CNC Router, Shapeoko XXL

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MODEL: Shapeoko 3XXL


Software available

  • Carbide Motion - Used for low level control the Shapeoko router
  • Carbide Create - Simple design and toolpath generation tool, good enough for many needs
  • VCarve Pro (Makerspace edition) - A fancier design and toolpath creation tool. We have a code that lets you unlock the Pro version but you can only use what you design the makerspace
  • Fusion360 - Can be used to create designs and toolpaths
  • MeshCAM - Can be used to create designs and toolpaths

NOTE: If you created your design in a different software other than what is at the shop, it will need to be imported from a standard format in order to create your tool paths and generate the gcode program.

  • Carbide Create can import DXF and SVG files

Useful links


What kinds of things can be made with a CNC Router and why would you want to use one? Some project ideas are carved wood signs, puzzles, coasters, cutting boards, and specialized parts that require a precise and repeatable cutting design.

What is a CNC Router?

Choosing CNC Router Bits

Many useful links to design sites, materials and tools can also be found on the Boss_LS-3655 laser page.


The Shapeoko 3XXL CNC Router is a heavy duty desktop CNC machine designed to do real work, out of real materials like hardwoods, plywood, plastics and non-ferrous metals.

NOTE: Special considerations apply to the machining of metals on the Shapeoko. Please consult shop management prior to starting any CNC project involving metal.

Using Shapeoko on Brass


To design a CNC project, you need the following:

1. An idea for something you want to make

2. Design software (to create your designs or to work with imported pre-made design models)

The CNC PC at Annapolis Makerspace has several design software applications installed, so you have several options from which to choose. Carbide 3D and VCarve are very user-friendly and a good choice for beginners and hobby projects. Autodesk Fusion 360 is also available and is widely used in industry for manufacturing and engineering.

How to create a design from scratch in Carbide Create

How to create a design from scratch in VCarve

NOTE: If you are working in VCarve and would prefer to start on your own PC or laptop, you will need to use the Makerspace License Key with your VCarve Trial Client version. This will enable you to create your .gcode files at the Space for the designs you made at home.

Installing VCarve Pro (Client) on your Laptop or PC

If you need to import a 3D STL file to VCarve, check out this link:

How to import a 3D STL file in Aspire, VCarve 10 with i2R UCCNC


Carbide3d Hello World tutorial

Free CNC projects from Vectric

Free CNC projects from


Once you have your design, you need to create the toolpaths that will tell the CNC Router how to cut your part(s), and preview or simulate the cut to ensure you get the result you expect.

Creating CNC toolpaths using VCarve software

Once your design is complete, your toolpaths are created and successfully simulated, the next step is to acquire the material and bits needed, reserve the machine on the tool/machine schedule and come to the Space's CNC Router machine to generate your machine code and make your project.

NOTE: A safety orientation is required before using the Shapeoko 3XXL CNC Router at Annapolis Makerspace. If you need to schedule and do not see any sessions on the calendar, post a request for orientation to the #cnc_router group on Slack.

The Shapeoko 3XXL CNC Router is run from software called CARBIDE MOTION. Please review this video before scheduling orientation and using the machine:

Introduction to using Carbide Motion


  • Transferring design files to the CNC PC; user directory
  • Creating .nc or .gcode
  • Carbide Motion menu and operation; How to initialize, Jog, and XYZ zero set the CNC machine; start/stop of vacuum system and router spindle
  • Installation and removal of router bits, load file, start/stop job
  • Acceptable materials and how to attach them to the spoilboard
  • Recommended Feeds and Speeds for the Shapeoko 3XXL
  • Personal Protection and Safety: Eye, Hand, Hearing and Respiratory Protection
  • Emergency pause/stop controls; job and machine troubleshooting
  • Shop Policies for cleanup and removal of scrap material

Each student will be required to demonstrate they can successfully create a simple design with a pocket and profile cut (with tabs), assign toolpaths, create .gcode, install the bit, mount material, run the job including use of the emergency pause/stop job function.