CNC Shark HD4 / Extended: Experiences with your first CNC router

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Forum topic by CanisLupus posted 03-21-2019 02:41 AM 1865 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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6 posts in 1445 days

03-21-2019 02:41 AM

Topic tags/keywords: cnc shark hd4

I’m considering the purchase of a CNC router for woodworking projects. I’m looking at the CNC Shark HD4 and the CNC Shark HD4 Extended with the spindle and laser attachments. I enjoy working with my router table and do not see this machine replacing any of my current tools but rather supplementing them with a machine that offers automation and streamlining capabilities (e.g., clamp down some baltic birch and let the router cut out a design, repeat with another sheet and not worry about repeatability).

I also have a business plan in my head as a way to help recover some of the costs associated with the purchase. I am a software engineer by day and I have no plans to leave my day job. Any money made from this purchase is simply icing on the cake.

I’d like to hear about your experiences with these machines:
Was it a good purchase? Did you use it more or less than you thought when you purchased it?
Spindle versus router?
Once the machine arrived, how long did it take you setup the machine? How long after that before you turned out a project?
Any regrets or advice you’d give yourself if purchasing your first machine again and you could go back in time and keep the benefit of experience?
How accurate / precise are these machines? Are we talking a few thousandths of an inch? 1/4”? 1/16”? If I draw line in CAD that is 8” long perpendicular to another 8” line, will I get two 8” lines perpendicular?

5 replies so far

View DS's profile


3611 posts in 3389 days

#1 posted 03-21-2019 01:31 PM

My first machine purchase was a Komo Innova 408

I’m not sure how much help I can be with your Shark.

Some advice I can give is to investigate thoroughly the software options for your machine purchase.
The software will be your biggest learning curve and will dictate how effective the machine will be for you.

Most people tend to underestimate the importance of good software for their machines.

Just my 2 cents.

P.S. the Innova 408 was accurate to +/- 0.0001”. Most hobby machines can achieve +/- 0.005” YMMV

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View oldnovice's profile


7699 posts in 4337 days

#2 posted 03-21-2019 04:06 PM

Doug, I think my Shopbot Buddy PRS Alpha is better than +/-.005”!

You are 100% correct, on the software aspect of CNC!

-- "It's fine in practise but it will never work in theory"

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

9760 posts in 3298 days

#3 posted 03-21-2019 07:05 PM

Software will make or brake the experience.

Stumpy Nubs has a Youtube video discussing the software offered on these machines and difference between 2.5D and true 3D countour cutting.

For a business plan consider making shadow boxes.

If I was going to purchase a CAM package for my own personal use (I have access to two different options at work) I’d get Vectric Aspire.

The linear motion and drive hardware (typically linear bearings and ball screws) on even your typical hobby CNC can hold 0.005”, but you can run into issues with rigidity if you’re taking heavy cuts, as the head and gantry can flex.

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View Mike_D_S's profile


623 posts in 3184 days

#4 posted 03-22-2019 02:35 AM

My advice for complete CNC newcomers is not to sink $5k into a machine unless you know you are 100% sure.

First off, get the free Vectric Cut2D trial and start drawing out some vectors and creating tool paths. If you have Sketchup or CAD experience this will be easier. You said you’re a software engineer, so this may not a big jump for you, but I’ve seen several people underestimate the effort it takes to do the CAD work to produce useful tool paths. It’s not that hard for a lot of people, but it is a thing. I spend more time on the keyboard than actually cutting in some cases.

For machines, before dropping $5k, I would recommend looking at a used Xcarve or Shapeoko type machine. You can get in for $750 to $1200 and get your feet wet. If you like doing the CNC work, you can resell the small machine at a small loss and then go big with confidence. You’ll take a beating on the $5k machine if you need to resell it.

As far as accuracy goes, the small starter machines I’m recommending are probably in the 0.01” to 0.005” range. But the bigger more rigid machines like the Shark, etc can be more accurate. They aren’t going to hit sub 0.001” range at that price point, but it’ll be more than accurate enough for pretty much anything you are doing.

And I would recommend looking for used machines. I found mine 5 or 6 months old at a hefty discount after the original buyer figured out it wasn’t just start the software and press a button.


-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

View Balloonengineer's profile


11 posts in 4153 days

#5 posted 04-06-2019 07:35 AM

I would advise looking at one in person before you buy, they have them at Woodcraft and Rockler. With the spindle in the center of the gantry push up on collet with a single finger. See how it moves. That is flex and makes it difficult to get nice finishes. Now move over to one of the Axiom machines and try the same thing.

Buy a stiff machine.

-- Tubular latex pressure vessel configuration engineer

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