View Full Version : Interested in ShopBot - Questions

11-18-2003, 09:02 PM
I have been looking and reading about the ShopBot in the forums. I have to tell you the more I read the more complicated and time consuming it appears to be to "program" what I am interested in having the shopbot do.

I am fairly well versed in Windows, I have used Corel Draw versions 3-11 and feel pretty comfortable with it. I have never used any cad programs however.

To start with I have for the last couple years done some minor carving with rotary tools and my thought for the shopbot was to "program" patterns for these carvings so they may be repeated whenever I wanted on presumably almost anything I wanted, raised kitchen door panels, clocks etc... Here are a few of the carvings I have done and would like to be able to program:
2430 a board over a sink between kitchen cabinets I built, took me 6 hours to carve both by hand.

2431 are carvings I made for a grandfather clock top.

One thought I had was to get the probe with the shopbot and use a carving I had already made, will this work and can the software then mirror or enlarge/shrik the image the probe creates?

Also wondering if there are places one can buy or trade patterns such as these, made by other shopbot users?

Thank you. ~Mike

11-18-2003, 10:26 PM
Interesting stuff Mike. You could easily use the Bot and Corel to cut 2D vectored patterns that would carve your outline and remove the material around it .....thus "setting up" your carving piece. This could be done (programmed) in about 10-15 minutes....but would take the Bot an hour or better to actually cut. If I didn't know better....I would think you are already using something like this. Yes, the probe will work, but it is far more efficient at pattern (edge finding) work than actual 3D work. In my experience....the best way to tackle 3D, is to build it from vector files in Rhino...or Artcam if you want to spring for it. Nice Work....D

11-19-2003, 07:45 AM

Nice work - That work looks like a candidate for a tool-path using the shape of the tool as a defining part of the file. Unfortunately, that is the most difficult type of file to write a tool-path for and it takes some fiddling with once the base tool paths are written. The design is somewhat limited by tool shape and the mental creativity of the writer of the file.

The upside of this type of carving is it is very fast once the details are worked out. Depending on design and bits, some hand-finishing might be necessary.

The "conventional" method of "carving" with a CNC machine tool is slow and sometimes still leaves hand-work needing to be done. It is all a time/money formula. The thought process of carving with tool-paths and tool shape is obscure. The time to create a file with a CAD program can be long and frustrating.

If I were doing only a few of the patterns, I might use a probe or, as Darrell said "setting up" (blanking out) the work and then doing the carving in your traditional style. If you are planning on selling a few of them, it might be worthwhile to spend the time/money to setup a machine to do them. If you are planning on selling a lot of a certain design, it might be worthwhile to make a tool-path and tool-shape cutting file.

It is my opinion few who have the ability to write such files could share them. They are probably under contract with a company for their own uses and it is doubtful they would like others to have the ability to avoid the long machine times such work traditionally takes.


11-19-2003, 11:38 AM

Looking at your art it is clear you are very good with your hands. You may never be able to get a cnc to cut the parts as fast as you do by hand. But you could use two Z's and gain that way. And if you learn to do other work while the cnc is cuting then it would work for you. As far as programing go's finding a program that works for you is a chalange. I like a program called VS3D which can be downloaded at .
Thay let you use the program as long as you like with the tool path disabled. Which lets you see if you can get the programing down before you invest the $1000.00ns of dollers on the cnc and progranimg cost. This program is more like having a tool in your hand then making lines which works for me. There are lots of other cad cam programs out there and most will let you download a demo. Take a look at a fue of them and see if thay work for you. If you can get one that you like then think about geting a cnc.
As for me my ShopBot is the best thing I have ever spent money on and saves me a lot of time over making my canes by hand. But I had a hard time learning to walk away from the Shopbot and do some thing else.

11-19-2003, 05:08 PM
Thanks for the quick responses and thoughts and suggestions. I will download some trial programs and see if I have the patience to draw what I want.

I did download the shopbot software windows version, I haven't yet installed it. My thought was to see if I could draw a pattern in CorelDraw and then run it threw the shopbot software and do the preview to see if it comes out anything like I hoped. Will this preview give me a pretty good idea of the finished project?

As for the cutting out of the designs, that part is not a big deal for me. I use a scroll saw for that, it's the actual carving that takes the most time for me. In the examples I posted earlier the birds were two pieces ( a left and a right ) the first one took me 5 hours to carve out and the second one took me 3 hours ( had a better idea how to do it after the first one ) I assume that once I have the patterns for the shopbot that the time it takes to carve the patterns isn't really a critical issue, I assume once I have this setup that it can mostly do the work unattended.

My main thought for the shopbot was to create some relief carving patterns that I could then use on door fronts for cabinets that I make, like on the centers of these doors of this kitchen I am working on:

Though other things I would like to use it for would be things like Carved corbels, and other decorative carvings and possibly for carved entry doors.

Another question for you is if I actually get some patterns designed and that appear to work, are they easily resizable once the tool paths are created?

Also if I actually get some patterns that look like they work would/could I post any of them here to see if anyone would want to attempt to run them off and see if they work?

Thanks for all your help and knowledge. ~Mike

11-19-2003, 06:19 PM

If you will send me an e-mail, I will send you some pictures and a file or two you can run on your previewer.


11-24-2003, 01:19 AM
Tool paths would be generated specifically for the particular design you have created. Rather than resize a tool path, you would resize the design, then create a new tool path from the new size design.

This is not a big deal at all if your file is saved as an .eps or .ai file format (or .cdr for Corel users)

If you were to merely resize a toolpath, it would then not be optimized for the size of bit that the original tool path was generated for.