Advise requested — thinking about buying a new machine

So I’ve been on the fence for about a year now and think I would like to finally pull the trigger on purchasing an x carve. I had it narrowed down to the x carve or the Shapeoko but believe the x carve software will be an easier learning curve for me.

It was kinda disappointing or discouraging that when I reached out to Inventables they really don’t offer any promotions. Although their financing option is zero interest.

I think it’s probably a no brainer to get the larger 1000x1000 platform? Initially I played with different folding table ideas to make this work in my small basement shop, but I think realistically I would have to have the cnc by itself upstairs in the garage.

My questions are these:

Does it come with a router? I don’t understand the website where it says to select the spindle. Does that mean the router is Included?

Will there be an issue with having this in an uninsulated garage in Maryland? Temperature variance from 20-100 with the average being 50-70

What are the “essential “ upgrades I would want off the start? Risers and a better z axis?

And finally, what size laptop do I need to use easel without issue? I don’t even own a computer, so I will be getting a dedicated computer just for this.

My plan is to mainly use the carve for Inlay work on my tables and cutting boards.

Thanks friends,


I started out with the Shapeoko2 and upgraded it to current x carve specs. At this point only a few pieces of extrusion and hardware were from the original kit.

I added some upgrades and feel that they are really important for what I do. The Xcarve order is like a menu. You can choose what you want or don’t want and the price goes up accordingly. You can buy parts piecemeal, or buy the whole kit.

You can buy a spindle or a router, or not buy a router at all. My Xcarve is in a shed. I really don’t use it in the dead of winter when it is 10 degrees out. I have a 15 year old laptop running UGS( universal gcode sender). I don’t use Easel. I draw in Cad and convert to other Gcode in other programs. As far as upgrades, my machine is 750 x 1000. I put Y axis stiffeners on, riser plates, 9mm belts, and a cnc4newbies z axis. You may or may not need the upgrades depending on what your end results turn out like. I’m making guitar parts and trying to work to pretty high tolerances.

If you go shop for an x carve it wants you to choose between fully loaded and advanced customization. You will need a spindle or router and a fully loaded selection includes a 120 or 240 volt router. You choose the one for your voltage. Right below it, it tells what is included with the package.

The loaded one makes sense to me if this is your first time out. Rigidity is the key to accuracy with the x carve and any other cnc router. I’d build something more substantial to put it on other than a folding table.

The shapeoko2 started with an Arduino board and a gshield. The x controller is a nicer way to control the motors from my experience. It has the emergency stop and is all self contained once you assemble it. The x carve instructions are excellent, as is the kitting that they do. I never had need to contact them but they are very good with customer service if you need parts and help.

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Maybe this is not going to be a popular post here since I don’t have an X-Carve, I have a Shapeoko. First, you can use Easel and Easel Pro and produce the project GCode on another CNC like the Shapeoko, you just don’t use Easel, you use Carbon Motion to drive the CNC and you do not need Internet to do so, it operates as a standalone.

Tha X-Carve is a good CNC but it is not as rigid as a Shapeoko and this means that you can run faster (feeds and speeds) so you can produce your project faster. You can take a look at this

For a router, I suggest that you buy a Makita Router (RTC700) instead of the Dewalt, it has a larger speed range (10 to 30K) and this becomes important for many applications and it lasts longer that the Dewalt (do a search on how many times people report problems with Dewalt vs Makita).

Many people have their CNC setup in the garage and it seems to work but it can get very uncomfortable to unusable during certain periods of time because you can’t stay there to run the CNC. The computer however should be kept warm in winter, an enclosure with an incandescent light may be enough in the winter and some fans could be required in the summer.

You don’t need a very large computer to run Easel and most basic CAD software and even less to drive the CNC, a basic Windows10 would be enough but I recommend that you don’t go for the cheapest setup as you may want to upgrade Windows at some point.


Ben, if you buy the all in kit, it comes with everything you need. That being said I am one of the crowd that upgraded to the Makita router for production work…

Advantage Makita - can chuck up 1/2 in tools…

Several threads to follow, but here is mine

Ain’t she purty?

the machine and a nice chap to make the spindle enclosure for you.

I would defer to others who may live in the Tundra, I am in AZ…no issues on temperature

You only need a simple laptop, there is no need for horsepower just a good internet connection,

Good luck

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How’d you get a 1/2" endmill in a Makita trim router?

I don’t think a chromebook is a good choice. I don’t know of a reliable serial connection to a grbl controller. Do you have a source?

@BenRudman I’d echo what @LucFournier said. I have a cheap windows 10 tablet that I use as my machine controller, but I’d recommend getting a decent PC for inside to do any design work.

@BenRudman After almost three years having the XCarve and have not done any upgrades it runs great. I have the DeWalt Router and all I do is change the brushes about every 200 hours of run time. You may have seen my videos where I put the machine through it paces. You also can see that it is completely stock. I have never done anything to it. Original belts, vwheels. I love the machine. I can not compare it to any other machine as I have only had the XCarve. Prior to that I had no knowledge of the CNC world at all. Good luck in making a decision.

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Not a trim router…check out my post in this thread.

Chromebook has USB to connect to X carve box…

Is that the post with the Hitachi? I don’t know if there is an equivalent Makita, but the Makita people generally refer to with the X-Carve / Shapeoko machines is the RT0701C, which is a trim router that can handle a 3/8" collet.

True, but I don’t think Chrome OS will connect.

Hitachi, Makita…Potatoe, Tomatoe…