“Shaper Origin has been a game changer in my shop. What was difficult or impossible before is now easy, and actually fun.”
That’s Josh Podoll, owner of Chop Wood Co. in San Francisco, as he encapsulates in two short sentences how woodworkers feel about this tool. But Origin isn’t just another power tool. It’s a fundamentally game-changing approach to the technology of CNC woodworking. Shaper Origin brings the router to the workpiece rather than the other way around, and does so in an eminently affordable and user-friendly way. That opens up all kinds of possibilities for woodshops, including making small parts safely and making one-of-a-kind parts and templates. And Origin performs these tasks with simple set-ups, as opposed to the painstaking setups that we’re used to: half a day to build jigs, and then using every machine in the shop in turn, all in order to make one intricate part.
Workspace setup is simple with Origin: first, place ShaperTape on your workpiece and use Origin’s onboard camera to scan the workpiece. Then, use Origin’s touchscreen to ‘place’ the design you want to cut on your workpiece, and then cut.
ShaperTape is a proprietary tape that the tool uses to create a map of your workpiece. The tape can be placed directly on the workpiece you’re cutting, or on an abutting coplanar jig. Once Origin has scanned the tape, the tool will always know where it is on your workpiece, so long as the tape remains in view of the camera.
You can import your designs directly to the tool from most major design software programs using the .SVG file format. Unlike with traditional CNCs, there’s no need to learn G-code or any proprietary software to design your file. Upload your file directly to Origin over WiFi or with a USB drive. Then use the tool’s onboard Grid Feature to align your design exactly where you need it and ‘place’ it on your workpiece. Once your design is placed, Origin calculates your toolpath based on the cutter diameter and cut type that you select onscreen.
While moving the tool across your work surface, Origin’s screen shows where your cutter is at all times. The spindle makes hundreds of microadjustments a second to keep your cuts precise and true.
Moving Shaper Origin feels very familiar and comfortable because the tool was designed for woodworkers; it’s just like freehand routing without the stress. Drift too far off-path, and the spindle automatically retracts to preserve your cut. Simply move back to your toolpath to plunge again—no convoluted reset protocols necessary! Your cut history (including depth of pass) is automatically saved as you go, and you can pick up exactly where you left off, whether it’s a minute, a day, or even a month later.
If design software isn’t your thing, this tool can still revolutionize your shop’s capabilities. Origin’s onboard design features include simple shapes and a pen tool which you can use to perform a wide variety of cutting operations without ever leaving your workbench.
It may be a small, portable tool but the world’s first handheld CNC can handle jobs as big as a craftsman’s imagination. It can cut hardware mortices for cabinet hinges and pulls, or create Maloof-inspired chair armrests and rockers. It can mill bow fronts for curved cabinet doors, or etch a pattern in a panel. Shaper Origin can create fretwork, overlays or inlays, and cut perfect offsets for patterns, inset doors and furniture elements.
Packed in its custom Systainer, the tool weighs in at under thirty pounds, making it as easy to tote to the worksite as a standard trim router. Its intuitive design and simple interface means that the tool can accommodate a wide variety of workflows with reliable precision and efficiency.