Newbie - Need some tips

Hey y’all. I am wanting to dip my toes in the water with CNC carving. I have “handed down” experience from my grandfather with woodworking but I think this is a new hobby that I could pick up and really enjoy, all the while making some little extra cash. Building things is fun, but also takes a lot of time and people want things cheap now days.

When purchasing an x-carve, what are the must haves and what should I wait to purchase before I get a little experience under my belt? For now, I believe I will stick with wooden signs and not get too crazy with 3D items until I understand the basics. Any advice is appreciated! Thanks in advance!

I would suggest running a stock machine with a set of end mills and V Bits. Dewalt comes stock with a 1/4" collet. After you figure out what your needs will be you can adjust from there.


I think as a just-starting-out hobbyist considering the purchase, the best advice I could offer is to think about the largest carving you think you’re going to want to do, and get a machine that can accommodate that (and that your space can accommodate!). It’s easiest and cheapest to get the rails you need from the start and build it once, rather than trying to make a smaller machine bigger later.

And, as @CurtisCummings said, stock machine (with dust boot!) and some end mills/bits.

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I agree with Curtis. You will need 1/8 shank bits so get the 1/8 collet that will fit in the router. If you are doing woodworking already you may just skip buying the tools. You can make your own wasteboard and you probably can skip the side board. You will need to get the insets for the wasteboard if you are planning to build your own


Thanks for the great information!

What about the software? Would easel/easel pro be fine for starting out or should I go ahead and look in to getting one of the VCarve solutions?

Doesn’t have to be at the same time, can be well after!

In addition, you’re just starting out and getting your feet wet, so there’s no need to pay money for Easel Pro, yet. You can spend unlimited time planning and designing in Easel Pro, and you are given four 24-hour periods each month to run your carves in for free. That’s more than enough time to tinker with as a hobbyist. If you outgrow your 4 free days/month, you can start looking into other software with more capabilities and fewer bugs.

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You need…
a good solid table/workbench for the machine.
a good dust collection system.
order the larger eccentric nuts and use those, not the tiny ones they give you.
buy some loctite and use it when you assemble.
Easel is great for beginners, it’s free.
Don’t expect to carve perfectly the first ‘several’ times. You will need to adjust and calibrate your machine…and you’ll make mistakes.
Read, read, read all the beginner posts here.

Have fun!


hahaha… My workshop was a former stables and has horse-stall-high panels on the walls which create ledges around the room. One of these ledges is my “wall of shame”. It’s quite full now.


I wonder how many of us have a wall of shame, I have a few messed up carves on my wall I hung up to remind me of what to check. :wink:

shipping has been free recently, I didnt pay a dime for any of the stuff they shipped me, including the 1000mm wasteboard.

Thanks a lot to everyone’s responses! I agree that I will need a large area for my wall of sham, but as long as I am having fun doing it I don’t mind.


That’s what I thought, per Zach, that is the rule.

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Tell me if I am wrong on this, but if using the VCarve Desktop you only get a 24" x 24" work area. If that is the case, anything over the 500x500 would be pointless, correct? Since you would have to tile anything over 24" anyways? I understand that the Pro version does not have a limit, is that correct?

The 500 x 500 has a cut area of about 12 x 12, the 750 about 21.5 x 21.5 and the 1000 about 31.5 x 31.5.

You can tile the project and do larger projects. Just do it in small sections