ShopBot...What Do I Have/What is it Good For/Should I Dump It

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Forum topic by hiljac posted 12-20-2015 02:41 AM 1624 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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22 posts in 910 days

12-20-2015 02:41 AM

Let me preface this by saying I am a relative novice to CNC Routers in the woodworking realm. I recently took a new teaching position and am in the process of getting the somewhat undersized shop set up how I’d prefer and trying to improve work flow among other things. Anyway, we’ve got this old ShopBot none of the present instructors know how to run it, how old it is, or really how it came to be. The table is approximately 10’x6’ and has a standalone computer hooked up to it. The software that runs it seems really clunky and limited, frankly no one can really get it to do much of anything. So all this leads me to the following questions:

What exactly do we have here?
How old is it?
Is it worth keeping (HUGE space hog)?

If it is worth keeping, what if anything can be done to bring it into the present day?
We run Solidworks 2013 and AutoCAD in our drafting lab – is there a non-cumbersome way to essentially drag and drop designs from one of these programs into the control program? If not what’s the fix?
The table is obviously a shop built affair – is there any reason a guy couldn’t cut down the rails and make a new table (4’x6’ ish) to try and take back a little space?

If it isn’t worth keeping in our setting is there a market for it elsewhere? If so, what is a price that we could move it at?

Thanks in advance.

13 replies so far

View JAAune's profile


1788 posts in 2284 days

#1 posted 12-20-2015 03:15 AM

Shopbot has an excellent forum and user base that could give you a lot more specifics. Modern Shopbots run off GCode which can be generated by common CAM software like VCarve but I’m not sure about machines as old as that model seems to be.

Shopbot Forum

-- See my work at and

View bigblockyeti's profile


5095 posts in 1687 days

#2 posted 12-20-2015 03:25 AM

Sorry it shouldn’t be worth much, I can get it out of your way if you like.

View splatman's profile


586 posts in 1366 days

#3 posted 12-20-2015 05:00 AM

Seeing that your shop’s ceiling is out-of-frame high, you could attach a lift system that operates like a lift bridge (minus the vertical rails or counterweights), so when it’s not needed, it can be lifted up and the floor can be put to other use. Just an idea; thought I’d throw it on the table.

View jerryminer's profile


916 posts in 1408 days

#4 posted 12-20-2015 06:36 AM

Have you tried contacting ShopBot??

I gotta believe they can help you get it operating

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View ste6168's profile


255 posts in 1138 days

#5 posted 12-20-2015 12:39 PM

What kind of teaching position? I taught for a few years, I WISH I had that shop when I was teaching! Undersized… ha!

Wish I could help with the ShopBot, they are (new ones at least) great machines, I would spend some time and try to get it running. They certainly are not cheap!

View dhazelton's profile


2756 posts in 2263 days

#6 posted 12-20-2015 01:09 PM

According to their website the most recent programs are available as a freebie. I know nothing about those machines – can a more modern PC control it?

View WEW's profile


2 posts in 856 days

#7 posted 12-20-2015 09:36 PM

I have a very similar machine. Mine has the standard 4’ x 8’ steel table base. From the photos it appears to be a model PRT.

If you do a post on the Bot forum you will find that the members are very knowledgeable. They should be able to tell you what you have and what it takes to bring it up to speed. If not, contact ShopBot, they are very into helping educators. They have a section for educators on the forum.

Be sure to supply the version of software you currently have and the operating system you are running. Vectric software will import .DXF files and export .SBP (ShopBot) files. The Vectric software is quite easy to use, I use VCarve Pro.

I did not see where you are located, I am in the Seattle area, if I can be of assistance feel free to contact me.

Good Luck…


View hiljac's profile


22 posts in 910 days

#8 posted 12-21-2015 02:51 PM

Thanks for all the suggestions so far. I will have try to get in contact with ShopBot sometime after the holidays.

View Underdog's profile


1074 posts in 2002 days

#9 posted 12-21-2015 03:51 PM

Yeah.. It’s just total junk. You need to just let me take it off your hands…

Seriously though, if you wind up not keeping it, and you’re anywhere nearby, I’d like a shot at it.

-- "woodworker with an asterisk"

View bonesbr549's profile


1531 posts in 3034 days

#10 posted 12-21-2015 05:16 PM

Yep junk sell it….just curious what you would sell it for :)

That’s a good machine. I’m sure you could get rid of it for a good price if not wanted. Software wise not sued the shop bot, but Vetric is a good one but that will cost more $$.

Good luck.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View Underdog's profile


1074 posts in 2002 days

#11 posted 12-21-2015 05:23 PM

As for software, I’d get a copy of Vectric Aspire for sure. It’s affordable as complete packages go, ($2K compared to $10K) and it’s intuitive and easy to learn.

-- "woodworker with an asterisk"

View oldnovice's profile


6771 posts in 3335 days

#12 posted 12-21-2015 06:12 PM

Unless there is anything drastically wrong with it I would keep it and get it running.
Shopbot has very good customer support system and I m sure they can help getting I up and running!

The software you are using, Solidworks 2013 and AutoCAD, both create files that can be used by Vectric Aspire for both 3D and 2D tool path generation.

A students design could be realized, as opposed to being just a virtual, with Aspire and the Shopbot giving the student an additional insight into designing and actually making a part.

I use Creo, a free version of solid modeling from PTC, for modeling my designs and use the files/PDF prints with the Vectric Shopbot version of PartWorks.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View bonesbr549's profile


1531 posts in 3034 days

#13 posted 12-21-2015 06:41 PM

Another software to consider that I just thought of, is fusion by autocad. It can be had for free and works directly and generates g-code.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

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