Plans, projects and how-to's for home machinists

Shapeoko 2D Pocketing Tests with Fusion 360


I’ve been trying to determine the best feed rate for cutting MDF on my Shapeoko CNC router with a 1/4-inch bit. The manufacturer’s recommendation is very conservative and slow, and I don’t trust the other recommendations I’ve found. So I decided to cut a large number of identical 2D pockets at different speeds to determine for myself what the best feed rate is for this kind of operation.

Once I determine that I’m going cut more pockets while adjusting some of the other parameters, like depth of cut, stepover, number of finishing passes, etc., to see firsthand the effect they have on cutting speed and quality. Eventually, I will do similar tests to determine the best feed rate and other parameters for cutting 2D contours in MDF with a 1/4-inch bit. 

I’m using a Whiteside RU2100 flat up-cut end mill. It’s very similar to the #201 that comes with the Shapeoko but it has two flutes instead of three. I prefer bits with 2 flutes because they make it easier to achieve the “chip load” that I want. My Carbide 3D router dial was set to “3-1/2”, and I just found out that’s about 20,500 RPM, significantly faster than the 18,000 RPM I wanted to use.

I’m not ready to present my results yet, but I will tell you that last night I cut pockets using feed rates from 70 to 170 inches per minute and there wasn’t much difference in the quality of them. The most noticeable thing was that tear out decreased as the feed rate increased. 

Even though I might be able to pocket MDF at 170 IPM or faster, I will probably won’t go faster than 140-150 IPM because faster speeds put more stress on the machine and I don’t know how well a Shapeoko, with its v-wheels and belts, can handle that for long periods of time. Going faster also gives you less time to stop the machine if something goes wrong. By the way, a Shapeoko 3 can achieve a maximum feed rate of about 200 IPM. 

Fusion 360 Design (CAD)

Designing this part in Fusion was pretty simple:

  • Sketch a 2×2-inch square and give the corners .3-inch fillets
  • Use the Rectangular Pattern function to duplicate it and create two rows of four.
  • Center the pattern in a square so that the pockets are .5-inches from the edges.
  • Extrude the pockets .25 inches and the rest .75 inches (to create pockets .5 inches deep)

Continue reading Shapeoko 2D Pocketing Tests with Fusion 360

Myers Shapeoko Fence – Fusion 360 Remix

Like many, I’m using the wasteboard, fence and cam clamps that Ben Myers designed for the Shapeoko CNC router. They are excellent and I’ve learned a lot from his many CNC tutorials, so I’ve purchased them all from his Etsy store. Unfortunately, the XL size fence file seems to contain a mistake.

I couldn’t wait for a fix from Ben, and I can’t stand Carbide Create’s drawing and editing tools, so I recreated the fence in Fusion 360 and fixed the problem. I’m making my F360 file available for download in case you can use it. The material thickness is 15mm (~1/2-inch MDF) but you can easily change it by going to Modify -> Change Parameters. You can also easily change the length of the fences there, if you have a standard or XXL size Shapeoko.

Download: Myers Modified Shapeoko XL Fence

The fence is supposed to have a little pocket in the corner for Carbide 3D’s BitZero Touch Probe, but Ben’s XL-size Carbide Create file just cuts some slots. I also wanted to make it with 1/2-inch thick MDF instead of 3/4-inch for a couple of reasons. First, the shorter fence allows me to lower the dust shoe more when I cut thinner materials. Second, it lets me find corners with the BitZero anywhere along the fence when I cut 3/4-inch thick material, instead of just in the corner pocket.

I’ve also made the pockets for the screws near the touch probe pocket just a little deeper than the others. All of the pocket depths are a percentage of the material thickness, so they should adjust automatically for 3/4-inch material. You’ll need to cut the fence from a piece of stock that is at least 4.5 x 31 inches. 

My CAM/Manufacturing setup is also there. Keep in mind that I’m still learning F360 CAM and getting familiar with my Shapeoko. So don’t trust my work too much. I’d appreciate it if you’d leave a comment if you discover any problems or you can teach me something.

I used a Whiteside RU2100 1/4-inch 2-flute up cut flat end mill. Router speed is 18k RPM. Roughing speed is 100 IPM, finish cuts are 30 IPM. Max stepover and stepdown is .125-inch (which might be too much but I got good results).

Random Quote

You know you’re a machinist when … You help your kid do her math graphing homework and measure the points with a caliper.