Purchase and upgrade questions

I am considering buying an X-Carve and would like some help with a couple questions I have before I jump in. I have been reading the forums and have a couple questions that I have not seen direct answers to. First a little background about myself and what I intend to use the X-Carve for. I am a hobbyist woodworker and love the capabilities of the of the X-Carve that I have seen so far. I am also very comfortable with electronics and wiring and not intimidated by the assembly process at all. With that in mind I am hoping that I can get some answers to the following questions:

  • I would like to start out with the capability to handle 4’ pieces in the X direction. What additional parts would I need to make that happen?
  • As a follow up what is the best way to stiffen the support rail for the x axis?
  • I see several people saying they wished the supplied wires were longer to allow more mounting options for the power supply. Is there any reason I could not provide my own wiring allowing me to modify the lengths to meet my needs?

Thanks for any help you can give.

You better call or email directly Inventables. You need more than rails. Belts, cables, Grbl settings. They can give you specific information. Last discussion I remember was, they were saying we can’t cut rails or maker slides for custom size.

No problem. I bought everything from Inventables as this was my first CNC machine. Just wanted to make sure I had the bases covered.

With that said, I bought my own wire to extend the power supply away from the machine. I added two feet to each dimension called for in the instructions. I wish I had added more.

For the stepper motors you can use 18/4 shielded security wire. I also bought some 18/2 shielded security wire for the spindle (I got the stock spindle, but they don’t sell that anymore because there were lots of problems). You can use 22/2 shielded security wire for the homing/limit switches.

That should give you a good starting point.

I thought I had seen somewhere that they were working on a system that would give me the 4’ I want. That being said I would be fine buying extra length rails and cutting it down myself.

The stepper wiring they use is simply 18 gauge, 4 conductor shielded wire, typically used in alarm systems. You can track my long blogg-ish post “Cheapskates build” for more details, but if you purchase the materials at retail, you will spend considerably more on the wiring kit than purchasing it directly from Inventables. Of course, if you are expanding to 4 feet, you will need more wire anyway, so it will be more expensive by default.

You mention wanting to expand it in X, but don’t say about Y. You may want to re-consider which axis you extend. It is much easier to extend the Y axis as the extra support required can be supported by the table you mount the xCarve to. This doesn’t add extra mass to the gantry, and so the stock motors will function. All of the stock gantry parts and pieces will fit. Can you rotate your design (and work piece) 90 degrees and use a machine with a 4 foot long by 31 inch wide area? If so, you only NEED 2 longer maker slides (Just as well go the full 1800mm if you are extending in Y direction), and 2 long belts. plus extra length on your wires. It would be NICE to have additional drag chain to support the wiring running along the side of the machine. For non-stock parts you will need to identify some method of supporting the Y axis makerslide periodically along it’s length to keep it from sagging.

Granted, if you are basically wanting to cut parts out of a full sheet of plywood, thinking you could just slide it further under the machine, this won’t work.


I am indeed looking to have the ability to break down full sheets of plywood. It seems to me that if I can get a setup that will allow at least 4’ in the X direction then the Y could be covered by setting up a system that uses multiple steps such as a system of stops set a 2’ intervals.

I understand that by increasing the length of the rails I will also need to provide some additional support / rigidity to them. I think that since I am primarily intending to use this for woodworking the concerns about possible deflection and chatter of the tooling would be minimized. With that in mind I might go ahead and order the large system now and then once I have had the opportunity to get a better feel for it expand from there.

In a standard machine the the carrage travels in the X axis direction and the gantry travel is the Y axis.
On my machine I extended the makerslides on the Y axis to 1800mm and renamed it X and renamed the old X to Y.
I can now cut on a sheet of material that is 31" by 62" but because I need mid span supports on my X axis rails I can not cut on a full sheet of 4’X8’

If you extend the pair of rails on a standard X axis you will have to strengthen the gantry as much as possible to keep the carrage from sagging or twisting.

You will want to dump the stock spindle and move up to a trim router or a air or water cooled VFD spindle. These all weigh a lot more than the stock spindle and that is the reason to strengthen the gantry.

You may even have to go so far as to make new end plates and carrage so you can use much larger extrusions that will handle the weight of your spindle.

You would be able to pass a full sheet of material through the machine and do progressive cuts to machine the whole sheet. Much thought would have to go into how you maintain the alignment when moving the sheet of material.

There are CNC routers on the market that will handle a full sheet of material but they have a cost much greater than a X-Carve. If your plans include moving from hobbyist to pro then one of these machines may better fit your needs.

Hope this helps


When I first thought about getting mine I was eager to do a full sheet of plywood too.
The thing is, that will be a loooooong carve.

Do you already have a specific project on mind or just want the capacity?

My advice, if you do not have a specific project in mind, is go with the XC-1000 to start.
(Upgraded steppers, trim router, stiffing mod)
There is a learning curve with CNC and you will want to stick to smaller projects until you get the hang of it.
Once you have gotten the hang of your machine you will have a MUCH better idea of how to upgrade it to fit your size needs.
Also by waiting there is a good chance that someone else will do a size mod and have good advice on how to implement it. (Like the stiffing mod) :wink:

(I eventually plan on extending the X axis as long as I can, probably the full 1800mm (max length of the maker slide) for doing longer planks and such. But I think I will leave the Y axis as is.)

When you say “extending the X axis” do you mean the pair of rails that make up the gantry.
As I said above I extended the fixed rails to 1800 so I can put mid span supports on them down to the waste board. There are thread on the forum where folks have done this and posted photos.


Yeah that is what I meant, the fixed rails which would be the Y axis I guess :slight_smile:

I also assumed that the Y axis would remain fixed. That would allow you to add some more permanent support and bracing to those rails.