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Improving Shapeoko Precision

Apr 2, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Shapeoko
Before and After Lowering feed rate

Before and After Lowering feed rate

I’ve been having trouble getting my Shapeoko to do what I want. The pen test worked fine, and I was able to cut a piece of cork, but whenever I try to cut wood the dremel slips and ends up ruining the cutout. Of course, cutting wood is the main reason I bought the Shapeoko. There isn’t a ton of documentation on which bits and settings to use, so I’m kind of flying blind here. I put it on the back burner for a while, and finally had a chance to work on it again.

I bought 2 sheets of wood for testing, pine and poplar. I figured I’d start with the softest wood and work my way up. I also bought a new dremel bit, the “All Purpose Cutting” bit (This one, I think). My first test with those is on the left in the image above. As you can see, it’s pretty unusable.

After scouring the Shapeoko forums, I noticed that most people were using a far lower feed rate than the default rate. The default rate is 300; I saw a suggestion for 20. Hoping that would fix my problem, I set the feed rate to 20 and re-ran the project. I also turned up the dremel speed a little bit, to medium-high. You can see that result on the right. It took over a half hour to cut, and somewhere after the first arrow my Z-Axis slipped, cutting the second arrow too deep and ultimately creating that line through both arrows when it should have been lifted away from the wood, but all in all it was a huge improvement.

I’m going to keep playing around with the settings and see if I can make it better. In the picture above you can see two gears for an upcoming project that I’ve been cutting by hand with a jewelers saw while I get this sorted out, so having a working CNC will be a great help. If anyone has suggestions on how to improve Shapeoko precision further, I’d love to hear them.

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