[Resolved] - Squaring X Carriage Front to Back

I’ve not been happy with the quality of cut I am getting from my X-Carve since I assembled it a few days ago. I am a guitar maker so cutting MDF for templates is something I need to do day in day out.

Ive attached an image showing the resulting cuts I’m getting using a 6mm (1/4") end mill cutting very conservatively @ 1mm per pass (0.04") - Its pretty rough looking and there is no way I can use that.

I see everyone else seems to be getting really nice cuts into MDF so I started checking my machine over to see if anything was out of alignment.

Everything is in good shape except today I noticed that my X carriage is quite a way out of square front to back ( see photo ). I’m thinking that could well be the cause of my issues.

The X carriage is completely square left to right however as I followed the Tuning video.

I spent a lot of time making sure the table I built for this unit was completely flat. I’m thinking I am going to need some significant shims between the wasteroard in certain places to square it up to the X carriage ?

Suggestions ?



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Looks like your X Makerslide just needs to be rotated a bit (looking from the right side, a bit CW). Is there any slop in the Y-plate holes to allow that?

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Hi Tony, thanks for your reply.

The front makerslide ( with the X-Carve logo) definitely has a gap at the bottom as seen in the photos. The back makerslide is nice and square to the table however,

I cannot see how I can possibly rotate it as there is no play at all in the front makerslide. Even backing the threaded mounting screws out does not allow any rotation…

One thing I see is you have that end mill sticking way to far out of the collet. Slide it up in the collet so just the flutes are sticking out. Are you climb milling or conventional milling it will make a difference.


Thanks for your reply David. Thats a good point but I just happened to take that photo while I had an extra long end mill in there but this issue remains no matter what end mill I use.

I think the issue is the front makerslide is on an angle causing the bit not to be square to the cutting surface. and I can see no way to make any adjustments to it.

Sometimes a video’s easier to explain things - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMW6Y7NLVQM&feature=youtu.be

A little file work on the offending holes. The way we tram a milling machine is to get a test dial indicator and mount it on a L shaped rod in the spindle. You want the indicator to have a 6" radius from the center of the spindle.
Next step is to move the indicator down so it just touches the table. Now swing the indicator from X+ to X- 180 degrees. check what the difference is . You are shooting for no change. Make adjustments as needed. Next go from Y + to Y- 180 degrees and check the difference again you are shooting for no change. Make adjustments as needed. Then recheck for X
I would say if you can get down to .005" change you are looking good for these machines.


I think that there may be some way to adjust this possibly with the eccentric nuts used for the v-wheels on the y plates? are they all the same tightness on the each side, if not then they whole gantry could be tilted as shown in the photos and videos?
not really sure what else it could be, I will also now have to check my machine to make sure it is square!

OK, I got it all sorted out :smile:

I spent yesterday pulling most of the machine apart to get the Y plates off. I was able to enlarge one of the lower Y plate mounting holes which gave me the adjustment I needed to square the front piece of Makerslide.

Re-assembled it and everything is square now.

I have the same issue as Dave, just not quite as severe. Have not resorted to tearing down and enlarging Y-Plate holes but may soon in the near future. Added some electrical tape as shims to the universal mounting plate. Still using a dremel type tool but have the quite cut spindle and will want to correct this in the near future.


Did squaring this help with cutting your templates?

Yes it did - that and by also taking smaller passes (0.75mm per pass) made all the difference in the world to the cut quality. Watch my YouTube video and you can see the results towards the end -

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Ive actually watched all of your videos. Im a huge fan of your work David. You have inspired me to build my own guitars. Thats why Im looking at getting an X Carve. Im sure it will be invaluable with fretboard inlays and cutting out templates. By the way, have you attempted to use the XCarve to make a carved body top? Similar to the carved top of a PRS or Les Paul?


When enlarging the mounting hole, did you essentially make it oval, like the the other two for the back maker slide? Did you file the hole or use a dermal-type tool?

I’ve discovered I have the exact same problem, as well as the X rail is not perpendicular to the left Y rail.

I went ahead and enlarged the bottom y-plate mounting holes and all is good. After rechecking my outer alignment (squaring all four corners of the y-slides), the x-axis is now perfectly perpendicular to the y-axis.

Another item that was causing my wasteboard to not be perfectly flat is that when I installed the insert nuts into the wasteboard, I did not ensure the front row was completely recessed. The flanges of the insert nuts were hitting the frame corner braces, making the wasteboard pop up, ever so slightly.

I just discovered that my x-carve is not precisely square front to back. I only noticed it when I was using a large-diameter (1.25 inch) bottom cleaning bit to flatten my waste board. Over the 1.25 span of the bit, the very slight forward tilt of the x-carriage was enough to cause the bit to cut a “washboard” pattern with ridges 0.004" high. Rather than enlarge the holes on the y-plates, I am going to try to level fix it by inserting shims between the v-wheels and the spindle carriage on the z-axis. I will post to let everyone know how it goes.


the problem you are seeing is referred to as being out of TRAM. This is where your spindle is not perfectly perpendicular with your waste board. It really shows up when you use a large diameter cutter. If you see the washboard effect in the Y axis direction the the spindle is tilted clock wise or counter clock wise when looking at the spindle from the front of the machine.

If you make the cuts using the X axis and see wash boarding then the spindle is tilted clock wise or counter clock wise when looking down the rails of the X axis.

The standard way to check this is to put a dial indicator on an arm in the spindle and rotate it around. You will see your reading change as you turn it around. when you can turn the indicator a full 360 degree with out seeing more than a couple of thou difference then your spindle is then in TRAM.

Hope this helps



Thanks. I watched a youtube video that showed the dial indicator method pretty clearly. I Think I am going to try it with a knife edge machinist square against a 1/4 inch bit chucked into my spindle. I have a dial indicator, but I don’t really have a way to mount it under the gantry. Plus, I’m not sure it would fit under there in a way that would allow much movement.

Since I already have a brass shim assortment, I “trammed” - (thanks @DavidSohlstrom) my x carve in the ZY plane by inserting shims between the z-axis makerslide and the X carriage. This worked fine, but I had to insert about 0.75mm of shims to get the job done. @InventablesXcarve, @Zach_Kaplan, I think ZY tramming is something that should be made easier in the next iteration of the X-carve.

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Had the same issue here. Unscrewed and squared it, all good now.