First Carve... First Impressions, Beta Features, Lessons Learned

I’m using a X-Carve 1000m / Nema 23 / Acme Rod / Dewalt 611 setup.

Ok, so I’m not one to start small so I jumped right in after a couple of quick test carves.

Had to learn how to create tool paths in Inkscape from images and text. Once I figured that out and cleaned up the paths, I exported into Optimized SVG and imported into Easel.

Lesson 1: Create everything in Inkscape and don’t bring it into Easel and expect to get everything lined up correctly.

Next I enabled the Beta tool paths and two stage carves. Not not much to say about the tool paths, but the 2 stage carve was pretty cool. It’s not exactly intuitive what happens at the end of the rough carve pass. You kind of sit there waiting for it to prompt you to change the bit and then realize you need to hit Carve again and then select the Detail pass.

Lesson 2: It’s really, really important to have the rough bit and detail bit at exactly the same height, otherwise you’re going to see marks

Lesson 3: You can’t just pick the same home position as the Rough Carve Pass… The bits were totally different heights… The first attempt at the Detail Pass saw the bit hovering above the surface as the X-Carve thought it was doing it’s job. Thankfully, the Detail bit was SHORTER than the rough bit, otherwise I’d have destroyed the project…

Speaking of zeroing the bit to the work surface… Every time you hit Carve, it defaults the value of the X-Carve’s movement to .1. Whoops. I had set it to .001 previously and hadn’t noticed it reset it self.

Lesson 4: If you drop the Z-Axis into your piece because you aren’t paying attention to the movement, your bit will break.

I made some quick “clamps” to hold down my piece…

Lesson 5: The X-Carve has no idea where your clamps are and if they’re in the way, well, they get hit.

I had previously seen a post from @PhilJohnson regarding the Dewalt 611 speed and depth settings, so my 611 was on 1 with a conservative depth / ipm setting. Worked great.

I chose a plain old pine board for my first cut as 1, I had it lying around and 2, it’s cheap if I wrecked it. Also, it’s so soft, I figured it was a great test piece and not likely to cause a bit to break if I did something stupid speed / depth / feed rate wise.

Looking at the piece post carve, with my caliper I can see the right side of the piece is slightly shallower than the left by a few 10ths of a mm. I’ll go back and have a look at the X axis’ squareness.

I also in full ghetto disclosure simply zip tied a small shop vac hose to the side of the D611. That worked, except when I switched to the smaller detail bit, I realized it was so much shorter than the Roughing Bit that the vac hose was probably going to hit the top of the work piece when it got down to the 1/2" depth. So a quick pause and I cut the zip ties.

There also appeared to be a fairly decent stress exerted on the D611 which I would assume would be there even with a dust shoe. Going to have to figure out how to let the hose just flow with the router and not cause some deflection. I wonder if the left side was slightly deeper because of the vac hose, I’m betting it played a role here.

So there you have it, first project carve a total success with lessons learned and room for improvement.


I remembered what you said about Optimized SVG’s. I did that, the thing I didn’t do is design the whole sign in Inkscape.

I created Yoda and exported. Then I downloaded the Star Wars Font and created the “Will’s Room” path and exported.

Once I was in Easel, I started to put it all together which I soon figured out was not really where I should have been doing that.

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Sounds like some great lessons, and that’s a fantastic first carve!

You’ll learn a lot more along the way, and sometimes learn things a few times. For instance, I have learned several times that I should check my decimal point to ensure I’m not driving my bit down 10" instead of 0.10"… :smile:


I learned that the first time I used my machine lmao it scared the crap out of me so bad that it’s now burned in my brain to Always check before I hit the button! Good thing I was new and I was watching nervously with my hand on the shut down button!! Could have wrecked my machine before I even used it!!
Guess that’s what limit switches are for hehe

That came out much better than my first piece lol I really like how the letters throw shadow! Really adds to the image in this case!

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How long did that take, and how big is it? I’m always curious bout that.

Design talent PLUS machine skills. This is one of the better first carves I’ve seen!

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Let’s see… First pass with 1/8" 2 FL uncut was around 7 hours. 2nd pass with a 1/16 spiral was around 1:15 as I recall.

In hindsight, it took a long time to carve out all the material and being one piece, it is nearly impossible to sand the back well. To do it again, I’d use the Inlay app to hollow out the Yoda and the letters. Then I could sand the back and then drop the pieces in.

I actually tried to do that and all was well with the Yoda cut out / inlay. The problem came when I went to do the letters. My 1/16 bit isn’t long enough to go 3/4 deep. (1/2" letters, 1/4" inlay). Whoops. #lessonslearned

Pardon the absolutely atrocious black spray paint job. The good news, my 7yo nephew loved it.


Thanks, I really appreciate it!

As far as design talent… yeah, not gonna lie here… I Google Image Searched “Yoda Cartoon Art” and refined until I found one I liked. :smirk:

That Yoda actually came from a pillow I found online. It was fun to learn how to take that image and create the paths in Inkscape and then refine the import though…