Looking to pick a fellow owners brain

I am about to take the plunge on purchasing the 1000 but I’d like to pick the brain of a previous owner.
There are so many choices for add ons and such, how do I know what I need and don’t need? Will I regret if I don’t purchase side board kit? Or can I just put the electronics on the table next to my machine?
What is a precision collet used for and do I need that?
I will mostly be cutting on pressed particle board. I have no idea where to even start with bits.
What does the difference in shank length determine when picking out a bit?
What is in the carving material starter kit? Ahhh so many questions!!
I am looking to use this machine for crafting purposes and hopefully turn it into a business. I mainly want to cut out hand written words. Any advice? Thanks in advance!

Personally, I don’t get much use out of the homing switches and Z probe. Both can be handy if you’re doing repetitive carves, but my projects tend to be unique. The Y-axis homing switch is of debatable value, especially, since you’re not guaranteed a square gantry when using it.

If your budget is tight enough to where the sideboard will make a big difference, don’t get it. All it does (currently) is provide a secure mounting location for the X-Controller.

I do recommend the dust collection system, unless you have something of your owned planned already.

If you’re going to be using 1/8" and smaller bits, get the precision collet. It’s a ballanced collet for 1/8" shank bits (produces much less runout than the adapter for the DeWalt 1/4" shank collet).

The carving material starter kit just has a few small pieces of various materials to start carving on. Most would argue it’s probably not worth getting, again, especially if you’re on a tight budget.

For cutting out words, you’re probably going to want to look into V-bits.

Can’t say I ever pay attention to shank length - I think it’s generally safe to assume that, if you’re buying bits from a reputable source and with the appropriate shank diameter, the shank length will be “plenty”. Now FLUTE length, that you want to pay attention to. This will tell you your maximum depth of cut for a particular bit (although, for 1/8" and smaller bits, unless you’re using some kind of non-traditional clearing strategy, you’re usually only going to be making cutting passes at or shallower than the bit diameter).

Hope that all helps, I’m sure others will chime in. The community is great!


I’m still see myself as a newbie after nearly 12 months of using the x-carve, but don’t you home each time you start up the machine? How else would you home the machine without limit switches?

You don’t need the side board. My X controller just sits along side and seems to be happy. I use my homing switches all the time. I’m setting up a fixed stop that I will adjust my homing switches to stop at, thus making setting XY 0 super easy. Definitely skip the sample materials. A good dust shoe is a must. I have no confidence molaints with the inventables one. Pickup a V bit, make those signs look sweet.

If one dont have switches installed and Homing disabled Easel wont ask for it. Homing switches allow for one thing only, a consistent Machine reference point, aka “Machine zero”.

With a known Machine reference point you can:

  • Keep work zero (Easel Home position) consistent even after power OFF/ON, halts on error etc. as work zero is saved as an offset from machine zero.
  • Use parking spot G28 and G30
  • Use work offsets with fixtures etc.
  • Enable soft limits

If one set work zero manually each time off the work piece you only loose out on the bullets mentioned above. If those are not important to your work flow you are good.

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I just recently upgraded my shapeoko2 to current x carve specs. I used quality interior plywood for my table surface, and made a laminated pine side board to support the X controller and the wiring harness/drag chain. The wires coming into the back of the x controller are really kind of tiny and you don’t want them moving around.

The home switches and Z probe to me are necessities that increase the accuracy of your work. I’d be lost without a Z probe, and was without one for a while on my other machine. While you can adjust by eye, it’s faster to do it with the probe. When you change bits often, it becomes more useful.

I had router bits here, so I didn’t buy more than a couple new ones with 1/4" dia shanks. I don’t have any of the tiny ones and don’t plan on getting that fine with any detail at this time. My most used bit is a 1/8 and 1/4 straight. I like the Whiteside, CMT, and Freud bits the best, after 40 years of routing. Cheap bits are kind of useless.

I’ve never had a precision collet yet. I did just buy the aftermarket CNC$newbies Z axis, and I am about to give that a whirl this week.

The Dust Shoe is not mandatory but nice to have too. This is my first dust shoe, I used to just follow the bit with a vacuum.

A good clamping system is a must and you may want to spring for a small set to get started. They can’t be too tall. All my clamps from my other router are kind of useless, so I made new ones for the X carve. I use a lot of double sided carpet tape too.

So from my experience the upgrades are useful and make life easier. The precision collet is a luxury for what I do. You will save money by only paying shipping once if you get them together too. I’d suggest an extra spare home switch just to have on hand for insurance. I have a bunch of spare M5 screws, spacers, extrusion, from the shapeoko and beefed up my Xcarve with extra support too. Rigidity is a key to accuracy.

Just like buying a new car, you can go with the base model, or get the options. Once you’ve been spoiled with the options, it’s hard to go back.

I do not use the homing switches at all. In all of my videos you will never see me use them. They are not even set up. Some people swear by them.

I DO like the z probe

Work Zero position is saved as a set of machine co-ordinates. Homing synchronizes the hardware and software, then sets Machine Zero at the homed location.

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(not a reply/argument toward your opinion Philip :slight_smile: )

Just to clarify for the OP - With switches installed/enabled and a homing sequence is performed:

When you carve and for whatever reason something interrupt/abort the carve you do NOT have to re-zero your start position. Simply do a homing sequence and click Carve->Use previous home position and you in sync.

Without homing switches, wether one do one-off carves or repetitive carves, one must rezero manually before one can restart a partial / interrupted job. Loosing a 4hr carve due to a USB dropout/power outage or angry wife is a pain.

Note - only three switches are required for Homing.

I spent a long time without homing without really missing them, but after implementing them I would not want to be without :slight_smile:


Very good. I value your opinion. Thank you for your input

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Just to reinforce what several have said -

Sideboard - Not necessary if you have flat space available to the left of the machine.

Homing Switches - Yes. Once you get used to using them you won’t even consider going back.

Z Probe - Yes. If you are on a tight budget you can get by without it for a while just using a strip of paper as a feeler gauge. BUT again once you use it you won’t go back. And let’s not forget the “How COOL Is That” factor when using it! :wink:

Clamps - Yes, but you can make your own. There are several under the Projects section of Inventables web site. OR, rather than using someone else’s project, using Easel to layout and cut your own makes a very satisfying first project. BUT how do you clamp a workpiece down if you don’t have a clamp? Search for “Tape and Glue” clamping method. I use this a lot. Go to Walmart and grab some blue painters tape and a small bottle of Super Glue (cyanoacrylate). Works amazingly well.

Dust Shoe - Yes, you will want this but again if you are budget limited and inventive you can probably make something usable in the meantime. Search for “dust shoe” and see what you can find.

BITS - What you need is very dependent on what type of carving you end up doing. I would suggest a 1/4", 1/8" and 1/16" two flute upcut bits. One of the 1/4" will be fine but you should buy several of the smaller sizes. Breaking them is not uncommon when you are starting. Also, having the same sizes in downcut two flute will be helpful. Dowcut will tear out much less on some materials. Also, will probably want 60 and 90-degree V bit. If I could only swing one it would probably be the 60 but others may well say the 90. Either way, you will want at least one so you can experiment with V cutting. Personally, I use more 1/8" than anything but as you progress you will adjust to what fits your needs.

I’ve had mine a few weeks now and I was/am a beginner.
Don’t think you need the bit selection that they offer, it’s good but the problem is that you WILL snap bits. You’d rather have your learning curve happen with some cheap ones. Get some sacrificial eBay ones.
Watch the Inventables video by Mo about bits and take notes.

I have been using the 1000X1000 for almost two years.

  • I have the homing switches. However, I found that they did not help me in set-up using the Easel software. I use the corner of the stock as the home point and use a single sheet of paper to set the Z-axis depth.

  • The only bits that I have snapped in use have been the ones from Inventables, and they snap inside the collet. For precision work, I use Freud, CMT, Kodiak, and Niagra Cutters. I cut more aluminum plate than wood, so I tend to look at end mills from the companies that make bits for the metal machining world. For practice, you can’t beat the 1/8" two flute end mills that are all over the place on Amazon. Yes, they are cheap, but I have found they work better than the bits from Inventables. For example - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GLBR7GG - These are 1/8" Ball Nose End Mills that I use for both hardwoods and aluminum - a set of 10 for $13.

  • Dust Collection - it all depends on what I am cutting and how much observation time I am giving the job. If I am observing the cut and it is short, I use the air hose with 10 pounds of pressure and just blow the chips aside (again, cutting aluminum). If it is an intensive aluminum job I am using a combination of WD-40 as a spray coolant and the air hose to clear the chips out. For wood jobs, there is much more dust, and I use the shop-vac with the hose clamped to the table. It sucks up the dust part fairly well, but not the chips. I am building a dust shoe using my 3D printer now for those jobs.

  • I did not buy the sideboard. I built a rolling table to hold the X-Carve and placed the controller on a shelf under the main table. I used 80/20 - Faxtek extruded channel to make the table. Large flat stock goes in the bottom of the table, tools, clams and bits on the shelf.

  • Clamps - The set from Inventables works well, buy it. Yes, you can make your own, and I have for several projects that used production runs and I wanted to minimize set-up and assure standard parts. But for the cost, you could not replicate the Inventables kit without spending more money.

I have the 750x750. Love it, and wasn’t experienced with CNC at all. I bought most of the “extras” so I’ll share my thoughts.

Z-Probe: Love it and use it for all of my projects. I’ve skipped it a few times when using the machine to level a cutting board for example or when trying to quickly batch out some engravings. But I think it’s worth it.

Homing switches: I really don’t use these at all. Mainly since I installed them (during the main build of the machine) I have to adjust the location because where they are installed, as they are past the limits of the gantry. I’ve been lazy and haven’t gotten around to this yet. I did notice that with the DeWalt 611 is somewhat large and hits the Z axis plate (A spacer would be helpful here, but a minor adjustment could fix the issue).

Sideboard: I bought one, and find it completely unnecessary. It doesn’t serve much of a purpose unless you are going to mount your Xcontroller to it. I bought it, if I buy another xcarve I’d probably forego it.

I have the 1/8" collet insert (as other people pointed out the DeWalt is 1/4" shank) I bought what I believe was the inventables super pack which was 1/8" shank ($79).

On the subject of bits. I think it’s ok to purchase from inventables unless you have some already. After becoming more familiar with bits, I’ve looked and purchased from other sources. Amazon is alright, but bits can get pretty pricey. I broke most of my initial bits from the super pack while getting used to milling and operating the machine (Some of this was user error on my part, but at the sametime I feel $10-20 bits from Amazon appeared to be a little more robust)

For types of bits, it depends on what your desired outcome would be, I’d have to say get downcut, and a V-bit or two. I haven’t milled pressed particle board, but the downcut bit will eliminate the worry of tear out.

Bit length will depend on your material, just make sure the bit is longer then the material is deep. Keep in mind a long, thin bit, will loose it’s rigidity. This shouldn’t be something to worry about, just a tip I picked up along the way.

You can pass on the material starter kit. I bought it, but if you have plenty of scrap wood laying around this is unnecessary. I got the mix of acrylics, mostly because I didn’t know where to find these locally.

The dust collection wasn’t offered when I bought my machine (roughly 2 years ago). I plan on making one as there are plenty of options out there, maybe I’ll use the acrylics sample pack. I think this is worth while as the machine does kick up a good amount of dust and debris.

A clamp set is a must, unless you are going to screw into the wasteboard or plan on buying machine screws that fit the inserts on the wasteboard (I can’t remember the size off the top of my head maybe M5?)

I think that covers it…

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Bit of a thread rez, yes, but I feel it’s worth mentioning…

As of this weekend I’m a convert on the homing switches. I read enough threads where people had lost a multi-hour carve for one reason or another, and decided to take the time to figure out how to use my own homing switches (it’s not hard at all). I’d never had any trouble myself with longer carves, but the minimal effort for insurance seemed warranted.

Sure enough, yesterday I was about 2/3 of the way into a 3ish hour carve, and the X-Carve decided to just stop in its tracks (I was trying the nightly build of UGS rather than using the latest stable - that’s my guess as to the source of the problem). Since I had used F360 for this CAD/CAM, I was able to generate a new Gcode file for just the remaining parts of the carve, re-home using the switches, and the carve was saved!