View Full Version : Benchtop ShopBot

Mike Kelly
05-17-2006, 9:10 AM
ShopBot has a special going on until June 30th for their older benchtop machine. Might be a streatch for some of us, but it is a good way to get into CNC at a budget level and grow from there. The benchtop model is limited to 33" x 24" but will do anything the larger machines will do. This can be the ultimate carving tool as it has a 6" depth if you are interested in mold or model making. The benchtop will fit in most existing shops (mine) on a sturdy bench. I would have to build another room to fit the 48 x 96 machine. Their older (slower position movement) will upgrade to the PRT Alpha specified machine if future business use dictates better thruput.

Keith, can you give us an update on the things you use your ShopBot for now? You probably have all kinds of hold down methods and fixtures you may have created from your use of the tool. Pictures would be nice if you have time. Thanks.

Keith Outten
05-18-2006, 11:08 AM

We haven't wandered much from the kind of work we have been doing for the last year and a half. We have cut and v-carved Corian and lots of wood signs. We also have been doing some precision machining work making ceiling access panels and a few other jobs that came our way.

Nope, nothing new in the way of custom hold-downs or fixtures to speak of either. To be honest we haven't had the time, our sign production work wanders all over the place from engraving to routing and more. There just doesn't seem to be enough time to experiment or to design jigs and fixtures right now. I also haven't had time to build a vacumn table yet, it shure would be handy sometimes and reduce our time in the shop.

At the ShopBot Jamboree I was asked to give a five minute speech about newbies making money with their ShopBots. My message was that you don't have to be an advanced CNC operator to start making money and I spent some time talking about the kinds of jobs I was doing and how we kept our ShopBot in the profit zone. Even though we still are inexperienced it hasn't been a concern, our machine has been profitable since the day we got it up and running just doing very simple jobs like cutting engraving plaques.

Most of you probably know that I have two full-time jobs right now and that is the reason that I am always playing catch-up these days. Someday when my life gets less hectic I hope to have some time to enjoy my shop again and not be so rushed to get things done. I have to keep my sign business going so I will have a job to go back to when my day job ends. Getting old is a challenge :)

Mike Kelly
05-19-2006, 9:26 AM
Thanks Keith. I resemble the "getting old" comment. I am ordering the BenchTop ShopBot since I really don't have the room for the full footprint machine presently. I will try to build the Bill Palumbo suggested vacuum system and apply it to the BenchTop. I have a very small vacuum pump at present, but it will be lacking HP when I get the BenchTop to hold things. It has a 100% duty cycle which works for short runs but might not be the best solution for continuous operation. I will supply gloat pics when I get something constructed. I missed the Texas Camp this year. I got to help clean up Wayne's shop before the event, but had to work at my day job over the weekend and missed the camp. They had 35 people there this year. Great bunch. Lots of Sign making things from the snapshots I saw on the website.

Oscar Garcia
07-16-2006, 7:25 PM
I unfortunately missed out on the Jamboree spacial price. I've been doing quite a bit o' research on the Shopbot. My heart beats with excitement when I see all the things people are doing with theirs. All I gotta do now is figure out how to afford one. I'd like to know more about making money with the Shopbot just so I could pay it off! :) I did get a quote, but it was for the full meal deal. I was looking at it and could do without the bench for right now. I also have the 2 1/4hp Craftsman Pro Router. Would that be sufficient to use if I didn't buy the Porter Cable router? I am a woodworker but never have used a CNC machine before. Anyways, hope to be amongts you shopbotters soon. Any other info would help.

Thanks, Guys and Girls,

Ed Lang
07-16-2006, 9:59 PM
Below is a link to some pictures of the F-15 that Laser Buzz posted here. From the 1/8" baltic birch ply to 1/2" blue foam sheets (4'X8') is a easy scale up. The wing span is about 3' and the length is about 4' My son is 11 years old so you will be able to tell the scale of things. Yes, he did "fly" it in the yard today and it did quite well! Next one cut just might need six sheets of 1/2" X 4' X 8' material, it is a little bigger!


Oh, I would use the PC 7518 router not the Sears one. Be sure to check the body size and make sure it will fit the ShopBot bracket or be ready to make your own. Next stop for me will be to replace the router with a spindle.

Notice what is under the machine for vacuum hold down in the pictures, it has worked GREAT for me. I still use screws from time to time so vacuum is not the end all be all for holding stuff. Screws, double sided tape clamps and such all work well.

I am finding Corel X3, V-carve Pro and Part Wizard are all getting use for design and I like them.


Mitchell Andrus
07-16-2006, 11:42 PM
Ed, the fun police are coming to gettcha.


Vaughn McMillan
07-17-2006, 3:20 AM
Ed, a bit of weight in the nose of that thing and it looks like it could glide pretty well. Very cool, and very cool of Laser Buzz to share.

- Vaughn

Ed Lang
07-17-2006, 7:19 AM
I had better make another one or two to give to the "fun police" so I'll stay out of jail.

Laser Buzz (Tom) is a great guy to deal with. He as taken so much of his time to explain things and help me along with the laser process. For the first time since I got the laser, it is cutting every day, not just sitting.


Dave Jones
07-17-2006, 9:01 AM
Did the plane survive the flight test OK? That is so cool. Looks like a bit of adjustment in some parts (adding holes in strategic places) might make it fly more level.

Ed Lang
07-17-2006, 10:23 PM
Plane is fine and resting in the pilots bedroom as I type this.

Harry Radaza
07-23-2006, 10:56 AM
Hi. I have 2 laser machines and we work mostly with personalized gift plaques and high volume fashion accessory engraving and cutting. I've read a lot about shopbots and CNC routers and have thought about purchasing one.

I don't know what I will end up using it as, but I'm sure it will be a good addition to the shop.

Can u guys guide me with what an entry level machine costs and what brand ?

correct me if I"m wrong, but Shopbot IS a brand right ?

What cheaper CNC routers would be worth considering ?

Mike Kelly
07-23-2006, 5:07 PM
Henry, I just got my PRT Benchtop ShopBot for a little over $5,000 to my doorstep. There was a special until the end of June for $900 off retail price. I have to add a computer and a router to that which I already had. That is about as cheap as I would go for a CNC setup. Most relatively inexpensive setups are in the $12,000 to $15,000 range depending on what software you may need based on what you are going to do with it. ShopBot is one of the best low end systems around and they are getting pretty darn good (fast) with their Alpha machine.

Harry Radaza
07-23-2006, 6:12 PM
" I had to add a computer and a router to that "

I thought the shopbot WAS the router? what exactly is a router then ?


Keith Outten
07-23-2006, 7:07 PM

A ShopBot is a CNC routing machine. When you purchase a ShopBot you have the option of upgrading from a Porter Cable router motor to a Spindle which is much more expensive and better suited for high production work. You can also order your Bot without a router motor if you already own one.

Other components are the table assembly, X-rails, Y-gantry and the control box. ShopBots also ship with two software programs, Part Wizard which is used to setup tool paths and some CAD work plus the ShopBot Control Software that is used to run your project files.

David Harvey
07-24-2006, 7:02 AM
Mike, you are going to have fun! I almost ordered the benchtop special when I saw it at the factory, but later decided to go with the 4848 for fear of not being able to handle some of the bigger jobs that I might encounter along the way.
I got mine last Friday and have been spending all weekend getting it put together. Whew! That table was a bear!
Still have a few things to finish up on it but it is moving as it's supposed to...so far.

Good luck!


Ed Lang
07-24-2006, 7:42 AM
Looks like SMC went from Keith having the only ShopBot to a lot of ShopBot owners!

Keith, how about a list of ShopBot owners (or just CNC Routers) like the laser engravers list. Could just be a section at the end of the current list.


Mike Kelly
07-24-2006, 9:49 AM
David, I had some of the same thoughts on size of work area, but really didn't want to build another room to add the larger machine. Most of what I have done has been smaller things such as games, small signs, models and fixtures. I have been wanting a ShopBot for years and the sale price on the Benchtop was too much to resist so I did it. If I get requests for larger things later I can build out another room and do it when it makes sense. I would rather play than build rooms right now! I almost have mine running. A wood floor job for my better half had priority this past weekend or it would have cut something. I just have to finish wiring and loading software and it will be ready. I can then retire my old CNC prototype.

Ed, good idea for CNC list. It could be a great resource.

David Harvey
07-24-2006, 10:15 AM
Yea, that would be a good idea on the CNC list. Any chance Keith?


Oscar Garcia
08-30-2006, 2:38 PM
Well I just placed my order for a Shopbot Benchtop a couple of hours ago. Though it won't be here till end of September. I can't wait and am very excited. Thanks, Oscar

Mitchell Andrus
08-30-2006, 4:26 PM
Be sure to send a birth announcement and pictures of the new addition to the family. When can I come and use it?


Mike Kelly
08-30-2006, 6:42 PM
Way to go Oscar! It will keep you up at night thinking of things to do with it. Good to see another ShopBot in Texas! I just got my 120 degree V-Bit today from Her-Saf so I can see what it will do tomorrow. (Ron Brown's Texas Star I hope!) I have to work in the shop all day tomorrow making some fixtures for work. I am sure I will learn something new about the Bot doing that. Let us see the pictures when you get it.