Am I fully calibrated/don't touch whats working? Or should I be expecting better results?

Hey folks -

So I finally got my X-Carve fully put together, the first test carve failed due to my own human error, but I was able to get a successful initial carve with my own little easel test. I have yet to calibrate the V-Wheels per the calibration video. I have also read a lot about the GRBL variables and i have a fish scale arriving today to measure the tension of my belts.

I’m a fan of “don’t fix things that aren’t broken”, but I do want to make sure I am getting the most out of my machine. My first carve looks pretty good, but up close you can see the cuts aren’t super clean. My question is - is this normal and I should just sand down edges/not start screwing around with GRBL variables/playing with my belt tension, or should I work on calibrating more because this is not normal and I should be getting cleaner cuts? I know if I calibrate more I could end up throwing the machine off for a while, and I’m ok with that if it means I’ll eventually get cleaner results, but I’m not sure if this is a great result or just a mediocre one?

The wood I was carving was 3/4 inch poplar. I chose Walnut in easel because that seemed closest in hardness (from 2 minutes of googling - I dont know if thats actually true). PWM is wired up and I have the 24 volt DC spindle that stopped shipping a few months ago. Spindle at 12000 rpm and I was using the 1/8 mill bits I bought from home depot in the photo below.

Photos of the carve from far away, the close up view of the “frayed” edges, and the bits I was using below. Should I leave well enough alone because this is a great carve/poplar is always like this or I should expect this from the bit I was using, or should I keep going down the calibration road knowing that I risk throwing everything off for a while, but will eventually get even better results?

Thanks for the advice and help everyone!


Also I forgot to mention I am using the 500mm smaller X-carve machine.

I have never used those bits before, but the cuts looked pretty good…If you can, try a downcut endmill or a compression bit and you will get super smooth cuts cutting through the material like that.

Another thing I forgot in my original post - I have watched a few videos but have yet to calibrate my pots.

Those cuts look pretty nice, what spindle are you using? I have my machine dialed in to pretty much what I thought as good as I could get in and I still have slight lines in my edges. It’s a constant balance of feed rate, DOC, RPM and bit quality. I think the majority of my imperfection are cased by spindle runout on the 24v 300w stock spindle. I’m upgrading to the Makita RT0700 soon which will hopefully rectify the remaining imperfections.

Thanks Rusty and ErikJenkins. I am using the 24V 300W Stock Spindle that inventables stopped selling/including as part of the X-carve package (X-Carve 300W 24VDC Spindle Kit - 30573-01). I bought mine back in March and just finally got the time to put it together.

Rusty - I’ve searched the forums but just to confirm -
Feed rate = speed of stepper motors/ie how fast the spindle moves around while cutting?
DOC = can’t find what DOC means.

My RPM was at 12000. Are there general guidelines where faster is better sometimes and slower is better other times? I’m sure this is covered in the forums and I’ll search for it but also curious to hear your thoughts since we both have the same spindle.

Thanks again

DOC = depth of cut…how deep are the cuts per pass

Those are great cuts for the 24v spindle. Especially using those bits. It will get worse from here - there is lots of run out in that 24v spindle and it wears quickly and finally self-destructs. Plus, you’ll usually have to clean up your cuts a bit. You are on the that path to greatness!

yeah those are less than ideal bits in a very crappy spindle in material thats prone to fraying and generally not that great for machining. id say you did a good job

get yourself a trim router (i like the dewalt dwp611) and some carbide spiral down cut bits and you will be rocking

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The cuts look good. As far as I can, tell these bits are down cut bits. If you weren’t getting sawdust in your face, they most likely are. I think the Roto Zip and Dremel versions are down cut.

My standard bits for this is a 1/8" flat end mill 2 flutes. 1/16" for some intricate work but the .74mm to 1.3mm cutters can do a great job at this work.

.73 mm to 1.37 mm bits that finish cuts well.

Try to cut a 25.4 mm square from some 1/4 inch plywood. When it’s done measure the border. 1" X 1" is great. That should give to a good measurement of of calibration

Feed rate can increase or decrease the tension on the belts and motors.

Cut depth DOC should be light, then increase and measure the 1" box. My standard start point is .4 mm DOC and 800 mm per min feed.

Made on Easle

I’m using a Shapeoko 2 but could cut solid squares with a Dremel 4000. I have sense upgraded to a 400 Watt quiet cut and it’s great to me and my family.

Awesome, detailed advice. Many thanks William. I’ve realized the bit/material selection is somewhat just as much an art as it is a science, and I’m happily experimenting to learn, but info like this helps the learning process move along faster.

I’m logging everything I learn from experimenting and from the genius minds on this forum in Evernote and am going to compile it into a beginners guide in a few months.

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And two thumbs up on that sign - it looks incredible!

Thanks Badwolf. Is the dewalt you mentioned generally thought of as the best in class for the X-carve or is it personal preference/people often debate what’s best?

Also do you prefer 1/8 or 1/4 shanks with your bits? Most expensive bits I’ve found (I know I’m falling into the expensive = high quality trap when that often is not true) are 1/4". I’ve found it hard to find 1/8" anywhere except here at inventables.

Do you know of any online resources that describes all the different bit types and there pros and cons? I’ve been looking because after the x-carve is up and running the learning never stops - especially with the bits because it’s all new terminology.

Thanks again for the help. I must say the support from inventables l, and the kind help from this community towards people like myself who are new to the CNC world,and asking what are most likely very dumb questions, is as impressive as the X-Carve machine itself. Many thanks to everyone.

i like the dewalt and it is a pretty popular router here on the forums but i cant say its better than any other as i havent used all of them. i like the dewalt because of the light and im familiar with dewalt products. makita makes a router that will work as well as the bosch colt model. im pretty sure there are a couple more options as well which slip my mind right now.

i dont really prefer any bit or shank over another, they all have their right/wrong use. i would however make sure if your using a 1/8" bit that it has a 1/8 shank. just seems stronger. for 1/4" bits ive just been using standard router bits for the most part. carbide spiral bits and V bits. for the 1/8" shank bits youll likely need to buy actual CNC bits from companies that sell CNC bits. ebay is a good source of finding them particularly a seller named drillman1. just do a search on ebay for his username and youll find what you need. he has good prices and i get my bits in 3 days so pretty fast shipping

as for websites i dont know any off the top of my head but im sure a google search will find you just about anything
hope that helps