X-carve experience

i sure do love my x-carve its great at turning perfectly good pieces of timber into complete and utter rubbish, it all ways gives me something that needs hours and hours of trouble shooting and fixing and in the 6months I’ve had it I haven’t really had any successful carves without multiple attempts, yep it sure is one hell of a machine, the only thing I don’t like about is how it will occasionally carve a whole complete piece without totally destroying the wood and the carve. It sure is consistent

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This kind of comment is really not productive at all. If you have a problem with the machine call customer service (it is their job and they are really good at it) or ask specific questions and you will get help. Sarcastic negative comments just make you look like a whiner.
If the machine isn’t making you happy then fix it (and believe me you will get all the help encouragement and support you could ever want right here) or get rid of it because life is to short to let a piece of hardware make you unhappy.
End of rant.


This kind of rant is really not productive at all. If you have a problem with my post call someone that cares (it not my job and I’m not really good at it) or ask specific questions and you will get answers. negative comments just make you look like a whiner.
If the post isn’t making you happy then to bad (and believe me you will get all the sarcasm you could ever want right here) or don’t comment at all because life is to short to let a post make you unhappy.
End of continued sarcasm.

What are the issues you are having…maybe we can help?

just venting general frustration and experience

It happens…if you need help just let us know.

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I understand the frustration, for the first 6 months after I assembled my Shapeoko 2, it would ruin about 80% of the parts I tried to make and the other 20% all had problems that I would need to sand out. If someone had offered me $100 to haul it off I would have been happy to let them have it.

When I finally calmed down enough to start reading this forum and took the advice of the people that were generously offering their experience, I was able to fix most of the problems I was having. Now the X-Carve is the most useful tool in my shop.


until I got my Shapeoko I never participated in forum sites like this. Now I use it all the time and there are a whole bunch of really helpful people here.


We have all been there.

My 2 cents:

  1. Check belts V Wheels and pulley set screws. These this work themselves loose over time. Especially when a carve goes bad and things get shaking.
  2. tune your pots. Too low and the motors can slip, to high and the chips overheat.
  3. What spindle do you have? Is it the original stock spindle? Replace it, you will not regret it.
  4. Do you have a 1000? If so do one of the stiffing mods. There are a few different ones to try. Any of them will improve your results.
  5. Sometimes cutting shallower is better than cutting slower. Especially if you are burning wood, usually with the bigger bits.
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There’s lots of people here, or on their help line to help with problems. As stated above, sarcastic comments don’t do very much. Then calling someone a whiner, that’s only commenting on your post about you whining about your x-carve isn’t very sensible either. It’s pretty common knowledge what the X-carve is, and what it isn’t. It requires assembly and some work. Most people that ask for help and do the work, can pretty much figure things out. People that throw their hands in the air and call it junk, remain frustrated. If you tell people the problems you’re having, you will definitely get some help.


have done a lot of the mods and tweaks on the forum, am using a makita router and yep 1000mm. after sorting most of the common probs we all have in the beginning I find I still get a lot of random errors from carving in the air, ignoring step downs and just trying to carve the whole thickness at once, puzzle pieces that just wont fit right, inaccurate carves, but most of the time it just jams up misses a step and then tears its way through the rest of the piece, a carve that works one time may not work the next

My turning point came when I took an intro to CNC class at the local maker space where I learned just how much I didn’t know. Once you learn the “language” a bit, it really helps in trying to decipher advice.

Th other thing that came from that was that we used V-Carve during the class and I saw how much more control & versatility that gives, which Easel lacked for me at the time. The last thing you probably want to do is put more money into it if you’re frustrated, but V-Carve made a world of difference for me.

Those two things along have killed most of my frustration with this machine. Before then, I was seriously considering selling it to make room for the laser I’ve got coming. Now I’m trying to figure out what other stuff I can get rid of in the garage so i can have both machines.

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I’m always curious what the background of the OP is with these types of posts. I think there is a different mindset going into a project between a tinker/maker type than there is with a more traditional woodworker type.

Coming from the maker side of things, I can tell you that the growing pains you are experiencing are not unusual for any DIY kit out there. It’s not like buying a table saw that was assembled and tested at the factory. There are loads of tiny things to deal with, and some of them manifest themselves in very odd ways. If I have my kit up and running well in the next two months, I will be very pleased.

I think folks coming from the woodworking side have an equally valuable (arguably more valuable), but very different set of experiences and expectations coming in.

I guess the point here is that everyone in this group has/had a lot to learn in one area or another. We all also have something different we bring to the table. What we each can’t do individually, we can find a way to figure out collectively. Join in and you’ll get it sorted I’m sure.

Don’t let these setbacks get you down. Instead of lashing out about the bad experience you are having now, take a step back and look at all the people you have willing to help you. That has to count for something.

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Details, especially pictures and/or video, would help immensely. More helpful details would include the program you’re using, the material, the bit (size and type), speeds, and depths of cut.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, there are quite a few things that can cause losses of steps. There’s a great troubleshooting guide for it at [Guide] Offset cutting, Lost steps, Positioning errors, etc. There’s also a thread with some videos I’ve made that may be helpful at X-Carve Maintenance/Troubleshooting Videos - Add Your Own!.

It’s also possible that some of your machine’s settings off. For instance, high accelerations and speeds could cause lost steps due to the weight of the spindle. If you’re using Easel, making a screenshot or a list of the settings that are in Machine Inspector would help us determine if a simple tweak to the settings would help tame your X-Carve.

If you’re not using Easel or if you’re generating your g-code elsewhere (and/or sending it through another program), that may be a possible source of error. Easel doesn’t recognize some of the g-commands, and each program has its own peculiarities. If you have a simple project that always seems to mess up, posting a link to the project or the first couple dozen lines of g-code could help us figure out if there’s an Easter egg in there.

I understand your frustration, please keep in mind that there’s a wide variety of people here with various levels of experience that can help. All we need is information.

There really isn’t such a thing as a ‘random’ error. There is always a cause: Not enough power going to the steppers, loose belts, carriage’s not rolling smoothly, loose wheels, bad speeds/feeds… etc

The best way to have success with the X-Carve is to learn how it works. It’s actually a very simple machine (i mean come on… its brain only runs at 16 MHz with only 32KB or memory!!)… Its a collection of nuts, bolts, belts and wheels. The more you understand how it works the less things become a mystery.

In defense of the X-Carve… I’ve had mine since Christmas and haven’t and a single problem with it (That wasn’t my fault :wink: )

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I’ll have to do that later this weekend when I can get back into the garage. Maybe @AllenMassey can field this?

Here are the GRBL settings for my machine 500x500 with Acme Rod and no homing or limit switches

$0=10 (step pulse, usec)
$1=255 (step idle delay, msec)
$2=0 (step port invert mask:00000000)
$3=6 (dir port invert mask:00000110)
$4=0 (step enable invert, bool)
$5=0 (limit pins invert, bool)
$6=0 (probe pin invert, bool)
$10=3 (status report mask:00000011)
$11=0.020 (junction deviation, mm)
$12=0.002 (arc tolerance, mm)
$13=0 (report inches, bool)
$20=0 (soft limits, bool)
$21=0 (hard limits, bool)
$22=0 (homing cycle, bool)
$23=3 (homing dir invert mask:00000011)
$24=25.000 (homing feed, mm/min)
$25=750.000 (homing seek, mm/min)
$26=250 (homing debounce, msec)
$27=1.000 (homing pull-off, mm)
$30=1. (rpm max)
$31=0. (rpm min)
$100=40.000 (x, step/mm)
$101=40.000 (y, step/mm)
$102=188.976 (z, step/mm)
$110=8000.000 (x max rate, mm/min)
$111=8000.000 (y max rate, mm/min)
$112=500.000 (z max rate, mm/min)
$120=500.000 (x accel, mm/sec^2)
$121=500.000 (y accel, mm/sec^2)
$122=50.000 (z accel, mm/sec^2)
$130=290.000 (x max travel, mm)
$131=290.000 (y max travel, mm)
$132=100.000 (z max travel, mm)

@LachlanRoss, stick with it mate.

I bought Microsoft word, and I still couldn’t win that Pulitzer Prize. It did however give me a really powerful tool I can use as I learn to write.

The XCarve is almost the same (with the additional complexity that you need to build it yourself).

Think of yourself as a computer user in 1989. Yes, the machine is really cool and (relatively) powerful, however you needed to learn how the architecture works, as well as learning how to write code to command and control it. It’s not very intuitive or user friendly, but you can do some cool stuff with it.,now compare that to today’s computers.

I’m sure home CNC will be simplified dramatically in the near future, but in the meantime, we still need to be the motivated geeks, that are assisting in developing this new open source technology.

Or, as I began with, stick with it and persevere. Our grandchildren will appreciate the effort.