The Shaper Origin's demo videos look pretty awesome—but just how, precisely, would the tool fit into your workflow? Whether you're a shop newbie or a pro with a router/CNC mill, you've likely got some questions about what it would be like in actual use. Let's get them out on the table.
First off, the Origin will still have certain limitations that all routers do, like burning the workpiece if your feed rate is incorrect, and having to deal with clamps getting in the way while working on smaller pieces.
But those are all problems with established solutions. So let's move on to the positives.
The router mavens among you will instantly recognize that the Origin obviates the need to make templates. This has two clear benefits. The first is that, obviously, you needn't take the time to make a physical template, with all of the care that entails; because a template will be copied precisely, each radii and tangent must be dead-nuts perfect. For those of you that hate sanding MDF, the no-template-making thing alone will be attractive.
The second is that with an Origin, you wouldn't need to store templates. This isn't an issue if you've got a shop the size of, say, Jory Brigham's...
...but for those of you operating out of tight spaces, having templates that exist only as 1s and 0s sure frees up a lot of wall space.
The second obvious, killer feature of the Origin is its physical size, which again has two advantages. The first being that this tool can arguably do whatever a 4x8, or 5x10 gantry-style CNC mill can without occupying those machines' tremendous, permanent in-shop footprints. Again, for space-tight shops this is a win.
The other huge benefit to the size is you can easily haul this thing to the jobsite. Imagine being able to cut, say, signage on-site, and even modify it on-the-fly. In the hands of someone from a relevant trade, the portability alone is bound to be a game-changer; over time, reducing the hours spent shuttling back and forth from your shop will lead to increased profits.
Then there's the size, and relatively squarish shape, of the base. Because it's got increased contact area on the camera-side of the bit, it ought be easy to keep this thing stable while working close to an edge, provided the edge is kept on the operator side. (Admittedly, one small downside of the larger base is that clamps may more easily get in the way.)
So above are what we see as the most obvious benefits. But we've still got plenty of questions, particularly after we saw this demo video:
Couple things here. First off, the guy making the speaker housing is cutting box joints for the corners.
It goes without saying that a router cannot cut box joints on a horizontal sheet, as the bit is round and cannot cut proper corners:
So we went back and watched it closely, and spotted this:
As you can see, the operator has rigged up a hole in his workbench that allows him to clamp the piece vertically, so that he's routing into the endgrain. Aha, makes perfect sense. The set-up can be fiddly, as the workpiece must be plumb in two axes, set to precisely the right height, and ought have backer boards attached to prevent blowing out the grain, but that's all doable.
It's when we look at the perfect end-fingers in the final product...
...that our question becomes, how does he index the workpiece to the cutting head? We can see that the cut starts precisely at the edge of the board, allowing the one on the very edge to be the same width as all of them; how is that achieved, can the Origin's on-board camera detect the edge of a board with that level of accuracy?
Similarly, in the video where the woman is making the plug...
...it appears that she had the plug already cut, then places it on the workpiece that will receive it, then appears to cut the negative in that precise location. Is the Origin scanning the plug itself, or cutting the perfect negative by using the same file as the plug, but with an inside/outside offset?
Questions we've got beyond that:
There are plenty of you reading this who have more daily experience with routers and CNC mills than those of us on this side of the screen. So we'd like to hear the questions that you'd need answers to before considering one of these. Because we can get Shaper on the phone and get all of the answers. So let us know in the comments below, or if you'd rather ask privately, e-mail us at core77editors [at] gmail -dot- com, subject line: "Shaper Questions." We'll round them all up and get back to you with the answers.
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Just ordered mine! Use my referral code and get $100 off before September 30! https://preorder.shapertools.com/ref/MKGWXER7B
Email me after using the code and after I confirm the purchase and discount, I'll paypal you $20 to say thank you for helping me out! Not much, but hey, it's lunch on me! firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks! Oh, and big thanks to TD :)
I'm in. Here's what I find appealing: 1) It's an easy extension of my already-Illustrator-based workflow. 2) Yes, it is expensive, but it fits in my shop, which does not have room for even a 24" x 48" full gantry CNC setup. 3) It looks fast, as in fast from drawing to cutting. Is it as accurate as a full-size-and-dialed-in CNC setup? Is an iPhone as good as a full DSLR setup? No (I'm guessing in the case of the shaper origin.) BUT it is probably accurate enough for 95% percent of the work most people want. 4) It's small footprint will encourage experimentation, which is very exciting. A full size CNC gantry machine can easily be $15,000, plus dust control, computers, etc. It's not a machine that would be readily available for experimentation for most people.
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This thing is awesome, I've built an MPCNC and it definitely is great but I love the mobility of this tool. If you are looking for yet another referral link please try mine!
it as much sense as outfitting a shop with festool machines:
yes, it is initially expansive. but with a few jobs it pays for itself.
remember how long you hesitated to buy the festool sander and dust collector?? and how much did you regret not having it bought earlier???
use my referral code:
Preordered as well ... have some furniture in mind that I was planning to build but as some of the other folks have mentioned my router is 2x4 ft and I cannot fit the sizes of projects I want
ordered this today. I have a cnc that can do 4x4 work but can see a lot of benefits to the mobility of this unit. As the software and knowledge from others using this expand it will be a great game changing tool.
INCREASE DISCOUNT TO $150!!
Not to be outdone, I will increase the discount to anyone using my code to $150
Email me after using the code at email@example.com, and I will send you an extra $50 via paypal. I will first need to confirm purchase and discount, but happy to take less in rebate in the hope that more people will use my code. It's a win, win, win for all involved.
Thanks so much!
So, Troy, do Shaper Tools send you my email so that you can refund the $50 to my PayPal account?
Ah, I've just answered my own question by actually paying attention to your full post :-(
This offer is no longer valid or has expired
An extra "t" got added to the code at the beginning by mistake. Highlight from http...
Get $100 with this referral code: https://preorder.shapertools.com/ref/BXCREAD4C
Pre-Sale is still happening! Use my referral link for $100 off! https://preorder.shapertools.com/ref/A8JX6BMBW. (Link doesn't seem to like Chrome, but works in IE). Also, they are offering full refunds until they ship, so there isn't really any risk.
Really excited about the possibilities this opens up for a small shop.
If anyone would like to use my code for $100 off, it would really help out! Thanks
Love the idea. Can't wait for it to arrive. Perhaps the following link will help us both out...
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I'm really excited to get mine. September can't come fast enough.
Anyone need a referral code to save us both $ 100 on the Shaper Origin, here is the link: https://preorder.shapertools.com/ref/G4N0G71PN. They still offer pre-orders for $ 1499 from which you can deduct the $ 100 using the referral link. The retail price will be $ 2099.
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If you look though their videos and stuff and have an understanding of routers in general you will see that all you questions have already been addressed. This thing is the future. Period.
Pre-Sale is $1500 for a limited quantity. Use my referral link for $100 off! https://preorder.shapertools.com/ref/A8JX6BMBW. (Link doesn't seem to like Chrome, but works in IE). Also, they are offering full refunds until they ship, so there isn't really any risk.
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I just ordered one for $1500. Use my link and save $100: https://preorder.shapertools.com/ref/79WYV8BW6
I mean, the big and really straightforward questions is obviously: Can it cut a dovetail faster than you can by hand?
I gotta take a chance on this. I don't currently have room for a large CNC nor do I want to mess with software. That was the same approach I took for 3d printing and I could not be happier with my Afinia.
I'm in. I second James Stanek's comment below on fitting very well into an illustrator based workflow. Got to play with an early prototype at a conference a couple years ago and was impressed with it then. Sure there will be limitations, but I'll take them for the reduction in prototyping time.
It seems very attractive, even perhaps revolutionary, one one thing: large scale engraving type applications. By "engraving type", I mean specifically small shallow cuts.
Aaah, I understand what you mean better now. Quickly moving the router to correct for errors means having to drive the cutter through solid material very very quickly. (Also, potentially complicating your positioning by moving from a conventional cut to a climb cut.) That is a legitimate concern. I'm anticipating that the tool will require practice and good technique to get consistent, quality results. For starters, I wonder if trying to keep path errors to the "good" side of the line might help with keeping away from climb cutting. There will be more to discover--but I guess I'm willing to be a Guinea pig here.
I agree about the cutting capacity concern, though I'd be a bit more optimistic. (I regularly plow through 3/4" with a trim router and 1/4" bit in one pass.) One problem with routers in general is the amount of travel up and down needed to adjust a limited set of bit lengths to the task at hand--that problem would be exacerbated if this tool has reduced adjustment room.
I disagree about the finger joints. If you look at the jig they've setup, it's very smart. One clamp setup, and the dominoes are on the jig, so there's no need to put them on the workpiece. This setup (or one very very similar at least) could also be used to do dove tail joints, in the way that commercial jigs do them-- except with out all the fussy adjusting of fingers and bit depth. (Also, that's one more fixture you don't have to buy or store.) The potential to replace multiple jigs, both shopmade and commercial, is extremely appealing.
My point about not hogging wasn't that the motor can't handle it (sorry I wasn't very specific.) The issue is counteracting the cutting forces to keep the bit on the cut line, as the cutter torque is driving the router around. Just try freehand routing with a 1" bit at 1/2" depth, especially in non-homogenous material like real wood.
Video shows a little more detail about the box joints around 4:32
I'm in - Its been great to watch this since Alec's MIT work. Just debating whether to wait for a 240V version or not
I ordered before I even knew there was a $100 off referral :(
How quickly will the tool raise if you go outside of the cutting boundary? How big is the cutting boundary/how far off can it correct itself by? How accurate is it? If a board is warped, will it affect calibration? Will wood density/knots affect the gantry? Can you use a keyhole router bit? How many unicorns does it take to build one?
I was half expecting to find the Glowforge CEO to be somehow related to this new and magical product. Something seems fishy about this one too.