Shopbot Desktop: A Step Up In DIY Engineering

CNC & Machining Woodworking
Shopbot Desktop: A Step Up In DIY Engineering

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I know that 3D printers have been all the rage lately, but let us not forget the humble CNC mill. It’s capable of fast and precise fabrication in a plethora of materials. It definitely earns a place on any serious maker’s workbench.MakerShed_Holiday_Hdr-Logo_bur02

The ShopBot Desktop is a prime example of a desktop CNC. It’s the perfect size for medium to large wood projects, but is still small enough fit on a workbench and do the tiny intricate parts you need for things like robotics and RC. This rock solid machine is built around a sturdy welded aluminum frame and glides on precision ground linear guides powered by torquey stepper motors driving zero-backlash nuts giving it a top speed of 360 IPM on the rapids. It has automatic home positioning and an electronic tool height indicator, which makes setting up your parts practically a no brainer and the control software lends itself to fewer accidents and crashes.

I love this machine. We have one here in MAKE Labs and I’ve used it to make all kinds of projects from pinewood derby cars to aluminum paneling for my fusion reactor.  So if your done with 3D printing, step it up and get your hands on the Shopbot Desktop.

See all of our Shed picks here.

10 thoughts on “Shopbot Desktop: A Step Up In DIY Engineering

  1. jstults says:

    That looks like a really nice little machine. How do you like the bundled CAM software?

    I’ve also been looking at the little Sherline CNC mills; do you have any of those in the shop?

    1. Dan Spangler says:

      the software bundle that comes with the Shopbot is top-notch, it comes with both a 2.5D cam program and 3D profiling cam program. I personally use Autodesk Inventor to model the parts then I export them into the cam program (Partworks). However Partworks is more then capable of doing its own simple CAD work.

      as far as the Sherline’s go, ill have to ask you first what kind of machine work are you expecting to do? the shop bot is whats considered a CNC router meaning it has a larger build are but has a less rigid construction and a high speed spindle. A Sherline is a CNC Mill so it has a low speed spindle smaller build are but a more rigid frame. what all this means is the Shopbot is great at soft materials like wood, plastic and some soft metal like aluminum and brass, and while it can cut respectable tolerances its not a high precision machine. the Sherline, on the other hand, can cut hard materials like steel and titanium, while also holding precise tolerances. so if you replay back to me with what kind of machien work you think you will be doing i can give you my review on Sherlines.

      the others commets make a good point if your new to CNC machining try the cheaper alternatives thats an economic decision. BUT I will say this, the shopbot is VERY user friendly and has a very short learning curve. I was able to teach a friend how to effectively and safely use the machine in just a couple of hours.

      hope this helps


  2. Tommy Phillips says:

    Do yourself a favor, though: play with one at a hackspace or something before dropping the coin. I got a ShapeOko, and have been learning things I didn’t know I was ignorant about. When I start pushing its bounds, I will look at something like the ShopBot. Until then, I have a lot less money invested in my learning curve.

    1. E.J. Strauss says:

      It’s a beautiful bot, but I have to agree with the Tommy on this. ShapeOko will set you back well less than $1000, and even if you add a nice spindle, like something from Wolfgang Engineering and make the cutting area bigger (my ‘Oko is about 10×12″ at this point) you’re going to spend under $1500 in materials and broken bits and have a respectable machine. My bot can do aluminum, brass and hardwoods. If you have a mostly sturdy frame, it’s not about IF the bot can do cuts in those materials. Rather, it’s about how long you are willing to wait for the cut. The ShopBot would make much shorter work of things than my machine, of course. Check out Zenbot and CNC Mogul as starting points, in addition to ShapeOko.

  3. billsmith1948 says:

    I find Dan Spangler’s illiteracy inappropriate for someone who calls themselves a writer.

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Dan Spangler

Dan Spangler is a freelance maker with a passion for fabricating speed, high voltage, and the things that go boom.

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