Shapeoko 3 Dust Shoe

Since receiving an updated board from the lovely folks at Carbide 3D I’ve been running my Shapeoko 3 a great deal more than I was previously. This has lead to my small shop being covered in a progressively thickening layer of fine wood dust and aluminum shavings. If I had a dedicated wood shop this wouldn’t be an issue, but my small shop pulls duty as my R/C build area, my electronics shop, my wood shop, my metal shop, and a Ham radio shack…

I needed something to contain all the dust.

There’s a handful of dust shoe  designs available (in both plan form and assembled), but in my opinion nobody has nailed it. The flaw I’ve seen is attaching the dust shoe to the router using the two fasteners that attach the spindle lock.

DW611 Bottom Screws

Sure, it will probably get the job done, but I wanted a mounting solution that would be slightly more robust; especially since I wasn’t going to be using uber thick acrylic or aluminum.

So as I always do, before starting into the design I laid out a list of requirements to meet.

  • Mounts to either spindle mount, or Z-carriage…not spindle
  • Works with 1-1/4″ vacuum attachments (since I’m using HD Bucket Head as suction)
  • See-through (I like to be able to see the business end)
    • This means acrylic or polycarbonate.
  • Use ‘brush strip’ as a skirt (looks cool, works well)
  • Brushes can be easily changed for different heights
    • Probably attach with magnets (not a big deal since I don’t run any ferrous materials on the shapeoko)
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Easy to machine (no crazy 2 hour 3D tool paths).
  • Must work with stiffened Z Axis Carriage plate.

Then I went into my shop, sat down, and stared at my machine for 30 minutes, took some measurements, made some sketches, and at the end had everything designed in my head with critical dimensions on paper.

This is how my mind works...
This is how my mind works…

Moved to my desk and about an hour had everything modeled and CAMd up.

Completed Models for Assembly Check
Completed Models for Assembly Check

Models done, I put in an order to McMaster for some brush strip and ran off to Home Depot for some .200″ thick acrylic, 1/8″ aluminum angle, and magnets (does anyone know how they work yet?).

Once the brush strip arrived, I did some test cuts int he acrylic to work out what kind of a fit I needed for the brush and the magnets and to try out some speeds and feeds in the acrylic. I ended up increasing the pockets for the magnets .005 over their actual diameter to get a slip fit. The brush strip was hard rubber and gave a nice snug fit at net sizes.

Then ripped the sheet of acrylic down to manageable sizes on the table saw and buzzed out the parts on the shapeoko. The aluminum angle was a little trickier, but I was able to get the radius cut out in acceptable fashion. I transferred the 8 holes from the machined acrylic to ensure alignment (I haven’t really done much drilling on the shapeoko…that’s something to experiment with later).

This project left me with a love-hate relationship machining acrylic. Your job can be chugging along with a beautiful surface finish and next thing you know you’re melting the acrylic to the tool and your surface finish goes to hell. I’m still running a 2-flute end mill…so I need to give it another go with a single flute plastic endmill, or maybe it’s as easy as tweaking speeds and feeds (probably up my feed rate).

Once everything was assembled I jumped on the opportunity to run some test cuts…and…NO DUST! I was also a little surprised because I feel (no hard evidence) like it quieted the machine down a bit.

After some test cuts I found that the brush strip was a little long for what I needed (I had ordered the 3″ tall stuff) so I decided to trim it down; but that was the only adjustment I had to make.

I plan to make at least two more shoes for varying length bits with 1″ strip, 2″ strip, and then the 2.5″ (trimmed) strip I have will round it all out. The next parts I make will also use proper Acrylic welding adhesives.

Finished up, running the router to make sure no cooling air is blocked and that theres clearance to the spindle.
Finished up, running the router to make sure no cooling air is blocked and that theres clearance to the spindle.
All finished, I thought I would need another support for the vacuum hose, but turns out the dust shoe was plenty.
All finished, I thought I would need another support for the vacuum hose, but turns out the dust shoe was plenty.