Poll: Ideal size machine

My dream is to have a 48" x 98" cutting area to cut out boat parts from full sheets of plywood. In college, I built large XY tables to cut out scale models of Stonehenge from granite with water jets.

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Small world !!! I was at Stonehenge this afternoon!! :slight_smile: It was part of my son’s school project…I have to say…even after visiting the henge over 20-30 times over the years, the ingenuity of our forefathers still amazes me!!!

I agree, I haven’t tried to do the math, but it doesn’t SEEM out of reach to me to get a longer Z screw, Z slide and bigger/beefier Y end plates, and get the usable depth up closer to 4 inches. Probably have to tune some of the GRBL settings also to get proper motor speeds / axis rates, etc.

Now I know it won’t be quite that simple, the X axis end plates probably have to be beefed up also, that makes the whole thing heavier.
My projects are mainly wood, and the NEMA 23 motors haven’t shown any sign of being challenged by anything I’ve done (except when I try to ram the bit through the table without turning on the spindle, you can see the whole Z axis “lean”), but then I’m a newbie with this machine.

There are folks on the forums building/altering their machines in much beefier ways, but I think there is probably a happy(-ish) medium that really wouldn’t cost that much.

The other issue I’ve run into is that my machine isn’t sitting on a rock-solid, dead-flat table, and I’m seeing flex in the waste board / extrusion assembly. I’ve added some shims, but I can see a torsion box base in my future.

Hmm, I wonder if the aluminium channel waste boards that some folks are using are stiff enough to solve the problem? Probably not without careful shimming, I may as well build the torsion box.

Well, I’ve rambled on quite a bit more than I’d planned…

4" is not out of reach.

I upgraded my system to 1800mm long. I attached the 20mmX40mm extrusion to the side. Here is a pic.

The end caps have been removed and you can see the 4 pieces of MDF that the y axis is secured to. This in itself gives me almost 3". At the bottom of the X gantry carriage, I have 4 3/4". So with everything I have right at 4" height capacity from the surface of the table top.

I used extrusions and MDF to make my torsion style box. This is a temporary table that I will use to build the final all wood torsion box table and the cabinets underneath the X Carve. Once I have built the cabinets and rebuilt the table I will be adding 2 more pieces of 3/4" MDF to the YAxis rails. This now puts the capacity up to almost 6".

I designed part of my table top to lift off. This gives me an access hole for taller items. With this access hole, I can engrave on pieces up to 36" tall. Of course I will still only have approximately 6" that can be carved at one time but this allows taller items to have carved surfaces.

If you need to stiffen the waste board, you could add the metal extrusions to the table like you mentioned, to get added ridgidity add a piece of 3/4" MDF to the bottom side of the table. With the extrusion on one side and the MDF on the other, your table should stiffen up and not flex nearly as much if any at all.

Hope this helps

Thanks! All things to keep in mind.


Not to hijack the thread, but I love Stonehenge. Makes me feel so young. I also love visiting as many other World Heritage sites as I can when. I also have a t-shirt that says “Stonehenge Rocks!”… :sunglasses:

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I voted for 750 x 750, but for me 24" x 24" cutting area would be perfect. I have been thinking about getting a 1000 x 1000 and cutting it down to fit the space I have available.

My first major mod is going to be adding a bit to the Z.

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I would like a 500mmX 1000mm machine, that would cover most every thing I would want.

I just purchased a fully loaded X-carve with the largest bed. That will be fine for most of my anticipated uses. But what I’d like to see is a kit or kits that can be used to extend work areas as long as I might ever want. I’d also like to see more depth in the Z-axis. What I want more than any of that, however, is a fourth axis so that a piece could be turned and shaped on all sides. I’m an artist working in various materials and media and I’d like to be able to fully sculpt a piece on all sides. If the X-carve had even a limited capability to step-rotate a piece of wood while simultaneously carving the piece in X, Y, and Z, it would be just marvelous! Carving chair legs like I used to turn on a lathe, but with intricate designs added which couldn’t be created on a lathe, is one example of what I could see this being used for. Probably some sort of polar coordinate system would need to be part of the driver software. But I image that could be coded without too much trouble.


Here’s a Project a few days ago of a wood phone charging cradle where they carved all 4 sides of the block by rotating the work piece in some sort of jig that kept things lined up with what I’m assuming was 4 different cut files. A very cool, low-tech solution to a 4th axis.

I would like to see a 48 by 48 i think if you was to make the slides for x and y one solid piece it would be strongier i have asked a local machine shop what a price would be to make them solid 3" all rails also if one was to have a second brace added to the origianl one there this may stop the machine from slippin on the one rail and bindin up if two were there i think it would solve this

How I can increase my work earia without do any change to my xcarve, I had 500.500 xcarve, and I need to carve wood more than 12"in y axis,and set x axis less than 12",

Extending Z TRAVEL, i.e, depth of cut, is not trivial. The longer the z-axis, the higher the moment about the gantry as a result of the cutting forces Read all about it here: http://www.cncrouterparts.com/ballscrew-z-axis-p-238.html. Really, the X-Carve is pushing it as is at 1000 mm with the 3.5" z-axis when cutting harder materials like aluminum and even wood. Plus you run into all sorts of other issues, like most 1/4" bits stop at about 2" long, for a reason (tool deflection).

My new machine, loosely Shapeoko 2/X-Carve based, will have 5" of z-axis travel but the gantry is probably on the order of 4x stiffer than the Makerslide gantry, and the carriage, y-axis plates, belts etc. all far beefier.

I reckon 1000 X 750 as a good size, (x,y).
That said is it possible to tell Easel the board is a custom size?

I would think 4 feet x 4 feet, with a Z axis usable work area of 5-7 inches.

@RichardMorley yes you can tell Easel any size you want.

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The cedar strip canoes are tempting.

Browsing cedar strip canoes was my original nudge towards adding a cnc router.

The strips can just be made on a regular router table, I have a bit from Rockler that will do both the bead and cove http://www.rockler.com/rockler-bead-cove-bits-for-canoe-building

I am working on some apps which I think will be useful for boat building, a pinned scarf joint, puzzle piece joining for panels etc. The scarf will get done first. This is what I am currently building, http://wharram.com/site/catalog/building-plans/coastal-trek-designs/hitia17 , although I also plan on building some stand up paddle boards this year as well.