I am looking to buy this amazing machine. My question is how hard is it going to be to build my own designs with it? I am a carver of wood and would love to duplicate some of my work. I saw how a 3-d effect can be achieved but would that require more upgrades? Also do any carving bits come with the smaller machine?
The X-Carve can carve any design that does not have an overhang in it. This is generally called 2.5D ability. If you look around on this forum you will see many examples of the types of projects the X-Carve can make. The 500x500 does come with a single 1/8 inch carving bit.
As for the design process, 2D can be done within Easel and is a great way to set started and learn how to use the machine. When you want to start doing more complex shapes you will need additional software. Fusion 360 (from Autocad) is very nice 3D solid modeling system that allows you to design and generate toolpaths for X-Carve in the same program. Fusion 3D is free for hobbyist but can take some time to learn.
There are many other commercial programs you can look at Vectrix offers a complete line of software that is very intuitive and easier to use for design and toolpath creation. Meshcam is also very good, for generating toolpaths of complex objects.
So to sum up, yes the X-carve is very capable, but it is only as good as the software you are using to design and create the toolpaths for it.