Poll: Ideal size machine

What would the ideal size be for the work area of a router style 3d carving machine that you could use in a home, garage, or small studio workshop type environment?

  • 500mm x 500mm
  • 12" x 24"
  • 750mm x 750mm
  • 1000mm x 1000mm
  • 24" x 48"

0 voters

Write in votes are accepted and will be added if you reply to this post with your proposals.

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I was actually thinking the other day a work area (actual work area) of 48"x48" would be great. This way you could just throw a half sheet of plywood / MDF on! I guess MDF is more like 97x49, so maybe 50" x 50" would be better!


I agree

Hi Zach,

I voted for 1000 x 1000, but an ideal size for me, and the work I do would be 1800 x 1000, as I sometimes need to create larger items.

All the best


Unlike most people on here who seem to be into signs, I’m into boat building. Ultimately, I want to be able to do a full 4 by 8 sheet of plywood. I’m most likely going to use the black Friday deal to take it up to a Y of 1800 ( or 1500 forget the max makerslide length).

However, from a marketing perspective, I think a 1K by 1K is about as big as you want to get in a “home, garage, or small studio workshop type environment?”

I also think it would be nice if the advertising was based on the expected cutting area, with a note about machine size, as I honestly thing the current way is a little misleading.

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It won’t let me edit the poll after the first 5 minutes. :unamused:

Let’s collect all the proposed sizes (I should have done that first) and I’ll redo the poll. So I’m hearing

1800x 1000
50" x 50"

@Andy4us on our webpage it says:

"Build the size you need

Carving circuit boards or skateboards? Choose the size that fits your life (and workshop). The standard 500mm rails give you about 300 x 300mm (12 x 12") work area.

The larger 1000mm option gives you 800 x 800mm (31" x 31") to work with — enough for a full-size longboard."

What is misleading? How would you re-write it to be more clear?


You ask for ideal 3D size but you only gave choices for 2D by not including Z axis in you poll. When I bought my machine I expanded it to 1000X1800 so I can fit a 1/4 sheet of plywood in it to machine model boat frames, hull plating, superstructures and decks.
I also designed and machined Y axis end plates that are 50 mm taller than stock. This gives me over 100 mm of Z head room.

Ariel, WA

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It really depends on what kind of materials you work with and what you’re trying to make.

For making smaller items out of Al, it might make sense to keep the machine smaller so it’s stiffer. A 12"x12" work area would be nice as it possible to get stock readily in that size. Also factor in another couple of inches around that for clamping said stock. So let’s say a 12"x12" cutting area with a 14-16"x 14-16" workspace to accommodate clamping.

For wood work, it really depends on what you make; small items, signs, cabinet doors, guitar bodies, etc.

Then you have to factor in how much room you actually have in the shop for said machine.

I’m thinking I’ll eventually upgrade my machine to a 750mm X axis and 1000 Y axis to accommodate a mix of Al and wood work. The X axis will have the steel reinforcement mod and the Y will have a few supports along the length to help stiffen and support if from sagging.

@DavidSohlstrom it was too many variables. I was first going to nail down X and Y and then talk about Z separately.

@KamilSteglinski it does seem like a dedicated Aluminum machine might be better than an all purpose machine since you could focus on what is important (stiffness, chip clearing, lube, etc).

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Fair enough.

A machine designed to handle nonferrous metal machining will machine wood and plastics with out problems. A machine designed for wood and plastic may have trouble with nonferrous metals.

Ariel, WA

I built my unit as 1800x1000. I need 36" for several parts, this is why I extended they Y axis.

Optimally I would like to be able to slide a 1/2 sheet of MDF onto the work surface, (a full sheet would just be too large for my shop). With my current configuration I can slide 1/4 sheets of MDF onto the worksurface.

I really think the 1800x1000 is a great option. So that is what my actual vote would be for.

Here is a pic of how I supported the Y axis

Maybe I’m missing something, why do you need 4 axes? It looks like the hot wire cutter only uses 2 axes, essential Y and Z, which I would think you could flip the re-purpose the X axis to be the Z, and then you would be able to still use a program like Easel to control it.

I know I’m probably am missing something, but just from the above video, it looks like it would be doable with the gShield or the X-Controller.

Could you use the X and the Z axes both in the Z direction? You would still only need 3 axes then. Sorry for all the questions, but I’m genuinely interested, I’m just trying to understand!

You’re right, thank you for explaining that to me!!

I still vote for 50"x50" cut-able area and a rack and pinion drive system would be nice too! Basically what I’ve just described it a machine I would like to build myself in the future!

@Zach_Kaplan have a look at this , http://www.rockler.com/cnc-shark-hd-20-with-extended-63in-bed

Their description is in many ways opposite to yours. They talk about capacity, and then point out the extended bed to help with clamping. X-Carve is almost always discussed in length of makerslide, not capacity. The ordering process is like that too, you buy a 1K by 1K machine, not 800 by 800 capacity. Ask anyone on this forum, and they will say they have a 1K by 1K, not an 800 by 800 etc.

I understand, given how you have grown your company, that you are selling parts as much as you are selling full kits. Ultimately, as customers, we’re trying to solve problems though, and so capacity becomes the deciding factor. As you ( hopefully ) continue to grow, and you move more out of the hobbyist/diy market,a and a product that more mainstream, customers who need a prebuilt etc machine, then capacity I think really needs to be the main numbers pushed to the customer.

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It kind of either way though. I don’t see any problem with describing the machine by the rail size, especially since it is described as have a smaller cut capacity. As long as someone reads about the product, even a small amount, they will find out what they are getting.

When you buy a 2x4 from the store, it’s 1.5 x 3.5, the product is described by its nominal value. This method of naming a product is not uncommon, a potential customer should do the appropriate research prior to purchasing.

@Andy4us it’s an interesting point that I hadn’t thought about in that context. For Carvey we say it’s 8"x12" not 21.7" x 16.6"

However the other big question we get from customers is how much table space is the machine going to take up.

You are correct we started selling the MakerSlide before we ever sold a machine and we sell the MakerSlide by the size of the rail. So when we started selling machines that had the rails it was natural to say this was a machine that used this size rail. In the beginning there was a bigger focus on building the machine than on using the machine for some output. As the product line has evolved over time the focus is definitely shifting to what you can make with the machine rather than making the machine.

With Carvey it is a machine that comes assembled from the get go so the length and width of the footprint of the machine wasn’t really a consideration in describing it other than saying it’s a “Tabletop” machine.

@Zach_Kaplan , I think you have one of the hardest jobs in growing a company. You are coming out of a culture/market of hobbyists, the Shapeoko market, and bring up something that is to have broader appeal. I don’t just mean the Carvey, but also the son of X-Carve and beyond. It’s the broaden market and appeal, without alienating the people who helped build your company in the first place problem. I really first learnt about the X-Carve from the April Wilkerson video, and then I started watching all the other video’s, like Steve Carmichael, so probably August of this year. The grass roots promotion resulted in at least one sale, but just as important, I was never exposed to Inventables prior to that, and the history.

Even in the limited time I’ve been exposed I see that shift, even down to the new front page graphic of the guitar body and the pile of saw dust. That in itself is very evocative, something to get the brain juices flowing, “what can I build…”, and is probably the right shift for you.

Whichever way you go in the future, there will always be people complaining it was much easier when the machines were just based on the length of the makerslide !


@Andy4us the challenge you describe is something I think about a lot. It’s one of the biggest challenges we face as a company.

I consider it a personal mission to make sure our early customers and fans do not feel alienated as new folks join us in this mission. The early customers helped build the company. They helped build the community. Their feedback has helped us build the products. As we open our arms to new folks who are just finding out about Inventables and 3D carving for the first time I believe many of these new folks will be looking to our early customers as guides.

I’m observing many of the early customers becoming leaders in the community and helping to educate and support newer folks. This happens in lots of ways from answering questions in your own communities, to answering questions on this forum, to showcasing what the machines and software can do. Some of them have even come to work with us at Inventables! The earliest customers have technical chops, vision, and for the most part lots of patience. They tend to be people who wanted to start using the product as soon as it became available regardless of any hurdles faced in the process. They had quite a bit of context for what we were doing and how our product compared to the status quo in terms of capability, price, and ease of use without asking lots of questions. In my opinion they are the soul of the customer community.

If we can navigate these waters successful, we have the opportunity to build something for the ages…together.


X/Y is fine as is, Z needs to be much larger

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