Brand new user, this was my first real project. I did numerous test cuts and thought I had it figured out. I tried to make a small little sign for my wife at her school. In Easel Pro it looked ok, I didnt see any issues, but the finished project was less than appealing. I used a 3/4 in flat bit for roughing which you can clearly see was mostly the left and right, then I used a 90 degree V bit for the rest of the detail.
I am confident the problem is something I did, just not sure what.
Here is the project: Hornet Sign
I would greatly appreciate any feedback on what I did wrong.
Is there a reason you used such a massive roughing end-mill? A 1/4” or 1/8” should rough that no problem (that looks like pine?). The problem I see is that the roughing bit can’t “fit” between the letters and the outside of the pocket. The v-bit thinks it only has to chamfer the letters. So try swapping the roughing to a 1/8”. You didn’t show us what easel said it would do, but assuming easel didn’t say it was going to clear to the left of the circular text, then that’s because it can’t fit the end-mill in there. Your sign would have to be massive to get a 3/4” end mill in there. Also from a shear stiffness standpoint the x-carve isn’t super rigid to pushing a 3/4” end-mill through is going to chatter a lot giving a rough appearance. Also from the look of the bottom of the pocket where it did carve, you may be a out of tram? (I.e. Not vertical either left/right or more often front-back).
So it is important to realize what easel does between roughing and v-carving. If you use the v-bit as the finish pass it won’t try to pocket with the v-bit, ironically if you had skipped the 3/4” machine would have gotten closer to what you wanted by painfully clearing the pocket with the v-bit (which for large areas, never quite looks right). Personally for this I would use a 1/8” down cut for the roughing and 60-degree for the finish.
Thank you for the response, your comments make perfect sense. The only reasoning to anything I did, was just pure ignorance on my part, there was no method to my madness. I will take your advice and re-do this. It did appear to me that Easel never tried to get the 3/4 bit up above those top letters, but again, I am possibly just missing that part.
I noticed on your Easel file that you have the wording and the bee at a depth of .02697 , you need to set the to 0.
How did you have your material secured to the waste board?
Can you hear the machine chattering as its cutting?
Were you using a new bit?
I will update the file before my next cut. Thank you.
I secured the board with the clamps that came with the X-carve, I didnt notice any movement at all, but I do understand just the slightest movement can cause a big difference.
Regarding the bit, the 3/4 straight bit I bought local, was brand new. Same for the 90 degree v bit I bought with the machine. I was going to use my 60 degree, but the tip broke off on it while doing a test cut on some MDF, no idea what happened there, didnt even notice it until I went to cut this project.
As far as chattering, I did not notice any at all. It actually “appeared” to cut very clean and straight.
Pine is not the best choice of material to cut but it should look better than that.
If you have the material secured, a sharp bit and no chatter then it should cut good.
What speed do you have the router set to? 95% of the time you can leave it on 1.
Order a couple sets of brushes now so when they go bad you will have a set on hand.
You should get 150-200 hours on a set of brushed if you’re running it at 1. Depending on the carving you’re doing that could be a few months.
Version 2. Still very unhappy with the outcome. I changed the roughing bit to a 1/4, I don’t have a 1/8, but will order one.
The roughing pass is the photo with the piece still on the machine, that was after the roughing pass.
There is also a photo of the cut settings along with the finished product.
I am using just a piece of pine. I noticed in the settings, there is no option for Pine, so I am using Soft Maple as the option. Maybe the cut settings are whats making this look so terrible?
I tried to read everyone’s advice above and make adjustments. I dont have any wood on hand other than pine. What wood would you recommend I start out with, and can you get it at Lowes or Home Depot? Thats my only real local options.
The router is on 1.
I changed the depth as recommended on the words from .02697 to zero. Nice catch.
I sat and watched the entire cut, I never one time hear chattering or what I would consider any issues.
So I will pick up a 60 degree v bit and try that on the next one. I am just curious why it looks so terrible.
I ran your file on some plywood. You can see after my roughing that I don’t have those steps that you have. You’re losing steps, a belt may be loose. After the roughing I put a 90 degree bit in and finished the carve
First of all, THANK YOU. Your photographs saved me a lot of I told you so from my wife about what this thing can do. My investment in this “hobby” so I could make stuff for her was looking a little sketchy with what I was producing, at least I know its possible.
I noticed in my roughing it did those “divets” around the bottom where it just dove down and made little holes. Yes those ridges around the hornet were all from the roughing pass.
I looked at my 3 belts. They all appear tight, you can “pluck” them and they are really snug. Also watching the machine work, nothing looks like its slipping.
Today I am going to make a much more simple design and see how that goes. Im just going to put some words and a small image on something and see how that turns out.
Again, THANK YOU for taking the time and helping with this. Its frustrating trying to get this thing fine tuned but I am up for the challenge.
It is hard to visualize you are losing steps. First off did you calibrate your stepper driver current? It’s in the build instructions:
While loose belts can be a problem, overnight belts can cause missed steps too (like slogging through thick mud)
I would definitely start with a simple rectangle carved into a board. If that works, do a circle with some plain text, and work up from there. Much easier to debug when things are simple. Did you calibrate your e-steps? That shouldn’t have this issue (since the error would be constant on both the roughing and finishing. I wonder if part of the problem is your roughing bit is too big so the rough pocket is leaving too large an amount of material for the V-bit to cut away. The x-carve is not super powerful and is easy to bog down with too aggressive a cut. If you can get a smaller roughing bit, I’d do so (1/8"). Most often I rough with a 1/8" and then transition down to a 1/16 or god-help-me a 1/32 depending on the job in wood. When I am cutting aluminum or steel on my tormach I would pick a much heftier roughing end-mill (3/8-3/4") to hog out and then drop to 1/4 or 1/8 for a fine pass as I want the stiffness into metal A 3/4" shear-hog can blast a lot of aluminum into chips) but in wood you don’t need that level of stiffness in the tool.
So my second question, have any of you tried using bits off like Amazon or from Home Depot/Lowes? I can get my hands on those so much quicker and less expensive, compared to the Inventables sight at so much more money. Just curious if I should keep buying directly from them or if somewhere else is better.
I will work on getting some downcut bits for wood then try some more detail.
Yes, although I have mostly gotten higher-end tooling like Amana Tools wit the Spektra coating for my higher quality jobs. For roughing I have used some basic 1/4" or 1/8" off amazon and they’re fine (for “true” roughing you’re only getting close to reduce load on the finishing pass with your v-bit or ball-nose end mills. Also to improve the top surface in Pine I’ve found a light coat of shellack or sanding sealer does a nice job of reducing that fuzziness (actually in almost any wood)