Ode to the ShopBot

Artisans used to spend years as apprentices studying the art of wood carving back in the medieval years. With a chisel in one hand and a mallet in the other, these dedicated craftsmen spent their entire lives chipping away at plain blocks of wood, turning them into intricate sculptures and decor of similar caliber to the clock beneath.

clock image

Well here at the Garage, we don’t have wood carving apprenticeships. Instead, we have adopted the modern tradition of replacing humans with machines by employing the robust and versatile ShopBot Desktop CNC machine. But, many Garage members are hesitant to go anywhere near the fabulous ShopBot – and I think you are missing out!


I get it, the ShopBot looks intimidating and complicated, and it has a powerful 1.5 horsepower spindle. As a result, many people flock to the quieter and more refined laser table whenever they need to perform any form of subtractive machining. Although the ShopBot and laser table are fairly similar, the ShopBot offers several advantages in terms of work performance:

  1. Cutting Performance: not only is the ShopBot capable of faster cutting speeds, but it can also cut through thicker materials.
  2. Engraving Performance: the laser table can only perform 2D engraving – whereas the ShopBot provides 3D engraving similar to the artistic engraving on the clock above.
  3. Flexibility: the ShopBot has several interchangeable drill bits, each with different properties, compared to the laser table’s fixed engraving thickness of 0.001 inches and uncontrollable engraving depth.

I will admit that there is a steeper learning curve when it comes to operating the ShopBot – and that will be the subject of my next blog. So skip the lines over at the laser table and show some love to the ShopBot over in the workshop.

Moaad Benkaraache is an EI marketing assistant and NC State industrial engineering student. He enjoys prototyping, eating protein-packed meals and prototyping while eating protein-packed meals.

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