An Intro To Shaper Origin
Shaper Origin is one of the most wonderful tools available to woodworkers today. It’s a handheld, CNC plunge router, and it can make cuts and designs that would be all but impossible for any but the most keen-eyed, steady-handed woodworkers. The tool allows you to accomplish many tasks, from joinery to engraving work, more efficiently than ever before.
But we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves. Let’s take a look at what the tool actually is:
What is Shaper Origin?Many of you are probably already aware of CNC routers - CNC here stands for “Computerized Numerical Control”, which is basically a fancy way of saying it’s a computer-assisted woodworking tool. Most CNC routers are enormous - not handheld by any means - and many shops simply don’t have the space for them.
Shaper Origin is a handheld, CNC plunge router. That means you can import designs you’ve made in other programs to the tool - toolpaths based on those designs will be calculated for you automatically. All you have to do is follow the path.
How does it work?First, you create your design in a program - you can, for example, use this template to design for the Origin tool in Adobe Illustrator. There are a wide variety of programs you can use alongside the tool.
Once you’ve created your design, you’ll import it into the tool - you’ll want to save your files as SVGs. You’ll then mark off your workspace using the Shaper tape, which allows the tool to accurately track your movements and keep you on the toolpath.
From there, you’ll simply need to connect your router bit - Origin comes with a V-cut bit for engraving, and both ¼ and ⅛ inch up-spiral bits. Just like that, you can get to work!
The toolpaths and motors improve your accuracy
Following the toolpaths is exceedingly simple - there are arrows, literally, pointing which way you should be moving the router. The motors within the tool will help keep you on the path. Should you deviate from the path, the bit will automatically retract so that you don’t make any mistakes. This does, however, take a bit of time, so don’t go out of your way to “colour” outside the lines.
Am I limited to Shaper Origin bits?
Thankfully, no! In a world where “Internet of Things” devices tend to be walled gardens, the folks at Shaper have made a product that’s compatible with all kinds of router bits. Anything that can fit in Origin’s collet can be used. As it so happens, we have a variety of router bits that work perfectly with origin in our Whiteside collection.
On that note, it’s worth mentioning that you’ll get updates for the tool by downloading them, so having Wi-Fi enabled when you start it up is a good idea. It also makes transferring files to the tool easier.
Joinery, detailed engravings, and more
The use of Origin for detailed engraving is clear - just import and follow the toolpaths. But how is it for joinery?
In a word: fantastic. Origin allows you to start small, then adjust your offsets until you get a perfect fit - you can make multiple cuts in the same groove or dado, and the slow and steady adjustments mean you’ll never end up making an oversized slot.
There is, of course, a whole lot more we can say about Shaper Origin. The tool is incredibly feature-dense, so if you like this article, let us know, and we’ll delve a bit deeper into everything you can do with it. In the meantime, feel free to browse our Shaper Origin products - we have everything from the tool itself to the Workstation, the tape, and bits. We love Origin, and we think you will too.