Thoughts from those who have an X-Carve

I’m currently saving up for an X-Carve. Does anyone have any “lessons learned” or “wish I would have” thoughts they wouldn’t mind sharing? Things you wish you’d have bought initially or upgrades you didn’t need?
I’m a big fan of jumping in, head first. I’d like to make sure my investment pays off quickly and I don’t spin my wheels for too long.
thanks in advance!

Get the largest work area you can fit in your shop, get a good dust shoe to start with, and invest in a real dust collection system.

  1. Read about and do the X , Y , and Z mods. (The z mod done right is very benificial.) You want every axis as ridgid as possible.

  2. Read about and get the GT3 (or G3T i can never remember which is right.) Belts and pulleys. Open builds is a good source to buy. I think I got the 9mm wide ones. There is debate on if this does anything or not. I feel the deeper teeth and groves along with wider belt provides a better grip and reduces possible belt slippage.

  3. Along with the pulleys get better / beefier set screws. Search the forums for “pulley set screws”. In my opinion this is a must. And use blue Loctite. (This goes for any screw or nut that you need to keep tight.)

  4. Dust collection is a must. Get it figured out before you even start assembly. I thought I could get away without it. I thought just some more mess to clean up. But I quickly found out that I litterally had chips of wood fly into the belt and pulley causing it to “grind” and mess up a whole project.

  5. Make or figure out a dedicated space for the machine to live. It is nice to do this before you build your machine. There are tons of great ideas in workspace showcase on this forum. Have the fore thought to position the machine so you can slide bigger matierial through the y axis. You just never know. It is possible to "tile"a project and do it in sections the size your machine can handle.

  6. On that note. Get the biggest machine you can afford i couldn’t imagine having any less than my 31’ sq work area

  7. ASSEMBLY: TAKE YOUR TIME. it is not hard or complicated but this is the time to take the opportunity to make extra sure everything is square, flat, alligned, tite, wired etc. Use a good square. Dont over or under tighten. Use common sense. It even helps to watch all the steps before you build then again as you build. You may want to do things in slightly different order. Again using your common sense.

  8. Once assembled read about and do the belt tensioning the right way.

  9. BITS and TOOLS: Make a dedicated place for all your bits and tools you need for your machine. Also measure the actual dimensions of your bits. Make a proper tool library. I actually marked all of my bits with a number and have a tool library with the information of that corrisponding number. It seems like over kill but when designs get complex things will be much more accurate. Im sure you have some bits but for starting off I reccomend. end mills: 3/4" , 1/2" , 1/4" , 1/8" , 1/16". Remember down cut bits are your friend they minimise needed sanding and clean up. Also need V-Bits 60deg , 90deg.

  10. At this point your ready to cut. Befor you do read about calibration. There are very good threads about this and a good calibration test pattern on this forum. Also while you don’t need a machinist education about feeds and speeds at least read up on it and follow basics. Like try to never have a depth of cut (DOC) deeper than half the diameter of your tool. (ie. 1/2" bit takes each pass at about 1/4" depth. And in reality do even less I like about .100" doc). Just do some test and dont push machine too hard it is not ridgid enough to fly the way an old bridge port can.

  11. SOFTWARE: easle is great but if your gonna make any money I use v carve desk top i see no reason to spend more for the pro version. The only limitations is see is 24" max project (i have had much larger projects you just have to tile it into sections and run different g code files for each part of project. Sounds scary but v carve makes it very easy to do.) So take some time and learn the software. To some test with different types of tool paths v carving looks great and is easy. And dont forget you can do have a clearing tool and a finishing tool. Like when v carving some protruding words you can use a 1/2" em to hog out the pocket and a v bit to carve the lettering makes things way faster.

Anyway sorry for the book but if you have made it this far than you will be sure to read through some more of this forum. I had to spend hrs reading in here. It is the best resource if you ever get stuck on anything.

Good luck and happy carving.


Oh yeah I forgot they have been making improvements to the machine “out of the box” we all see a few other things that should just be included but that is all apart of the fun I suppose.

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Print out the assembly instructions, and keep a phone nearby to contact Inventables support. During my assembly I had to call them several times. One other thing…use BLUE LOCTITE.

  1. Upgrade to the Dewalt 611 – you won’t regret having the extra power.
  2. Invest in some sort of dust collection.
  3. It’s been said before – Blue Loctite on grub screws. They come loose and will be lost.
  4. Waste board over your waste board.


I would also suggest watching some of the Inventables Live the projects area. You can run through the process along with the instructions using Easel.

If you get the X-Controller, you won’t need the extension mounting kit with it, just screw it to your work surface.

Don’t expect it to cut perfect right from the start. It takes time to tinker, adjust, learn, make mistakes, etc.

Reading some of the old post you might get confused but you DO want to get the optional homing switches. On the new machines they are protected so you won’t break them when you enter 12" instead of 1.2" and the carriage slams into the side. I have proven this several times. Using them in combination with a bump stop and G28 command makes carving much more friendly.