Winston Moy was teasing us on Instagram and Twitter last night. I didn’t know what to expect today, but with hindsight on my side, I can see the ball screws in the teaser photo.

Carbide 3D has created a sturdier, beefier machine than the Shapeoko Pro. It looks like all the axes are stronger, the stepper motors are more powerful, and all three axes are driven by lead screws instead of belts. Not only that, but they’ve replaced the router with proper water-cooled spindles.

The Shapeoko HDM vs. the X-Carve Pro

It was nearly a year ago that I did a write up asking if Inventables leapfrogged Carbide 3D’s Shapeoko. They sort of did, yet they sort of didn’t. The X-Carve Pro models were listed at $9,995 and $11,995. Yes, these are much bigger, more rigid, and more powerful machines than the Shapeoko. They’re also priced way outside what almost any hobbyest would be willing to pay.

I know we don’t have a ton of data yet, but I’m liking where the Shapeoko HDM fits into the hobby CNC ecosystem. We’ll see exactly what it can cut soon enough, but we can see enough to know that it is playing in the same league as the X-Carve Pro.

At $4,900, the Shapeoko HDM is more than twice the price of the most expensive old-school Shapeoko CNC router. It is also less than half the price of either the 4x2 or 4x4 X-Carve Pro.

I think the Shapeoko HDM makes more sense than the X-Carve Pro

My Shapeoko 3 with its belts and comparatively small stepper motors has no trouble plowing through plywood. The only reason I would want a larger machine like the X-Carve Pro would be to feed uncut sheets of plywood through the machine. I don’t need giant stepper motors, lead screws, and a beefy water-cooled spindle to cut plywood.

I can already manage to cut aluminum on my Shapeoko 3. I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to work with blocks of aluminum that are too wide or long to fit in my Shapeoko. I certainly don’t need a 4’-wide machine to work with metal, and the Shapeoko HDM has all the right upgrades that should mean it will cut aluminum like butter.

Winston has already shown us that the tiny Nomad CNC can just barely manage working with steel. From the looks of the Shapeoko HDM, I would guess that it will do an even better job here. I can’t wait to see!

UPDATE: It sure looks like the Shapeoko HDM can cut stainless steel about as well as the Shapeoko 4 handles aluminum.

I’m pretty ignorant up at this price point

Just about the only machine I know anything about up in the $6,000 price range is the Avid CNC PRO4896. This is a huge machine–twice the size of the larger X-Carve Pro, but for half the price!

There are upsides and downsides to each of these machines. The Avid CNC PRO4896 is what I’d want in my garage if I were working with full sheets of plywood. I see it as the sort of machine where I feed plywood in, and arcade cabinets come out. That would be awesome!

If I needed to plow through large blocks of aluminum, I would definitely look at the Shapeoko HDM. It looks significantly more rigid than the Avid machine. I’m sure we’ll start seeing videos showing off the new Shapeoko’s capabilities soon!

I’m not sure why I would buy an X-Carve Pro. It isn’t big enough to work with full sheets of material in one pass, and it is way bigger than I would ever need for working with tougher materials like aluminum or brass.

Space would definitely be an issue in my workshop, but I would almost definitely prefer to spend around $12,000 to put a Shapeoko HDM AND an Avid CNC PRO4896 in my garage than spend the same on just a 4x4 X-Carve Pro.

Is the Shapeoko HDM really worth twice as much as the Shapeoko Pro?

This is a tough question to answer. Especially for someone like me that is perfectly happy with their Shapeoko 3 XXL from a few years ago. I’m not really running into the limitation of my machine with the materials I work with.

The Shapeoko HDM sure looks like a giant Nomad 3 to me. If the HDM performs as well as it looks, it will be a super-powerful Nomad 3 equivalent with six or eight times as much working surface for less than double the price. That would be quite awesome.

Another cool thing about the Shapeoko HDM is that it isn’t a kit like my Shapeoko or the Shapeoko Pro. I know the Shapeoko Pro assembly process is more streamlined, but I remember it taking me two or three days to get my Shapeoko 3 XXL put together and cutting.

I don’t know what your time is worth, but I’d say a good fraction of the $2,000 difference between the HDM and Pro would be worth having a machine that is ready to cut right out of the box.


Maybe I need to start dreaming bigger. While writing that last paragraph, I was thinking that my ultimate home workshop would be equipped with a Shapeoko HDM, an Avid CNC PRO4896, and maybe also a Nomad 3. I guess even in my dreams where money should be no object, I still try to be as budget friendly as possible!

What do you think? Is the Shapeoko HDM going to be the ideal machine for you? What are you planning on using it for? Or is the Shapeoko 3 or Shapeoko 4 enough for your needs? Let me know in the comments, or stop by the *Butter, What?! Discord server to chat with me about it!