ShopSabre RC8 CNC Review [2021]-For Businesses

ShopSabre RC8 CNC Review [2021]-For Businesses

ShopSabre RC8 CNC Review [2021]-For Businesses

ShopSabre RC8 is an entry-level industrial-grade CNC router built for businesses needing high performance.

With a welded metal heavy build, the RC8 is highly popular among 4x8 CNC routers costing over $20k.

In this review, I evaluate the ShopSabre RC8 CNC router on various parameters like size, chassis, linear motion, software, controller and electronics, accessories, community, and customer support.

1. Size

ShopSabre RC8 has a footprint of 79" x 116" that provides you a cutting area of 55” x 98” with a maximum Z-axis travel of 9 inches.

The cutting area of RC8 is large enough to let you work on full 4' x 8' sheets of plywood, MDF, or any other material to make parts with good accuracy.

RC8 CNC router has a gantry clearance of 8 inches, which is helpful while cutting thick stock using long cutting tools.

Super Z technology in RC8 CNC router
Stiffener plates in Z-axis of RC8 CNC router

The gantry has a longer travel than the clearance which allows you to use the entire height of the workbed, which lets you cut through an 8" thick stock.

The Z-axis has stiffener plates that have special cut patterns to reduce mass without affecting rigidity.

The tool plate also has a balance cylinder that neutralizes the effect of gravity. Hence, you get optimized performance in verticle acceleration and deceleration of the cutting tool for fast cutting.

If the RC8 is too large for your shop, you can opt for a desktop CNC router instead.

ShopSabre sells the ShopSabre 23 desktop CNC router that is extremely well built but compact enough for a small shop.

2. Chassis

Steel frame in RC8 CNC router
Steel frame in RC8 CNC router

The base frame of the RC8 CNC router comprises 4" x 4" steel tubes and steel side panels that are welded together to provide sturdy construction and good rigidity.

Additionally, the base frame has a six-legs that offer enough floor contact to dampen the vibrations during heavy-duty CNC machining and prevent sagging.

Heavy-duty gantry in RC8 CNC router
The heavy-duty gantry in the RC8 CNC router

The gantry walls are made of 4" x10" steel tubes and have steel uprights. The overall arrangement makes the gantry rigid to handle routing forces at high cutting speeds.

You have an option to choose a vacuum tabletop as a workbed for the RC8 CNC router. It is useful when your production demands nested-based manufacturing for maximum yield.

Nested-based manufacturing allows you to make the maximum number of parts from a single sheet by optimizing cuts to reduce wastage.

The vacuum tabletop has multiple zones that can be turned on and off individually. This means you can use vacuum holding to clamp down even small workpieces on the large workbed.

3. Material Capability

RC8 is a powerful entry-level CNC router and can cut workpieces made of acrylic, foam, hard plastic, hardwood, MDF, and plywood.

You can perform various operations like boring, grooving, carving, and pocketing on material stocks using the ShopSabre RC8 CNC router.

Whether it is a simple 2D project or a much more complex 3D carving, RC8 has the capabilities to deliver the result you want.

RC8 processed Guitar body
RC8 processed Guitar body

The RC8 CNC router offers flawless precision and accuracy. Hence, you can use it for prototyping, sign making, cabinet manufacturing, and musical instrument manufacturing.

4. Linear Motion

Industrial rack and pinion in RC8 CNC router
Industrial rack and pinion in RC8 CNC router

The X and Y axes of the RC8 CNC router are driven by an industry-grade rack and pinion drive system with floating drive technology.

This drive system is very quick and resilient to dust and debris. Hence, it requires less maintenance.

One drawback with the rack and pinion drive system is its resolution because each step of the circular pinion causes the gantry to cover more distance on the rack.

To combat this, ShopSabre includes a planetary gearbox, which improves the resolution of the RC8 CNC router.

Ball screws in Z-axis of RC8 CNC router
Ball screws in Z-axis of RC8 CNC router

The Z-axis is driven by an industry-grade ball screw system with a large diameter compared to other CNC routers in this size segment.

The ball screws are fast and quickly move the cutting tool up and down so that you can make cuts in less time.

Linear guides with wiper block in RC8 CNC router
Linear guides with wiper block in RC8 CNC router

All axes of the RC8 CNC router have 25mm linear rails with two wiper-bearing blocks on each rail. The bearing blocks distribute the cutting forces over the rails.

In this way, it reduces the amount of wear on the rails as well as noise during heavy-duty CNC machining.

Each wiper bearing block has two large body quad bearing rollers, which keep the surface of linear rails clean and maintain the machine's rigidity so that you get increased performance at less maintenance.

With the precise linear motion components, you can achieve a repeatability of 0.002 inches.

5. Controller and Electronics

Servo motors

High power servo motor in RC8 CNC router
High power servo motor in RC8 CNC router

RC8 CNC router uses high-power brushless servo motors to drive linear motion components on each axis and produces high torque to move heavy-duty steel gantry and spindle.

The long Y-rails of RC8 use twin servo motors to provide high accuracy and cutting speeds and prevent racking.

The instantaneous torque of servo motors provides high acceleration. Therefore, they can deliver a maximum rapid traverse of 1500 ipm and a cutting speed up to 500 ipm.

Servo motors are better than stepper motors as they offer better precision and they can keep track of their position which prevents miscuts.

Limit switches

All axes of RC8 have limit switches that prevent the gantry from moving out of bounds and help to home the axes.

Controller

Control box in RC8 CNC router
Control box in RC8 CNC router

The control box is a neat, dust and dirt-protected enclosure, which houses ShopSabre electronics. It is mounted on the frame, hence saving your floor space.

To send G-codes and commands to the control box, RC8 ships with a CNC machine operator PC. It includes a keyboard, mouse, and a cabinet with pre-loaded Windows OS and WinCNC software for CNC router motion control.

ShopSabre provides a 37 pin HD cable to connect the control box with the cabinet.

6. Router/Spindle

Porter cable router in RC8 CNC router
Porter cable router in RC8 CNC router

The RC8 CNC router uses a 3.25 hp porter cable five-speed router with a speed range between 10,000 to 21,000 RPM.

ShopSabre provides an industrial bracket to mount the router. The bracket holds the router firmly during heavy-duty CNC cutting.

HSD spindle upgrade for RC8 CNC router
HSD spindle upgrade for RC8 CNC router

You can upgrade the RC8 CNC router with large spindles like 4 hp or 9.3 hp air-cooled HSD spindles, which are Italian built and designed for high performance.

If your project demands multiple tool operations, you can consider an auto tool changer upgrade from ShopSabre. It saves time to change bits, hence increasing production efficiency and reducing labor costs.

7. Dust collection

If you are doing lots of woodworking or cutting materials like plastic or aluminum, you might have faced problems caused by dust in your shop/garage.

ShopSabre offers dust shoes for manual and auto tool changer spindles. It has a 4" outlet at the top so that you can connect a dust collector to it.

Dust skirt in RC8 CNC router
Dust skirt in RC8 CNC router

The dust collection system focuses airflow directly to the bit, collects almost all the dust. Hence, it significantly improves dust control in your workspace.

Dust dock for RC8 CNC router
Dust dock for RC8 CNC router

The dust dock from ShopSabre is helpful if you are using an auto tool changer spindle. It parks the dust shoe, so that spindle can easily change the tool.

8. Software

VCarve Pro software
VCarve Pro software

ShopSabre provides VCarve Pro software with a perpetual license to use with RC8.

VCarve Pro is an intuitive CAD/CAM software and lets you import 2D vector files, bitmap images, 3D clipart files, and 3D models from 3rd party resources.

You can also create designs using the full set of drawing and editing tools of VCarve Pro. This software also has various toolpaths to cover all typical 2D and 2.5D routing options.

Additionally, it can simulate the toolpaths to visualize the end product.

However, VCarve Pro lacks 3D modeling, and you will need separate CAD software like Fusion 360, SolidWorks, or Inkscape for 3D modeling.

You can use VCarve Pro software on a computer running Windows Vista or higher with a minimum of 4GB RAM.

WINCNC motion control software
WINCNC motion control software

ShopSabre RC8 CNC router is controlled using WINCNC software, it is a robust software and has an easy-to-use and customizable user interface.

It has a look-ahead feature, which reads the G-code file ahead of running and adjusts the acceleration of the cutting tool through small arcs and line segments.

This provides smooth router motion and optimized acceleration and deceleration to make cuts in less time.

9. Accessories

Wireless pendant

Wireless pendant control
Wireless pendant

If you need to walk around the shop or walk away from the computer to the workbed, you might like the added convenience of the wireless pendant.

ShopSabre provides a wireless pendant to control the RC8 CNC router.

It has a jog wheel to manually control X, Y, and Z axes movement. With the pendant, you can also control spin and feed with ease.

Its back panel has a magnetic surface, which lets you mount the pendant onto the machine control stand or any metallic surface.

4th axis kit

4th axis kit
4th axis kit

Manual woodworking requires a skilled turner to make parts with good accuracy.

To make this task easy, ShopSabre offers 4th axis rotary system to create chair legs, railing posts, gun stocks, and many more.

It has a four-jaw chuck, which is helpful to clamp square, rectangular, or irregular shape stocks to carve intricate designs.

Direct-drive motors control the movement of chuck, and this mechanism does not have backlash. Therefore, it provides high accuracy and high torque to rotate heavy stocks.

You can adjust the mounting positions of headstock and tailstock on the workbed according to the length of workpieces.

Touch pad

Touch Pad
Touch Pad

Whenever you put a router bit in a collet, the machine control software has to know the tool length as it helps to adjust the depth to make accurate cuts.

You can use a piece of paper or feeler gauge to zero the Z-axis manually. But it may be inconvenient when you have to do this process repeatedly.

ShopSabre offers a material thickness calibration touchpad, which measures the thickness of the workpiece, and additionally, it zeroes the Z-axis every time you change the tool.

Table top

 Table top with hybrid T-slots
Table top with hybrid T-slots

If you are looking for a vacuum tabletop with T-slots to cut workpieces with irregular shapes, you can consider a hybrid HIFLOW vacuum top with aluminum T-slots.

The T-slot channels are placed at a uniform distance to provide maximum work holding options without reducing the performance of vacuum hold down.

If you plan to work on stocks with less surface area, then vacuum holding is impossible. In that case, you can consider a flat table from ShopSabre. It has aluminum T-slot channels at the top.

ShopSabre also offers T-slot clamps, which need to be placed in threaded inserts for work holding.

Vacuum pump

ShopSabre offers different vacuum pumps according to power and work holding requirements.

Becker vacuum pump
Becker vacuum pump

If you have small stocks or workpieces like acrylic, plastic, or melamine that have a slick surface, you can use the Becker vacuum pumps. It operates quietly and produces a high vacuum level to prevent workpieces from moving.

The great thing about Becker vacuum pumps is that they are stackable, which means if you need double vacuum holding power, you can add one more pump to it.

FPZ vacuum pump
FPZ vacuum pump

Alternatively, you can consider the FPZ vacuum pump since it can produce high CFM to offer a strong vacuum.

Both Becker and FPZ are 3-phase vacuum pumps. If your locality does not have a 3-phase supply, you can use phase converters to generate three-phase from a single-phase supply.

However, this approach is not much efficient and can increase your cost of operating CNC machines.

F4 vacuum pump
F4 vacuum pump

To overcome this, ShopSabre offers F4 vacuum pump, which can run on a 220 V single-phase power supply and produces a maximum vacuum of 550 CFM.

The F4 vacuum pump connects to the RC8 through four vacuum inlets. Each of the inlets is connected to the individual pump units, which are independent of each other.

Hence, it lets you use all pumps at once or their combination according to your workholding requirements.

10. Laser kit

Laser head in RC8 CNC router
Laser head in RC8 CNC router

If you want to engrave your company logo or design any art on the cabinet, you can do it using a laser attachment with a CNC machine.

ShopSabre lets you use 3rd party laser modules in their CNC routers.

RC8 CNC router is compatible with the laser attachments offered by JTech Photonics and Opt Lasers. You can use your CNC Router as a laser marker or engraver for light-duty applications with laser kits.

JTech Photonics offers laser bundles in 2.8W, 4.2W, and 7W power options. I suggest the 4.2 W laser bundle for engraving on thick dense materials like plastic, fiberglass, and carbon fiber.

While purchasing the JTech Photonics laser module, you can choose a magnetic shroud for enhanced safety from laser rays.

ShopSabre recommends the PLH3D-6W laser kit from Opt Lasers. It can engrave many materials such as wood, rubber, cardboard, fabrics, leather, and painted/anodized metal.

You can use VCarve Pro software to create the designs and output them to the machine.

11. Assembly

ShopSabre RC8 CNC router ships fully assembled on a pallet, hence making the installation quick and effortless.

All you need to do is place the RC8 CNC router in your shop, remove the nuts that hold the moving parts, and make connections.

While purchasing, the freight charges are not included in the listed pricing, and you need to pay extra for it.

ShopSabre provides good assembly resources and you can complete its set up within two hours.

12. Community

Although ShopSabre has a large user base, it does not have an active community or forum for its CNC machines.

However, there is a Facebook group where users share their project-related ideas, and you can get tips to troubleshoot your CNC router.

Additionally, ShopSabre offers training classes, which are held right at their factory. The training classes include courses on VCarve Pro, CNC router motion control, and routine maintenance of CNC machines.

13. Customer support

ShopSabre company is based in Lakeville, Minnesota, and all its machines are designed and built in the USA.

They offer excellent customer support, and you can contact them via email or phone call.

One point to note is that ShopSabre doesn't provide free support to second or subsequent owners.

This makes used ShopSabre CNC machines less attractive compared to some of the other brands.

However, If you are the second owner, you can purchase a new support plan separately.

14. Final thoughts

ShopSabre offers the RC8 CNC as an entry-level industrial CNC router with industrial-grade components that provide you with good accuracy and precision along with a good production speed.

It is built from heavy-duty steel frames and industrial linear drive components with advanced servo motors to give you maximum speed and high accuracy.

The RC8 CNC router is popular for sign making, woodworking, fabrication shops, nested-based manufacturing, cabinet and furniture making, music industry, and many more.

Shopsabre RC8 Alternatives

I discuss several other alternatives to the RC8 in this article- Best 4x8 CNC Routers [2021].

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Can I use the BVC Vacuum Pods in RC8 CNC router?

Yes. Although ShopSabre does not offer a pod table to fix vacuum pods, they provide good resources to create a table to fix pods for raised pod work.

About John

Hey I'm John. I talk about CNCs and Power Tools at Mellowpine. I'm a CNC hobbyist who has been making CNCs and writing about CNCs for a while. I currently also work as a consultant for business owners and hobbyists setting up their own CNCs. If you have any questions related to CNC, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at john@mellowpine.com

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John

Hey I'm John. I talk about CNCs and Power Tools at Mellowpine. I'm a CNC hobbyist who has been making CNCs and writing about CNCs for a while. I currently also work as a consultant for business owners and hobbyists setting up their own CNCs. If you have any questions related to CNC, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at john@mellowpine.com

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