Upgrade path from 500 to support 2' x 4' project boards

Background and purchase plan
I’m about to pull the trigger on the fully loaded configuration but with the 500mm work area, because I will have limited space to devote to the machine at first. My fabrication projects typically involve wood, acrylic, and very basic metal work. Soon I hope to expand that to include PCBs and more plastics. The 500mm setup would be useful for those small projects right away. Expanding the work area would allow the X-Carve to fill the roles of many power tools I plan to upgrade or acquire.

Upgrade plan
Eventually I would like it to handle 48"x24" project panels frequently available in plywood and MDF. I have seen the post on upgrading to 1000mm x 500mm, where it was recommended to go ahead and order the fully loaded kit, and cut down the parts needed to reduce one dimension to 500mm. Since I would like to handle 1220mm (48") material, I think the 1000mm kit will not provide an advantage. Plus the shipping increases significantly with the larger kit.


  1. What size work area is required to work on 2’x4’ (610x1220mm) wood? Is extra area needed for clamps?
  2. Is there anything special about the work surface, or can I use something from the hardware store (MDF?) for >1000mm work surface?
  3. Other than the work surface, will I only need longer rails, chains/belts, and cables?

The 1KX1K has a work area of 31"X31". I ordered a 1KX1k with additional 1800mm maker slides and 1800mm 20X40 bottom rails and extra belt and drag chain. When complete my machine will handle material 31"X 60".
I am lucky that I have the room for the bigger machine and will build a tilting table on casters so I can reduce the foot print when not in use.

Yes it is a very good idea to have extra room on the sides and ends for clamps. The other thing to think about is a vacuum table to hold down thin material.

I am considering using 25mm expanded PVC board for the surface of my machine. Only problem is it costs big bucks so I will want to put 1/4" MDF between it and my work.


Would it make sense to order the longer belt up front? Then all I would need is the rails and slides, and a surface I can probably find locally.

I was under the impression this used chain for the stepper motors, and I’m hoping I could order the full length I’ll need for 4’, but break it for the 500mm table to start. Would that work?

It seems like there would be no problem ordering longer cables to begin with, so I will plan on that.

David is going be one of your best resources for when you go to do the upgrade. He is one of the few (possibly only) building an x-carve this size at this time.

That being said. My opinion is if all you want to build right now is the 500x500, that is all you should get right now. You honestly will not be saving any money by buying extra stuff now, and after you have it for awhile you will have a much better idea of what you need to upgrade. You can add on to the drag chain at a later date, and you already knew you would need new extrusions, and a new waste board. Yes you will need new belting, and wire. But both are realitvly cheep and buying extra now would just be extra hassle. The only thing I would advise you to do is if you are planning to use the same stepper motors for both setups is go with the nema 23 ones instead of the 17s, they will be better suited to the extra weight you plan to add.

Also, if you change your mind when it comes time to upgrade you are not out anything, where if you get the few extra parts now and you change your mind, you are out those as well.

But remember this is just one persons opinion, I wish you the best in making your own.

some programs have a tiling feature which allows you to break your machining into smaller portions


Here is something for you to ponder. If you buy a 500 that has a work area of 12X12 when you decide it is time to expand Your work area to at least 24 X 48 you will be replacing all of the maker slide and the 20X20 rails that ties the Y axis together and supports the waist board or work surface.
You will also have to replace all of the wiring because it will be short. You will also have to replace the drag chain anchors because the drag chain has a different orientation.
You will also need to replace all the drive belts because they too will be to short.

Now if you bite the bullet and order a 1000 then you are only replacing the the Y axis maker slide and the rails that support the work surface. You will just add more drag chain to the Y axis and change or extend the wiring. You will have to change the drive belts on the Y axis also.

For you to go to a work ares of 24X48 it may be better to get the 1000.


i agree with david, if you plan on upgrading its probably best to just buy what you need up front. a 1000x1800 xy machine will have plenty of room for 24x48