Making a threaded table for the Shapeoko XL

One of the first things I wanted to get done on my Shapeoko was to come up with a way to secure the stock to the wasteboard.  The most common way to do this is to drill holes in the wasteboard and put threaded inserts in.  You can then use bolts and clamps threaded into these inserts to secure the stock you’re milling.  I ended up buying these inserts off of Amazon and was quite happy with the quality of them.  My approach to doing this looked roughly like this…

  • Measure the cutting capacity and come up with a grid size that I wanted to use.  I came up with 30″ by 13″ in my design but you could certainly have made it bigger.
  • Drill some test holes in scrap stock to find the best size for the wholes.  With the inserts I bought they advertised a 9mm drill hole by I ended up making a 8mm drill hole and they fit snuggly.
  • Remove the wasteboard and the wasteboard supports from the machine, flip it over, and reinsert just the wasteboard.  This is because I wanted to put the inserts in from the back so they’d be stronger.
  • Use Carbide Create to design the hole pattern and then Carbide Motion to actually drill the holes.
  • Put the inserts in,  remove the wasteboard from the machine once again, put the supports back, flip the wasteboard to it’s original orientation, and re-secure it to the machine.

So the whole things was pretty easy.  The hard part was designing the pattern so it didn’t interfere with the machine frame of the existing screw holes.  Do LOTS of measuring and double checking before you start milling!  You don’t want to accidentally mill through the wasteboard and hit something you dodn’t want to hit!  I avoided this by ensuring the entire grid layout avoided the frame entirely.  I made a quick video to talk about the layout in Carbide Create as well.

Next step – clamps!

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