X-Carve detailed tutorials desperately needed

While waiting for my machine to arrive, I have been devouring these forums and every YouTube video about the X-Carve. And I’m concerned. I, along with the rest of you and certainly everyone at Inventables @Zach_Kaplan would really like to see a machine like this get some more widespread adoption among folks with great ideas and absolutely no 3D or CNC experience whatsoever. But I see a huge gap in solid end-to-end tutorials on how to do things that a lot of folks would undoubtedly like to do. I have so many questions, my head is spinning. Here are some tutorial ideas:

Basic “what is CNC” tutorial with the actual x-carve

“How do you know what to use” tutorials about cutting speed and depth per pass, etc, with different bits, materials, situations. This would also serve as a good walk through of Easel, though there are some good ones of these out there. I liked The Drunken Woodworker’s.

Software tutorials for the free stuff beyond just Easel - specifically stuff like take me through exact steps of getting g-code that I generated somewhere and cutting it using UGS. Do a basic v-carve end-to-end from f-engrave all the way to finished product. What do we need to know about UGS and how to overcome issues like homing, z-axis, etc.

Show how to run two cut sequences on the same workpiece. For example, what if I wanted to cut out a simple letter, but also do a v-carving on part of that letter? Explain homing, tool changes, etc.

We need great write-ups and/or videos about the various things that could break the machine. Like, what are the limit switches actually supposed to do? I see people worried about when their g-code sends the spindle veering off and they have emergency stop switches installed. Isn’t that what the limit switches are for? Also, what activities could possibly mess up the electronics? Manually sliding stuff around maybe?

What I’ve learned is that a lay-person with any degree of timidity is going to feel totally overwhelmed and scared of getting into wood carving or sign making or crafting with this machine. But I think there is a huge market with that type of person, beyond those who already know how to design and cut parts for their other hobbies, etc.

What do you think? What other solid tutorials are needed for newbies like myself? Feel free to answer even if you aren’t a newbie now, but you once were. Maybe we need a whole tutorials section somewhere, kinda like the tip jar area, but not just for special projects. Educate the masses, and they will join the revolution. The more people doing this stuff, the cheaper and more available everything becomes for the rest of us. (Sorry for the novel here!)

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This is something that is sort of in the works in a fashion. I had spoken with Micheal at Inventables and even had the privilege of a sit down talk with Zack at his office in Chicago about this very thing in a round about way. We spoke about getting a few videos along these lines made so they have be posted and answer some of the very questions you raise. For my part I have a huge desire to help in this project as I knew little of hands on CNC work about a year ago. But I got sick of acid etching my own PCBs and discovered the Shapeoko 2 and knew it was the answer to my issues. So I started reading up on my weekly plane flights and every chance I could at home (I’m a sports photographer by trade). Soon I had taught myself CAD and learned enough CAM to work on the OKO and bring my ideas to light. Skip a few months down the road and one of my aluminum milling projects got tweeted out and caught the eye of the folks at Inventables. So we spoke about making some videos to help others who have never done CNC and showing them the steps needed to get off the ground and answer the types of questions you speak about on the X Carve and Shapeoko.

The week I got home from that meeting in Chicago I also found out I would be moving to another state due to my girlfriend getting a job transfer with NASA. So we packed up all the mills and moved (not an easy process I can assure you with CNC mills involved). In the meantime my X Carve arrived and I have been trying to get it built, the Shapeoko up and running again, a whole house unpacked and a new CNC milling room set up for the 3 CNC mills I have.

So for my part I can say i am sorry there is a delay in this sort of thing happening on my end. Zach and Michael are super cool guys and have been very understanding as I made the move and unpacked everything. Here shortly I should be able to knock out one or two of the videos/write ups you spoke about. Once my X carve is finished I can get started and try to shed light on things you mentioned. I do not claim by any means to be an “expert” of any sort at CNC milling. I am a sports photographer who loves to design in CAD and 3d print and CNC mill my designs for fun and some profit.

But I felt compelled to answer the post to let you know that the great guys at Inventables have this very thing in mind and on many levels they seem to be working on it from a number of angles. I know for my personal side that one of the first things I wil be writing up and how to do an object with many cuts and end mills being used.

3 End mills are used to make this piece and 7 tool changes are made in order to mill the above piece. This will be one of the first write ups I make as soon as I have my X Carve up and running so it can do the milling.

So in short. I am game for helping to do the very thing you are asking about and I know the guys at Inventables have this sort of thing on their radar and are working to bring it to everyone. I have just been delayed in getting my X Carve up and running after the move and around weekly out of town photo assignments. Good news is I have a nice multi month vacation coming up which will be a 90% CNC milling STAYcation which will really help!

@Travelphotog That’s great to hear, Matt. I’ve seen your posts throughout the forum and you have obviously come a long ways in your skills and knowledge. I can also tell from the forums that @Zach_Kaplan and the crew are dedicated to making this a machine for everyone. Luckily, my wife and I are the type of beginners who aren’t afraid to tinker and play around and see what happens. Woodworking is my only creative outlet (I’m an actuary in real life), and my wife has a half-dozen different paper and vinyl cutting and embossing machines and plotters in her craft room. I have no doubt that it will all get done up right. I’d love to see what other tutorials other users think would be useful.

And who knows, maybe a year from now I’ll be able to write one…

Hi @StevenPaxman great ideas! We have plans to make videos and tutorials like these internally and we are also willing to fund any person in the community that wants to contribute.

In the mean time, have you spent much time looking through the projects and tutorials people have already posted?

@Zach_Kaplan Oh yes, I’ve read through all the currently posted projects, and my wife and I are already planning a few projects we can contribute to the section once we get the machine in our hands and figure out the technical details of a few maneuvers. A lot of great stuff happening here. I’m excited to see this expand into new markets, as my wife is definitely more in the crafter space (she runs a pretty popular crafting / DIY blog). A lot of her friends are going to be interested in seeing how to cut out wooden or plastic components of other decorative projects, blend CNC stuff with painting or vinyl or paper crafts, and stuff like that. For what it’s worth, I think you’re solidly on the right track around here, Zach.

Yes I could use some Inkscape help. That would help a bunch of us.

Is there a tutorial anywhere (I haven’t found one after numerous searches) in the Inventables Forum that would guide a new user (such as myself) how to use the Machine Inspector, or Easel, or whatever in getting an X-Carve properly “adjusted” and ready to operate. I’ve had a couple of issues and with due respect to other Forum members, their answers still assume one knows there way around the machine. For example, not knowing how to “jog” the machine I would move it manually, only to find out a week later that is not a good practice and could harm the machine. I still have a Z-axis vibration issue that I’m trying, without much success, to resolve.

You might browse these for some tips:

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