Potential buyer inquiries about: leveling Z axis, dewalt 611 runout, and X/Y backlash

Alright, I’ve been doing a lot of research and reading, studying the assembly instructions, watching reviews, etc… and there are only two questions I have that either make or break the X-Carve as the machine I will be using on a very unique project with specific requirements.

Firstly, I am curious as to what people have been doing about leveling the spindle along the horizontal axis (ie: tilting it forward/backward, around the left-to-right axis) beyond unscrewing the self-tapping screws and drilling out the holes on the gantry plates, which just seems a little more intense and risky than I am willing to deal with just yet. I am wondering if possibly the actual spindle mount could somehow be shimmied or something to that effect? Anybody have or think of any other solutions?

Another issue that I’m struggling to find information about is the DeWalt 611 itself. Now, I’m not doing PCB milling, but what I am doing is (relatively) delicate work where tolerances don’t necessarily have to be held very tight, but X/Y backlash and spindle runout beyond 5 thousandths of an inch is no good. I’m wondering if anybody has been doing any fine detail work with the 611 as their spindle? If you are, but not with the 611, why not and what are you using instead?

Judging by all the review videos from just a few months ago that have the 24v DC spindle, it was relatively recent that Inventables stopped carrying them. What was the reason for this? Would a 24v spindle be a better option for fine/delicate work? I don’t need a lot of torque, as I will be milling aluminum only a few thousandths of an inch at a time at very low feed rates using very small end mills (.063", .031")

I’d like to get the 611 spindle though, for the sake of being able to do larger projects that require more power, if I ever needed to, but for now the task at hand requires being able to do very precise work.

Thanks guys, I’m waiting for a check to come through so I can get my x-carve, and I just want to make sure that I don’t need to get a different spindle instead.

as temporary fix for my project, to straighten the spindle, I cut a gift card in half and slipped it into the bottom of the z in between the extrusion and the plate. it’s not perfect, but it did help a fair amount for less than a minutes worth of work. I will be looking into doing a few mods I have read about when lurking on the forums after cutting out the gifts I am working on.

You can calibrate, level and square all parts of the machine with a bit of creativity.
X/Y parallel should be a matter of loosening the bolts on one end of the Y extrusions and running the gantry back and forth.
Z axis tilt around the Y axis can be done with the 4 bolts that attach the Z axis to the gantry, Z axis tilt around the X axis can be done with shims.
Cutting base can be levelled with shims, or as most of us prefer just facing of some spoil board.

The DWP611 will have less runout than the old stock spindle. With Elaire collets i have around 0.001" runout.

The belt driven system shouldnt have any noticeable backlash and if you lower the default 500mm/s^2 accel to something like 250 or less the movement will be so smooth that even rigidity slack wont be an issue.

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When I replaced my 24V spindle with the 611, I ended up having to shim the top of the Z axis out about .097" to account for a ~.012" ‘step’ when I was using my 3/4" wasteboard cutter. Without shimming, the offset would have been barely noticeable using a 1/8" bit, but the 6x larger bit made it more visible. All I had to do was replace the screws with some screws that were a little longer and use pieces of business card as shims. It was very easy to do.

As for the 24VDC spindle, they had a batch of bad spindles that accidentally got sent out to customers. After 8-12 hours of use, they would typically start to fail, causing lost steps from the electrical noise and drastically increasing the runout. They were able to get a corrected batch, but I think they decided that it would be better for the customers to get something a little better. The spindles were very low on torque and speed, and made jobs take a lot longer than necessary. I actually compared the 24VDC spindle to the 611 in this thread: 24V Spindle vs. 611 Router - Quantified. The 611 project was 7 to 17 times faster, and the cuts on the bottom and edges were all cleaner with the 611 than the good spindle.

If you’re milling aluminum, I would suggest using the 611 or a similar router. I doubt the 24VDC spindle could handle it, but the 611 did an aluminum job just fine for me. I used a .125" end mill and was able to cut it dry with .1 mm deep / 800 mm/min passes. The edges were beautiful.

Runout on the 24VDC spindle would increase if you pushed it too hard, because it’s pretty weak. I don’t know for sure what the runout on the 611 is, but you can always try to minimize it by using the precision collets from Precise Bits at http://www.precisebits.com/products/equipment/dewalt_611_kits.asp?tsPT=!!!Dewalt_611!!!Kit!!!PG!!!. There are other collets out there from companies like Elaire, but Precise Bits had the highest tolerance.

The X-Carve will do some precision work once you get it dialed in, but remember that it is primarily a hobby machine. If you are looking for the precision of a $10,000 machine, you’re not going to get it. But the X-Carve will get you darn close, I have mine dialed in to cut within .005", often a little closer, and am always looking for a way to get it a little better.

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Please oh please don’t spend 70-80$ for a Precise Bits collet, its pointless. With the quality of the router and the lack of stiffness of the x-carve collet runout will not make a difference. I bought the elaire collets because i wanted 1/8 and they’re pretty cheap, otherwise i would have stuck to the dewalt collet.


I second this recommendation. I measured the total indicated runout of the router without the collet (inside the bore) and mine is already about a thousandth. Even with a perfect collet, I don’t think I’ll ever get better than that.

Edit: Adding the stock collet does raise the TIR to 1.5 thousandths, for what that’s worth. Have not measured it yet with my new 1/8" Elaire collet.

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Thanks for all the replies guys. I was opting to go for a spindle from Zen tools, as opposed to the DNP611, for the fine work I will be doing but I really want to have the DNP611 as well in the event that some other larger project ideas come to mind, and it would be great if I could just use the same spindle for both the fine and the heavier work.

Now I can save a few bucks on a whole other spindle and mounting hardware. Thanks!

By the way, here’s another conversation about squaring the spindle to the work surface: If you don’t have one already, getting a dial indicator will be really helpful… and if it comes with a test indicator, you can measure your runout. :smile: