View Full Version : shop bot information

Chris McDowell
09-22-2007, 2:22 AM
Looking back in past posts I noticed there are a few Shopbot users here at the creek. I have a question or two that I hope somebody could help me with.
For a long while I have been planning to purchase a sliding table saw, but in a thread a few days ago Shopbot was mentioned. Now I'm a one man cabinet shop and don't really want to be more ,but I'm getting to the point I will have to do something to increase production in the near future. I have considered hiring help and my initial encounter with that has been-- well let's just say less than encouraging. So I thought what the heck I'll call shopbot and talk to someone.

I did and talked to a few other owners and this is what I have come up with. I could buy one of the standard machines instead of the alpha and give myself time to get familiar with the world of cnc without a huge initial investment. I could upgrade anything I wanted to down the line and not be tied to a lower level machine. I would not have blazing speed, but I don't think that would be a problem. I would imagine it to be cutting out dadoes, shelf pin holes, the individual cabinet parts while I am working on something else like face frames.

Am I right in thinking that I could use the standard bot to do this? If so it would save me the trouble of hiring someone which I am afraid will be more headaches than it would be worth. I appreciate any help that you could offer.



rick woodward
09-22-2007, 7:07 AM
Hi Chris
I dont do cabinets on my bot. Mine is a 2 year old alpha with a 5 hp columbo. I do know that the alpha is twice as fast as the standard. And its still not "fast" in what I do. It would be cutting cabinet parts though. You "can" upgrade a standard later. But I think the cost outlay is impractical. Alot sell theirs and buy a newer model. Also, getting one with a PC router... Very, very noisy and you will be rebuilding the router on a regular basis or buying new routers. Get a spindle for your type of work and save yourself headaches and money. Even a three HP spindle is better than a 3.25 HP router. There are 3,4 and 5 HP spindles now.I would suggest a used alpha with a spindle. There are alpha's up for sale ever so often on the shopbot forum. Buying used will save you some money now and in the long run. I like mine so much, I dont see a need to upgrade. Spend a bit more at the outset and get into production with less hassle,headache and downtime. A spindle will last in production because its built for it. It will give you much more control in rpm and feed speed. Which can be important in materials and bits you'll be using. If this was for a hobby, I'd say get a standard with a router. To help make a living, get an alpha with a spindle. Your nerves, family,neighbors,customers and your bottom line will appreciate it. Plus buying used will often get you extras with it. Thats my story an I'm stickin to it. rick

Wil Lambert
09-22-2007, 8:54 AM
I don't own a bot but do own CNC. I personally think it would be a mistake to buy a machine in plans of upgrading later. Upgrading is normally more costly that an original purchase. Plus you need to figure the down time to upgrade or the cost of a technician if you incapable of the upgrade.

Do not get a router head for your machine to start. Bite the bullet and get a cnc spindle. The noise of the router will drive you nuts. The router is less efficient and does not actually have 3.25hp until it hits 21,000 rpm. This is not a good speed to run much at except small bits. I made this mistake when I bought my cnc. Never again.

Good luck with your purchase.


Keith Outten
09-22-2007, 10:23 AM

I own a ShopBot PRTalpha 48 by 96 equiped with a PC router in my sign shop. I also work for Christopher Newport University which owns the same machine except it is equiped with a 4hp spindle, I operate both machines.

Clearly there are major advantages in owning a spindle but I don't regret purchasing my ShopBot with a router. I couldn't have afforded the machine in my one man shop with the added cost of the spindle. Owning a ShopBot in any configuration is better then none, especially if you work alone.

My ShopBot allowed me to start doing larger commercial jobs that I would never have been able to bid otherwise. Like most of the machines in my shop I have always waited until I needed them before purchasing. I had a large sign job that I was losing time on every day so I made a trip down to Durham for a demonstration and ordered my Bot on the spot. The first week I had mine operating I was ahead of schedule making money even though there is a learning curve that everyone will warn you about. Fortunately for me the job I was working on was very simple machining, the rest of the work was laser engraving, a little welding fabrication and installation.

Now I don't hesitate to bid very large commercial sign jobs and the quality of my work is so far above my local competition I can win bids and be very profitable. Your application will most likely be a different animal than mine so you need to weigh all the factors and make your decision based on your circumstances. Should you decide to take the plunge I doubt you will ever regret adding CNC capability to your shop and there are plenty of other one man shops that will tell you to order a Bot and don't look back.


Bob Reda
09-22-2007, 11:27 AM

Another item to take into account will be the software to do the cabinet parts. Alot of this software will cost more tahn the shopbot itself. Definetly take the time to check on the software.


Ed Lang
09-22-2007, 12:38 PM
Bob brings a good point to the table.

I design in-

Corel X3
Part Wizard 3 (which will ship with your machine)
V-Carve PRO

Since I also have a laser, I use Corel a lot. V-Carve PRO is adding new drawing tools all the time and getting very good! I am using it more now.

Be sure to look at CabinetParts PRO for a cabinet package. Ryan P. wrote it and now works for ShopBot. You will find information about it by a Google search or calling him.

There are other writing software now for cabinet work. There is a package out called Freedoors what will make MDF doors that look like 5 piece raised panel doors.

If you need to design in 3D, take a look at Google Sketch-up and then the ruby script available to go from Sketch-up to ShopBot files. This has pushed me to download Sketch-up and start to learn it. It is quite easy so far!

Be sure to read the ShopBot forum and their website.


Neal Schlee
09-22-2007, 12:40 PM
http://www.cabinetpartspro.com/ inexpensive cabinet software designed to work with a Shopbot (and others). It's a lot of bang for your buck.
If I'm not mistaken the author now works for Shopbot. I've used it for 2 years now with a Multicam.


Chris McDowell
09-23-2007, 1:08 AM
I appreciate all the information guys. I did post at the Shopbot forum. I actually forgot I was registered there until last night.

The suggestion for the spindle is duely noted. I had planned on going with a spindle anyway. I was just thinking I could go with the standard for a while and most people at the shopbot forum concur. The salesman I spoke with recommended going with a spindle and using a Fein setup for vacuum hold down to keep the initial cost down. Does that sound feasible to any of you?

I'm not in a super hurry, so I plan on learning as much as I can before I make any decisions.

Craig Hogarth
09-23-2007, 1:24 AM
What's the cheapest that I can buy a shopbot for? I don't want anything big and I'm also concerned with the costs in addition to the actual CNC.

Also, I remember reading in a previous post about a desktop version coming out in the near future. When is this supposed to happen?

Tom Galzin
11-27-2007, 12:07 AM
Routercad LT allows you to design a complete kitchen and then nest it with a single click. The good news entire software package design and nest UNDER 4000 including online training.

See FactoryNEW.com
Then routers under 40K catagory