Before You Buy

We're very enthusiastic about CNC tools - especially ShopBots. Our tools make things. They will help you produce more and produce better; in production their capabilities will earn you money and their efficiencies and robustness will save money for you. But before you buy any CNC product, consider the important points discussed in these sections. We want you to be happy with your purchase and excited with CNC and digital fabrication. One of the best ways to do this is for us to help you make sure that your expectations are realistic.
- Ted Hall, President, ShopBot Tools, Inc.

First, take our little readiness test:


1. How comfortable are you with computers? Do you know about files and folders about moving them and copying them, saving them to USB memory sticks? Have you hooked up your computer to things like printers, cameras, the internet, or a network? Have you set up a wireless router in your home or shop?

Rate yourself 0 to 25 _______
(25 being very comfortable and capable with computers)

2. How comfortable are you with CAD or CAM software (or sign software for signmakers; cabinet software for cabinetmakers)? This is the type of design software you'll be using to produce the Part Files (tool paths) for your CNC tool.

Rate yourself 0 to 25 ________
(25 being very comfortable and capable with software)

Add your two scores together ______.

Then subtract your score from 50.

50 - (my score) = _______

Then add 5 because you've never run a ShopBot before.

5 + (your score above) = _____ TOTAL HOURS OF LEARNING TIME

The result of the little test in the right-hand panel will give you a pretty good estimate of the number of hours it is going to take for you to get up to speed with your new ShopBot CNC (hours of real effort, not goofing around hours). It will be longer if you are under time pressure to get a specific job out that makes use of your new CNC tool. (And of course, you might also factor in how good you usually are at picking up new things.)

This estimate of learning time isn’t meant to be discouraging to those with little experience with computers, only to be realistic. ShopBots and our design software suite together are the easiest and most integrated CNC systems around. At ShopBot we believe that everyone can learn to use CNC tools and that the increased productivity and capability these tools offer will pay for your efforts many times over. It’s not hard, but it does take time. If your experience with computers is very low, given the wide availability and integration of computers into all our lives, you need to ask whether this is from lack of opportunity or a resistance on your part. You are going to need to use computers, at least a little, to make real use of CNC.

We've had a lot of experience with ShopBotters getting up to speed, and we want you to have an honest appreciation that it may take some extra time and effort if you are not familiar with computers and have not worked with any type of CAD drawing or design software.

CNC tools are amazing; but they are not magic

Understand the challenges of putting CNC to use in your shop

It's all about learning how to use a new tool. There are computer things to learn about, and there are mechanical things to learn about.
Click here to read about the 3 main issues.

Learn about how ShopBots are built

When you shop for a CNC tool, you’ll find you get lots of opinions about how a CNC tool should be put together and what types of components should be used. We’ve been building CNCs for over 16years – ShopBot pioneered affordable CNC for small shops.
Click here to read about why we build ShopBots the way we do.

Purchase Considerations

We review the important choices in selecting options for your ShopBot and describe several price/performance tradeoff decisions you will make in specifying your tool.
Click here to learn about option and price/performance decisions.

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