Weekend Lessons from a Newbie

I thought I would share some of the struggles and lessons learned over the weekend with getting my machine set up and running better.

Starting a large project for the Better Half to give out as presents so needed to make sure the whole setup was working.

  1. Z-Axis not straight.
    After some test vcarve inlays I saw some issues and someone here, sorry forgot who, suggested my Z axis was off.
    I very carefully checked and sure enough it was. I added a couple shims and thought I had it right.
    Make sure the Z axis is straight
  2. Waste board needed flattening.
    I purchased a Freud 1" 1/4" shank and started to flatten the waste board.
    Quickly realized the Z axis was still not correct.
    Repeat #1 about 5 times. Ended up pulling the router out, dust collector apart, whole Z axis apart, etc.
    Finally put a straight edge across the whole waste board and realized the whole machine was sagging in the middle a good amount.
    Did a final flattening of the waste board but about 90% through it threw a hard limit error and stopped. Good enough for now.
    Make sure your machine is on a very flat and strong area. Maybe torsion box. Flatten your waste board.
  3. Random weirdness during long cuts for the waste board.
    It would throw up gcode errors about bad format, drive the router to a random location, and keep going.
    Eventually found what I think was the issue which was a little piece of the shielded cable shielding wire that I had attached to ground had unraveled and was loose. I also re-arranged the cabled a bit better and moved the Raspberry Pi away from everything while routing the usb cable better.
    Make sure the cables are shielded, separated from power wires, good USB shielded cables, etc
  4. Touch plate strangeness.
    Purchased @CharleyThomas 3D touch plate ( THANK YOU Charley, fantastic customer support, incredibly fast shipping, etc ). Love the magnet to connect to the collet!!
    Occasionally the probing would not stop when it touched the block.
    Fixed it by taking a file to the flat sides of the collect and making sure the magnet could get a good connection.
    Get Charley’s touch plate and cables and use them. Home, Probe, be happy.
  5. Random carving behavior.
    A few times I would home, probe, and start but it would run off to far away lands. Or it would start carving way up in the air.
    Wasn’t a fix, but I turned everything off, went inside and worked on in Vcarve for a while.
    Some times the planets just aren’t aligned. Take a break and regroup.
  6. I still have some quirks with things not working as expected like “go to work zero” doesn’t do anything, and/or or the carve wanting to start in a different location than expected, but I’m pretty sure it’s something I’m doing.
    Test, Test, Test. Come up with a repeatable process and stick to it. Read through all the terrific information here and use it.
  7. Just for @PhilJohnson. Many thanks for ALL your wisdom and information.
    Use the search feature

The test carves are as close to perfect as I could ask and things are humming along, finally. Might not be perfect, but they are consistent which to me is more important.

Anyway, enough of the ramble. I hope maybe these suggestions help someone getting started.


IMO there is no maybe. A proper Torsion Box is essential to accurate carves. It is the foundation upon which everything else rests.

Glad you’ve got everything up and running. Now it’s time to have some fun :+1:

I like your post Patrick :+1: and totally agree with taking a break to regroup.

Patients is key with something as complicated (to someone like me at least) as the X-Carve. Take your time, relax, and keep going.


Someone’s probably thought of this before, but I found it useful to take apart a super-cheap thickness gauge from ebay (I bought http://www.ebay.com/itm/272261430060, but they’re everywhere for a couple bucks) to use for shims. That way you get a useful assortment of sizes.

That’s what I was going to do but couldn’t find the one I had purchased just for these things.

I was tempted to drill and tap a hole or two and put screws in to push the bottom of the z out but got the shims to work.

I spent some more time and calibrated X,Y, and Z again after checking the belt tensions.

I have a few more tests to run but it seems to but, so far it seems like a huge improvement.

I did have a nut fall off the Z axis again so I need to look at that. Might be time for an upgrade.

I’m right here

1 Like