Thanks John - the ‘turnkey’-ability is definitely appealing. I was a bit surprised that the prices on the websites were bare-bones. Start adding the spindle, controllers, and so forth and things add up pretty quickly.
Solid points RE cost and what you get w/ the XC, Justin.
I was actually curious about the most recent kits / upgrades that now come with the XC and how people are now finding performance. I’m not as concerned about speed as I am about accuracy and consistency.
Thanks as well for the upgrades list. Could I trouble you to point out what the upgrades would do for me (in view of guitar making): “CNC4Newbies Z slider, 2 pieces of wide makerslide, order true Gates GT belts (stock 2mm pitch, 6mm width), go get a set of Charley’s 1” lift plates with holes for the wide makerslide in them and build the machine using wide makerslide for all rails."
In terms of individual needs, can I ask what you are using your machine for and how the upgraded components you mention tie in? Thanks!
Points taken, Larry. Thanks for sharing. Again, I really want to spend minimal time ‘fussing’ so that I can get back to building what I love. Part of the appeal (and why I’ve been dreaming of the XC for several years) is the plug-and-play aspect as well as the community.
My only hesitation as of late came after the comments from the CNC/Luthier FB groups regarding skipping the ‘introductory’ CNC phase. This sounded analogous to my older buddies telling me to ‘skip the tent-trailer phase and go straight for a hard-walled trailer’. As a note, I didn’t listen and we sold the tent trailer the same season ;).
I only have one more CNC on the table that I’d love to get some feedback on. I’ll post that here now that I’ve read and replied back to everyone. Cheers.
So this is the only contender given that the Axiom and CNC Parts (Desktop PRO) machines are in the 5k-8k range (US).
The price point would have me at the top of my range ($5750 CDN or ~$4370 USD).
The specs are listed half-way down the page. If anyone is so inclined, I’d love to get some thoughts on this. Forgive me if this is obvious but the sales rep said it would run off the standards (F360, Aspire, VCarve) and I could just plug a thumb drive into the onboard ‘drive’ once the artwork / gcode was generated… I think I have that right ;). The unit runs on TBI ball screw drives
As far as I understand, the pricing includes everything needed save for the waste-board.
Thanks for all the input guys.
@MikeWhitney. Go to Paw paw’s projects on this forum and you will see most of my projects. I use the machine just about every other day. I carve mostly wood with occasionally acrylic
heh that sounds very much like marketing speak. Obviously they aren’t ‘printer’ parts (maybe 3D printer, but that would be a compliment), nor a 20k machining shop beast… none of them are.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Linear Z slide: Replaces stock Z which can have issues with flex and “give” which will produce uneven cuts and, for me, I could never get a repeatable Z travel steps/mm. You’re also acceleration limited, in my experience, so your 3D carves will be much quicker/smoother because you don’t have to slow down X and Y as much to get Z motion (GRBL, and most control systems) are acceleration limited so the higher possible acceleration, the “smoother” the motion when exercising all axis. I beleive most guitar bodies are 3D contoured so it should be beneficial.
- Wide Makerslide for Y axis: Most people at the 1000 mm have some flex/give over the Y axis. It’s a wide span and only a 20mm x 40mm piece of extrusion. Changing that to the wide slide greatly increases the rigidity and reduces the flex. I just did this upgrade and can already tell the difference. All machining would benefit from increase rigidity.
- True Gates GT belts: The quality of the real thing can’t be beat by any of the Chinese knockoffs that you see for sale on any site. You need the real thing like is used in true industrial machines. I also went with the 3rd Gen GT belts which are improved over the 2nd Gen belts that everyone uses. They are a little thicker and appear to be stronger due to that and also the different materials used. They are $5 for a belt per axis and well worth it IMO. You shouldn’t have to worry about belts breaking or snapping a belt during semi-aggressive carves.
- Charley’s lift plates: These are 1/4" aluminum replacement Y end plates that add an extra 1" of lift to the machine to support thicker materials. I actually went with 2" lift on my machine so I have no concerns over material thickness. The lift plates pair very nicely with the linear Z slide.
If you plan to do these “upgrades” from the start of your build, you’ll start off in a happier place, in my opinion, and less likely to be frustrated. Plus the tear-down required for some of these upgrades may take the machine out of commission for a period of time so you wouldn’t have to worry about it.
When I bought my machine 2 years ago, it was still the 1st generation and I did my research prior to purchasing and had my upgrades waiting to be done before I even assembled my machine so I didn’t “waste” time. This was before some of the upgrades I’ve mentioned were available or else, based on what I would read on the forum now, I would have bought them from the start.
Awesome, Justin - this is helpful.
If I do go the XCarve route, I’ll definitely order these parts to have on-hand and add during assembly.
Are all the mentioned upgrade components from different off-site vendors or are these community members - that is, can I dig into the forums to order these parts?
Also, are the X,Y,Z upgrades still recommended given the upgrades on the latest generation of the machine?
Great info - thanks!
Make sure that you order the correct size upgrades for the size of the machine you are buying or upgrading. When you upgrade here and there and order parts, you may end up with parts that are too short for the size you end up with…ie. I ordered limit switches for a 750 X axis and added a 1000mm Y. Well the switch set is designed for 750mm. I had to send it back and order the 1000 set, and deal with the bit of extra cable on the X. I probably could have had a custom set put together but didn’t want the extra hassle. I ordered the Shapeoko2 to Early xcarve upgrade from the list shown and then had to order more parts for the current upgrade. Shipping was 10 dollars or more each time. Now I know better. I’d add extra nuts, washers and bolts to the order too, especially the weird size things you can’t get at the hardware store. If you assemble the Xcontroller, things aren’t necessarily symmetrical, so be aware of that when you assemble it. I found that out on one of the last steps. Stupid operator error. I’m surprised that Inventables doesn’t have a prepackaged extra nut and bolt set to order. When a locknut falls off the bench never to be seen again, you’ll be glad you had a couple spares handy. I just completed all the gcode to cut out a 72 tele deluxe body, well at least 1" deep ( that’s the cutter I have) using the UGS and not easel. Monday will be the test run. It’s all 2.5d and should take maybe 45 minutes to do. I just got finished doing a practice run on all the 3 different routing files I put together for it.
I will say this, instead of doing all these upgrades, I would probably just purchase a Shapeoko 3 XXL. These were not available when the current generation of the X-Carve was released. The Shapeoko 3 XXL has most of the common upgrades people due to their X-carve (stiffer extrusions, 9mm belts, larger steppers), it’s way bigger, and also has some nice design features like inboard steppers, which the X-carve lacks. If this was an option when I purchased, I might have gone that route instead. They are more expensive, though, at around $1,825 with a Makita RT0701C. But as far as the X-carve competition, this is definitely it. When it comes to V-wheel based CNC machines, this is about as much money as I would want to realistically spend on them. Once you get much more than this, you really should be looking into linear bearing, screw, or rack and pinion motion machines. V-wheels are budget based and limiting as far as rigidity.
I agree with the comment above (by @Pyrex Pyrex) completely: "It will do just about anything you need it to, just a little slower. "
If you want to seriously do many guitars, you probably need a better machine. If you are doing it partly for the enjoyment of doing it, and aren’t in a rush, the x-carve has served me fine. I do have to baby it some… don’t mind much.
This isn’t a serious guitar, but it plays, and I’m happy with the results: https://goo.gl/photos/Sm87KDGrapChRD2Q6
I also made this, and it required some pretty good precision: https://photos.app.goo.gl/gAy6Pl9RTyCVPQnG3
Thanks Pyrex. I’m leaning that way based on your comments about the upgrades. You mention the Makita - any thoughts on that over the Dewalt? I’ve watched the video on YT comparing the two and it seems like 6 of one…
Robot Shop seems like the most economical way to go to get the machine to Canada. They include the Makita adapter sleeve but no router. Amazon.ca has the Makita for $119 but the Dewalt is about $50 more. All I’ve really taken away from the comparisons is that the Makita has a bit shallower ‘reach’ as far as z-axis.
Nice work, Jeff! I’ve made 5 cigar box guitars myself (no CNC though). Good points in your comment; I’m not a mass-production shop but do want something as robust as possible without getting into the 5K and up range. I think this will be a good ‘starter’ machine to get my feet wet and it seems that many guys are able to push the limits of their machines. No doubt, it will serve me well for many years and if it comes time to upgrade, it will still be of value to someone.
I’ve owned both and used both extensively. The makita hands down. The Dewalt 611 is loud as hell. It’s quite loud when running. The Makita you can have a conversation in front of the machine at normal volume. It also has a considerably broader rpm spectrum, and is ideal for aluminum. The dewalt RPM is 16k-27k, while the makita is 8.6k-30k, twice the range. I tend to use it on it’s low setting for most of my work, but it’s quieter than the dewalt at any speed. I’ve also found the brushes last longer, it’s lighter, and it can accept 3/8" collets. But honestly, the noise alone is worth it to me. It can do everything the Dewalt can. I still have the Dewalt, but it’s used as a handheld trim router now. One of the best upgrades I’ve done so far.
Awesome - ‘sold’ ;). Thanks @Pyrex
UPDATE - pulled the trigger on the Shapeoko XXL and Makita today - feeling excited. Thanks for all the support and comments along the way.
In one sense I feel like I’m ‘cheating’ on the XCarve, but the communities seem pretty tight knit.
Let us know how it goes! Congrats!
@Pyrex how does the software compare between the X and the Shapeoko? I am also going back and forth between the 1000mm X and the Shapeoko XXL.
Software is interchangeable with the exception of Carbide Motion being exclusive to the SO3 (and Nomad).
Easel can generate gcode that’ll work on both.
Carbide create can generate gcode that’ll work on both.
Easel can control a Shapeoko 3 or an X-Carve.
Carbide Motion is specific to Carbide3D machines.
Both machines run grbl, which is open source and can be modified to suit your needs.