Shapeoko upgrade (1) – X-axis stiffening

I’d been putting it off for a long time, but now it’s finally time to do some upgrades and work out some kinks i’ve had trouble with over the last few weeks. The most drastic one is stiffening the X-axis. In my experience this really is a must with larger travel machines such as mine. I bought a 4 x 30 x 1000 mm steel bar at the hardware store, which was a near perfect fit for this project. While it is supposed to be 4mm thick, it has a slightly roughened surface, effectively adding the last hair of thickness I needed.

Right off the bat: here’s the original article this modification is based on: https://www.inventables.com/projects/x-axis-stiffening-modification

I first aligned the makerslides and drilled 7 holes over the length of the profiles. It is always good practice to punch-mark where you want to drill.

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After aligning and marking, I drilled slightly larger holes in the steel bar to allow for some play when assembling. You don’t want the whole axis warping when you tighten the bolts because of slight misalignment.

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I found the furniture bolts mentioned in the original article, but they came with useless nuts (at least useless for this use). So I found some matching T-nuts instead, and forced the teeth back to flush (more or less) with some pliers. It actually was easier than I anticipated.

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It fell together like a puzzle, so I tightened it up and used an angle grinder to remove the excess length of the bolts. Nice and flush so no possible interference with the carriage on both sides!

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I then noticed my X-axis wasn’t 100% square because the underside didn’t have steel sandwiched between the profiles. I added some aluminium pieces and bolted it back together.

Now it is perfectly square, and it really feels super sturdy already. And I didn’t damage any of the rail profiles!

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The finished X-axis:

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