@MidnightMaker I think you have pretty much hit the nail on the head re: my difficulties with the machine at the Makerspace. The space is a small operation and I don't think they have sufficient staff to assure that all their machines are tuned and maintained on any regular schedule. They have two larger CNC machines than the Shapeoko, a couple of laser engravers, lots of 3D printers, and a full wood shop and machine shop. I was told that the Shapeoko gets used the least of any of their CNC machines and I suspect that means that it also gets the least maintenance attention. I suspect I have actually spent more time with their Shapeoko than any of their members and, as a result, a few days ago I came to precisely the same conclusion as you (thanks, in no small part, to the assistance of several members of this forum). I plan to run a couple more tests next time I am at the Makerspace to verify my conclusions, and, after that, I will do my best to, in the most friendly manner, advise them of their error, and, as you suggest, present a course of action. (I do love my local Makerspace. They are an asset to my community and I strongly support their efforts. So I very much want them to succeed for the long term.)
More on the topic of the contest, the process of carving stampers for use with ceramics is pretty much the same as the process of carving stampers for use with printing even though the end product is quite different in appearance. The only significant difference is that the cut depth needs to be a little deeper, and the lines a little thicker, for use with ceramics. But, conversely, a stamp cut for ceramics could also be used as a stamp for making prints. So in carving stamps for ceramics I end up with the best of both worlds so to speak.
It is also true that creating stamps, and molds, out of porous materials like wood is better for ceramics use because the clay won't stick to porous materials as fiercely as it does to rubber or linoleum. That is why I've also been attempting to carve stamps out of birch plywood (but have encountered a more complicated set of obstacles which I've sought help for in other posts to the forums).
Now I suspect the solution to all of my difficulties will likely be resolved soon because just yesterday I ordered a fully loaded X-carve with the Dewalt 611. So as I soon as it arrives and I get it assembled I expect to be able to start producing a variety of stampers and other wood projects. And I will definitely post and share my results.
In the meantime, can you tell me where I might post photos of my efforts so far? As the results were less than optimal, I don't feel like I should post them as completed projects. But I think it might be helpful for others to see my partial successes, and perhaps some of the mistakes I've made, while climbing this particular learning curve.