Uber-noob questions before buying an X-Carve

Hello fellow X-Carvers! As my title indicates, I’m absolutely new to CNC and all that is this new potential hobby of mine.

Right now, my wife and I use a local laser cutting professional to scan and cut our designs that we sell at craft fairs and online. For the most part, they’re 2D flat stuff that we paint on, but would like to begin working in what I presume to be 2.5D and etching designs directly onto wood, mainly 1/8" birch craft but looking to expand into things like acrylic.

Other than drawing our basic designs, we have no experience working with either laser cutters or potentially a CNC routing machine like the X-Carve. Originally I was looking into a laser cutter, but even basic machines capable of using the default wood size (12"x24") seem to start in the $4000-5000 category, and without much in the way of software.

Minus the building the unit stuff, my bigger question is beginning to produce actual items on something like X-Carve.

Where do I begin? Do I need the $500 software package that’s listed in the store? Do I need a tool like Illustrator? What about scanning my existing laser cut parts to duplicate the cutting process with a CNC?

Basically - aside from the starting $1200 or so price point, what all do I really need to have to make a few basic parts (wood circles, squares) to paint on, then moving up to things like etching designs?

Is a CNC router tool going to work for cutting out wood parts as easily as it seems a laser cutter does? At a much lower price point?

Thanks for listening to my insanity.


A CNC can cut out wood similarly to a laser cutter. The detail you can get from the CNC is dictated by how thick the milling bit you are using is, while with a laser cutter, the detail is dictated by width of the laser beam.

I would recommend the free software Easel, it can import .svg files (the same vector format you need for laser cutting). Try importing one of your current designs to see if it will work for you.

Can you send some pictures of what you are trying to accomplish? It would help me know if the X-Carve will do everything you need it to.



Thanks for answering Sam.

Basically I’m looking to do pieces similar to these. Mainly I’m looking at the gear and hexagon cutouts, though some “engraving” of the top of the hexes might be used. These designs are drawn and/or painted on currently, though I’d like to replicate some of the basic shapes that would later be painted on.



I would try importing your files into Easel, so see how they look.