concepts on this and see the series #MaterialMonday: https://community.carbide3d.com/t/materialmonday-on-youtube/13092 for specifics.

You should test feeds and speeds in a piece of scrap using the technique at: https://precisebits.com/tutorials/calibrating_feeds_n_speeds.htm

Another consideration is Climb vs. Conventional Milling and tooling engagement --- where possible avoid slotting and add geometry and cut as a pocket (https://community.carbide3d.com/t/making-vacuum-hose-adapters/31468 and/or https://community.carbide3d.com/t/adding-geometry-to-cut-as-a-pocket-with-a-finishing-pass/9993 ) and consider leaving a roughing clearance and taking a finishing pass.

Extensive discussion at: https://community.carbide3d.com/t/origin-consistency-of-chipload-recommandations/14152 and https://shapeokoenthusiasts.gitbook.io/shapeoko-cnc-a-to-z/feeds-and-speeds-basics with a spreadsheet for this at: https://community.carbide3d.com/t/speeds-feeds-power-and-force-sfpf-calculator/16237/29

Drilling Toolpaths


Continuing a cut which is interrupted

Best practice is to break up jobs into manageable chunks: http://docs.carbide3d.com/tutorials/tool-change/

Universal G-Code Sender has a specific feature for this: https://github.com/winder/Universal-G-Code-Sender/wiki/Usage#run-from-a-selected-line [8]

If you must do this:

  • note what line the machine is currently sending (or determine where it was by measuring the deepest area correctly cut)
  • pause, then stop the job and shut things down
  • open up the G-Code file in a text editor
  • identify the preamble and copy it --- see G-Code and https://docs.carbide3d.com/software-faq/grbl-g-code-definitions/ for the details of the codes
  • go to the line # noted above
  • scroll up from there until you find a move down from safety height
  • delete everything from the line above that line to the beginning of the file
  • paste in the preamble at the beginning
  • save under a new name

Calibration and Squaring






What parts will need to be lubricated or replaced? --- Machines with metal screws and nuts for motion such as the Nomad may need lubrication, belts will wear and require replacement, V-wheels will wear and require replacement. If using a spindle with brushes (such as a trim router) brushes will need to be replaced --- usually EMI will increase before the router quits working, so disconnects suddenly occurring may indicate a need to replace brushes.

c.f. Operating Checklist

Packaging for Transportation

Fasten the moving parts using foam (pipe insulation or pool noodles) with zip ties to secure everything in place. See how the Nomad is unboxed for one example.[9]


Carbide 3D doesn't do à la carte parts sales. ​ ​There's the maintenance kit of course. For folks using machines in production we recommend the following spares:

  • belts, pulleys, belt anchors, eccentric nuts, Delrin V wheels, misc. hardware --- our maintenance kit: https://shop.carbide3d.com/collections/accessories/products/shapeoko-maintenance-kit
  • brushes and bearings for the trim router --- if budget allows a second trim router as a hot spare
  • endmills (these are consumables of course)
  • electronics controller (and power supply as your situation indicates)
  • the power supply is a commodity item, and also used to power some televisions and so forth --- it's just a matter of the same connector --- with the same pinout and polarity as noted on the label ---- the size of the power supply should be at least 4.5A at 24V for an SO3 with NEMA23 motors --- the Nomad uses a more powerful supply (outputs 24V at 7.5A) and works as well, so anything with the right connector and polarity in-between that range (4.5 -- 7.5A) would be fine. Here's one available in the U.S. from Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AI152FO --- note the labeled image should match the image on the bottom of your power supply

Any hardware store should have most of the metric hardware we use --- the spacers are the only specialty item not enumerated above and can be replaced by stacks of spacers/washers and a couple of longer bolts with nuts --- they should be available from aluminumspacers.com




G-Code previews okay, but circles and arcs are stair-stepped? --- Lines are too long. Turn on truncating lines in your Communication / Control program or edit them by hand or use a javascript wrapped up in a zipped up html file. Note that there have been some instances of arcs (measured in inches) failing when trimming to 2 digits, 3 is suggested for Imperial files, 4 for metric as a reasonable compromise.[10][11] 5 may be necessary[12]

Expected command letter --- this can also be caused by the too long lines noted above.

Carbide 3D Software

What software does Carbide 3D bundle with their machines? --- Carbide Create and Carbide Motion Machine Control Software --- these are proprietary programs developed for use with the Shapeoko 3 and Nomad 883. Carbide Create can now be used with any machine, MeshCAM can be run in a Nomad specific mode which will output .egc files which Carbide Motion will decrypt when attached to a Nomad, while Carbide Motion will only run if attached to a machine (when so attached it will allow one to copy the plain text of a .egc file). It is possible to request an activation code to run Carbide Motion on a Stepoko from Sparkfun.[13]

Reverting to Grbl 0.9: http://community.carbide3d.com/t/grbl-1-1-and-carbide-motion-4/4403/21

Carbide Create

How to install fonts in Carbide Create? --- Carbide Create uses the fonts which the operating system makes available to it. Usually it is necessary to "install for all users".  ​ ​It also can't make certain proprietary fonts which are in system-specific formats available --- TrueType and OpenType should work though, so long as they are technically correct (fonts missing a space won't load).  ​ ​It is also possible to directly install fonts --- do Help | About | Open Data Directory, then place fonts in the Carbide Create\Fonts directory, then quit and relaunch Carbide Create.

Invalid G-Code: Error 33

Invalid arc format / calculation. --- Increase precision to 5 decimals.[14][15] May be caused by stacked paths. Another possible cause (esp. if using AutoDesk Fusion 360) is inaccurate conversion from Imperial to metric — convert project to metric, then do CAM in metric, then send a metric G-code file to Grbl. Seems to be an accuracy or calculation problem.[16]

Solved by Carbide Motion 414, a suitable post-processor, and setting min. arc size to 4mm:

Shapeoko 3


SO3 Function Test




Is more information available? --- Click on the grey Section heads in the sidebar (which have a right-pointing disclosure triangle) to access the sub-sections.

How can I upload a file? --- Disclose the Toolbox Section in the sidebar and use the Upload a File link.

Where can I record information about my machine? --- Each registered user gets a user page: User:<username> and one can store additional pages in one's User: hierarchy.