Only a ShopBot is a ShopBot

Inventor. Tinkerer. Maker. If he'd lived in our time, you know he'd own a ShopBot :)

The BF himself. Founding Father. Inventor. Tinkerer. Maker. If he’d lived in our time, you know he’d own a ShopBot :)


“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” So said Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s founding fathers and also one of our country’s earliest inventors / Makers / tinkerers.

Why is wise Ben Franklin on our minds of late? Because it would seem there are some who would like to benefit — unjustly — from the good reputation that ShopBot Tools has been building for almost 20 years. These people, doing business on the internet, would like you to associate their CNC tools with the ShopBot® brand of CNC tools. The tools that these people are trying to sell you are not ShopBots.

If you visit, a Chinese company, and search the word “shopbot” with their search tool, a page will come up with numerous CNC tools and related equipment, touting the name “ShopBot” or “shopbot” in the main product descriptions. But rest assured, not one of these items are actually ShopBots.  The term “ShopBot,” by the way, is a registered trademark of ShopBot Tools, Inc., and ShopBots are made in and sold from only one place, the company’s headquarters in Durham, North Carolina, U.S.A.

As seen on This is most definitely NOT a ShopBot® tool.

As seen on This is most definitely NOT a ShopBot® tool.

This is a ShopBot® Desktop CNC. Note the ShopBot logo on our distinctive blue edge of the tool.

This is a ShopBot® Desktop CNC. Note the distinctive blue-colored edge of the tool. All of our tools feature the “ShopBot blue” color, and all of them rock our logo….

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What can be said of these non-ShopBot tools being sold out of China? The quality of Chinese products has been improving. There are probably some good tools among them. We just want you to know that they are not ShopBots.

We also understand there are a number of American companies that import Chinese-made CNC components and then assemble them in the US. These tools may suffice for some. But these imported tools are not ShopBot Tools.

What makes a ShopBot Tool so special that others seek, at best, to flatter it with imitation — and at worst, to lead you into thinking that their tool is a ShopBot?

A ShopBot is a tool designed and built to the exacting standards of its developers in Durham. We have been innovating, developing, and building professional digital fabrication tools for almost 20 years now. We understand the tools and also design and create the software that runs them. The result of these efforts is a growing line of production tools that are powerful, precise, and reliable — and affordable, too.

It has been our mission since 1996 to make the tools of modern manufacturing accessible to all — especially to small and medium size production facilities. There are now more than 8000 ShopBot Tools at work in schools, makerspaces, FabLabs, TechShops and importantly, in production facilities of all sizes in the US and around the world. Everything from circuit boards, to kitchen cabinetry, to parts for boats, delivery trucks and fighter jets are being manufactured with ShopBot tools.

If you own a ShopBot, you know that a ShopBot is more than the tool itself. It is also the support that we surround you with to help ensure you get the most from CNC technology. You have access to free technical support for as long as you own the tool, and that’s just the beginning. You can jump onto the ShopBot users forum (a very busy, informative place), take a ShopBot training class online, watch training videos online, or visit us for training here in Durham. We also offer specialized production support services to ensure your successful integration of ShopBot tools into your workflow.

Beyond that, we assist entrepreneurial people to grow their businesses with the help of our free site, This is a resource that enables collaboration between digital fabbers and product designers around the world (you don’t even need to own a ShopBot to participate; your professional use of any digital fabrication tool will grant you access to the community).

We’re proud of the reputation that we have been building for these 20 years, and we understand that it is dependent solely upon the satisfaction of our users. We love to meet and get to know ShopBot users, and we like telling their stories. There are dozens of these stories here on the ShopBot blog; if you’re doing something you’re proud of with your ShopBot, we’d love to hear about it and tell the world. Finally, if there’s anything we can do to help you with your ShopBot tool, just get in touch.


ShopBot Plays Host to International FabLab Visitors

ShopBot’s Sallye Coyle, FabLab manager Walter Gonzalez Amao, and ShopBot’s Ted Hall display the Peruvian flag (home country to many of ShopBot’s recent guests).


“It was nice to be able to just spend casual time and compare notes with other FabLab managers.” “It was fun to enjoy our community.” “The seminar was very informative. I feel I can troubleshoot technical issues better, and I’m more prepared to train others in using the ShopBot.” “I loved the Durham Bulls baseball game!”

These are just a few of the thoughts that FabLab managers from all around the world shared about their time at a unique PRE-Fab 11 Event that ShopBot held at their headquarters in Durham, NC, on July 30 and 31st. About 25 visitors were in attendance, visiting from the U.S., Peru, New Zealand, Canada, Taiwan, Paris, and Israel, among other locations. They all work in FabLabs (where ShopBot Tools are used along with laser cutters and 3D printers), and all were journeying to the U.S. to participate in Fab 11 World Conference being held in the Boston area Aug. 3-9.

International Fab Lab managers and ShopBot employees gathered on the ShopBot production floor

International Fab Lab managers and ShopBot employees gathered on the ShopBot production floor

A bit of background: what’s a FabLab?

Originating from MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms, FabLabs bring the technologies of digital fabrication to people in smaller U.S. communities and in developing countries around the world, giving people the technological tools that can enable them to leapfrog into 21st century lean manufacturing for the betterment of their local communities.

“FabLab is a perfect fit for ShopBot,” said Ted Hall, ShopBot’s founder and CEO. “We’re focused on technology and education,” he said, “and we’re proud to be participating in this effort to support innovation and manufacturing through the use of technology.”

FabLabs have spread from inner-city Boston to rural India, from South Africa to the North of Norway. Activities range from technological empowerment to peer-to-peer project-based technical training to local problem-solving to small-scale high-tech business incubation. Projects being developed and produced include solar and wind-powered turbines, thin-client computers and wireless data networks, analytical instrumentation for agriculture and healthcare, and custom housing.

Fab 11 is the world organization’s 11th Annual Celebration, and ShopBot decided to hold this pre-conference event to provide Fab 11 conference attendees a tour of ShopBot, specialized training to enable them to teach others CNC skills, and support them as advocates for CNC and ShopBot throughout the world.

The first day of the visit began with breakfast and a tour of ShopBot. Highlights included:

Sallye Coyle demonstrates how a large material jig allows you to work on projects that far exceed the size of the Handibot

Developer Brian Owen and Sallye Coyle demonstrate the Handibot Smart Power Tool. Sallye showed how a large material jig allows you to work on projects that far exceed the size of the Handibot


Visitors get a demo of the 5-Axis CNC from Nate Zellmer

Visitors get a demo of the 5-Axis CNC from Nate Zellmer

Ryan Patterson talks about the vacuum hold-down system on a 96 x 48 gantry CNC tool

Ryan Patterson talks about the vacuum hold-down system on a 96 x 48 gantry CNC tool

FabLabbers test the power of the vacuum. It holds!

FabLabbers test the power of the vacuum. It holds!

ShopBot led seminars on both days, covering topics such as the knowledge you need to become a “ShopBot Guru” — useful tips for setting up the ShopBot, working with the vacuum hold-down, special circumstances for international use of the tools (including power requirements and international computer set-up), as well as common troubleshooting topics.

The seminar leaders also provided teacher training, enabling these FabLab managers to teach V-Carve Pro, sharing examples of problem-based learning, and issues to consider when using ShopBot along with other digital fabrication equipment in a FabLab. The attendees also shared their experiences educating others about using ShopBot tools.

Attendees also got an inside peek at ShopBot’s development of FabMo. An open source project, FabMo and its G2 motion-system core form a platform linking your favorite device such as a smartphone or tablet to the digital fabrication work that you want to do on your digital fabrication tool.

Sallye walks the group through a problem-based learning exercise

Sallye walks the group through a problem-based learning exercise

Meeting some of the guests.

Kelly ZonaI had a chance to meet and speak with a few of the FabLab visitors. One was Kelly Zona from TIES Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM. Kelly is a Senior Consultant for Engineering Design and Fab Lab; in this role, she works with the Fab Foundation to help communities set up Fab Labs. “The Foundation has been given grants by Chevron to set up ten Fab Labs. I help set up the labs and also develop projects for the labs to use in their communities.”

Like several of the visitors at ShopBot’s pre-Fab 11 event, Kelly has a background in architecture. “In grad school at Cornell, I had the opportunity to work on several design-build projects, which involved CNC,” said Kelly. “I found that I was gravitating more toward making kinetic things rather than static objects. This interest led me to discover FabLabs and their mission; I became the project director at a FabLab in Baltimore, and this led to my FabLab work at TIES Teach.”

At the Fab 11 conference which followed ShopBot’s event, Kelly led a hands-on workshop: “Design, Build and Race an Aquatic Robot,” in which participants ‘dove into’ the world of Ocean Engineering, using digital design and fabrication tools to engineer an efficient frame for an underwater robot and race against others to see whose is the fastest.

Reflecting on her time at ShopBot, Kelly said, “The main thing I took away was how nice it was to socialize with members of the international FabLab world. We have a lot in common, and everyone also had interesting perspectives to share.” She also noted that she appreciates the holistic approach that ShopBot takes to helping the FabLab community. “There’s really an effort to integrate everything,” Kelly said. “The tools and educational projects are well documented, the online training and videos are hugely helpful, and when I’ve called with technical questions— which has been a fair amount— everyone’s been super helpful. It was great to meet the ShopBot folks in person and say thank you!”

Benito Juarez is the President of FabLab Lima ( We spoke at length about his big dream project, to build a floating FabLab on the Amazon river — allowing them to serve many communities.

Benito Juarez is the President of FabLab Lima ( We spoke at length about his big dream project, to build a floating FabLab on the Amazon river — allowing them to serve many communities.


Ohad Meyuhas is the Director of Education and Technology for FabLab Israel. He told me that he's started several FabLabs in Israel, and is now working on setting up smaller makerspaces in libraries, and teaching teachers to educate their students. Ohad also works for Stratasys, where his role to is be a liaison to academia; he brings them custom digital fabrication solutions to meet their needs.

Ohad Meyuhas is the Director of Education and Technology for FabLab Israel. He told me that he’s started several FabLabs in Israel, and is now working on setting up smaller makerspaces in libraries, and teaching teachers to educate their students. Ohad also works for Stratasys, where his role to is be a liaison to academia; he brings them custom digital fabrication solutions to meet their needs.


Henry Sanchez from Lima runs a FabLab that's focused on introducing the world of digital fabrication to kids — very young kids aged 4 through 12. The website is  Henry says that the parents naturally become very excited about learning more when they see what their children are learning and doing.

Henry Sanchez from Lima runs a FabLab that’s focused on introducing the world of digital fabrication to kids — very young kids aged 4 through 12. The website is Henry says that the parents naturally become very excited about learning more when they see what their children are learning and doing.

No visit to Durham would be complete without a visit to the American Tobacco Campus downtown, where the FabLabbers enjoyed dinner at Tyler’s Taproom, music on the lawn — and of course,  a Durham Bulls game across the street at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park!

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Copyright © 2015 Minor League Baseball. Minor League Baseball trademarks and copyrights are the property of Minor League Baseball. All Rights Reserved.

You can learn more about the work of FabLabs here.  Check out ShopBot’s FabLab resource page here. Also, whatever the setting, Shopbot has a wealth of resources for using ShopBot Tools in education.




Designer Cindy Jian uses ShopBot at TechShop SF

"3 for Life" on display

“3 for Life” on display

We first encountered Cindy Jian while attending the World Maker Faire in San Mateo in May of 2015. Or rather we first saw the “3 for Life” exhibition, an oversized furniture installation conceived by Marie Applegate and her team; Cindy was instrumental in the construction of this eye-catching set of furniture. The project encourages positive interactions through reminding adults of their inner child. “We want people to have the sensory experience of remembering what it felt like to be a 3 or 4 year old in an adult-sized world,” said Cindy.  The installation involves a large-scale table, 2 dining chairs, and fridge. Participants eagerly climbed onto the chairs to get to the top of the table, where there was an oversized cookie jar surprise waiting for them.

Cindy noted, “The project core team is: Michael Seo, Shaun Swanson, and Marie Applegate. I was happy to take part in fabricating, installing, and engaging participants around this piece. We created the pieces with traditional methods, cutting with panel saw and glue-gunning. My goal now is to use CNC to create large, outdoor public art. To this end I’m learning more about wood joinery techniques. I want to have this work on display where people of all ages can see what is possible with these new technologies, and get excited about making things for themselves.”

Cindy Jian

Cindy Jian

Born and raised in Guangzhou, China and Vancouver, B.C., and now living in San Francisco, Cindy earned her MA in Social Design from MICA, the Maryland Institute College of Art. “I took some classes in digital fabrication, but they were quick overview classes. I knew right away that I wanted to do more with CNC,” said Cindy.

Cindy is busy teaching woodshop classes at the Academy of Art and also is a Dream Consultant at TechShop SF; this involves being a shop technician and creative support for people who love to tinker. “I specialize in digital fabrication techniques including lasercutting, ShopBot and 3D Printing,” said Cindy. “What’s so cool about the TechShop environment is, that you can always learn from other users; it feels very collaborative and friendly.”

In recent months Cindy undertook a flat-pack furniture design assignment using the ShopBot CNC. “I was inspired by a friend’s need for a side table. I started to think about designing a piece that would be easy to assemble for the modern apartment dweller.” Cindy gave herself certain ground rules: “It needed to be interesting, no hardware needed, hand assembly, slot fit. I wanted it to go easily from flat-pack to 3D assembled.” With these parameters, Cindy set about designing and making the furniture.

Cindy designed the furniture in Illustrator. She imported her Illustrator designs into Rhino. Cindy noted that she learned how to use Vectorworks software at TechShop to gain an understanding of toolpathing. Cindy began by prototyping in cardboard, then moved on to plywood.

Cutting the pieces on the 96 x 48 ShopBot CNC

Cutting the pieces on the 96 x 48 ShopBot CNC

Slotted together

Slotted together



Ta-da, square shaped!

Ta-da, square shaped!

finished 1

Flat packed...

Flat packed…

...and ready to deliver.

…and ready to deliver.

Cindy has made the plans available at Instructables, so you can make this furniture yourself. To learn more about Cindy and her work, visit her website. Learn more about TechShop SF here, and the full size ShopBot CNC tool here.

AWFS 2015 in Review


July 22-25 – Las Vegas, NV – It’s that time of year where woodworkers from across the globe gather in Las Vegas to grow as a community, learn, and exchange ideas within the backdrop of the AWFS Fair. 

Every year at the AWFS Fair, ShopBot has a chance to showcase its product line, including any new products like our Desktop Max, which was the main attraction at this year’s gathering. The new tool was featured to showcase its versatility and larger size, piggybacking off of the successes of the ShopBot Desktop’s original design, which customers have enjoyed using for many years.

Cabinetmakers, general woodworkers, hobbyists, and students all descended into the desert to see what the industry has to offer, as the world of CNC, in particular, continues to expand.

One attraction at Shopbot’s booth was the addition of a jig which exhibited the tool’s ability to efficiently and affordably produce dovetails. Those interested in this specific woodworking specialty were amazed at the approach and design functions of both the jig and the Desktop Max’s dovetail cut. Many curious and intrigued parties could immediately see the benefits of not only a larger cutting area, but also the great versatility of the Desktop Max.



A second Desktop Max featured a more traditional project where wooden stools were being produced, demonstrating that the accessibility of such a functional tool would be a benefit to any woodworker, whether it be in small increments or across larger production volumes. This particular project also showcased a vacuum table hold down system, which allowed for quicker cutting and improved, consistent stability of the material.


As ShopBot continues to grow alongside an ever-evolving industry, there is never a need to “roll the dice” with the renowned reputation of ShopBot’s tools!

— As reported by ShopBot’s Andy Martin

ShopBot Accessory: The KRS BumpBar


The KRS BumpBar is a versatile tool for production shops and hobbyists alike. It is a 20 button customizable keypad that can be easily programmed so that each button executes a command or series of ShopBot commands.

Have you ever found yourself running between the tool and the control computer when trying to move to a specific location for zeroing? The BumpBar allows you to control the tool without standing at the computer; it comes pre-programmed with buttons that allow you to manually move the tool, set fixed move distances, and zero an axis. See the video below to see it in action.

The KRS BumpBar can also be used to streamline production in high throughput environments. Cut files can be assigned to specific buttons, along with common commands such as C3 (3 axis zero routine) and ZZ (zero z axis). By combining tool control into a simple push button interface, the keypad reduces complexity and the risk of operator error.

Here at ShopBot headquarters in Durham, NC, we use ShopBots to make many of the components that go into ShopBots. We use KRS BumpBars on these production tools to help our manufacturing staff work efficiently. For example, all the structural components for a Handibot (our portable CNC tool) are cut on a ShopBot Desktop that has a BumpBar connected with a button for each cut file. The operator just mounts the jig corresponding to the cut he wants to run, and presses the corresponding button on the BumpBar.


The keypad is highly customizable, with an easy-to-use programming interface that allows each button to be assigned up to 20 key commands at once. The default configuration is shown below.


For more information, please contact ShopBot at 919-680-4800 and ask for Production Support, or email

Circle Strings custom guitars adds ShopBot to the mix

Adam Buchwald of Circle Strings

Adam Buchwald of Circle Strings;  photo ©Shem Roose


Adam Buchwald is the owner and principal luthier of Circle Strings, a company he first opened in Brooklyn, NY, in 2005, and now operates in Burlington, VT, where he and his family relocated in 2008. Adam focuses on building guitars, mandolins, tenor guitars and double course tenors (ala octave mandolins). He also performs repair work. As Adam says, “My passion for instruments goes beyond building and repair work. As a working musician, who plays banjo, mandolin and guitar, I understand what a musician ultimately wants to get out of their instrument.”

It’s been an interesting path to Vermont and Circle Strings. Adam attended college at the nearby University of Vermont, and later went to work in his Dad’s business, Circle Metal Stamping, in Mt. Vernon, New York (Westchester County). The company focused on making special dies and tools, die sets, jigs and fixtures, and industrial molds. During his time at this business, Adam became aware of other companies using CNC processes to manufacture parts for Circle Metal. To incorporate CNC for metals was going to be very expensive, as well as difficult to compete with China. “I also wasn’t thrilled about having to depend on weapons contracts for my future,” notes Adam. So rather than continue the business, as his Dad looked to retirement the family opted to sell it.

Before making his move back up to Vermont, Adam learned his craft from masters. “After studying with Bob Jones in Brooklyn NY, one of the most respected and talented luthiers in the country, I felt confident enough to take on my own clients and start Circle Strings (named to honor the previous family business). I was very fortunate to have Bob right next to me while I worked on my early repairs.”

For over two years Adam was head repairman at Retrofret in Brooklyn, NY, with Steve Uhrik, Peter Kohman, and Jason Petty. “Working with them gave me the opportunity to repair and restore some of the world’s most valuable and rare instruments. It was there that I built some of my first guitars while having all of the vintage pieces, broken and playable, that I was able to study from.”

“Vermont was calling me,” says Adam. He was offered a position to teach guitar building (by hand without CNC) with George Morris at Vermont Instruments and moved up North in 2008. “I spent a few years teaching and building/repairing on the side.”

It was there that Adam met Michael Millard of Froggy Bottom Guitars. Adam “took the leap and started building with them full time.” Froggy Bottom hand-finishes its instruments, but looks to CNC for the production of certain parts. “It was an incredible experience and I learned so much about guitar building, dedication to a craft, hard work, and most importantly, myself,” notes Adam. During his time at Froggy Bottom, Adam says that he learned the value of adding CNC to the process of making a guitar, in terms of the precision and repeatability that it offers. Next, Adam opened up his own shop in Burlington.

wide view of shop

All photos ©Shem Roose

CU of guitar making

guitar pieces

finished guitars 2

When he first opened up Circle Strings in Vermont, Adam was primarily making the instruments by hand (with all “traditional” shop tools), and buying his guitar necks from a manufacturer who used CNC. “Though I had initially looked down a bit on CNC, believing that anything less than fully handmade wasn’t really ‘handmade,’ I came to understand the role that CNC can play within a wood shop. It’s just another tool at my disposal that adds efficiency to my work. Adding CNC to my shop is a decision that allows me to sustain and grow my business,” said Adam.

Adam serenades his ShopBot Desktop and ShopBot Buddy!

Adam serenades his ShopBot Desktop and ShopBot Buddy!

Adam first purchased a ShopBot Desktop in June of 2014. He chose the ShopBot Desktop because of its size and price, as well as the encouraging reviews that he read that noted the tool’s precision. “I also like that ShopBot makes its tools in the U.S.,” says Adam. With the assistance of Will Mosheim of Seeders Instruments, and architect/CAD technician Gabriel Stadecker (see Gabe’s bio here), Adam dove fully into using CAD/CAM in his process. “I went into this fully expecting a long learning curve, but fortunately it hasn’t been as steep as I was expecting,” says Adam. “I think the fact that I have some background in computers really helped.” Adam also notes that he was thrown a bit of a curve by the need to purchase a strong 3D modeling program (Rhino), in order to do the work he needs to accomplish. “That was an initial obstacle — the V-Carve Pro software that shipped with the Desktop didn’t come through for the 3D work.”

Overall, Adam has been impressed by the precision of the Desktop. “It almost seems surprising for a tool of this size,” says Adam. He uses the Desktop to make many parts of the guitars. “I would say that I can use CNC to make parts that are about 75% ‘there,’ and then hand-finishing comes into play.”

This video about Circle Strings brings the business, and the music, to life…

Circle Strings shares a building with Creston Guitars, where luthier Creston Lea builds electric guitars and basses in a classic American style. According to Creston’s website, “Creston Electric Instruments produces custom guitars, built one at a time by one person near the old barge canal in beautiful Burlington, Vermont. The guitars are finished to look like real instruments made by a real person, not poured out of a mold on the other side of the globe. All custom guitars are designed in collaboration with the players who use them – professionals and beginners and in between.” The site notes that he uses CNC’d necks to start with and then hand-shapes and finishes them. These neck pieces are made by Creston’s neighbor Adam, on the ShopBot Buddy that Adam purchased last year.”I decided to purchase the Buddy to fit larger parts such as guitar necks onto the bed of the CNC,”  said Adam.

Learn more about Circle Strings at their website. You can find out more about the ShopBot Buddy here, and the Desktop tool here.

ShopBot Hosts Furniture Society for an Afternoon of Demos & Festivities

FurnSociety_8On the afternoon of Friday, June 26th, around 70 visitors in town for the Furniture Society 2015 Symposium journeyed over to the ShopBot Tools “World Headquarters.” Along with a scrumptious barbecue dinner, ShopBot staff organized multiple demo stations to highlight features of our growing variety of tools –from the Handibot Smart Power Tool to the Full-size 4’x8’ PRSalpha ATC gantry tool.


The tour through ShopBot’s 10,000 sq. foot manufacturing space started with the Desktop Max (slated to be released later this year). On the tool’s 24”x36” bed, Kevin Putvin cut a guitar body and a full 3D carved overlay, designed in Aspire. Nate Zellmer and Josh Thomas, also cutting out of foam, showed how to prototype using Rhino CAM software to maximize the versatility of the PRSalpha 5-Axis tool.


Groups then ventured into the ShopBot Training room for a real treat. TJ Christiansen had set up 3 ShopBot Desktop tools cutting a variety of projects: a v-carving of a wooden zodiac disk, an acrylic engraving/cutting of a plastic puzzle game, and interesting CNC joinery from HDPE plastic. To top it off, the ShopBot Buddy® was set-up to etch a mirror, using the WidgetWorks Diamond Engraving Bit. The finished mirror was then donated as a silent auction item to the Furniture Society. TJ used VCarve Pro ShopBot Edition for his designs and toolpathing.


Not to be outdone, Matt Schmitz machined a very interesting newel post using the custom built Stand Alone Indexer. This project was originally designed in GeoMagic, but would be easily done in Rhino. Toolpathing and some design modifications were then done in Aspire.


The next station featured the Handibot v2.0 (available this fall). Two accessories were on display, the Handibot Rotary Axis and the Handibot Accessory Base, both examples of what promises to be a very interesting line of additional accessories that will be coming online in the next few months – be sure to check out the Handibot blog for updates. Matthew Hux demonstrated the full capability of the Handibot Crawler – an automated tiling accessory that’s currently in development and expands the Handibot cutting envelope to 24” in the Y, and starts with a 4’ travel in the X that can be expanded – look for more on this promising accessory over the next few months!


Last but not least, Ryan Patterson, lead of our Production Support team, created some unique chairs using the features of the PRSalpha 4’x8’ ATC gantry tool. VCarve Pro software allowed Ryan to easily modify his initial design to add more variety to the pattern he was cutting for the flexible plywood top, and change the size of the chair as the evening went on.

We love having people come to ShopBot for tool demonstrations, for training, or just to visit. Give us a shout out when you’re in the area. We’d love to show you around!

A special thank you to Alphagraphics for their continued partnership and very speedy turnaround times and to Tommy Murrah of Thinker Linkers for his donation of a Thinker Linker Craftsman Set. BTW- we’re happy to say that both of these businesses use ShopBot 4’x8’ gantry tools.

Shopbot at the National Maker Faire!


The weather was hot, and the buzzing of insects was matched by the whirring of machines at this year’s National Maker Faire in DC. Inventors, tinkerers, and innovators from across the nation came to showcase their wares and share their knowledge. ShopBot brought two Handibots and set them to work. While one churned out keychains for the kids, the other was mounted over a Handibot Rotary Axis, cutting out a lightsaber handle. This powerful accessory gives the Handibot a 4th rotary axis, allowing it to cut fully 3–dimensional objects. Shopbot’s Matt Schmitz, Al Nyonteh, and Sallye Coyle answered questions while the tools worked, including detailed technical inquiries such as “What kind of a 3d printer is this?” and “Can I have one?”


The Faire was set at the University of the District of Columbia in the heart of DC. Among the specialized areas, there was a kids’ section full of DIY toys and science demos. The rest of the Faire was a playground for adults and kids alike with demos and products of all kinds. Two Georgetown students demonstrated a novel way to put out fire: Using a modified subwoofer outputting a set frequency, they repeatedly lit and extinguished an oil fire in an iron skillet. The representatives from the self-declared “Cardboard Teck Instantute” showcased their modifiable pinball machines, made entirely of cardboard except for the rubber bands used to power the flipper bats and ball launch. A hacker showed off his Lego Rubik’s Cube machine. Oculus Rift showed off their latest iteration of VR goggles (spoiler: I wasn’t impressed). Various booths showcased unique applications they had developed for digital fabrication tools: laser etching family photos, pillows sewn with your dog’s portrait, 3d printed jewelry, and crowd-sourced sculptures.


The extraordinary Bill Young and the team at Shelter 2.0 had two of their latest ShopBot-cut quick-to-assemble shelters providing shade for weary Faire-goers. These spacious buildings make use of CNC enabled joinery and are sturdy enough to withstand heavy storms, yet they can be collapsed and reassembled in less than an hour. All the parts fit easily in the back of a pick-up. Learn more about these structures: Shelter 2.o.

See you there next year!

— As reported by ShopBot’s Matt Schmitz

Custom furniture maker finds surprising benefits of CNC

Andrew C_low res


Andrew Coholic is the owner of Joe Coholic Custom Furniture Ltd., a custom cabinetry and furniture business. The company operates out of a 6,000 square foot shop in Timmins, Canada. Andrew runs the business that was started by his father Joe back in the early 1970’s. Andrew said, “My family has worked with wood for generations. My grandfather was a carpenter, and my Dad a home builder and cabinetmaker.” He switched his focus to the cabinet work in the 1970’s when Andrew was a child.

Andrew came to his current career a bit circuitously. “After high school, I went to university for math and science, but began to realize that my true interests are in design and working with my hands.”

Andrew said that he learned CNC technology during a 3-year woodworking program in Ontario, which afforded him the opportunity to visit many different woodworking facilities. “My classmates and I all dreamed of buying a CNC tool like a ShopBot. But none of us could afford one then.” When Andrew started leading the business, he had a 4000-sq-ft facility with a couple of employees, and no space for a CNC tool. “I sold that shop in 2010, moved to a larger community, and got a larger shop.” In 2012, Andrew purchased a 48″ ShopBot Buddy with industrial spindle and 6-foot Powerstick. “In hindsight, a full-size tool might have been an even better choice, for working with larger cabinetry pieces, but I’ve been thrilled with the Buddy.”

Here's some of Andrew's custom furniture work

Here’s some of Andrew’s custom furniture work


Dining table in the shop...

Dining table in the shop…


...and in the home environment

…and in the home environment

Surprising benefits of CNC

With his past knowledge of CNC and its capabilities, Andrew knew that the technology would bring greater efficiencies to his business, but the extent of this benefit continues to grow.

“The ShopBot has met and exceeded expectations. We’re able to perform repetitive tasks such as making the parts of tables, chairs, benches, and cabinetry much faster than before — so of course it saves us money. And there are some areas where CNC has afforded other benefits. For instance, I knew that we could do decorative carvings using the tool, but hadn’t really intended to do much of this work. Well, I’ve found that I’m doing more and more of it, because clients are really liking the work.”

“Also, the ShopBot allows me to create prototypes for my customers very quickly, and this is a huge benefit,” said Andrew. He gave as an example, a recent project involving designing an original idea for coffee tables and end tables. “If I were to draw these and cut full-scale mock-ups in plywood by hand for the client, would have been very time consuming. With the ShopBot, I can make the prototype and execute small tweaks to the design while the customer is sitting with me!”

Another benefit that Andrew has found, is that he can use the ShopBot Buddy to cut out templates for use on his traditional shop tools.

Here is some more of Andrew’s work:

benchtable legshallwaykitchen cabs 1rocker

The love of the work.

Asked what he enjoys most about his work, Andrew said, “I like having a business where I’m responsible for the product from end to end. With a custom shop, you get to experience all facets of the business, from design and engineering, to building, finishing and installing the work. It can be very satisfying to touch all aspects of a project, and at the end of the day, have made a solid object that’s both beautiful and functional.”

Andrew said that when it comes to incorporating CNC into woodworking, “you sort of have to take a leap of faith. You know intellectually that it can bring many benefits, but if you’ve been brought up with the traditional technologies as I was in this family business, you are partially going on faith. It’s been nothing but a great choice for us!”

Learn more about Andrew’s business at his company website.  Discover information about the ShopBot Buddy here.



Ed Camp Magic & ShopBot in Florida


June 6, 2015 – Windermere, Florida, just outside of Orlando, was host to the 2015 Ed Camp Magic with nearby Disney World as the backdrop for the weekend’s events held at Windermere Preparatory School.

One of ShopBot’s core focus areas remains in the realm of education, and we were happy to sponsor such a great event! It was a hot summer day in Florida, however a hearty turnout for this gathering made for an eventful day sharing the infinite possibilities of ShopBot Desktop tool and its far reaching capabilities in the world of digital fabrication.


Many folks stopped by to see the ShopBot Desktop in action. One of Florida State’s Theater Department grad students, Brandon Rada, was at the controls showcasing the tool’s creative and efficient production power. Teachers, Superintendents, and Teaching Coaches all visited the makeshift “makerspace” on-site, and everyone came away learning a bit more about the endless opportunities to grow alongside CNC tools.

See how ShopBot works in makerspaces.
Learn more about the ShopBot Desktop.

— As reported by ShopBot’s Andy Martin