X-carve 2016+ vs Shapeoko 3 XXL vs?

Hi there.

I’m in the process of buying a 1000mm CNC for wood and aluminum.
I read a lot of stuffs like :

  • Shapeoko is stiffer than x-carve
  • x-carve is more upgradable
  • x-carve is a toy, shapeoko is better but still not professional

and many more.

But, most of these comments are based on the X-carve before 2016 (not sure if there was any significant upgrade til then ? )

I live in Quebec, Canada, and :

  • X-carve have no resellers in Canada
  • X-carve shipping is really too high (500$ at least)
  • Shapeoko have resellers in Canada, shipping free !
  • Standard X-carve will need some upgrades from the start, like :
    • risers for X (or Y) to increase the possible material thickness (+100$ + tx + shipping)
    • Z-axis upgrade for 6" travel (+260$ + tx + shipping)
    • 9mm belt upgrade (+85$ + tx + shipping)
  • Shapeoko seems to often have delays for the Z-probe
  • Suckit dustshoe seems to often be out of order too

I may be missing some other points.

Fact is, I still don’t know what to do. And I have a feeling that Inventables is about to annonce something about the X-carve…

Any comments/recommendations ?

You may find the backstory at:

of interest.

I built my own machine about 12 years ago out of MDF, allthread, HDPE and skate bearings. I bought a 4000 dollar pcncautomation cnc. The 3rd purchase was a bare bones K22514 router that I added a probotix motor and controller system to.

A few years ago I bought a shapeoko2. I was disappointed in the flexibility, but considering the price and materials used, it could do some things, just not what I was looking for. It got mothballed.

After a couple of years, I noticed that the Xcarve was an improvement to the Shapeoko, so I upgraded it to current x carve specs. I like the expandability of the x carve and the upgrades available outside of Inventables to make it more like what I need, which is rigidity and accuracy.

None of these machines with v wheels will perform like an industrial quality machine with linear guides and ballscrews, so you need to understand that.

For the money, you can do a lot with the X carve. I bought the riser plates, Y axis stiffeners, and 9mm belts/pulleys and will be adding that to the mix when it stops snowing. Those items along with the beautiful Z axis from Ebay should help fulfil my needs.

Consider what you are spending and what real cnc routers cost. ( Hint $5-10K ) Before you commit, I’d investigate what upgrades can be made to the Shapoko or if it is even expandable if you choose to do so.

Please be aware that there will always be a better machine to come along after you make your decision for you to agonize over, if that is your nature.

Read the success stories too, which far outnumber the complaint stories. No kit machine will be “best” for you, if you have no mechanical talents, or experiences, in assembling, and maintaining, a reasonably complex machine such as “hobby” cnc machines are.

Also, if you are not prepared to study and learn the software, and if you get easily frustrated at failures (and there likely will be many along the way), then hobby cnc operation is probably not for you, regardless of the machine you choose. None of the kit machines are “plug and play.”

I am not trying to dissuade you in any way, just want you to be aware of how things are, and what you will experience with any machine kit you buy. Every machine can be improved. And with every machine, some users, who lack the required skills and knowledge, will lodge complaints about them when the majority of their troubles are of their own making.

Every kit has both pros and cons, but every machine can help a user make some great projects, it all depends upon the user IMHO.

Best of luck to you.


Thanks to all of you.
I already read the thread explaining how both x-carve and shapeoko were born. I think i’m doing my research well :slight_smile:

My point was, if you had to compare Shapeoko 3 XXL and a 2019 x-carve 1000mm, would you go for the X-carve and install the Y stiffeners and 9mm belts to be as rigid as the S3 ?
Or simply get a S3 ?

I know it’s an inventables forum here, and few or none of you may have experience with the S3.

I’m a computer guy, studied electronics and learnt woodworking and metaworking… I’m sure I’ll be able to get the most of whichever I buy.
My heart goes to the X-carve, but lack of Canadian seller + lots of mods to install from the start… make me ask few questions here like “is it worth it or would I do the exact same thing with a stock S3” ?

Consider buying used. Lots of them are available it seems. Probably some in Canada as well.

I checked, no luck so far… (I’m also buying through a company so I need a bill…)

Mostly, folks just buy and use Shapeoko 3/XL/XXLs stock — there are a couple of 3rd party updates, which some folks, mostly the ones doing metalwork for production (see the thread “Hardcore Aluminum milling on an S3” on the competition’s forums)

What’s preventing you from doing this?

just want answers to my questions before deciding. But the more I read the more I think the S3 + z-axis upgrade should be fine and easier to get/setup/use.

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I bought an X-Carve 1000 2 years ago, I don’t think I’d buy it again, I’d look for another vendor. However, I do very much like their X-Controller and Easel software they provide. Easel makes setting up quick carves very easy and simple and with a little design time, you can actually get some fairly complex carves as well. It’s the rest of the machine that’s a bit too problematic for me.

You could buy their X-Controller and use it with a completely different machine. You’d gain the ability to use their Easel app which is very nice for quick and simple carvings.


@SebastienThomas - I really think your original post and overview summarizes the situation well. The S3 is more beefy and sturdy than a stock X-Carve. However, there are plenty of mods available to bring the X-Carve within range, but they all come at an extra cost (some are significant).

So I guess it all comes down to what you want to do with it - if you are only carving plastic and wood, X-Carve should be fine. If you want to do metal, I’d get a S3.

I had the save quandary about a year ago and chose the X-Carve (1000x1000). In hindsight, I think the S3 would have been better for me. But I do like the X-Controller and the added features that the X-Carve had at the time.

I would say - I don’t see either company innovating very quickly or keeping pace with technology. Nothing like the 3d printer community which has major upgrades and releases at annually - some companies are doing major roll outs quarterly. I would not suggest that, but no significant updates in years from either company might signal complacency or something coming soon - who knows.

Ultimately the choice is yours - both are good machines though I do think the X-Carve is a little more “open” than S3.



Just to throw another stick into the mix.


This is a new kid on the block, made in Canada. The Kickstarter campaign more than doubled the goal in two days. It appears to be a very solid machine with angle designed rails and a screw drive. It also has a lower price point.

I like my XCarve, but if I could afford it I would get one.
Just some more food for thought.

They’re both toys, they use v-wheels.

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