Drag Knife - Noise Level

Don’t know if I should start a new thread, but maybe someone here will know?

Was looking at the Donek drag knives, for some noise free prototyping, as it appears they have the router/spindle turned off? this would mean I could pick the times to do noisy jobs and work around my few neighbors habits (going to work etc) and use the drag knife without concern, however watching some videos’s the noise still appeared loud?

The materials I would be using with a Donek knife wouldn’t need a dust extractor and apparently the spindle is turned off, so I am assuming the stepper motors etc are also loud?

Can anyone give me an indication of how loud the X-carve is with the spindle/router turned off, an indication would be fine, in dB’s even better thanks.

Hey @PeterGill1, I’ve moved your post to a new thread just for the sake of organization.

To answer your question, using a drag knife would be very quiet, no louder than your TV or radio. You would just have the noise of the steppers and that’s not much noise at all.

There is a lot of discussion on the below list post along with some videos of people using drag knifes.

Unless you decide to use a shop vac for a vacuum table I doubt you neighbors would really notice you were using your machine.

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Thank you Rusty, adding this new thread is very kind …

This is great news about the noise levels, this could be a great way for me to work … Most of what I want initially is for prototyping. I was first looked at Laser cutting and layering, but was advised that on top of a £3.500 laser I would require a £1.600 fume extractor that had noise levels close to a vacuum cleaner, so would still have needed soundproofing for the extractor.

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One issue w/ a drag knife is work-holding.

A typical way to do this is w/ a vacuum system, which requires a compressor, which is noisy.

If you can hold the material down w/o using such, then yes, using the machine w/ a drag knife is quite quiet — about as quiet as running “hello world” w/ a pen strapped into the machine.

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Thanks, yes I can see that being a problem, I would need to do what they do with the silhouette cameo etc and have a sticky mat maybe?

Just thinking, maybe some rare earth magnets set into the base board with magnets also set in strips of plastic that could be dropped on top of the work? The rare earth magnets are cheap and powerful.

Depends on the material you are using, but you could possibly us spray adhesive , the temporary kind to make your work like a sticker. One issue is that the adhesive usually leaves a residue.

Yes, that could work also, I think it will be trial and error.

For sure! You could look into making a small vacuum table that runs off a shop vac and just try and get a vacuum that’s a bit quieter or make a soundproofing enclosure for it.

You do not need a large CFM vacuum pump for what you are wanting to do. You can get a vacuum pump that you can pick up with one hand and carry around. The trick is building a good vacuum table that is flat and will hold the material you want to cut. Then you have a problem that when you want to use the spindle for CNC routing you have to remove the vacuum table so you do not damage it when routing.

The other thing is to look close at the drag knife to make sure you have enough Z head room for it and that it will fit your spindle collet and that your spindle is ridged enough to handle the forces involved with drag knife work.


I actually have a Silhouette Cameo and when it’s running, it’s about as loud as an electric can opener while it’s actually cutting. It’s only loud when you’re sitting next to it, so shouldn’t bother neighbors.


Thanks, I will be rethinking sound levels (so how and what I set up) as I have just bought a used Iac 250 soundproof booth of Ebay … it needs refurbishing (mainly cosmetic) so I will see what sound reduction I get. I believe they get around a reduction of 35-60dBs which I assume is the dependent on which frequencies … I don’t believe many of the sounds emitted will be in the lower frequencies? so I am hoping for quite a good sound reduction as its the bass frequencies that are the hardest to isolate.

Just seen this Peter.

I use the X-Carve for both spindle and laser usage. Obviously with the spindle off and laser on the only noise is the steppers and hardware moving about.

My X-Carve is hard mounted on a flat table that amplifies this noise and in turn is in a wooden woodshop on a raised base. So even laser in its audible outside but not what you’d call even moderately noisy.

So if you mounted the X-Carve to something that didn’t increase the noise either using mass or isolation and also used a sound isolation booth I think you would be fine.

Some of what you want to cut might be doable with a laser diode rather than a drag knife. Have a look in the “Laser Cutting” sub forum for some threads on using the JTech diode on the X-Carve.



Thanks, but I may just use wood with the router now that I have the soundproof booth, I was only using the cutter and card card type materials to cut down noise. For thinner materials I actually have a silhouette cameo, (still in the box) and if I was doing a lot of work (not prototyping) with card like materials I would probably upgrade to the KnK Maxx.

I got a donek dragknife and had my first few goes at it. Im new to the software, xcarve, dragknives and cnc, so I have some learning to do.

But it appears from my novice tests the standard spindle might be too long in the shaft, I got some wobbling and the spindle started to fall behind.

I have the new DeWalt 611 Spindle and Mount coming, it seems beefier and has a much shorter collet area (i dont know the name).

I’m newer than you Greg, we have to start somewhere :smiley: