Newbie: A Few Questions Before Purchase

Hi Everyone,

I can currently afford the basic package with the 1000mm rail kit (I’ve been saving up a year!). Will I really be able to be fully functional with this order? What else should I budget for (tools, vacuum, etc.)? I want to do very basic stuff (cutting .25" plywood) for starters.

I’ve been lurking on the forum for a while now and couldn’t find a newbie FAQ, and there don’t seem to be many threads asking the basic questions about how to prepare for ordering an X-Carve. If you know of any threads you can send me, please do!

I’m a total newbie with CNC. I have some knowledge of working with large Epilog laser cutters and I have a background in graphic design. Any help you can give me is greatly appreciated. I apologize in advance if this has ben asked before, I really tried searching before starting this post.

Thank you.

Save a little more if you need and purchase the X-Controller. With the money you save from the parts it replaces, it only winds up being an additional $125.00, or right around there. I’m doing my first cut with it right now and I can already see and hear the difference… Much smoother and more power to the stepper motors.

If you get the basic package with a spindle and at least a starter pack of spindles then you will be able to start carving as soon as you complete the assembly and tuning.

You will need a least a small shop vac to keep from being buried in sawdust, and you will need some tools to cut your material so that it fits in the work area of the X-Carve. You can pick up a cheap table saw for about $100 at Harbor Freight. You will also need sandpaper and stains and poly to finish your projects.

I also recommend you get some safety glasses and hearing protection and a fire extinguisher.

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Hi Keddy, thanks for the heads up on the x-controller. I’ll do some more reading about that.

Hey Allen, which starter pack of spindles would you suggest? Good call on the fire extinguisher, hadn’t thought of that.


your machine will come with a variety of different cutters, but I buy the 10-packs of the double flute end mills, 1/8 inch. That should be a good start for you, in my opinion.

Do you have any idea what types of projects you want to make on your X-Carve?

The tooling to create signs and lettering is different than the tools needed to carve 3D shapes. And carving in Aluminum requires different tools than you may need for carving wood.

My recommendations are to make sure you get the NEMA 23 motors even over the XController if you have to make a choice. In reality, you will probably really want both and both are about 2x to upgrade to them afterwards as compared to initially.

If you have to cut corners to make it feasable, drop the waste board. You can get 3/4" MDF from most lumber yards or home improvement stores for like $35 (assuming you are in the US) Even if you don’t have any way to cut a 4x8 sheet yourself, for only a couple dollars (if that) the store will cut it to dimensions on their panel saw. I haven’t ever used my limit switches so those could be left out, and if you already have a basic set of tools, can forego the tool set. Leaving these out saves on the order of $225 including shipping, which is close to what you need to get the major upgrades above.

The only other thing you will NEED initially are Personal Protective Equipment (safety glasses, hearing protection, etc) and appropriate router bits for whatever projects you want to make. As both Allen and Angus mention, the bits will vary depending on what you want to make.

Everything else is simply (very) nice to have. I keep working towards a dust shoe, but hasn’t been worth it yet. Fire Extinguisher is probably the best option, but a bucket of water can do almost as much (make sure it is plugged into a GFCI outlet).

If you don’t have any other tools to cut down materials, there are lots of mentions for materials in the projects section. You can get cutting boards, flooring samples, 1/4 sheets of plywood, etc., all in small enough dimensions they can simply be milled on the machine without cutting it down.


A flat worksurface, ie table, whether your build it yourself or buy one. The 1000mm machine needs a bit less then 4’x4’. Probably going to cost $50-100 without going crazy.

You could save money and not get the wasteboard and make your own, but it will become more of a project as you have to figure out how you want to handle hold downs. This could potentially save around $300 as shipping for the wasteboard was about $120 when i ordered. Just remember all of the inserts used on the wasteboard are part of the kit so they need to be ordered separately. I used this method to offset the x-controller and, and fully loaded the machine. The tool kit is junk and if you have a lot of those tools already it saves a little bit.

In the end if you are stretched for cash go with the basics for now and experimenting/experience with the machine will tell you what you need to upgrade.

Use the free software to start with, start on 2D to get a hang of it first.

Totally agree with Rick. Plus for the price of a x-controller, you could get a professional level Gecko g540 and Mach 3 and a 48 volt power supply. And though easel/grbl is easier for newbies - those things did not exist when I started. The professional tools were not difficult to learn. Plenty of info online. (EDIT - actually, I can only get within $100 of the x-controller. A Mach 3 license is $175!)