Woodworking tolerance

Continuing the discussion from Usage of limit switches is rather ridiculous as they are never accurate:

There have been many discussions about the accuracy of the X-carve. It got me thinking, what is the realistic accuracy you can obtain with wood? I’m sure it’s different depending on the wood species.

With the changes in dimension with heat and humidity, what would be a realistic figure for dimensional accuracy of a wood project?

Larry - species is only one of the variables. You also have to consider age, moisture level, what bit you’re using (upcut will lift material and cause inaccuracies), variances in density that could cause different amounts of drag/flex on the blade…

As for what’s visible in accuracy, a 0.010" ridge at the bottom of a multi-pass carve isn’t hard to pick out even in soft pine.

So would it be reasonable to assume that the 0.01" ridge and surrounding wood be affected by the environment in the same way? Or would the ridge adjust to new environmental conditions differently so that the 0.01" ridge could change dimension over time?

If you’re asking about how it would age or weather, anything is possible. A wood panel facing south will bleach out on the south side faster than the north side due to additional uv. I’ve seen redwood panels in shaded areas grow moss and lichens. That tiny little ridge is going to be of minimal concern once environmental factors come in to play.

I guess where I’m going with this is that all of the discussions of X-carve accuracy and repeatability are somewhat of an academic endeavor when working with wood, tight tolerances are not a concern as long as one can get consistency.


Whats the difference between a carpenter and a wood worker? About 1/8 of an inch.

-“stepping onto my self supplied soap box”-

As others have said getting into the .0000X range of accuracy is pointless for “most” wood carving/milling operations because of material movement from things such as wood species, temp and humidity of the work environment, overall mass of the work piece, and even the grain of the wood can be a factor. The point is, wood, and even many wood derived products are always in motion trying to maintain equilibrium with it’s environment.
Can it be machined to these tolerances? Sure. With the right (read: higer buck) equipment. But, as soon as the environmental conditions change the wood tries to compensate, changing the dimensions on a very small scale.

Properly set up and dialed in, the xcarve can hit acceptable tolerances for most wood related applications and also many plastics and even metal.

As the O.P. noted, this thread is an offshoot of another bashing the use of homing/limit switches. (which degenerated rather quickly with some slightly humorous results) the use of those switches can easily fall into an accuracy level that is suitable for wood and other material machining.
Given the 1500.00 +/- price point of the xcarve, demanding accuracy in the range of more than 4-5 zeros to the right of the decimal point, whether it be by manual or switched homing is unreasonable.
If someone expects medical grade accuracy every time, they need to drop ALOT more coin on a much higher end machine.

Our xcarves deliver astounding accuracy for what they are, out of the box . Many have morphed into fantastic machines thanks to the individuals who choose to dream, engineer, and experiment and then share their results here on the forum for others to use or transform to fit their specific purpose.
The open source attitude is one of the defining features of the xcarve. I was at a wood craft store recently eyeballing a Shark something or other cnc and the salesman blurted out in not so many words that the unit was really well made but the operating system was proprietary and tech support wasn’t the best after the sale. This reflected my personal experience with one prior to the xcarve’s launch. I’m glad I came over to the light side of the CNC force when I did.

*** CRASH! My soapbox has collapsed under my voluminous girth! ***

I am done rambling I guess, I feel better now.


if i get 0.01" / 0.25 mm then i am a happy xcarver, i can and have got better than that but its a much slower job, with meshcam on my xcarve i can rough and leave 0.1 mm then finish pass with a round over bit for a super finish that needs a dust with 320/400 grit

a lot of posts here about tolerance of parts and carves Ive bitten my tongue,

a lot of unreal expectations about what this machine “should” do with little to no assembly knowledge or experience, i am amazed at something so cheap to build can do what it does,

how much does an Arduino cost ? what can it do? Wow !!!

i found a pricing formula, if this is correct then how much did and xcarve cost to make , then wholesale , then retail(which we know)

labour + material = cost
cost x 2 = wholesale
wholesale x 2 = retail

work backwards and you get an idea how insanely awesome this bit of kit is

a mate of mine runs a 1 man kitchen fabrication business, he bought a 2400x1200 multicam cnc machine , im going to ask him his tolerances asap, ill report back,

he paid $60k AUD ($45kUS) machine and $20k software, of course its mega fancy , 6kw spindle , ATC , and 600 ipm full depth cuts 3/4" 1 pass,

anyway, im happy with what it does, all the parts i make i can make faster by hand, if i make 1 part a day and the XC makes 1 then im ahead a long way, and my made by hand repeat-ability is no where near the xcarve,