Hello all, I am new to the forum, and figured that this is a good place to introduce myself, and hopefully help contribute to the 3rd Party Machines.
I am mostly a hobbyist. I have used woodworking as a way to relax and build things for years. I enjoy making things, especially out of materials that a lot of people would consider junk. I make lots of stuff out of old pallet wood, fence boards, barn boards, and I have a whole lot of old plywood and mdf from a warehouse currently occupying my garage.
I chose the Maslow MakerMade M2 for the two biggest factors for me. The price is a big one. I am not a pro, and this is a hell of a machine for the price. The size of the machine was also important to me. I like that it can do 4’x8’ (or larger, even), but also the fact that it is mostly vertical helps me to be able to fit it into my tiny shop. My woodshop is just over 9 feet wide, and although it is about 25 feet deep, I have a staircase that affects my work area, so I am roughly 9x13.
I do have a standard frame (on casters) that I am not currently using, as I decided to build a wall frame and it sits behind my big workbench (also on casters), and I have to be careful to leave enough room, but it can work with a couple of inches of clearance while I can still do other things on the workbench. I do really like it for that.
I feel that it is important to talk about some of the cons of the MakerMade M2 as well, but I am finding solutions and I hope that this thread may help and/or encourage others to speak up as well.
The most significant difference of the Maslow compared to most other CNC router machines is that it hangs on a sled. The only gantry is the router mount for your Z-Axis, and even it is affected by the most important factors of gravity and physics. To be honest, it is a big disadvantage, and I guarantee that it is the biggest reason to not like the machine. BUT, it can all be dealt with, and I hope that this thread can show that it really is a very capable machine.
It has taken me about 5 weeks to figure a lot of stuff out and get to actually making some decent projects. The learning curve on all CNC stuff is bigger than you think, and the extra factors that the M2 experiences just adds to it. It is easy to see why people give up on it. It really is a bit overwhelming, and I have cracked a beer and said ‘see ya tomorrow’ and walked away from it several times. Keep at it, and every day you learn something new and it gets a little better.
I will post some pictures and things I have done in future posts. This is my second post on this forum, so I do not yet know how all that is going to work, and I am not going to re-type all of this stuff, so just text to start.
Is the Maslow MakerMade M2 worth purchasing? Yes. Do I still want a flat bed like an X-Carve? Yes. Should I have just bought an X-Carve to begin with? I don’t know. I’ll answer that when I get one, but at this point I would like to say no, because I haven’t found anything that the X-Carve can do that the Maslow can’t. But I am also just a beginner.
The biggest lessons I have learned and I think are critically important:
Your mount (frame) needs to be level. Even if it is level when you build it, but the floor it sits on is slanted, it at the very least needs to be level and square to the waste board. You can compensate with calibrations and it can be dealt with, but if you start square it is a LOT better.
Aprons or skirts, whatever you want to call it, but your workpiece needs to be surrounded by equal thickness materials. The sled has to ride at the same level to be accurate. I have many smaller pieces of different materials to make this work, and I really don’t enjoy having to do that, but if you want accurate cuts, it has to be the same.
Work must be clamped, screwed, or nailed to the wasteboard. I have experimented a lot, and sure, you don’t have to, but you absolutely should. I have some solutions in mind and will see how that unfolds.
Don’t cheap out on bits. I get it. They are expensive, and I have broken a few, but recognize why and compensate. Cheap bits really do not do a good job and make your troubles worse than they should be. Also, do not use regular router bits on a CNC. When bad things happen at 27k rpm, it is only entertaining on YouTube. Add a new pair of briefs to the cost of my errors.
As I mentioned above, gravity and physics are a significant challenge to this machine. The sled hangs from chains, and the router floats on the top of your work and aprons. Everything needs to be at the same level or the router will skip, gouge, and potentially ruin your work.
Don’t be afraid to recalibrate. It might be time-consuming, but it isn’t difficult once you do it a few times, and it really isn’t hard once you get it. A bit of time is cheaper than material. Any time I change material thickness or change the bit, I calibrate. It is worth the time and effort.
Dust collection and fire prevention is also important. I have a fire extinguisher very close, and a couple of bigger ones in the main part of my shop. Since all of the dust falls down to the floor, a fire just continues to get fed, so don’t leave the machine unattended. I have been using BucketHead vacuums connected to the sled, but I have burned out two of them already, and just picked up a proper dust collection unit today.
Overall I am pretty happy with the Maslow MakerMade M2. I really didn’t have huge expectations going into it, I really just wanted consistent repetitive cuts on an automated machine so that I could do other things, and it does that easily. I have carved some more detailed items with it, and am frankly surprised at what it is capable of. Stay tuned while I figure out how to add pictures and descriptions.
If you are on the fence about whether or not to buy one, do it. For my money, it was worth it.