Width of gap X axis makerslides

I’ve milled the very stuff. Its HDPE usually and mills great. I had the same thought, but will probably go with a metal option…

It is worth a shot though if one has a HDPE cutting board lying around.

Earwigger, the L-brackets - did you fabricate them or are they store bought? I like that idea and want to eventually do that whole mod on my machine. Do you have the measurements for the brackets? Bolt sizes also?


Just out of curiosity, why does everyone doing this drill thru the middle (heightwise) of the makerslide and obstruct the Y-axis wiring channel? Couldn’t you stagger smaller diameter bolts above and below and keep the channel and get the same stiffening effect?

Also wondering if something in a very hard rubber vs. metal might give both some (clearly less than metal) stiffness and some vibe absorption / dampening, perhaps.

Haven’t finished my own machine but considering incorporating this mod before even attempting a first cut.

If you install the furniture hardware so the nut is in the front, there is enough room to pass your stepper motor wire through the makerslide channel.

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Mine was simple poor planning. I believe I was the “test case” having decided to use furniture bolts after noticing regular bolts interfere with the carriage. I was pretty proud of myself once it was assembled… and then I remembered the other y-axis motor wire. DOH! I also used my own shielded motor wire which is just thick enough NOT to fit in the forward makerslide top slot. Double DOH!

As for rubber, well, metal is cheap, more rigid and proven to provide excellent stiffness.

That’s what this forum is for… learning from our mistakes and capitalizing on our victories.

Since you are just finishing up - I thought you would get a kick out of this post. She is just now emerging from the x-carve dark ages and into awesomeness:

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Fabricated. The metal was steel and came from old speaker stands. But you can just use aluminum L channel and cut two brackets. Put a straight edge on the rail and shim until it is perfectly flat. Mark your holes so they line up with the slot. I happened to have extra socket head screws that fit the t-nut.

Definitely. But this bracket does not interfere with the live cutting area on the waste board so it makes no difference other than aesthetics. But I use a homemade wasteboard that has been surfaced and resurfaced so aesthetics are a pretty low priority. It was handy and it was black, so I used it. I love using stuff from the junk pile.

I am working on a sign right now made entirely of wood from a Lowes (big box home improvement center) dumpster. My first dumpster diver project!


somewhere on here I started a thread on where folks get their wood and dumpster diving was a question I asked. Interesting indeed, now I have to drive around the back of those places and have a look. My luck I’ll get arrested.

If you go back to the cutting area inside the store, there should be a large dumpster. I left with an armload and the guy walked up to the register with me to tell them I didn’t have to pay. I thought that was pretty cool.

I’ll have to have a look next time there. I did get some free flooring samples from Home Depot to mess with.

My X-Carve is out for delivery right now so I’ll be assembling tomorrow, and I’m planning on doing the stiffening mod right while I build it. Aside from unnecessary extra weight, would there any problem with going with 3" tall steel instead of 2 1/2"?

And speaking of weight, what about using aluminum instead of steel?

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I believe this amount of weight is incidental to the capabilities of machine. I am hauling around steel, an 8 lb Hitachi router, a dust shoe with attached hose AND a spindle tachometer… and am about to attach a pen holder.

But, people seem to like the aluminum mod as well and it is probably easier to cut. Just don’t forget the y-axis supports as well - equally important. That and upgrading the spindle. Assume you are not getting the old 24 volts spindle correct?

I have the 611. And yeah - I’ll definitely be doing the y-axis supports too. So the extra 1/2" on the bar to stiffen it up won’t cause any issue with the gantry or wires? It doesn’t LOOK like it would…

I assume the Maker Slide is just standard T-slot, and that any T-slot connectors/hardware will work on it for the y-axis mod - right?

I am going to use aluminum .1875 thick and 3.6" wide with a T piece attached to the bottom of the plate. It will just clear the carrage above the rails and just clear the carrage below the rails.


The MS will take up to 6mm diameter bolts. You can get more T slot nuts from inventables and 5mm button head cap screws to go with them.

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No the hole in the end of the MS is for 5mm threads only. I was referring to the width of the T slots in the MS they are 6mm wide.


Metal can extend all the way down to the bottom of the X-carriage, but the screws holding the upper X-carriage rollers stick out over the gap. A quick eyeball measurement across them gave me about 2.9" height. I could be off by 1/8", and you can make the measurement while you’re assembling it, but trust me when I say that it sucks to have to cut off a 3’ length of 3/16" steel because you bought it too tall… :smile:

@MikePlummer, I don’t think there would be a significant difference if you went with aluminum unless you’re going for levels of accuracy that are beyond the machine’s capability. I haven’t run the model (and don’t plan to), but my engineering gut tells me that a 2-1/2" tall piece of aluminum will absorb any siginificant flex caused by the weight of a decent router. I chose to go with steel just to get extreme accuracy, and because there wasn’t any decent pieces of 3/16" aluminum available.

Speaking of decent, make sure your bar stock is straight (especially with steel). I bought the next-to-last piece in the stack because the rest were slightly bowed or twisted. I would prefer not to fight with the steel, it’s much better to just slip it in and clamp it up.

My steel spline was too tall when I bought it. After trying to trim it I quickly found that it was not going well. I drove to a local machine shop that had a giant metal shear and they guy there put it in there and 1 second later it was the exact size I wanted. Nice and straight cut and didn’t cost a Penney!


I’ve saved up almost enough for the 1000 kit with the DW611. Since that addresses the spindle upgrade, I’m watching the x and y rail and z carriage upgrades. (I wonder how long before Inventables starts selling a “stiff kit”?)

The 3/16" plate for the x rails seems to be well received for eliminating sag in the z axis. Does the plate also help with flex in the y direction? I’m wondering if an angle on the bottom edge (or using tee bar) might be helpful, or if it would simply be overkill.

I’m curious to know if anyone has compared steel vs aluminum to see if there’s a meaningful difference in rigidity. Primarily for weight. While the steppers can certainly move the additional mass of steel, any weight reduction would help prolong their life and would also help reduce momentum. Although, the additional weight would provide some damping benefits. Anyway, if the steel doesn’t help with y axis flex, then you might reduce the weight by drilling out the plate. It shouldn’t affect the z axis support much if any. Or use a thinner stock and shims.

The y rail support seems like a good idea as well. The y rail seems to carry about as much weight as the x rail, but with a single makerslide instead of two. If flex in the z axis is a problem for the x rail, then it’s certainly a problem in the y rail. Anchoring to the waste board with an L bracket would provide both z axis support and help eliminate x axis flex. Has anyone evaluated the x axis flex of the y rail while in operation? If x axis flex is not a problem, then why not simply bolt on a piece of flat steel to the inside of the y rails to provide z axis support?

Lastly, instead of drilling and bolting in a plate, I wonder if a steel tee bar could be inserted into the bottom channel of the makerslide. If one could find the right size tee (or have something cut down) then it would be a slip in modification and would require no other fabrication or physical modification. And it would work for both the x and y rails. (Take note, Inventables!)

Anyway, my thoughts, as I save up a little more before I dive in.

I did theoretical calculations and computer simulations yesterday to compare different heights, and also to compare steel to aluminum.

A 3.5 in. tall steel bar was 14% stiffer, compared with a 1.5 in. tall steel bar. However, the weight increases by 57% for the larger bar. For a steel and aluminum bar of the same dimensions, the steel bar was found to be 68% stiffer. The weight decrease is 63% compared with steel.

I originally wanted to go with a smaller piece of aluminum because of the light weight and easy machinability, but decided to delve a little deeper to see how much of a difference steel would make. I ended up purchasing a 3/16" x 2.5" piece of steel because the overall weight (less than 3 lbs) isn’t enough for me to worry about the stepper motors moving smoothly, and the added stiffness is exactly what I am looking for in this upgrade.

The reason the steel plate is bolted and not attached using another method is because this prevents slipping between the makerslides and the steel plate. If the pieces are allowed to slip, the forces produced from the spindle will transfer less easily between the pieces of makerslide, allowing for more twisting.