ShopBot Spotlight

ShopBot Spotlight

ShopBot Tools helps Waynesboro create Destination INNOVATION

Over two weekends in late August and early September 2015, a new and exciting event came to downtown Waynesboro, PA. Destination INNOVATION explored the past, present and future of the area's creativity, imagination, and design as it relates to technology.

Destination INNOVATION featured demonstrations and interactive displays of 3D printing, robotics, electric vehicles, drones, a ShopBot CNC Router, solar panels and other technologies, as well as examples of work being manufactured by active local industries and historical displays illustrating the area's rich innovative past, including companies such as Geiser, Frick, Landis and Grove. The exhibits provided an opportunity for the general public of all ages to get a glimpse of new technologies.

Andrew Sussman, the Chair of Destination ARTS! and Destination INNOVATION sent ShopBot a nice 'thank you' note for our help in identifying a local ShopBotter to demonstrate CNC. "Eric James did a wonderful job of demonstrating the CNC machine and interacting with the public. He was very patient and enthusiastic in his demonstrations, and it added immeasurably to the quality of the event."

“All in all, Destination INNOVATION was a great success,” Sussmann wrote. “We are currently moving forward with plans to expand on this initial phase, and establish a permanent Maker Space/Fab Lab in the town. We have identified a location for this, and are hoping to have it become a reality in the spring of 2016.”

Mr. Sussmann sent us links to web pages that were created during the Destination INNOVATION where you can see photos of the activities:

This link just shows how the Destination INNOVATION activities were integrated into ongoing Destination ARTS! events over one of the weekends:

Furniture maker Andrew Pitts teaches CNC workshop

August, 2015 -- Andrew Pitts of Heathsville, Virginia, is a self-taught custom furniture maker with 38 years experience. His beautiful, detailed work has been featured in numerous exhibitions and garnered more than a dozen awards. Pitts added CNC technology to his workshop two years ago with the purchase of a ShopBot Desktop, and has been so excited about its capabilities that he recently taught a beginning CNC course at Peters Valley School of Craft. You can learn more about Andy and his incorporation of CNC on the ShopBot blog.

ShopBot Tools participates in NC's Annual Emerging Issues Forum,
@Manufacturing Works

Chris Anderson at IEI

Chris Anderson, CEO, 3D Robotics and
Former Editor, Wired Magazine, speaks
to the crowd of about 1000 attendees
about "A New Manufacturing Marketplace
 -- Integrated and DIY"

Feb. 11 & 12, 2013, Raleigh, NC -- It's not every day you can watch a Darth Vader replica being manufactured, hear from a young man who received an organ printed from his own cells, or meet people developing artificial titanium hips for dogs with digital fabrication technology. Those are just a handful of the fascinating examples of new manufacturing highlighted on February 11 & 12 at the 28th Annual Emerging Issues Forum, @Manufacturing Works. More than 1,000 people attended this year’s Forum sponsored by North Carolina State University, and another 2,000 tuned in online to hear from a first-rate community of makers, manufacturers, support organizations, government officials and educators. In breakout sessions, sponsored by each of the state’s seven regional economic development partnerships, Forum attendees considered how to grow specific types of manufacturing in their regions.

As a local manufacturer whose mission involves empowering small and mid-size manufacturers with affordable digital fabrication tools, ShopBot Tools was proud to participate in the development of the event, and participate in several ways during the Forum:


ShopBot's CEO Ted Hall was part of the development committee for the Forum and served as a judge of the college-level competition, "Prize for Innovation," in which students from around the state were challenged to design an innovative product to benefit their community. ShopBot's web-based community,, was the subject of a short film entitled "Reimagining Traditional Manufacturing," shown at the Forum. As the Forum website noted: "The next industrial revolution is taking place in someone’s garage. Known as the 'Maker Movement,' this more individualized, small-scale approach to manufacturing is helping spur locally networked communities. Today, North Carolina’s community of designers and makers are utilizing next generation digital fabrication tools to make it easier and less costly to manufacture a product." The short film highlighted individual entrepreneurs who are using the free resources of 100kGarages to connect and collaborate with other businesses and with customers anywhere in the world.

ShopBot Tools display at IEI Forum

ShopBot Tools displayed the ShopBot
Desktop digital fabrication tool during
the IEI Forum.

ShopBot's Sallye Coyle and Brian McKenzie were also on hand to demonstrate ShopBot's Desktop CNC, the most affordable of the company's digital fabrication tools. Sallye Coyle noted that the Desktop tool drew great interest from attendees. She spoke with many representatives of high schools, community colleges and community education centers about the power of using these tools to bring STEM subject matter to life for young people. June Atkinson, a conference speaker who serves an important role as the Superintendent of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, was highly interested in the potential of ShopBot Tools playing a role helping teachers meet the new standards set forth in the Common Core, which has been adopted in 46 of the 50 states.

As Ms. Atkinson explained in her address to the Forum, "The Common Core standards that are being put in place are meant to show children 'How and Why' they are being taught what they are being taught." She spoke of cloud sharing of ideas and three things that will help create "the Pathways to Prosperity: Impress a Middle Schooler, Help a High Schooler, Inspire a Teacher, Counselor."

A key theme stated throughout the conference was the need to "Rebrand Manufacturing, and involve K - 12 educators in the process." Atkinson noted the importance with today's digitally-oriented students, "to let our students lead." The natural desire to create, to make, is fostered by the use of digital fabrication equipment, and students find themselves learning key concepts of STEM as they create.

What Came Out of @Manufacturing Works?

By the end of the Forum, attendees had identified three strategies to build our manufacturing economy in North Carolina:

  1.  Better align manufacturing businesses and North Carolina's educational systems.
  2. Develop a long-term infrastructure plan for North Carolina, one that includes deep-water ports, air travel, roadways, highways/interstates, railroad systems, and broadband.
  3. Rebrand manufacturing as a career option promoting the value of careers and related training in manufacturing.

Learn more about the work of the IEI at

Download the @Manufacturing Works Forum Paper

Garry Champ
Blue Ridge, Texas

Garry Champ

December 2012 -- Garry Champ has won the promotional contest held by American Woodworker magazine and ShopBot Tools. For his winning essay, describing his interest in using the Desktop, Mr. Champ will have the use of a ShopBot Desktop CNC (valued at approx. $5000) for one year. As part of his winning "assignment," he'll submit posts to the magazine, reporting on his use of the tool over the coming months.

In his essay, Champ described himself as "a husband and father of three. We have a small ranch in Blue Ridge Texas just outside of Dallas. We keep bees, raise cattle, chickens and of course the ranch dog. My day job is designing embedded control systems as a Microchip FAE. I am active in Boy Scouting, the beekeeping club and the local community."

Champ explained that he looked forward to using the Desktop tool in many ways: in his semi-conductor design and development work, he plans to engage in rapid prototype development, integrating the subtractive mill with the 3D printing for more advanced prototypes; as a beekeeper, he plans to build hives and frames using the tool, and demonstrating them at CCHBA meetings; and as a former Boy Scout Master, he looks forward to hosting troops at his farm workshop, where he intends to teach woodworking and the use of CNC technology.

As part of his prize, Garry recently attended one of ShopBot's training sessions at the company's Durham, North Carolina headquarters. "I really learned a lot about the design software, and it was great having all my questions answered on the fly. I'm so appreciative of the chance to make use of this amazing tool," said Champ.

Erik Guzman: Weather Beacon
New York, NY

Weather Beacon by Erik Guzman is a kinetic sculpture that converts weather data into flashing lights and rotating parts. The aluminum parts were fabricated by Erik on a ShopBot at New York’s School of Visual Art's Fab Lab, and the installation was on view for free at the World Financial Center Plaza in lower Manhattan.

Weather Beacon will turn weather into art over the course of four seasons, translating weather data received via radio waves into visual representations of spring breezes, winter winds and everything in between. Presented by Arts World Financial Center, the eight-foot tall piece aims to provide a stunning new means for the public to engage with the invisible atmospheric changes around them.

Guzman has been winning steady acclaim for his kinetic sculptures, elegant metal contraptions which respond to various elements of their environment with light and movement. His work has been shown at venues throughout the world, including Exit Art, The Kitchen, and El Museo Del Barrio in New York, the Front Room Gallery in Brooklyn, NY, and at galleries in Puerto Rico and Tokyo. He has also organized dozens of art exhibitions and has lectured on the subject of New York's emerging artists.

Facebook members: Become a fan of Weather Beacon

Erik cut the aluminum parts for Weather Beacon on the ShopBot at the School of Visual Arts' Fab Lab.

Many hours and many pounds of aluminum went into creating the parts for Weather Beacon.

The completed installation stands more than 8' high.

- Top of Page -

Lewis Colburn/NextFab Studio
Philadelphia, PA

Lewis took photos and grave rubbings, created a full-scale version in Adobe Illustrator, transferred the file into PartWorks and carved this replica on NextFab's ShopBot.

The carved wood blank was used to create a rubber mold, which will be used to cast tinted cement replicas of the stone.

Tyler McPhee's 7' Paul Bunyan statue, also made at NextFab.

Some really cool projects often come from ShopBotters who don’t own their own machines. Thanks to community workspaces like TechShop, Sawdust Shop, Fab Lab and NextFab, creative people with the desire to make things have access to ShopBot CNC systems and a variety of other power tools, hand tools, and technology like laser cutters, 3D scanners and even 3D printers.

Philadelphia’s NextFab Studio is a membership-based prototyping center and high-tech workshop. With equipment including 3D printers, a laser cutter and - of course - a ShopBot, members can fabricate anything from product prototypes to furniture and art projects.

One of NextFab’s managers, the artist Lewis Colburn, uses the ShopBot for some of his own projects. Shown here is a carved tombstone Lewis created on the ShopBot, to be used as a mold form to cast concrete. This piece is a replica of a tombstone in Massachusetts, for Captain Lewis Colburn, who died in 1843. The replica will be part of a large-scale installation which reproduces Captain Colburn’s grave. We had the chance to meet Lewis, who was in Durham for the 2010 ShopBot Jamboree, and we’re excited to see the finished installation. More of Lewis’ projects can be found a

Other NextFab members have also done some great work on the ShopBot, including this seven-foot tall statue of Paul Bunyan. Using NextFab’s 3D scanner, member Tyler McPhee scanned a small sculpture, sliced the scan in PartWorks3D and then cut the parts from insulation foam. This type of foam is extremely easy to cut and is fairly inexpensive; therefore, it’s a great medium for all types of 3D projects and can also be used for test cuts before sinking a bit into an expensive piece of material.

ShopBot is proud to be part of NextFab and other community workplaces that are bringing technology within reach for many communities.

Graham and crew sailing to windward.

B & B Yacht Designs
Vandemere, NC

WoodenBoat magazine (November/December 2009) announced ShopBotter Graham Byrnes as the winner of the magazine's Fuel-Efficient Power Boat Design Contest. Graham's 18' center-console plywood skiff design was chosen from over 70 contest entries. Graham designs and builds sailboats and powerboats in coastal North Carolina as B & Yacht Designs. He uses a ShopBot for much of his boat building, as well as for a popular and growing line of kit boats. Graham is a proponent of small shops and the way that technology and user-oriented efforts allow them to play substantive roles in the new economy. Article PDF

The previous issue of WoodenBoat (September/October 2009) featured Graham for his boat production as well as his prodigious reputation in the world of long-distance, small-sailboat racing. In particular, Graham has become a bit of a cult hero for the dominance of his boats and his sailing in the the 300-nautical-mile Everglades boat race. This is the 4th straight year that a boat designed by Byrnes had beaten other monohulls in the demanding two- to four-day adventure race sponsored by Florida-based WaterTribe. And usually, it has been Graham at the helm. Article PDF

Robert Bridges Woodwright
Exmore, VA

ShopBotter Robert Bridges has recently entered the Guggenheim/SketchUp "Shelter Design" competition with plans for a ShopBot-cut temporary-relief shelter. The competition is an extension of Learning By Doing, an exhibition in the Guggenheim Museum Sackler Center for Arts Education that features plans, photographs, and models of student-built shelters from the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.

Robert's idea came from his collaboration with Bill Young, " ... actually from a barreled ceiling that I was working on and Bill's response to the earthquake in L'aquila Italy. We came up with the idea of turning the barreled ceiling into an emergency shelter. The concept behind the shelter is that they can be manufactured easily and affordably for either the homeless, for the many tent cities popping up across the country, or to house people in disaster relief situations. The shelters are easily enlarged by adding to either end since there are very few parts that are different. You can ship some Shopbots and a couple of truckloads of plywood and tarps and have an instant shelter factory on site. I entered the Guggenheim competition and designed the shelter to try and get the concept out to the world and also to force myself to actually do it and learn some things that I may not have otherwise taken the time to learn."

Cutting a "puzzle joint" used in Robert's Shelter

"The shelter for the purpose of the competition is located in Google Earth on Tulane's campus directly behind the architecture library and could easily house two students to sleep and study. The two just seemed to fit with one another, the competition was about creating a space for a student to sleep and study and Tulane is located in New Orleans, the site  of the most devastating natural disaster in our countries recent history."

Besides this recent project, Robert has worked with the MIT team that developed the House for New Orleans, and their Physical Design Company "Shed" project that was set up at the 2008 Austin and 2009 San Mateo Maker Faires. He's also a promising Aspire designer.

- Top of Page -

Woodpecker Enterprises
Apex, NC

Woodpecker Enterprises Inc. has been designing and making furniture for homes, corporate environments and sacred spaces since 1972.  Currently, their specialty is custom contract furniture, including conference tables, boardroom casework, reception desks, residential “designer” furniture and custom commercial and residential cabinetry.  Many of their conference tables feature radiused table edges, and they utilize their ShopBot to cut table edge patterns and forms as well as veneered table tops.  Woodpecker Enterprises knows their ShopBot is an indispensable tool in their 12-man shop.

Woodpecker Enterprises originally added a ShopBot to their arsenal of tools back in 2000 when they were commissioned to design and build a custom cherry library with an elliptical plan for a private residence.  The project required more than 76 curved forms, and they used the opportunity to take the plunge into the world of CNC with a ShopBot PRT-96.  They’ve since upgraded to the PRSalpha 96-60-6 and have been very happy with its accuracy and speed.  At the time of their upgrade, Woodpecker Enterprises also added the vacuum hold-down table, which has been a wonderful improvement from the days of screwing down parts and using hold downs.  Today they use their ShopBot for a host of different applications, from cutting out parts that will become curved panel forms all the way to final cutting radiused table tops. 

The ShopBot has enabled Woodpecker enterprises to produce forms, patterns and parts that are critical in the production process accurately and quickly.  For more information, visit them online at

Lincoln Park High School
Brownsville, Texas

Education & Career EXPO '09

On Thursday, September 17, Lincoln Park School's ShopBotters lent a helping hand at the 2009 Texas State Technical College Education and Career Expo. Thousands of high high school students from South Texas visited the campus to see what training and occupations are available in the Rio Grande Valley. Hugo Ortega, Department Chair of the Building Construction Program, was especially appreciative for the help at his booth, which showcased the ShopBot Buddy® in action.

Angus Hines, Hines Design labs
Carrollton, VA

Linker Logs

In the fall of 2008, Angus Hines III was looking to purchase a CNC machine. While exploring his options, he came into contact with Bill Young of Seaside Small Craft and proud owner of a ShopBot CNC machine. After seeing Bill’s ShopBot in action, Angus decided to purchase one, and Hines Design Labs was born.

Shortly after purchasing his ShopBot, Angus became involved with Linker Logs. Linker Logs are a simple design of flat, interlocking boards that are modular, digitally fabricated on a ShopBot CNC Tool and can be used to build just about anything. They were inspired by an article in the December 1953 issue of Mechanics Illustrated magazine that another ShopBotter, Ron Brown, sent to Bill Young. Along with Bill Young, Angus began cutting out pieces on his ShopBot, and he and his friends began to “play” with them. He then cut a set of Linker Logs out for his neighbor’s children and ultimately discovered their usefulness in imaginative and creative play.

With the help of two other ShopBotters, Mark Didawick and Joe Johnston, Angus cut four sets of Linker Logs and donated them to various elementary schools in his area. Another ShopBotter, Ben McCoy, also cut out a large set for the Ohio State Fair where they became an immediate hit.

To become involved with the Linker Logs project, just identify a great cause in your area that would benefit from the donation of a Linker Logs kit. Anyone can download the files for Linker Logs and cut their own set, so if you have the capabilities, volunteer your time and materials, and cut a few sets for organizations in your community. You can also use the Find a Linker Logs Maker section on the Linker Logs Forum to locate a ShopBotter in your area to help with your project. There are always great organizations in need, so Volunteer to Cut Linker Logs so that a school or other worthy program can find you.

For more information on these incredible pieces, go to

South End Technology Center
Boston Fab Lab

Mark Williams designed and built his own electric violin using a PRS ShopBot at the Boston Fab Lab. Mark has been a participant in the Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn program at the South End Technology Center, where he served this summer as a college mentor while working on this project.

Video was provided by ShopBotter Chris Conners, more of Chris' videos.

And for other educators:

Lincoln Park High School
Brownsville, Texas

ShopBot helps propel students to success
at Texas SkillsUSA District 13 competition

By Brett Dickinson, Tech Ed Instructor, Lincoln Park High School

Building trades from Lincoln Park school scored big at district thanks to their favorite tool, ShopBot. The Community Service received a state qualifying second-place silver medal. The project featured how CNC technology can be used to benefit others. Students designed and built three sets of therapeutic furniture for a clinic that serves children with special needs. Parent and clinic staff said that this furniture was superior to any they could obtain commercially.

Their Chapter Display, SkillsUSA Champions at Work, Leadership in Transition won first place and featured a design that not only was cut on a ShopBot but featured both ShopBot machines and projects. The project showed, in both photos and PowerPoint, the transition that is occurring from handheld to CNC routing . As you can see, the display is cut in the shape of a router.

In addition, two projects that were designed with PartWorks and cut on a ShopBot won first-place blue ribbons and will advance to state. These projects had some unique features made possible through the use of CNC technology. Most of parts for the poker table - including the drawers, table supports and legs - were cut with the ShopBot.
The poker card and chip designs were done by the student.

For more information on SkillsUSA, please visit



Lincoln Park students

Lincoln Park Students

Lincoln Park Students

- Top of Page -

Tom & Deborah Twark, Elk Creek Woodworking
Forest, VA

ShopBotters put their machine to work restoring hurricane-damaged church

Elk Creek Woodworking’s husband-and-wife team of Tom and Deborah Twark purchased their ShopBot in 2006. Although they had been running a successful woodworking business together for more than 15 years, neither had much computer experience, and they had never operated a CNC machine before. Deborah admits she endured a pretty severe learning curve in the beginning, but with the help of ShopBot’s technical support team, she took on the task of learning the machine and the software. Deborah now does all the programming on Elk Creek’s ShopBot as they use it to create intricate, one-of-a-kind products as well as large quantities of duplicate parts.

During the past several months, the Twarks have undertaken two major church projects. The first was a rebuild of a Texas church that was almost completely destroyed by Hurricane Ike. They provided a new pulpit and communion table, flower stands and brochure tables. The second project was a stained-glass window framing job in Virginia. The three-week project required approximately 1,000 board/feet of poplar and 15 sheets of Trupan MDF. 99 separate toolpaths were required to cut all parts for the project.

Glen Kadelbach, GR Kreations
Hutchinson, MN

ShopBot & Vectric help Glen Kadelbach save the U.S. space program
Well, not exactly, but they sure helped him make a really cool sign for NASA.

Veteran ShopBotter Glen Kadelbach, President of G.R. Kreations, Inc. (parent company of Innovative Foam), received his copy of Vectric’s Aspire on November 1st.  On November 7th, the U.S. Department of Defense called Glen and told him they needed a sign for the Stennis Space Center - NASA’s rocket propulsion testing grounds - in southern Mississippi.  The only catch?  They needed it in 10 days.

[Side note from ShopBot: Glen, do you regularly receive phone calls from NASA?]

Glen had already been studying the Aspire videos and was certain he could complete the project. So, armed with a government-provided jpeg, he began to draw the DOD emblem.

Glen cut the Eagle and olive branches on his PRSalpha, and the rest of the sign was made on his hotwire machine.  Constructed from blue expanded styrofoam, the 16-color sign was painted with latex.  It is made of 74 individual pieces, is 36 inches across, weighs four pounds and took five days to complete.

This project is a great example of the ShopBot’s ease of use, Aspire’s extremely short learning curve, and most importantly, Glen’s creativity, talent and attention to detail.  Fore more examples of Glen’s work, check out his website,

Scott Smith, Smith CNC Service
Avella, PA

ShopBotter Takes You on a 3D Ride to Hell

ShopBotter Scott Smith of Avella, PA knows his way around a set.  Whether it’s a theater stage, a government conference or a major motion picture, Scott knows how to use his ShopBot and his imagination to bring dramatic scenery to life.  Scott has created sets for movies and theatrical productions, and in July he fabricated the conference stage for the National Governors Association Centennial Meeting in Philadelphia.  The project required 200 sheets of OSB and MDF and needed to be finished in four days.  A job of that magnitude with such a short deadline would intimidate even the most capable ShopBotter, but Scott rolled up his sleeves, fired up his ShopBot and completed the task with time to spare.  But this January, Scott’s work comes to life for an even more frightening project when his ShopBot-built sets are featured on the big screen in the Lionsgate motion picture My Bloody Valentine 3D.

Opening January 16 and featuring some of today’s hottest young stars, “My Bloody Valentine 3D” follows Tom (Jensen Ackles) as he returns to his hometown on the 10th anniversary of the Valentine's night massacre that claimed the lives of 22 people.  For the horror flick, Scott used his ShopBot to fabricate signs, facades and routed letters for motels, hospitals and tunnel and mine entrances.  In addition to “My Bloody Valentine,” Scott has created sets and props for the movie “Graduation” and theatrical sets for the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, the Pittsburgh Public Theater and the Pittsburgh Opera.  Scott and his wife Jamie have been ShopBotters since 2005.  They may be reached at

Set of Pittsburgh Public Theater’s “Comedy of Errors” and the National Governors Association Centennial Meeting

My Bloody Valentine 3D opens Jan 16

Two of Scott Smith’s ShopBot-cut signs for the set of “My Bloody Valentine 3D”




Larry Sass, Dennis Michaud & Dan Smithwick with Bill Young & Robert Bridges

And Now, from the Same Designers as the MoMA House,
ShopBot-Cut Backyard Sheds/Workshops/Playhouses/Greenhouses!

Larry and students discuss design with others watching

MIT architects Larry Sass, Dennis Michaud, and Dan Smithwick, along with Bill Young and Robert Bridges who provided inspiration and ShopBot CNC cutting, have collaborated on a new building. Using techniques similar to those developed for the innovative "New Orleans" House on display this summer and fall at New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), they've created a versatile concept for digital fabrication of backyard sheds built entirely with interlocking plywood parts and assembled without nails or screws using only a mallet. Variations allow for tool sheds, workshops, playhouses, poolhouses, and greenhouses. The building goes together very easily because the parts fit and lock together much like puzzle parts (see Ted's column).

This one will be assembled at the ShopBot Jamboree and Maker Faire Events in Austin, Texas (October 16th - 19th). Bill and Robert cut most of the parts on Bill's ShopBots in Virginia so the assembly, with a little help from the gang of ShopBotters on hand, should go quickly. If you can make it, you'll see up close this concept for digital fabrication, which puts the intelligence into each part rather than the assembly process in order to produce structures that can be created and built on-site using local materials and eager assemblers.

Popping out and assembling steps

Brett Dickinson, Lincoln Park High School
Brownsville, TX

State Representative visits CTE class

On October 20, Texas state representative Eddie Lucio III visited Brett Dickinson's Career & Technical Education (CTE) class at Lincoln Park High School in Brownsville, Texas.  Rep. Lucio introduced HB 2383 to the Texas state legislature last session.  The bill was passed and now provides a subsidy for CTE students who take and pass trade or occupational certification or licensure exams.


- Top of Page -

Sergio González

Aluminum sign using 153,650 holes creates interesting effects...

Sergio González
Monterrey, Mexico
AB Communicación Visual

Sergio sent us a report of a very interesting large sign that his company (AB Communicación Visual) in Monterrey, Mexico recently completed for a restaurant:

"We are a sign company from Mexico. We have had a PRT 48 since 2004. Designing and making signs has became much easier with the ShopBot.

Recently, we were hired for a very challenging sign/decoration job for a Chinese food restaurant called Barrio Chino. It was basically a drill job, with a total of 10,975 holes in aluminum panels, each one measuring 90.5" x 79" (cut down into 4 modules to fit our 48" x 48" PRT).

There were a total of 14 panels (that means 153,650 holes that needed to be drilled in aluminum!), so you have an idea of the amount of work in our hands.

Thankfully, we were backed up by superb technology and had it done in no time."

Durham, NC

TechShop [Open-Access Workshop] is setting up shop in Durham,
ShopBot's hometown

[link to the story ... ]
[link to TechShop website ... ]
First TechShop in Menlo Park, CA; TechShops coming to Durham, NC and 5 other cities

"Workshop resources made available to everyone" is the idea of TechShops. Anyone can make all sorts of things using TechShop tools, machines, and equipment, and draw on TechShop instructors and experts for help with their projects. Every TechShop will have a ShopBot (for those who don't have a tool in their own shop) and help and training will be available.

Paul Zank
Brookline, NH

Responding to the call from Extreme Makeover!

In the spring of 2006, I checked the voicemail of my cell phone and found a message from Ty Pennington from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. “Hi Paul. This is Ty Pennington and I was wondering if you would ....” They had a pair of interior doors to his “SECRET PROJECT” which needed to be carved. Ty called because I have a PRT Alpha ShopBot. Ty also owns a ShopBot and it is run by his long time friend, Rob Williams in Atlanta. Rob did the door design but if he cut the doors, they would have to be shipped from Atlanta to New York on a very short schedule. Further, my PRT Alpha should be capable of cutting the pattern somewhat faster than Ty’s PRT. I agreed to make the doors from Rob’s cut file.

On a Friday, I drove to the Arena house in Somers, NY to pick up the doors. This was the same day the old house was being destroyed. When the doors arrived, Big D (the lead carpenter for the show) discovered that the doors which were delivered were not solid wood; instead, they were solid core. (They were veneer clad core and we didn’t know what the core was). Since this was Ty’s secret project, Big D had asked Ty to come over and discuss the problem. Ty is a highly accomplished carpenter in his own right and we discussed several options but the best option was for the show’s people to find solid wood doors and get them to me. If we used the doors that were delivered, the current design would completely remove the veneer and expose the unknown core material. I left the Arena house with the solid core doors just in case the design producers could not get solid wood doors in time.

Saturday, I received an email from the lead artist, Nancy Hadley, asking about a sample that I had left with the design producers on Friday. She asked if it would be possible to design and cut large appliqués from a picture she had attached. Since I was waiting for the solid doors, I agreed to make the appliqués. This was my first project with V-Carve Pro.

The design producers soon discovered that businesses which would have solid wood doors were not open on weekends. Through multiple phone calls and emails with the producers, I could sense a growing panic and Sunday morning I started to redesign the pattern to keep almost all of the veneer on the solid core doors and still maintain the same overall look. This was my second project with V-Carve Pro. As I was designing, my bot was cutting the first set of Nancy’s appliqués. The effort had turned into a prime candidate for a disaster -- A new machine, new software, a novice operator (me!) and a three day deadline. Anything and everything could go wrong. There was no backup for anything.

By Monday morning it was apparent that we would not have solid wood doors. We would have to use my design for the solid core doors and hope the core was not scrap wood (which would show through in a few areas of the pattern). Each door would take more than 3 hours to cut. The pattern would show the slightest error; I had never made a multi hour cut; and we were completely out of alternatives and time.

Both doors were finished by early Monday afternoon. The core of the door turned out to be a single piece of particle board … we were lucky. The second set of Nancy’s appliqués were done before midnight.

I delivered the doors Tuesday about noon. At this time the exterior of the new house was completely done! When Big D stained the doors, the particle board core of the door sucked up much more of the stain than the veneer did. It made the doors look like they were stained with two different but coordinated stains and they looked great! Nancy used the appliqués on the backs of the doors and the walls in the Nursery (Ty’s “SECRET PROJECT”). Big D was happy, Nancy was happy, the producers were happy, Ty was happy, and I ... I was just incredibly relieved. The pressure was off, and my first major ShopBot project was a success.

I keep in touch with Nancy, Big D and Ty. By March of 2007 I had worked on my eighth Extreme Makeover house including two houses in one week. I have been asked why I volunteer so much time and effort. When I was small, we were very poor and many people helped us. I am simply paying it back.

John Ervin, Colby College Department of Theater & Dance
Waterville, ME

How to: cut a student in half

John Ervin, Technical Director of Theater & Dance at Colby College, faced a challenge: How to cut a student in half. He needed to do it as part of a magic scene for a production of Andreyev's play "The One That Gets Slapped." Well... he did it! John based his "dismiddlement" device on Horace Goldin's 1923 patent for a magic device that slices a body in half -- or so it appears. A simple looking box from the outside, it is highly complex on the inside. The device required 7 sheets of plywood, lots of precision cut parts, and careful craftsmanship to hide the magician's secrets. John generated Part Files from the original, un-dimensioned, patent drawings and solved a number of technical problems, including making sure that the young lady to be sliced in half could breathe inside the hidden compartment.

- Top of Page -

Rob Bell, Zomadic
San Francisco, CA

The Zomicile Project

The Zomicile is a modular prefab building system which uses our Rigid Panel System© to balance and distribute the compressive and tensile forces of the structure using a unique slotted panel and gusset design.

Zomadic, LLC is a design and fabrication company based out of San Francisco, California.  We specialize in helping designers, builders and makers of all sorts realize their ideas using digital technology.  We also have skill and passion for all things polyhedral, geodesic and synergetic.  The Zomicile is the fruition of an ongoing research and development project to design an inexpensive, easy-to-manufacture, easy-to-construct, redeployable polyhedral shelter.

What is a Zome?

The word Zome is a combination of the words "zonohedron" and "dome."  In certain aspects, a Zome is similar to a geodesic dome.  The difference is that the structure of a Zome is based on a class of polyhedron known as zonohedra.  Whereas a dome will tend to resemble a sphere, a Zome will tend to resemble a jewel.

So what's it for?

Geodesic domes are the manifestation of a theoretical ideal of maximum strength with minimum materials.  However, when it comes to the day-to-day usage as an inhabitable structure, the geodesic dome can be awkward and problematic.  The highly tensegral nature of the surface makes domes difficult to seal from the elements.  Undesired acoustics are reported. A lack of vertical walls makes interior design difficult.  Numerous and varying compound angles in the facets make additions and redesigns very challenging.  Consequently, despite their inherent symmetry and beauty, geodesic domes are a constraining design and not a liberating design.

Zomes address most, if not all, of these issues and they are arguable more beautiful that geodesic domes.  Once a few basic rules are understood, the simplicity and sublime nature of Zome geometry becomes apparent.  So what's it for?  From hand-held model to club house, tool shed, hunting camp, home or spaceship, it's up to you.

It looks cool, but what makes it special?

The Rigid Panel Tension System© allows the structure to be easily assembled and disassembled.  It also enables a Zomicile to be redesigned and upgraded using the same panels.  This saves materials and money.  Start small and grow big.  And using our system, Zomes can also be connected and mated with each other in an astounding variety of ways.

So why hasn't this been done before?

Readily available, low-cost software technology has reached the point as to solve the design aspects of the Zome and dome design.  Digital manufacturing such as CNC technology has reached a price/performance point in which the common craftsperson may realize the advantages of robotic manufacturing with regard to accuracy, repeatability and "produceability" of otherwise difficult to manufacture parts.

Is it for sale?

Basic Zome SketchUp models are available for free download through the Google 3D warehouse.  Go to and search for the collection "Zomicile."

Plans and kits are available for sale through

From Rob Bell, Zomadic, LLC.

[Note from ShopBot: Rob's Zomicile was awarded an Editor's Choice award at Make magazine's Maker Faire, October 20-21 in Austin, Texas.]

Robert Ball, Habitat for Bats
McDonough, GA

Going batty over ShopBot

If someone had told me a couple of years ago I would be building bat houses I’d have thought they were a little odd… if they’d told me I’d need a ShopBot CNC to do the job I’d have never believed them. But, here I am, making bat houses among other things on my own ShopBot PRTAlpha96. I spent about a week getting up to speed and cutting various small projects. Then I created our bat house project file and ran an entire month’s production in two days! Before we were struggling to make 30 commercial bat houses, now we have time to do even more including a new bat house DIY kit that we used in a workshop for 18 elementary students.

Habitat for Bats is a family business. We manufacture for and must meet their stringent requirements. One of the most tedious parts of the job is cutting literally miles of 1/32” deep roosting grooves every ½” on every surface inside the bat houses. Each 4 chamber bat house has almost 500 feet of roosting grooves in them. With my custom made router carriage it took about 20 minutes per house just to cut the roosting grooves, not to mention time to cut out and drill holes. The ShopBot can now make all the panel cuts, drill holes and cut the grooves for four bat houses in about an hour. The best part was… I was assembling my other bat houses while the Bot was cutting grooves instead of pulling a router back and forth. I decided that this thing might prove useful. You also might say I have a groovy job!

The ShopBot has opened up a whole new range of possibilities. Not only do we produce better and more decorative bat houses but now we are creating a full range of bat products. We’ve added V-Carving to some of our houses and varied the roosting groove design. We now have bat cut outs for the fronts of the houses, small bat magnets, signs that say Do Not Disturb the Bats and we even created a Bat House Address Marker. With the extra shop time we’ve started accepting a few custom jobs again and started creating non-bat related products.

I never expected to enjoy the ShopBot so much, I should have gotten one years ago. The shop will be reorganized soon and the ShopBot will become more central. Here I am with a pile of Botted stuff. My Wife, Son and Daughter (aged 8 1/2) have all used Part Wizard and the ShopBot to cut various projects you see. 
Robert Ball,

Paco Riendeau

Off-road ShopBotting

Pascal "Paco" Riendeau from Québec Canada, a ShopBot forum favorite, was contacted for help by a Mini-Baja team that needed molds made for body parts for their  vehicle after their sponsor dropped out at the last minute.

Paco and the team decided that the best way to make the parts would be to slice the computer model and mill the individual slices out of  5 sheets of 1" MDF. Paco used MOI for slicing the models and Vectric's Cut3D for creating the toolpath.

With Paco's help the team placed 13th out of 75 contestants ! You can find out more about this project (and much, much more if you explore around) in Paco's Blog.




Click on image for larger view.


Robert Lofthouse, Plyline UK
Blackburn, Lancashire, England

A "van lining" business

Plyline UK

The recent Camp ShopBot that was held in the UK (Blackburn Lancashire) was a great opportunity for European ShopBotters to share some of their CNC knowledge and ideas with each other and to demonstrate the usefulness of get-togethers with other ShopBotters. We hope this is just the beginning of many such international events and ShopBotter opportunities.

One of the most interesting things about this Camp ShopBot for Ted Hall and Bill Palumbo who were visiting from ShopBot in the US, was the "plylining" business of our host, Robert Lofthouse of Plyline UK. Robert is in the business of lining the interiors of small commercial vans (they are everywhere in Europe) with plywood panels to protect the walls and contents. Each van requires a unique set of plywood panels. This is where Robert puts his two PRTalpha ShopBots to use. He has patterns of dozens and dozens of vans all saved as digital cutting files. When a customer needs an interior for a particular van, the pattern is brought up and quickly cut from 4-10mm plywood. Robert has 8 installation crews that go to customer sites to install the liners and these crews keep the 2 ShopBots in continuous operation providing the precut panels for the installers. When Robert needs a new panel layout that is not in the database, he either uses a digitizing probe to get the pattern of an old one being removed from the van, or probes an approximation created by hand. He then edits it in Part Wizard for a good fit and smoothes all the lines. Plyline UK does a secondary business in selling "plyline kits" and commercial van accessories on the web ( We had a great time visiting with Robert and learning about his fascinating business -- and he was a terrific host for the Camp.

[Read full UK Camp story]

UK Camp ShopBot in Robert Lofthouse's shop (Plyline UK).

- Top of Page -

Carl Scheffler, FabLab
, Norway

Carl Scheffler, a PhD student at the University of Cambridge in the UK, has been working with the new PRSstandard at the FabLab in Norway. One of his first projects was this two-sided weave pattern. Carl describes the process as...

"To make the weave, I designed a mathematical formula that would generate the pattern and then implemented it in Python to generate .sbp code for loading into the ShopBot software. The Python script is parameterized so that I can specify the width, length and thickness of the weave "ribbon", the width and length of the weave itself, and the diameter and profile (ball or flat) of the end mill bit. The script then generates the toolpath needed to cut out the shape and saves it as a .sbp file."

Click on image
for larger view.

Guy Matthews, New Wave Woodworking

Making skulls on the ShopBot Indexer

From Guy Mathews of New Wave Woodworking - "Thought you would like to see one of the projects we made using your 4th axis setup that we purchased. The skull is life size. Approximately 6 inches in diameter and 9 inches tall with the base.  Made from two pieces of maple glue-up, I started with 1/2 inch ball mill and progressed down to 1/8 inch. My next step is to put a containment field around the teeth area and go back in with a 1/16 ball mill for detail. Total cut time was about 3.5 hours with the 1/8 inch taking the longest. 15% step-over really gave me a nice finished product from the machine. Buffer wheel took care of most all tool marks. Skull was rendered in Rhino and Clay Tools and G-code was generated using CAM software."

Fernando Torres Ilanes



les envio fotografias desde Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico, de las muestras de los trabajos que hemos venido realizando, actualmente tenemos un shopbot prtalpha96, SOFTWARE BOBCAD-CAM, Aca te envio algunas de las fotografias de los trabajos que hemos realizado, estan realizados en Autocad 2005, Part Wizard, BobCAD-CAM, si requieres de alguna otra informacion, la idea es ver si pudieramos aparecer en el spotlight!!!, de la pagina de ustedes, de antemano muchisimas gracias.



Ken Reimers, Surf CNC
Gold Coast Australia

"Hi there fellow ShopBotters, I have been building surfboards over 25 years, shaping them all different ways with a variety of tools and jigs until I stumbled onto a site that featured the Shopbot. I was not only interested in the fact that I could increase production but also stoked about the ability to log and reproduce favorite surfboards. Since receiving my Shopbot and grasping its learning curve, the refinement and accuracy of my product has given me a new understanding of how important CNC is to progression.
I have two machines, a 48 and a 96 PRTalphas. The 96 is set up for surfboards, the boards are held down by adjustable pneumatic cups on lengths of precision extruded aluminum. I designed and made the holding system so I was very pleased when it did the job perfectly. One length of ally is for holding the blank while it cuts the bottom, the board is then turned over and placed onto the other length of ally. The alignment is critical and must match the previously cut bottom otherwise all the time spent on designing is wasted. The ShopBots consistent accuracy has out done any of the other more expensive computer shaping machines that I have personally shaped from.
The 48 is for different projects, from artworks to building my kitchen, this is the fun side of ShopBotting. I am hoping that one day I will be able to design, make and sell other products outside of the surfboard industry and have the best of both worlds.
My wife and I built the machine room, it is made from Hebal (aerated concrete) wall panels and Ibeams with Hebal floor panels on the roof. I created a special shoe to take the foam dust as it cuts and the ducting takes it up through the roof and back down to the dust extractor. The room is easy to clean and with the hebal it is also quiet. My office and control room is right there behind the balcony glass and gives a clear view and easy access to both machines. This is my dream setup and I would like to thank Shopbot for helping make it become reality.
Regards to all ShopBotters"

- Top of Page -


Each new ShopBot tool comes bundled with two powerful software programs to create CNC projects.

ShopBot Blog