Workflow question: alignment of identical parts

Hi, I have a workflow and alignment of parts question.

First, I want to use Easel to make an alignment template with a few holes in it.

That template would then be clamped onto each of my expensive boards, to allow me to hand-drill through the holes, so my boards have matching alignment holes to the template.

OK, back to the X-Carve and Easel:
Now I want to “carve” my boards, one at a time. I need to know exactly where to mount each individual board on the X-Carve work surface, to know exactly where “home” (0,0) is, and exactly where the x and y axes are.

My idea is to affix a sacrificial workboard, then run PART of an Easel project, that drills the same hole pattern in my new sacrificial workboard as are drilled in my initial alignment template. Now, using registration pins, I would know exactly where to mount a board, and could then screw it down. Finally, I would run the remainder of the Easel project and carve the part.

I think I could figure out how to do that, even if it means pausing Easel after it drills the holes in my workboard.

But what about carving a second or third part? I don’t want to have to drill those workboard alignment holes every time, they are already done (and they will get sloppier and sloppier each time they are re-cut.) I’d like to just be able to run the first part (starting by drilling those alignment holes), then attach and run a second part, then attach and run a third part, …, until all my boards are cut.

How would you do this?

I suppose there could be 2 different Easel projects, (one that does the initial alignment hole drilling, and another one with the same home position that does the carving), but if I ever lose the home position between projects, well, I’d have to run the version that drills the alignment holes all over again.

I’m a relative newbie to Easel, X-Carve, and really, CNC in general, so if there is a good way to accomplish what I’m trying to do, I’m all ears.



Search for bump stop. It will put your home position in the same spot every time.

Thanks, Chris.

All you need is a known point in space so you can zero of it. Homing switches serve that purpose and if you do not have homing enabled then you can zero manually relative to a fixed point on your work surface.

Once that is done, run the alignment hole part of the design and you can start producing.

Chris, I found a couple of references to “bump stop”, but not really any instructions as to how to do it. There’s a lot to like about Inventables and Easel, but documentation is not one of them. Can you explain how to do a “bump stop?”


Thanks for the reply, HaldorLonningdal.

The X-Carve I’m using does not have homing switches. I am familiar with physically jogging the spindle to a visual 0,0 home position before starting a carve. I am positive that I could not possibly find the same 0,0 position again manually (I could get close, but not close enough.) I need the machine to go back to the same home position as the start of the carve. If I would be required to try to find that position manually between carving parts, I would just give up and run the entire project each time, running the whole project with a new spoil board each time.

Again - if Easel can be tricked into it - I want to
1.) run a project or part of a project that drills/carves some alignment holes in my spoil board
2.) attach one of my boards, physically using the alignment holes
3.) carve that part. That could be the continuation of the project that starts with drilling the alignment holes, or a separate project (as long as Easel can be tricked into going back “home” first.
4.) remove that board and install another of my boards using the already existing alignment holes
5.) carve that identical part

repeat steps 4 and 5 until all of my boards are cut.

I realize that for most Easel projects, this idea of alignment holes/pins is not usually necessary, because the entire part gets cut out of the board. That’s not what I am doing, and I need the alignment holes/pins.

This seems like a lot of extra work and unnecessary hand time.

Is there something that is keeping you from cutting the holes and the profile of your part as one project? Do you have the project available in Easel to share so that we are able to see what it is that you are trying to do?

Thanks, RobertBeattie.

The project in Easel at this point is just to create the physical template that I then take to each of my expensive boards, and carefully line-up the template with my board. That part is done. Next, I would create another project that uses the same alignment holes (but I only want to drill them ONCE in my spoil board), and then use those alignment holes to attach each of the boards to carve, one at a time.

To visualize what I am making, think of carving a 3x3 inch compass rose carving only at the end of a 3-foot long 1x4 board, and the N/S compass points have to align with the center of the long board, and the E/W compass points have to be precisely 1.5 inches down from the end of the board. These expensive 1x4x36 boards are all a little bit different in size, so I cannot just make a jig that the blanks all fit into.

I have seen people mention using alignment pins for 2-sided carving, so I’m not the only one interested in using physical alignment pins to align each of my raw boards.

So far, my conclusion is that Easel cannot really do what I want, and so yes, I probably will have to make an Easel project that drills the alignment holes in the spoil board, then be there at the right moment to pause the carving right after the holes are drilled to insert the part to be carved, then resume carving. And, do that whole thing over again for each part. However, even doing that, I am worried that when I pause the carve, the spindle will be in the way and will make it impossible for me to screw down my board. I think I really need a way to move the spindle back to the home position.

So, I would clamp or tape and superglue my work piece down to the spoilboard making sure that it was square to my axis. Then I would set my work zero to the corner or center of the board, depending on how you’ve created your design. From there, I would carve the holes and design as needed. I would want to eliminate the need of lining things up if I can avoid it by doing everything at once.

Unless I am just failing to understand.

You need to have homing switches to be able to use a bump stop. Well maybe not, I guess you could set up a g28 as your home position. Search for g28. As far as documentation, everything you need to know about the xcarve is in this forum, it is a wealth of information. Any reason you didn’t hook up the homing?

Homing is required for any sort of bump stops or set positions because homing sets the machine zero to the same place when powered on at which point bump stops or G28 is relative to that spot.

Without homing, your machine zero is wherever the machine is when you power on the Controller. So unless you get into a habit of going to machine zero every time you power it off, it’ll be pointless. And all it takes is one power loss mid-carve to throw that off.

You could setup a physical jig to set the position before power-up but at that point, isn’t it worth adding homing switches?

That’s a pretty good deal right there…

I am using an (older model, maybe 2015?) X-Carve that is at a MakerSpace facility. Actually, I don’t know for sure if it does or does not have homing switches. I guess I had better go check…

You’d still have to physically accurately line up the X and Y axes and attach the spoil board, and then accurately line up the X and Y axes and attach the object to be carved. With no registration pins, you’d have to physically line up each of the boards to be cut.

I’m thinking, the X-Carve is really good at knowing where the X and Y axes are, why not use that strength of the X-Carve to “physically set and determine” the X and Y? You could ignore the painted grid on the X-Carve’s work surface, slap a chunk of sacrificial board and clamp it, and then use Easel to drill a few holes. A physical object with that same hole pattern drilled into it (in waste areas) would mean you could very quickly and accurately load a board, carve it, unload it, load a board, carve it, …

Doing it this way, the person with the expensive boards and a drilling template gets to determine exactly where that registration pin and screw hole pattern will be, which determines where the shape is cut out of the end of the board.

I am sure this will work, I just need to know how to force or trick or cajole Easel into moving the spindle out of the way and then reset to the same home position or to resume carving. I need the spindle out of the way so I can have access to the registration pin holes, and to the screw holes to screw the small object down - and then either resume that Easel carving episode or park the spindle at “home”, and run another program that carves the object.

I know I’m not in the “Easel Pro” category in this forum, but what happens when you do a mid-project bit change using that new pro feature? It must move the spindle away from the work to allow the bit change, and if it does, it must be remembering its position to get back to.

In Easel draw your project with the cut you want to make and the registration holes. Copy this to another workpiece and delete the registration holes just leaving your project.

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In easel you could just use last home position for the second cut. To make it repeatable you could set it up with say a 1x4 and set the initial home bottom left and set with a sharp vbit?

Read post 2 Ha Ha!

Thanks for all the replies.

Though I didn’t remember seeing them, I ran over to the MakerSpace this evening to look for the switches. There are no homing switches.


Hey, BobJewell, I think we are saying the same thing: the painted grid lines are just an indicator, a handy general locator, for the X and Y axes, but only the actual machine travel along its axes define the machine’s X and Y orientation. When I said, “I’m sure this will work”, I was talking about the concept of using the X-Carve to drill matching registration pin holes in both a template and on the scrap workboard - not whether Easel can accommodate the workflow process I have in mind. In fact, if there is no way (without homing switches) to move the spindle out of the way after I drill the registration pin holes in my scrap workboard, and then resume carving, then the workflow process I have in mind won’t work.


Back to searching for bump stop information…

{edit} OK, I searched and read everything I could find on “bump stop.” Does anyone have a link to a post that explains how to create a bump stop? Secondly, does anyone have a link to information about pausing a carve, moving the spindle, then moving the spindle back to where it was to hit “resume?” Can I just hit pause, then hit a jog buttons a certain number of times, then jog back to the same place by hitting the opposite direction jog button the same number of times?

After carving part #1 you can jog the router out of the way, insert part #2, click carve immideately selecting “Use last home” instead of “Confirm home” and it will carve the same path. No need to reset between carves.

What you need is a fixed point you can zero off of, a bump stop/homing switch, zero block, laser etc can all be tools for that.

Note that in Easel terminoligy
Homing = set X/Y/Z in space to a known location (bump stop or homing switch)
Home = work zero / carve start point (X/Y/Z=0)