March 27, 2022

Shaper Origin vs CNC

Features of a Shaper Origin

Shaper Origin is the first handheld CNC router. It is for woodworkers, and users looking to add CNC capabilities to their shop without the learning curve, footprint, and cost. That is in contrast to what a traditional CNC machine entails.

A Shaper Origin is for things like mortises and tenons. It works better if you have a table or if you make one. That is for large surfaces, sign making, and inlays. It has a “Z” axis, but it is not 3-dimensional. 

It makes a step-cut when you define the layers both horizontally and vertically, but do not plan on doing carvings. That is because it can only cut one horizontal layer at a time. The Shaper Origin is a 2D device which means that it can cut things out and handle some joinery with the right setup. It handles inlays by cutting pockets and the inlay pieces.

With the Complete System, a woodworker mills mating mortise and tenon chair joinery. It also works on machine parts for dovetailed drawers. An operator can cut pockets for cabinet hardware with an excellent degree of accuracy or add an engraved detail to an appliance panel. Sometimes the Origin can also work solo and perform activities such as recessing for an inlay in an installed hardwood floor. 

When Origin is alone, the woodworker applies a tape to the workpiece, and Origin scans that to create a map. The Origin knows where it is and where it needs to go at all times. And when using Workstation as a fixture, do not apply new ShaperTape because Workstation has a permanent and reusable tape array ready to go. The tool has an automatic cut correction.


  • Ease of use
  • Automated
  • Less experience 
  • Powerful 


  • It could have been lighter on low-end models

Features of a Goliath CNC

Goliath CNC is a portable CNC machine that defies the way makers, designers, and artisans work on flat surfaces. The machine mills, cut and engrave any material and interface with various CAD file formats.

A CNC is for carving-type items with multiple features, layers, and detail. The main downside is the bed size for many affordable sizes, and the space needed for the larger bed size. A CNC does almost everything the Origin can as long as it fits within the confines of the bed, but a Shaper Origin cannot do everything that a CNC can do.

If you are working on the 2500 range, a stationary CNC is not very large, so you will be more limited to how large of a project you do with it. CNC machines can handle 3D relief carving and true V-carving. That is with the right software. The SO may handle signs using a V-bit, but it might not do a true V-carve that requires changing the depth of cut dynamically.

The CNC machine uses a drill bit and multi-directional wheels and can automatically measure the size of the material you are cutting. Goliath CNC is on the work surface. That is the innovative model operation, making it a machine tool with a boundless work area. That is because it matches the workpiece’s surface. 

The user also designs or downloads designs from online project libraries, then uploads the drawing to Goliath. Supervise the work progress by a computer. You can also use a smartphone or tablet. The machine is portable, meaning you can build wherever you want and even drag it to job sites where it can cut out pieces. It has automatic leveling, so it does not drill haphazardly.


  • Portable
  • Versatile
  • Affordable 
  • Innovative 


  • Few small-sized machines on the low-end CNC machines

Shaper origin problems

  • The tale tends to slip from its original location on the workpiece or in the workspace. Review your workspace for any tape that has raised off the work surface and return Origin to design to resume cutting.
  • The user moves too far from the cut path for Origin to compensate. Make sure to keep the white dot representing the bit inside the corrective circle on-screen while cutting and ensure Origin can see sufficient Shaper Tape.
  • Origin can’t see enough ShaperTape to guarantee cutting precision. That could be due to cutting through some of the tapes in the workspace. Before you begin cutting, travel over your entire design in Aircut Mode to verify that your tape metre will be healthy throughout the cut.
  • When the user tries to remove too much material, it leads to excessive vertical force on the spindle. Try cutting a pass at a shallower depth, when cutting harder materials. If using Auto-Mode, decrease the Auto Speed and make sure you are moving Origin slowly and consistently, without any sudden movements. Decrease your plunge speed and make sure Origin’s base is on a single surface and try again.
  • Sometimes the design file is saved in an unreadable format for Origin, or it contains problematic file elements. Ensure that you are using the proper save specs for SVG files. You can find these for a variety of design programs.
  • Low Accuracy Scan, and you should scan again.
  • There is sometimes insufficient quality or quantity of tape in your workspace.

Is Shaper Origin made by Festool?        

No, but Shaper Origin works with Festool products, enhancing your existing workflows and bringing new capabilities to your workshop.

        Who owns shaper origin?

TTS Tooltechnics Systems Acquires Shaper Tools, Inc.

        When did the shaper origin come out?

It came out in 2011.

How accurate is the Shaper Origin?        

Experienced Origin users achieve cut quality and precision comparable to a gantry-based CNC. Less experience is needed to achieve cuts far greater than 1/100th of an inch using Origin.

Where is Shaper Origin made?

Shaper Origin tools are made in San Francisco. 

How do I return a shaper origin?

You can buy Shaper Origin and try it out risk-free for 30 days. If you decide that Origin is not for you, return the tool. The refund of your entire purchase price. All you pay is return shipping on your items.

What can Shaper Origin do?        

It cuts materials such as wood, soft metals, plastics, and composites. 

Is a shaper the same as a router?

No, it is different from a router. A shaper has a larger motor and spindle. It does the same thing but can take larger cuts both in-depth and height in one pass.

What is shaper origin pro?

Shaper Pro is a professional model designed for Origin users who want additional support with Origin. Users who purchase Shaper Pro Support will have access to Live phone support.

David D. Hughes

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