Makeing a X-Carve from 0 or buying the full package from inventables?

So hi all.

I am planing on either makeing a full DIY build ( X-Carve is open source project ) or buying the one from the inventables.

  1. What do you think? I have no trouble to do DIY one but I am courious about does it gets cheaper and does it is smart to do? Is it posible to do DIY X-Carve and to be good like the real X-Carve?

  2. So I have been following this site and projects they make for a long time. I will sooon be coming to USA so I am thinking is this CNC router good or not for me. I would not make furniture. I will make a small projects, carving, engraving, cuting (wood, aluminum etc) . So what you think, will X-Carve do the job? And Is there any other option that could be better then X-Carve?

Thanks all, and sory for ‘‘not such a perfect’’ english :slight_smile:


Welcome to the USA! I think when you look at other CNC machines that are out there the X Carve is good deal. Other machines, both kit and prebuilt, can run you over $5000 USD. To purchase components individually might save a few dollars, but you don’t always know what you’re getting, if you’re getting the right stuff, backorders, etc. Also, few companies have the excellent reputation and customer support that Inventables enjoys. As you stated, the X Carve is open source, so you can order the basic kit and make whatever mods you desire, either during the build process or afterwards.

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Self-sourcing was an original aspect of the Shapeoko project, which the X-Carve is derived from.

If you get lucky and find bargains which work out, you can save a fair bit. Overview of the parts (incl. some ordering links — more would be welcome) here:

Shapeoko 2 B.O.M. here:

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It is possible.

I also went through this process before buying the X-carve.

Since I had not done any CNC work (other than a 3D printer) prior to my purchase, I decided to go with the kit put together by Inventables.

It does cost more than if you buy the components from other sources.

What sold me on the kit was that the Inventables team had already gone through the process of locating all the parts and putting together instructions for assembly. They did the trial and error part of what works together and what doesn’t.

It saved me a lot of time not to have to source all the components and I was fairly confident that the machine would work, once assembled.

Now that I have the experience of doing it once I think that my next machine will be put together with components that I select.

No regrets on the kit purchase. Inventables earned their money with value added in my opinion.


I started with a 500x500 SO2 mechanical kit and upgraded to a 1000x1000 X-Carve. I sourced parts on my own using the BOM supplied by Inventables. By taking advantage of the Inventables Black Friday sale, purchasing items like clear coated aluminum extrusion and gussets (instead of black), sourcing most of the electronics and hardware from other vendors and 3D printing some parts, I was able to shave about 20% off the price of the full kit (this includes the cost of the original SO2 kit). My total cost also included upgrades like the X axis stiffening mod, Dewalt router and acrylic dust shields for the Y axis.

The downside is that it took me 9+ months to get all the parts together (instead of getting it all at once), but that was more for budgeting reasons.

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I second what LarryM stated.

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Having just spent the past couple of weeks doing this myself, I can say there are savings to be had. You just have to balance that with convenience.

I bought the base kit, and am sourcing some other parts. After totaling everything up, it looks like I am saving about $250 on the 500x500 by using things I already own, and sourcing some parts separately.

For some folks $250 is not very much, for me it was worth the savings. If I were in the position where an extra $250 wouldn’t be missed, I’d have probably just bought the whole kit and saved the time.

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I think it depends what your goal is. If you want the absolute cheapest final purchase price don’t buy the kit. If you want the shortest and most painless sourcing and build process buy the kit. As @AngusMcleod noted it matters how much you value the time and how quickly you need the machine up and running. Also you have the consider shipping. When you get the parts from different suppliers you might have to pay shipping multiple times. Unless you already have parts or can pick them up locally. However there are still costs to local pickup like gas so while you might have what appears to be a savings when you count your gas and time back and forth it might not be as much as you had hoped for.

It will be hard to fabricate your own X-Axis gantry but we sell it individually now.

If you do decide to roll your own please post it to the forum. I’m sure there would be other people that want to save a few dollars.

In my experience doing a hybrid is probably going to give you the right mix of cost savings and time savings. I believe it would be very hard to roll your own core components kit for the cost we are selling it for simply because of the volume discount we get on the parts and the fact that we are giving you exactly what you need vs. a pack of 100 screws etc.

For the commodity parts like stepper motors, power supplies, arduino, gshields, wires, you might already have parts or could find parts from friends or a makerspace that can be used and are free to you dollar wise but might have a time cost associated with tracking them down. Also sometimes you can find these parts on Ebay or Amazon and get free shipping for decent prices. The one kicker is when your XYZ part from Ebay doesn’t work often times you have no recourse where if you buy from Inventables we replace it at no cost to you including the reshipment cost.

Earlier in my life there is no chance I would pay the premium associated with the X-Carve kit. I’ll go so far as to say I would have thought Inventables was ripping me off. How could they charge more than I could make or find the parts for elsewhere. Today there is no way I would roll my own. What I have learned in trying to roll my own over time is it typically always ended up costing me more because my solutions were close but not exact to the actual kit and I spend more in aggregate but less in each transaction. I tried to convince myself it was less but at some point I couldn’t ignore the stack of receipts from radio shack, and ACE hardware, and well you get the idea. The hard costs differential also doesn’t account for the time cost which earlier in life I was valuing at $0 per hour. As I got older I realized my time, even on the weekend, isn’t worth $0 per hour. Only you can put a $$ value on your time but I can confidently say it’s not $0 per hour.

You also have to consider if you enjoy the journey of doing the research and hunting down all the parts. If that is pleasurable for you, almost a hobby in itself then go for it. When I built my first 3D printer I enjoyed the build more than I enjoyed using it. Today I wouldn’t build another 3D printer for fun.

On the converse, if sourcing is going to be a pain for you, and you’re going to be frustrated because you just want the machine to be up and running quickly so you can sell products you make from it just get the kit.

It’s an open source project so we have published a link to the files in [grabcad repo].(

I’m sure other people on the forum would love to hear your decision. Also if you do find some “quick wins” where you can do a reasonable hybrid approach without killing yourself I think a lot of people would find that interesting.


@Zach_Kaplan @Branislav
Hum, just noticed your reply was to me. You’re preaching to the choir. I’m with you on this.

Buy the kit.

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I bought the “kit” and still upgraded my build.

What I liked about the Kit is, since I am a newbie to the CNC world and since this was my first build, the kit meant that Everything that I needed to get the stock machine up and running was there (I skipped the stock wasteboard solely bc of the associated shipping costs). I did not have to get frustrated about; will this part work with that part, getting sent the wrong parts (and not really noticing) and all of the frustration dealing with UPS/FedEx etc etc.

With the kit, if I get to a roadblock I move forward using their directions bc all of the parts are there and they all work together. If I want to modify and upgrade a specific area I can and leave the others as is.

The spare parts are nice to have as well. I have to admit I’m hooked, I thoroughly enjoyed my build and will be building more machines. Having the spare parts lying around is a convenience for inspiration. But yes I also realize this is $$$ laying around collecting dust. Having a spare rail llying around isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. Many of us have cluttered shops and accidents do happen. When something heavy falls and places a big dent in your makerslide, then a spare is sitting right there. Let’s hope this never happens but it could.

Can you save $$$ by sourcing your own parts, yes but unless you have experience with these items it might be better to just suck it up and pay the extra $$. Your Time is a HUGE factor. Especially if you have children or dependents, all of the time chasing a few cents might waste a lot of time needed for them.

LarryM said it best.

What is your time worth?

You might save a few $$$ but you will spend a lot more time sourcing, chasing the parts.

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So to fully understand me and my question you need to know a few things about me right? :smiley: :stuck_out_tongue:

So about me:

My name is Branislav Djordjevic, I am 21 y old , I live in Serbia (country in wich Nikola Tesla was born for reference) in Europe. I finished high school for Aircraft-tehnician and decided to go and study Industrial engineering - Automation and robotics on Faculty of tehnical sciences. I am on my third year.

About why I whant to by CNC router/machine:

I love to do DIY stuff, and I mean everything ! I always find my self whanting to improve my skills and knowlege. I have touch wtih CNC on my faculty and I had highest grades and from the first look I was in love with that machine. So as I say I am coming to Alaska - Anchorage ( Work and travel program ) and I got the job like a Food and Beverage Menager over there. My plan is to use this opportunity to get something for my self that I whanted for almost 3 years. Price for this kind of machine here comes from 35000$ + and I dont whant to give that much since I need the machine for a simple, basic operation and some intermediate . I will be cutting like I say plywood, wood, acrilic, aluminum etc. So for my needs I know I dont need anything bigger and expensive.


So as I will be coming with the airplane I dont know will it be cheaper (if I chose to buy a full kit) to get it in the USA and then to bring it with me or just to order it to send it to Serbia (maybe someone can tell me about the shipping coosts? ).
Second I kinda whant to DIY CNC. Why? Whell I have time , I whant to learn while doing all this stuff. And I know I will probably need up to 6 months. But that is ok since I am in not hury.

Conclusion for now:

I have time.
I will have money to buy even full kit but it will depend on the shipping mostly.
Every $ you get in pocket is treasure, but only if you have time.

I know that Inventables are very good company and I am on 50/50 to buy or to DIY but we will see :slight_smile:

Also, is this right part of forum to post this kind of a question? Am I the only one that posted this kind of a question? :smiley:

PS: Thanks guys all for the advice and everything. I whant to hear more from your experience with X-Carve etc.

In a way, this is DIY. It’s a kit. You will learn a lot.

No, this comes up frequently.

If you have the money, and you want it, buy it. Think of it as an educational expense. You can get just as much knowledge with the 500mm as the 1000mm. If you need to save money get the 500mm. You can upgrade it later if you need more cutting space.

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For your situation, can you source the makerslide locally? All of the rest of the parts will pretty much fit into one box. The makerslide and extrusions are what will take up the most room.

If you can purchase the makerslide and extrusion locally, then the shipping charges will be cut quite a bit.

If you can not source the extrusions and makerslide locally, then maybe the 500x500 would be a good unit. Of course it’s rails are much shorter so this will be easier to pack and take home with you.

Worst case scenario if you purchase the 1000mm Kit, when you move home, then you can cut it down to a 500mm unit. This will save some of your packing space (length). Then if you decide you want a 1000 again, then just order the new extrusions and makerslide. Of course this will cost more $$ in the long run.

Personally If you will be in the states for a few years, go with the bigger unit. Enjoy the larger platform while you are here.

Anyway you look at it, I would skip the wasteboard unless you want to pay $120-$250+ just for shipping. The waste board is pretty, but not functionable for the full cost of it and Getting it to you. I would Save the $$ and source the MDF locally and look into other clamping methods. The cost savings is better used elsewhere in my opinion. This decision has nothing to do with the company that sells the wasteboard, the issue comes with the price of delivery for a partial sheet of MDF and the misc hardware. If the wasteboard shipped free of charge, then that would be one thing but the shipping companies would not like that idea too much. This is the only area I decided to not go with the “kit” and it was entirely based on the shipping charges.

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I will be in USA for 4 months and then I will be going home. And I hope I will be there even next year.

I realy like the bigger kit, 1000mm one. I think it has bigger potencial.

I should check price for the shipping.

If the price for shipping is high , then I will be DIY my one cnc from the verious source.

Just checked, price for shipping 300$, so that goes off. Either I will bring it with me when go back or I will be building my.

I wonder if you could put the rails in a ski bag and check them on the plane.

No reason why not. Also a guitar case would work. I always get funny looks when traveling through the airport with my SKB guitar cases. They look like gun cases, so heads turn all of the time. And this is carry on. You will probably have to check the case but that should not matter to you. You could buy an empty case and put custom foam with cut outs. Of course this would be an added cost so if you have a cheap ski bag then use it. If not search the local papers or Craig’s list for options.

The biggest concern in my opinion is keeping the makerslides from getting dented up, so make sure they are well packed.

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You probably won’t be allowed to bring long extrusions into the cabin — potential to use them as clubs.

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I had a stack of Makerslide, v-wheels etc from a previous project, plus more electronics than a sane person should own, so I just bought the bits I needed to build my X-Carve.
If I was doing it again, I’d go for the full kit (except perhaps for the controller - I like my Gecko G540)

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