Upgrade Overview

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Shapeoko upgrades can be categorized into four major categories:

  • those which increase stiffness / rigidity
  • those which increase working area
  • different spindle choices
  • those which are for user convenience / other

The eShapeOko (European / Extended) marketed by cvoinescu includes a number of upgrades by default as well as a number of options at order time.

The new ShapeOko 2 has been released[1][2] and includes several upgrades from below, as well as a few novel ideas.

One notable machine design threads on the forums re-examines and re-makes almost every part of the machine, and is well worth reading as an overview: Project Shapeoko HD

What is the future of Shapeoko?



The importance of improving this cannot be understated as noted in forum discussion: Re: spindle power / feed rate.

User cvoinescu made an initial codification of the effect of upgrades on stiffness / rigidity in the forum thread Custom Plates. In order of effectiveness of the modifications (from most effective to least):

  • Dual Y drive (either Drive Shaft or Dual Motor)
  • Double Makerslide X-Axis --- shapeoko_upgrade_parts_v3.zip[3]
    • X carriage reinforced with, say, extrusion between the two plates, instead of relying only on the X wheel bolts
    • the two X rails 20-30mm apart and rigidly coupled together, e.g. sandwiching between them some standard extrusion and bolted together along the length
    • Moving the Z wheels further apart, i.e. replacing the standard plate with a taller one
  • (for a long machine) Mid-span supports for the Y rails, and/or doubling it with standard extrusion bolted along the length
  • Moving the Z leadscrew to the side to reduce the length (and hence flex) of the Z wheel bolts
  • Thicker plates

There is some uncertainty about the order of the last two items on the list.

With the Shapeoko 2 already having many upgrades in place already, the priority shifts a bit --- best rigidity mods for SO2?:

  • bolting X-axis Makerslide together
  • mount spindle closer


One straight-forward and inexpensive way to improve rigidity is to replace the nylon spacers. There are several options.

Metal Spacers

"Biggest bang for the buck."

Now standard on the Shapeoko 2. Forum discussion in We should switch to metal spacers.

A 10-pack of 1/4" spacers should fit out a machine w/ Double Makerslide X-Axis --- 6 1" spacers (and some washers) will properly space the carriage (drilling 2 additional holes in the Z-axis mount plate will let one use 2 additional bolts and 4 more 1" spacers to finish off a 10-pack and further improve a machine's rigidity).

Plastic Blocks

Alternately, user wlanfox used plastic blocks instead of spacers as shown in the forum post Shapeoko #0735, mods evolution... (at least my version) ;-)

Locking Nuts

A third option is to use (locking) nuts in lieu of the spacers as danimal documented in Re: Why not a wider "double X-axis"?


There is now a hard-coated Makerslide alternative, Openrail, which affords the usage of steel wheels. Forum user microwavesafe took advantage of this for his machine as documented in X and Z mods.

Note that they are most useful for the X- and Z-axes: Re: Metal Dual V wheel And Fishing line pulley Bearing and Re: Hardcoat OpenRail.

Double X-carriage motor mount plates

Another option which needs to be fitted into the above is doubling up the motor mounting plates for the X/Z plate assembly and increasing the number of bolts used so as to create more rigid torsion box as the eShapeoko does (though its is also taller) --- this upgrade has since become standard in the ShapeOko 2.

Gantry rigidity

The Double Makerslide X-Axis upgrade is the primary way to address this. Now standard on the Shapeoko 2.

A similar idea to increase the rigidity of the gantry is shown in Bar across the back...

  • fasten the two lengths of rail together --- bolt[4], screw, epoxy or use the Makerslide joining clips
  • sister in length(s) of steel along the top or bottom[5] or in-between[6]
  • fashion some sort of plates to join the pieces of Makerslide together

Furthering this idea, Xaracen extended the V-wheel bolts for his Z-axis through his gantry on his SO1 by drilling matching holes, using longer bolts and appropriate spacers. http://www.shapeoko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=3734&p=37129#p37126

Additional mini-carriages

Yet another option is to add additional sets of wheels mounted to a secondary carriage as done on Marty's Shapeoko2 Deluxe.

Working area

These upgrades are easily compared and complementary in nature, see the page Scaling Up.

Often, other minor upgrades can affect this, e.g., moving belts to the outside as documented in some of the methods shown on the Belt Anchors page, or Belt on outside, but it is also possible to lose working area as when doubling the X-axis Makerslide.

Open End Plates

One elegant solution is the Open End Plates, which allow one to extend a machine along the X-axis more readily. Now standard on the Shapeoko 2.

Extrusion Frame

Another alternative is to use aluminum extrusion itself for the frame as forum user Juicebox did in Just Enlarged my Shapeoko with some UpGrades.

Spindles / Tooling

Rotary Spindle Options including the DeWalt DW660

Similar to a rotary spindle is a high-speed engraving tool:

Laser Cutter

3D Printing

Drag Knives

Cricut Cutter Add-on[7]

Pick and Place


Additional Axis

rotary axis

GrblGuru now supports lathe functionality: http://www.shapeoko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=4710&p=42654


NEMA 23 motors

Upgrading the motors is usually done to:

  • move the machine faster
  • move a large, heavy spindle

there's no intrinsic reason to upgrade from NEMA17 motors.

Documented for the ShapeOko 2 in this forum post: Re: Caleb's Shapeoko 2 #3164. NEMA 23 Z-axis for shapeoko 2. Note that these may need longer fasteners --- 15mm per [20]. It will also be necessary to source pulleys with a 1/4" bore (as opposed to the typical 5mm of NEMA 17 motors). A larger plate is needed for the Z-Axis and is available from I.C. on the Upgrades page --- NEMA 23 Z-Axis Kit.

More forum links are available at: ShapeOko 2 Upgrades, and these are now integrated into the BOM.

Notes on motor selection size: You don't want a motor heavier than about 700 g, mostly because there's absolutely no point to it. Why would you want to be able to apply, say, 600 N to the gantry or X carriage, when you know that 100 N on your tool will flex the machine too much to be usable?[22]

Z-axis Drive options

For the Z-axis, rather than directly driving the threaded/Acme rod, it's possible to use a belt drive:

Discussion here: http://www.shapeoko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=4368 and source files are available in this post: http://www.shapeoko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=4368&p=33383

Controller Modifications


Panel Display



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