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Forum topic by RickDel posted 04-03-2020 02:50 AM 486 views 0 times favorited 33 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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RickDel

47 posts in 535 days


04-03-2020 02:50 AM

Hello, I bought a Shapeoko XXL last month but have been struggling to figure out how to build an enclosure for it. I don’t have any experience building cabinets, cabinet doors, or installing drawers so this is a big venture. I do have a good selection of tools that I feel pretty comfortable using. Though, my only real experience is building small easy projects like workbenches and shelves.

I’d really like to make something similar to this. This is going to be a lot of firsts for me, but it’s a garage project so I’m fine learning from my mistakes.

*here’s where I found this project: https://www.simplecove.com/695/shapeoko-xxl-cnc-enclosure-and-cabinet/

I have to ton of questions and hoping you guys can help get me started. I realize you guys won’t know exactly how this one is built, but I’d like your suggestions on how you’d do it.

1. Would you use biscuits or pocket holes to assemble this?

2. It appears the top and bottom are two separate boxes and joined together with a rabbet joint. I don’t understand this??? What is keeping the two boxes together? Is it safe to just have the top box sitting on the bottom with nothing but a rabbet keeping them together?

3. Do you put the rabbet in the ply walls before assembly with a table saw / dado blade or after assembly with a router? (I hate dealing with my dado blade… Always a PITA to get the correct adjustments)

4. How is the top layer on the top box attached? Is that rabbeted too and just fit inside the four walls? Again, how is it attached? It looks like all the pieces on the top box are held together by the top layer. Is that right? (I think I can make each wall, but not clear the procedure on assembly or what holds them all together)

5. I’ve never made a torsion box. I do want a flat sturdy surface, but is there a better / easier option?

6. Any idea how the acrylic is attached. I don’t see rabbets, so I assume each piece has a dado and the acrylic is inserted during assembly like panel doors. Any suggestions on this method? (seems like it would be difficult to replace if I ever needed to replace a piece of acrylic)

I’ll have a bunch more specific questions, but I should be able to find most my other answers with research. Any suggestions you guys have to get me started would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks – Rick


33 replies so far

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Lazyman

5259 posts in 2127 days


#1 posted 04-03-2020 01:04 PM

For the base cabinet, I would probably use rabbet and dados to join everything, since it is plywood. Pretty simple with a router and will give you a pretty strong box. Glue should hold everything together but you can always drive in a few screws, if nothing else to avoid having to buy clamps large enough to hold everything together while the glue dries. Just make sure the joints are square before you drive in the screws. For the enclosure at the top, if you use plywood for that, I would also use rabbets to join that. If you use 3/4” boards, I would probably use half lap joints to to make the frames for the sides and top as well as the mobile base.

EDIT: if you look closely at the picture with the enclosure door open, it looks like they used half lap joints for the door. As for how to attach the window panes, either a rabbet or a groove in the edge will work. Assembly is probably a little easier with a rabbet since you can put the panes in after the frames are assembled but you do have to apply a strip to hold them in.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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RickDel

47 posts in 535 days


#2 posted 04-03-2020 03:24 PM

Thanks Lazyman!! A couple follow ups:

“For the base cabinet, I would probably use rabbet and dados to join everything”

Where is the dado, on the center divider only? And rabbets on all three walls, right?

After studying the pics, for a LONG time, I see he routed the base’s top edge AFTER assembly. Is that just a normal operation but on a vertical axis?? I’ve never done it like that, so is there anything I need to know about using the router this way?

So, do you think the doors are made of 3/4” boards? I wonder why he used 3/4” there, because the rest looks like plywood to me? Regardless, what would you suggest using? Ply with rabbets or 3/4” and lap joints? Though, even with the lap joints, he’s still joining all the sections with rabbets, right?

That top looks confusing to me. It looks like it just drops into the rabbeted groove. Is that right? So, he’s just using glue to hold that it all together, right? I’m fine with clamping and gluing too, but when you say I can use screws, do you mean through the two rabbeted sections? I assume that would be highly susceptible to splitting.

Thank you again!! – Rick

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Lazyman

5259 posts in 2127 days


#3 posted 04-03-2020 04:00 PM


Thanks Lazyman!! A couple follow ups:

“For the base cabinet, I would probably use rabbet and dados to join everything”

Where is the dado, on the center divider only? And rabbets on all three walls, right?

Correct. The dado is for the center divider with rabbets on the corners

After studying the pics, for a LONG time, I see he routed the base s top edge AFTER assembly. Is that just a normal operation but on a vertical axis?? I ve never done it like that, so is there anything I need to know about using the router this way?

Are you talking about this picture regarding the routing the top edge?

Is so, I don’t think that he routed the edge. I think that he simply made the torsion box top that the CNC machine sits on taller than he made the area that it sits in? I don’t see any point in putting a rabbet along there, though a slight round over might not be a bad idea to ease the edge for comfort and durability.

So, do you think the doors are made of 3/4” boards? I wonder why he used 3/4” there, because the rest looks like plywood to me? Regardless, what would you suggest using? Ply with rabbets or 3/4” and lap joints? Though, even with the lap joints, he s still joining all the sections with rabbets, right?

It is sort of traditional to use boards instead of plywood for frames like that, probably mostly because it looks better but there could be structural reason I suppose. They are often joined with tongue and groove joints but a half lap is easier and stronger IMO. However, if you decide to use a groove for the window pane, you are halfway there with the tongue and groove but you will have to stop the groove where the tongue starts but as I think about that, you would have to stop the groove for the pane where the half laps start as well.

I just noticed that he made a face frame for front the base cabinet. There are several ways to make that but pocket screws is a very common way to do that

That top looks confusing to me. It looks like it just drops into the rabbeted groove. Is that right? So, he s just using glue to hold that it all together, right?

I think that the sides basically come up higher than the center divider and he may have a piece of plywood on top of the the divider. The torsion box top basically nests in a pocket made by the sides and the sides are simply not quite as tall as the torsion box. He may have simply put some cleats on the inside to support the top?

I m fine with clamping and gluing too, but when you say I can use screws, do you mean through the two rabbeted sections? I assume that would be highly susceptible to splitting.

Yes, you can screw through the outside of the rabbet into the edge of the jointing piece. Just make sure that you pre-drill and countersink before driving in the screws. Once the glue dries they aren’t really necessary but they do add a little bit of extra mechanical strength. I have also used long brad nails when I don’t want the screws to show.
Thank you again!! – Rick

- RickDel


-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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Lazyman

5259 posts in 2127 days


#4 posted 04-03-2020 04:30 PM

BTW, another option for the 2 sides without the doors is to simply make the sides of the base tall enough to go the entire height, cut out the window holes and rabbet the edge of the hole for the window pane.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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RickDel

47 posts in 535 days


#5 posted 04-04-2020 07:39 PM

Lazyman, Thanks a lot for the help. I know the sides were routed after assembly because I enlarged a couple pics and I can see the base fully assembled with no rabbet. Then, in a later pic I can see the routed edge (with tons of tear out too).

Again, thanks for the help. I’m going to start the project and come back with questions as needed.

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Lazyman

5259 posts in 2127 days


#6 posted 04-04-2020 08:44 PM

Oh, I see now. That must be how he nested and attached the enclosure to the base? Maybe he just forgot to do that before he assembled the cabinet. No reason not to do that before assembly or simply turn the cabinet sideways to do it later. I’ll bet that he made it so that the enclosure can be lifted off to service the CNC without trying to slide it out of there. Not sure that the rabbet is necessary. There are other ways to make that work. For example you could just tack a strip of wood around the edge.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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RickDel

47 posts in 535 days


#7 posted 04-04-2020 10:38 PM

Yes, I think he said he made it that way to lift the top off to gain access to the CNC.

I was thinking I could add a strip of wood instead of rabbet to two joining boxes. That might be much easier, though I’d like them to lock into place.

Right now I’m watching tons of videos on torsion boxes.

Thanks.

View Phil32's profile

Phil32

1061 posts in 643 days


#8 posted 04-05-2020 01:27 AM

Have you given any thought to how the enclosure will be affected by chips & sawdust? It looks like the windows will be quickly rendered useless. Will the work be affected?

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

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RickDel

47 posts in 535 days


#9 posted 04-05-2020 05:30 AM

Phil, no clue…. I’ve never used a CNC router and my only knowledge is what I’ve read online. I haven’t seen anything to make me think the acrylic won’t hold up. Do you know otherwise? Thanks.

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Phil32

1061 posts in 643 days


#10 posted 04-05-2020 03:26 PM

I am not suggesting that the enclosure will be deteriorated by the chips & sawdust. I question how the CNC process will be affected by containing the waste material within the enclosure. If you are trying to monitor the process on the initial trials, it will be difficult if the inside of the windows is covered in sawdust. Will the CNC mechanism itself be affected by the buildup of waste?

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

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Lazyman

5259 posts in 2127 days


#11 posted 04-05-2020 04:09 PM

I bought a CNC last year. In my experience, the fan from the router blows most sawdust that doesn’t get sucked up by the the shopvac off the bed . You might need to add an air intake somewhere to allow enough air to come into the enclosure so that the vac doesn’t have to work too hard and to maintain maximum efficiency. I would allow for at least double in vs. out diameter. If you place the intake(s) strategically, I wonder if you could create an airflow that tends to pile sawdust mostly on one end.

If you plan to house the shopvac inside the cabinet, don’t forget that you need to have a vent for the exhaust to escape from. You might even want to have a hose that routes all of the exhaust out of the cabinet. The exhaust usually also cools the vac so you don’t want the heat to build up in there.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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RickDel

47 posts in 535 days


#12 posted 04-05-2020 07:09 PM

Thanks guys. I am planning to try a shop vac in the lower cabinet with venting in both top and bottom. I’m not sure how well a shopvac will hold up to continuous running but I want to try that before a dust collection. I have limited space already and this CNC enclosure is going to take up a BIG portion of my space (I just hope I get more pleasure than frustration out of it).

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RickDel

47 posts in 535 days


#13 posted 04-10-2020 02:28 PM

Lazyman, I’m still researching and was wondering…... Just like you initially thought he had the torsion box a little higher than the top edge of the base and then nested the over top the base, do you think that would be a better design? I don’t see why I need to route those edges when I can just overlap the torsion box. Am I overlooking something?

Also, when you said I could “tack a strip of wood around the edge” do you mean just build two separate boxes the same size and then add a strip to the top edge of the base so it overlaps and allows the top box to nest down inside?

I think overlapping the torsion box is the easiest route. I don’t know why he didn’t do that himself? (makes me think I’m overlooking something).

Sorry, one more…. You also said for the base to rabbit the three walls, but I have a biscuit joiner. In his pics I see he used biscuits too. Are biscuits OK for that? If I understand correctly, the glue will hold it. The biscuits are mainly for alignment.

Thank you!

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RickDel

47 posts in 535 days


#14 posted 04-10-2020 07:05 PM

Lazyman, I did a quick Sketchup of the bottom base (first time using Sketchup). This is how I was thinking of joining the pieces together. What do you think? I’m not sure about the pocket holes for the center divider connected to the MDF base of the torsion box. Not sure that’s strong enough. I’ll be attaching drawers to the divider too.


Edit: That pic isn’t very clear. I have biscuits and glue at the bottom base corners, dado and glue for the bottom of the divider and pocket holes at the top, and screws from the outside of the base into to MDF torsion box.

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Lazyman

5259 posts in 2127 days


#15 posted 04-10-2020 08:41 PM

I agree. Using the sides of the torsion box to help align the top sounds like pretty good idea.

As for tacking a strip, I think that your understanding matches what I was thinking. It basically would sort of create a rabbet for the top to nest in. I was thinking on the inside but it could be outside as well so it doesn’t take any space but if you use the torsion box sides, that isn’t necessary.

Yes, if you have a biscuit joiner, that will work fine to join the sides, easier too. If you want a little extra holding and clamping power you could even add pocket screws there too. I think the pocket holes to attach the torsion box to the center will be plenty strong. Their purpose is mostly to keep it centered and aligned. Aligning the torsion box to the sides while you drive screws in could be challenging to get it level. I think that I would add a strip on the inside of the cabinet to align and provide extras support of the torsion box.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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