Carve time - how long is too long?

I have a project set up to run on the x-carve. I am realizing it is probably going to take a long time to run. Several hours, in fact. I have the original old x-carve, so I’m running it at 40 inches/minute, because I don’t think it can run much faster than that in hard maple with a 1/8" endmill.

So, how long is too long with the dewalt router? If this thing takes, let’s say, 5 or 6 hours to carve, is that going to cause major problems? or is that a pretty standard carve time for a full 3-D awesome carve? How long is your typical carve that you would consider a big one?

so cycle times vary by so many factors its really impossible to say one way or another

but you are always shooting for the best finish and the fastest time but that is the ART of CAM programming

I have ran 1/4" endmills in Hard/soft maple and in Red oak on the x-carve alot faster than 40ipm so there is improvement there I have ran up to an exceeding 150ipm in some cases

now as far as the Dewalt router its a tool that is not designed to run 10hrs a day under load and well it really was never designed to run on a cnc machine so its really a crap shoot there I have had routers burn up in a couple months and the warranty tech tells me it looks like it has years of runtime

as far as the machine I have ran mine up to around 12hrs in a setting and it did okay but make sure you have a well tuned machine

imo the x-carve is a maintenance heavy machine so running it for long periods of time can lead to excessive wear and things getting out of adjustment while working long hours. It was just never designed for that

3D carving always takes alot of time and that is one thing that is standard but learn the ART of CAM to speed things up

@WorkinWoods do you own an X-Carve?


Hey Zach yes I do own one and that is what I learned the CNC trade on and I still have it and use it


those times where in the x-carve I only post speeds that I have done on the x-carve unless I specifically call out one of my other machines

its just nobody believes me when I say certain things lol but yes it is possible and I did it all the time

@StevenPaxman Here’s a direct link to the Dewalt 611 instruction manual:

The component that is impacted by run time is the motor brushes. The manual states:

“Brush Inspection
For your continued safety and electrical protection, brush inspection and replacement on this tool should ONLY be performed by a DEWALT factory service center, a DEWALT authorized service center or other qualified service personnel.
At approximately 100 hours of use, take or send your tool to your nearest DEWALT factory service center or DEWALT authorized service center to be thoroughly cleaned and inspected. Have worn parts replaced and lubricated with fresh lubricant. Have new brushes installed, and test the tool for performance.
Any loss of power before the above maintenance check may indicate the need for immediate servicing of your tool. DO NOT CONTINUE TO OPERATE TOOL UNDER THIS CONDITION. If proper operating voltage is present, return your tool to the service station for immediate service.”

The brushes are considered a wear part by Dewalt and they sell replacements.

As for speed Dewalt publishes the no load speed on the 1-6 settings ranges from 16,000-27,000 RPM. For my X-Carve I keep it on the #1 setting and use the formula:

Feedrate=Spindle speed x chip thickness x number of flutes on the bit.

I adjust the depth per pass based on how smooth the Carve is. You are going for good bit engagement. Too slow will cause rubbing, create too much heat, and wear your bit. Too fast will cause the machine to move faster than the material can be removed by the cutting edges.

You want to be in the “Goldie locks Zone” not too slow and not too fast.

Last night I was using a this bit to cut letters from 2" thick insulation foam from Home Depot.

My depth per pass was 2", feed rate was 224, chip thickness was .007", and I had the Dewalt on #1.

Dust collection is really important on a long Carve. Sawdust can clump up and cause friction which generates heat. Enough sawdust can actually impede the motion of the machine if it gets impacted between the bit and material. This is a reason you want to monitor the machine and should consider the new Dust Control System if you plan on doing long carves frequently.

Long story short you should always monitor your machine. With properly maintained brushes, proper speeds and feeds, the Dewalt can handle a 5-6 hour carve safely.

The new X-Carve has a number of upgrades that make it perform better than the first version on long carves. These include:

  1. X-Controller. Inside the box is a large heat sink that pulls heat away from the stepper drivers. The gshield doesn’t have a heat sink. It also has four stepper drivers that are 4amps each while the gshield has 3 drivers that are 1.5amps each. On the Y axis one of those is driving two stepper motors so you are only getting .75amps per motor. As the drivers on the gshield get hot on a 5 hour carve you could lose a step. On the X-controller given the increased power, increased number of drivers, and heat sink the chance of this happening is much lower.

  2. On the first X-Carve the motor pulleys had set screws. On the new one they are permanently mounted. The set screws can be a source of skipped steps if they loosen due to vibration on a long Carve. On the new X-Carve they will not loosen.

  3. The new X-Carve has locking hardware and eccentric spacers. On the 2015 X-Carve you can replace the hardware or use locktite to prevent it from loosening from vibration both options work.

  4. The belt sleeves on the new X-Carve prevent the belts from slipping. With the 2015 version you need to make sure your belts are secure. You can use a zip tie in place of the belt sleeve to give extra security. It’s important to check the belts before starting a long carve.

Those are factors I would think about. I’d be interested in hearing from others who run long carves to hear if they have any other experiences to share.

I am loving this lol foam is so much fun to cut

have you cut the precision board or ren-shape board zach? that stuff is so much nicer compared to the insulation foam in the picture but that insulation foam does work great to are you making a sign or a mold?

I was hired to make a sign for a conference. I did it after work a few nights because there were so many letters. That foam is fun but you need the right bit or it will melt and cause fumes and ruin the letters. Here’s more of it

Here’s what happens when you use the wrong bit.

oh yeah very nice

Zach, I love how after all this time you still come to the forums to answer questions and help out.

I think you’ve about got me convinced to order the upgrade kit to move my old x-carve into modern times with the xcontroller and all the good stuff.

I’m gonna give this long carve a shot today, I think, because i really, really want the thing I’m working on. If it works out, I’ll be sure to come back to share here.

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Cool. We recently made the other components available outside of the upgrade kit. Please consider the hardware, belt clips, etc. They make a big difference.

Zach, so aside from the $400 standard upgrade kit with the xcontroller and wider makerslide, what else should I consider? I already have NEMA 23 steppers that I chose when you sent me the original kit, so I don’t think I really need to replace those for the permanently mounted pulleys, do I? That seems excessive.

What hardware would I need to improve the eccentric nut situation from my original? If I’m already considering the full upgrade, I might as well throw in the smaller bits as well.

Thanks again for your help!


hey zach do you provide support of custom machines

IDK i have been looking at buying another x-carve but I would like to do something like a 610mm x 1270mm


We don’t provide official customer service for it but in Easel you can set your X-Carve machine size to any size you want. Start a new thread if you need help because lots of people in the community have made custom sizes.

Email Customer Success and they can take a look at your setup, listen to what you are going for and make a recommendation.

There are lots of factors to consider.

just to set a marker here, I am now running 12 hour+ cuts using a deWalt on an x_Carve with a rotational axis mod. No issues related to duration other than a sore ■■■ from sitting around too much waiting for it to end.