Concerns before Xcarve purchase

Looking to purchase an xcarve soon but had some concerns raised in an review. Link Below

From what I have seen and heard from users on this forum the xcarve is of high quality and good accuracy considering its affordability. In this review around the 6:40 mark the user indicates some issues with cutting letters. From his examples the xcarve or easel software creates unwanted steps within the letter along with some other unwanted artifacts within the letters.

Also around the 9:40 mark he indicates issues cutting circular holes with the Xcarve. It was not cutting complete circles and leaving flat spots?

Are these common with Xcarve users?

Could this person have not set it up properly?
Not using the proper bit?
Is this an easel programming problem that could be mitigated with alternative CNC software?

Just as FYI I intend to you use an aftermarket Mikita Router with the Vcarve software.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated thank you,

Initially there is a lot of ‘dialing in’ that has to be done. making sure everything is aligned and set up correctly and making adjustment as the machine wears into itself. You always have to remember that this is a ‘cheap’ hobby grade machine not an expensive production setup.

1 Like

The X-carve is a great machine as long as you are putting in the time to get it dialed in correctly. In short these problems are common with new X-carve users but if you look around the forum or get a hold of Inventables (great support staff and they visit the forums as well) most of the issues are easy to fix.

Not using the proper bit and/or speeds/feeds could contribute to skipping steps and tear out that is seen in the letters.
The easel program is a living evolving program his “flat spots” very could be fixed by now. It really depends on if the error is repeatable and not due to belt slipping or missing steps.

1 Like

+1 to everything above. Building the kit on a table in your garage will get you about 80% of the way there.

Everything else from that point onward is about precision.

You need the work surface to be totally flat, dead flat, no variation. You cannot rely on a cart or table from Lowes \ Harbor Freight, there will be variations. You can fix these, but you need to understand where they are and how to fix them.

The machine needs to be square, perfectly square, not just kinda square, again, this impacts the cut precision.

The machine needs to be wired properly, grounded properly, the potentiometers in the motor control shield set correctly.

The spindle needs to be perfectly aligned, or again, lack of precision.

The belts need to be properly tightened, all your screws firmly set.

There are a ton of videos from New Brit Workshop on YouTube discussing these very things.

As was said above, this is an expensive hobby machine. It will not come out of the box and be cutting anything perfectly the first time.

If you are not a hobbyist and want a turn-key system, the XCarve will disappoint, but be prepared to spend $5,000 more (at a minimum).

If you can invest some time, passion and curiosity, the XCarve will be a fantastic tool. The learning curve lessens every day and this forum is a treasure trove of wealth, help and experience, and nobody will turn you away with a question, no matter how trivial or stupid it might seem, we’ve all been there!


Thanks for all the advice. These were exactly the answers I was hopping to get.I have no problem spending time tinkering and perfecting my machine.


1 Like

Then I will have to say, as long as you are patient and leverage all the experience of the other folks on this forum, you will be incredibly happy with the XCarve…

@KyleNickel - one thing I would strongly suggest, which worked wonders for me, is build yourself a TorsionBox. Search YouTube for the Wood Whisperer and look for his 2 part series on building an assembly table.

While I was waiting for my XC to arrive I built myself a 46" x 46" torsion box out of 3/4" MDF, filled the voids with spray foam, and then applied 3 coats of Minwax wood hardener to the entire thing.

It’s built like a tank, and weighs a ton, but it saved me a TON of troubleshooting.

I installed my XC on to the table, and after squaring it up I measured the variation between the bottom left and top right of the bed, there was no more than .003" difference across the whole surface. I’ve never had a single issue, like many others seemed to have, with the letters cutting too deep at one and, and too shallow at the other.

Also, the XController made a big difference, since it has drivers for each motor and not sharing both Y on a single driver. I’ve never had to adjust pots, it just works. It was worth the extra $150, and I offset that by not buying the wasteboard.

Lastly, read up on the X and Y axis stiffening mods. You wont need to do them right away, but they’ll be on the top of your list once you start getting adventurous with the machine.

1 Like

+1 @AngusMcleod

I’m sure it’s all been said about getting your machine dialed in, but it also takes the time to learn about CNC techniques and G-code. People tend to make reviews the night they get it up and running. Although a small one it does have a learning curve. As you learn your final products will get better and better.


Thank you for the suggestion Darryl. I watched the video and will be constructing a TorsionBox soon.

Just to add to the chorus here, the X-Carve is capable of amazing accuracy and precision, at least to a woodworker like me. As previously mentioned, the machine has to be built square and level for it to work at its best, and I think the stiffening mod to make the X rails into a single unit is almost a necessity. That being being done, I’ve been able to mill perfect circles and squares with it.

While it is a “hobby-grade” machine (whatever that actually means today), it is similar in design to many of the larger and more expensive CNC machines intended for woodworking. Even those machines require careful alignment during construction and periodic maintenance to operate properly. ShopBot has all of its documents available as PDF files. Have a look at this one on “Gantry squaring”. You’ll see that even a machine like that needs care and feeding.

If there is any complaint I have about the X-Carve, it would be about the cobbled-together fashion in which the instructions have you put together the electronics. Everything is fine until you reach the end of the stepper motor wiring (although do yourself a favor and don’t cut those cables to the recommended lengths - they’re too short.) Once you get to the electronic box and the Arduino/G-Shield part, it’s a flaming train wreck imho. Fortunately, this can be resolved with some basic electronics competency and there are some excellent examples of better ways to do this in the forum.

What are your thoughts on the X Controller? This is the last question holding me up on the xcave purchase. Soldering and organizing wire does not discourage me. I have looked through the forums but, I can’t seem to nail down the exact benefits besides being able to jog the router with buttons, organized wire and more power for the motors? Is the power necessary? Are they currently being under powered?

The X-Controller does not change how you jog the machine. There are no jog buttons on the X-Controller.

The X-Controller will add about $130 over the cost of the standard controller components. In my opinion it is well worth that extra amount. In my opinion just the improved reliability (because all connectors are very solid) makes is a good choice.

1 Like

I read quite abit about the connection issues. Are they really that bad?

The connections are as bad as the skills of the individual making them. I used crimp spade connectors on everything and have never had a connection issue/loose wire or anything associated with a bad connection.

+1 - I had ordered my XC and then a few days later the XController was released in limited run. I contacted Inventables support and had them upgrade me.

After reading all the posts about issues with skipping steps due to Y axis motor current issues because the shield that ships w\ the XC only has 3 motor drivers, I’m VERY glad I upgraded. I’ve never had to do anything with the XController other than assemble it.

One of the best upgrades I’ve made…

Very well stated.

The worst thing about the X-Controller is that they force you to buy another (duplicate) power supply. Would be great if they sold just the board, or everything minus the power supply.

For wiring, here is my list of wiring tools and materials that make it easy.
The wire ferrules are super handy. I like them better than crimp terminals.