Numerical control

Review: Shapeoko XXL Is a Super-Sized Kit for Desktop CNC Carving

This machine was reviewed as part of our 2017 Desktop Fabrication Shootout. See more machines in our 3D Printer Guide and non-3D printer reviews here.

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Carbide 3D is super-sizing the Shapeoko line of CNC carvers with the Shapeoko XL and XXL. This open source big boy is available exclusively as a kit with everything that you need to begin carving except for your favorite stock material. Our testing unit was supplied with a DeWalt DWP611 compact router; however, Carbide 3D offers kits without the router if you want to bring your own DeWalt or Makita to the party. You can even upgrade your current Shapeoko 3 with either an XL or XXL expansion pack.

Make no mistake – this thing is huge. As compared to the Shapeoko 3, the XL offers twice the cutting area while the XXL kicks it up to four times. With a nearly 12-½ foot square footprint, this gargantuan is going to require a dedicated space in your shop. If you dabbled with the Shapeoko 3, then the custom 85mm x 55mm aluminum extrusion rails will look familiar. The main exception is that they will be much, much longer. The 10 gauge steel frame complements the railing for a stiff and durable machine.

Capable of carving wood, plastic, and soft metals with ease, the Shapeoko XXL allows you to up your game and tackle large scale digital fabrication projects. Small furniture is now within reach, and I can happily report that my Shapeoko XXL created a brand new stool faster than I could have driven to the local hardware store to buy one. However, just because this machine is big, it does not mean it cannot handle smaller projects that require more finesse. Swap out that larger end mill for something smaller and you can take advantage of the Shapeoko’s precision and produce something like a printed circuit board.

Our experience building the XXL was a…