CNC Router

ShopBot is a factory built CNC Router able to cut Wood, Plastic, Foam and soft metals. Maximum material size: 2440 x 1220 x 150mm. Many different sizes and types of cutting bits can be used.


Individual Cost/hour
SAUL Student €0
Student €20
Non Profit €30
Commercial €40

Technical Data

Bed Size 2440mm x 1220 x 150mm
Power 4hp Spindle

Preparation, Usage


2D drafting softwares can be used to create the files for CNC Routing such as AutoCAD, Adobe Illustrator or free softwares such as DraftSight or Inkscape.

Also, it is possible within Solidworks, AutoDesk’s Fusion 360 etc. to directly prepare CAM toolpaths - if you are intending to use these options, please get in touch with us first. This guide is for the former option, using prepared 2D files, and generating Toolpath files within V-Carve Pro.

Each different cutting profile (profile cut, pocket cut, etc) needs to be drawn on a different layer. When creating your drawings screw patterns and bit sizes need to be considered. Screws are used to secure material to bed. Adequate space needs to be left around screws to ensure cutting bits don’t come in contact with them. We usually leave a border of 30mm at the edge of our material for screws. Save drawing as .dwg or .dxf.

It is very important to use tabs in your work. Tabs are small bridges of material that the CNC intentionally leaves uncut so that your piece stays in place until the cutting procedure is finished. Tabs can be added automatically using V Carve Pro software. Please review your cutting process through the preview option before sending it to the machine.

CNC Cutting Bits

There is many many types of CNC cutting bits. Different bits are used for different materials. They vary in size speed and shape. The Shopbot website gives a good overview on the general type of bits that we use. As a rule of thumb, the bigger the diameter of the bit, the faster and deeper it can cut. However if you have intricate work to do you may want to use smaller bits. The bit size we most popularly use is a 1/4 inch (6.35 mm) bit as it gives a good level of detail and speed combined. We keep a range of bits in stock but please give us notice if you would like to test any new materials or procedures as we may need to research and purchase new bits.


Your drawing needs to be converted to ‘G-Code’ for the CNC to read it. For this process we use V-Carve Pro, available on the PC in the workshop. Unfortunately this is not free to download.


The Shopbot CNC Router is an extremely dangerous piece of equipment if misused. Please keep a safe distance back from machine at all times when it is in operation. Please use eye and ear protection when using the Shopbot. Do not wear loose clothing or jewellery. Tie back long hair. Take note of all emergency stops before turning the machine on. If you are not completely sure the machine is cutting correctly, pause the Shopbot and turn off the extraction before inspecting. Shopbot can be paused by pressing spacebar on Keyboard.

Control Software

Shopbot3 is the software used for interacting with the Shopbot. It is used to send manual commands, G-Code to the router, and it is installed on the computer connected to the machine. There is a green window, which will show the commands from your G-Code file as they are sent to the machine; a grey window with the spindle RPM; a red window for interacting with the machine - from which you can open a keypad in yellow to manually move the machine. Arrow keys move the machine horizontally; PgUp and PgDn move the router head vertically. This keypad must be closed to send any other commands to the machine.


If the CNC has not been used within the previous 4 hours, the spindle needs to be warmed up. Shopbot3 shortcut is C5.

Loading Material

Move spindle up using ‘Yellow Box’. Hoover the bed so that it is free from dust. Place material on bed and secure with screws. Place screws within the 30mm border around edge of your piece, so that the cutting bit cannot hit them.

Insert Cutting Bit

There are two spanners required to loosen the collet: one to be removed from the LOTO keylock on the side of the control box - this is a safety measure to prevent the spindle from turning when you are changing the bit; the other is kept on top of the control box. Insert the new bit with a suitable sized collet and tighten.

Zeroing the CNC

The ShopBot CNC Router doesn’t store home coordinates when powered off. Each time you use the machine, you should set the X, Y, and Z home coordinates. On the ShopBot Controller software, select the ‘XY’ icon (or the shortcut C3 on the keyboard), to have the machine accurately find the zero positions in ‘X’ and ‘Y’ using the hardstops. Please be aware, this function starts moving the gantry without further notification on screen.

The Z axis needs to be more accurate - and will need to be repeated for each material and tool change. This is done as follows:

Open the yellow keypad (there is a yellow keypad symbol on the main window, or use ‘k’ for short). Move the bit over your material.Place the clip around the neck of the router, and the aluminium plate flat on your material underneath the bit.

Select the ‘Z’ icon (or keyboard shortcut C2) and confirm that you have the plate and clip in place. The machine will automatically zero the Z axis, and notify you on screen when this is complete.

Sending the File

When you have your file opened in V-Carve Pro, save out the Toolpath file (.SBP). By default, Shopbot3 will automatically open when you hit save, and will start to process the file you have just saved. Follow the prompts on screen. It will tell you to turn on the spindle and then send the file. Ensure you are wearing your personal protective equipment, and remind yourself where the emergency stop buttons are (on the remote, and on the side of the gantry). Start the extractor at the control panel on the wall. Press “OK” on screen or ‘Enter’ on the keyboard. The machine will now start cutting.


When the ShopBot is finished cutting, turn off extraction. Remove screws from work piece and move workpiece to workbench provided. If you turn the workpiece upside down, you can cut tabs out cleanly with sharp chisel.

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