Need more Z cutting heigth, say 6"

FYI: You can get extra long cutting bits for working with thicker stock.

I have a MaxNC with a Z cutting depth of 8" and experimented a lot with longer bits.
I found that a 4" cut length 1/4 mill bit worked well for slow rough cutting. I also use it for a final, deep “Outline cut” to finish the work piece and free it from the stock.
But a 2" cut length ball nose 1/32" mill bit was incredibly fragile and only safe at extremely slow speeds. Not worth the expense of constantly breaking bits.

In the end I learned it was better to adjust the design and geometry to be more sloping and avoid deeper details. This allows for the use of the longer bit for the rough cutting but standard bit for the fine detail.

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I have been thinking about how to extend the Z axis to be able to work on thicker stock.
And I came up with this idea.
By mounting the waste board on the bottom of the rail instead of on top you increase the max work thickness by 20mm (the thickness of the rail)
Though this does not increase the possible carving area on the thicker stock.

If you replace to bottom rail with thicker extruded rail (20mm x80mm) you can increase this by 80mm, allowing you carve on very thick stock! (6X’s, logs, etc.)
(Possibly using the 20mm rails from the kit with some L brackets to cross brace on the normally open sides and help keep things stiff and square.)

In fact if you got a second waste board you could leave one on the bottom for when you need to do thick items and have a removable one on the top, in the stock position, for everyday work.
I think it would be necessary to always leave a waste board on the bottom, as opposed to swapping a single board between both positions. Otherwise you would have to re-square up your x-carve every time. :confused:
I also think the lowered board approach would be useful if you wanted to use a rotary axis. As only the top half of the work piece needs to be in the cutting range.

But none of this increases the actual carve area. Adding a longer bit doesn’t help. It just shifts your carve area lower, reducing your maximum stock thickness.

But if you extended the length of the Z rail and ACME screw so that the spindle motor can retract higher, allowing the longer bit to be lifted clear, it should work.

I imagine if your carving geometry did not require the full depth of cut, just the full range, you could use a normal bit in a drill bit extender to give you the necessary length.
Would this work?
Does anyone know if this approach was tried on the Shapeoko?


It looks like this approach has been done with the Shapeoko.
I found this link in another post:

Regarding the cutting height, Z

Does it able to go to minimum cutting height of 0.035 mm?
The copper thickness for FR4 PCB board

Hey I like that idea I have a 1meter X 1meter SO with triple X and double y that are bolted. But I don’t beleave I’m geting the full affect of doubling up . I’m thinking I mite try JB weld had then bolt them back together .

I was thinking about maybe an adjustable height table like a router lifting table only bigger but smaller then the normal x-carve base. make the bottom of the x-carve sacrificial board two pieces and move them out to allow the table to be lifted up. Mainly I just want to do 3D art in a log so I would need to plane it down flat and then start to carve into that so if i had to start with a 8-12 inch log i could start it at a low height and plane it down and then raise the table and continue then on the design. I figure this way the base board will still be there for the most part just opened up like the swimming pool in Its a wonderful life.

I am thinking the same way Adam, Designing a somewhat of a router lift or a chain driving 4 screws up and down manually, like a benchtop planer concept. We should share our findings and designs!


Sounds great except I am just in the I want phase lol. I am thinking at the end of the year i will finally be able to buy the unit but by then something new from them might come along I was just seeing if anyone has done this. I know the 1000x1000 has a center bar on the base but i think thats more for supporting the waste board not sure how much its there for rigidity or how hard it would be to design some other center support. maybe design some corner braces instead of the center brace.

Cool. I will try to share what I come up with, likely finding an open 12" x 12" areas without braces blocking from the bottom, reinforce the edges and design a lift that operates from underneath.


Minimum cut height should be no problem. If for some reason your cutting bit can not reach all the way to the sacrifice board you can always use a spacer block under your work piece to raise it up.
(You may notice in a lot of people project videos do this anyway to keep the original work surface nice)

If you were doing a lot of circuit boards of the same size you could even make the spacer block into a holding jig to make clamping them in place easier.

While it won’t get you 6", one thing which one can do to get additional working height is to swap the wasteboard down to the bottom of the aluminum frame — I did that on my SO2 and it worked fine.

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Great Idea Will ! Why didn’t I think of that!

If anyone is interested I can,design new risers for the x that would be taller nothing else would need to be changed unless of course you wanted more a movement but I am strictly talking for people that want to do engraving in logs and whatnot. To cut thin stuff with a raised setup you would just need to use a few prices of .75 mdf as a spacer for the material from the wasteboard


I am interested but just raising those sides wouldn’t that make it wobbly? And how much are we talking for your upgrade?

It’s going to be more flex no matter what at least when the cut is low. I will get a new plate drawn up in solid works and post a file so you can just make them on your xcarve out of aluminum. Basically the exact same,part as stock with the cross members up higher not that special. Just easy and simple. I won’t be using them I don’t need the extra height.

I’d be interested in seeing this upgrade.

Sorry to revive an old topic but I am very interested in purchasing the new 1000mm x-carve and engraving larger stock. Mainly to engrave thick aluminum in excess of 4" - 6" thick. The depth of the engraving needs to be around .003mm - .006mm with lettering as small as 1/8".

  1. Can the X-Carve do tiny lettering well?
  2. Would this be the correct machine to purchase? (the X-Carve)
  3. Has anyone done this or similar mods to increase the z-depth?
  4. I was thinking about maybe cutting hole into the waste board to accommodate deeper items, would this just be “wasting” the board?

1 - Yes, with a v-bit or engraving bit. (Tapered bits like these are less prone to breaking)

2 - If you are looking for a introductory machine to learn on, this is a very good machine. The customer service and community support can really help with overcoming the learning curve. If you are looking for a production grade machine for commercial use, especial with aluminum, there are some upgrades or alternatives you may want to consider

3- Yes several people have made modifications (myself included) to increase cut height. The easiest way is to cut taller Y end plates: Gantry Upgrade to C-Beam

You can do this yourself, or there are several people selling them: Higher Y-plates:

4- I know of at least one person who cut an access hole in their waste board so they could carve dovetails in the end of planks. You can easily mod the waist board to fit your setup. (most people make their own waist board anyway to save on shipping costs.)

Thanks for the reply. I am just a beginner hobbyist. I have a 3D printer and I wanted to learn some CNC basics. I won’t be doing any sort of “commercial” work. Its mainly for fun. I’ve been saving for about a year now and so I wanted to get something that would fit many needs.

Looking at the Easel software it seems very basic. It doesn’t look like I could get it dialed in enough to engrave really fine detail (the 1/8" lettering at .004" depth). I’ve tried using it a bit but I don’t think that its the right software. Do you have any recommendations that would work well for a beginner?

Thanks again.

Gryphon CNC uses this… I wonder if they’re the ones making it.