X-Carve or Stepcraft? Trying to decide, convince me!

Sorry Curtis I didn’t get a notice that you replied! I did buy a C-Beam. For me it seemed to be the best option. It was relatively easy to construct! I am waiting for the electronics and then I am ready to go. I was going to go with the X-carve mainly because of price and Easel but when prices increased to $500 more than the C-Beam complete (add into the equation the difference in Can and US dollar and free shipping it wasn’t a difficult decision) As well many of the woodworkers who were given X-carves from Inventables for “honest reviews” are not using them anymore due to a number of specific difficulties! I will let you know how it all works out!! Thanks!


I think it depends on your application, just like everything. If you need a big bed then maybe the X-Carve or the ShapeOko. If you need lead screws for improved strength and accuracy for milling aluminum then maybe the StepCraft is good. The thing is built like a tank. Anyone have experience with both? Belts versus lead screws for aluminum milling?

Hi @StephenBuckle I’m the CEO of Inventables and I’m happy to answer any additional questions you have. In addition you can give us a call during business hours at 312-775-7009 or by emailing our Customer Success team. We strive to return all emails within 1 business day. The Customer Success team answers the phones so the person that answers should be able to help you.

In addition you might want to check out the Easel Classes. They are free and walk you through each project step by step.

Quick thought about dust. While a manufacturer may tout enclosed mechanisms to eliminate dust, the reality is you will still have to clean on a regular basis. Dust will get in there, and there has to be an easy way to get in to clean it out. I had a Lifeproof case on my old phone - they claimed it would keep out dust, water, and just about everything else. After 5 minutes in the shop, even with the dust collector running, I would have to take apart the phone case and clean the dust out of it. With the X-Carve, you can brush it off, or blast it with compressed air without have to take anything apart. I have seen a couple of “dust proof” systems that require the better part of a day to take apart, clean, and put back together. And oil or grease in such an environment? What a mess!

Thanks Zach, unfortunately I bought another company’s cnc machine. After a lot of research I went with a lead screw system because of the accuracy I require in my business!

On another note…Sure wish Easel was open source so everyone could use it!! Just a thought! Thanks again!!

I am not aware of this!! I have tried to use Easel and it wants my machine info there are only options for Shapeoko, Carvey and X-carve. My machine has lead screws if that matters and I use GRBL. Can you direct me to any videos??

Hi @StephenBuckle you can export g-code in the machine menu by clicking “advanced”.


Hi everyone,

just found this thread.
I have both, a X-Carve 500mm and a Stepcraft 840/2. So if there are still any questions, I would be happy to share my experience with you!

Best regards


What did u feel was the main difference?
Pros and cons?
Can you post your thoughts?

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I am not a native English speaker, so I apologize for any grammar or spelling errors :slight_smile:

My X-Carve has the quiet cut spindle mounted, where as the Stepcraft operates with a Kress spindle which should be similar to the Dewalt spindles.

Here are my thoughts, Experience and pros and cons:

  • For me, both machines are precise enough. On both machines I cannot measure any significant aberration.

  • The X-Carve with its belts is more forgiving. Belt tension is important, but this it is not rocket science. Whereas the Stepcraft has to be very fine adjusted or it stalls. In the German Stepcraft forum somebody called the Stepcraft a “Diva”.
    For example: Once I did set wrong parameters on the Z-axis. The spindle crashed into the wasteboard. I had to reassemble both Z and Y axis.

  • The Stepcraft has more Z working hight. That is very nice.

  • My 500mm X-Carve is stiff enough. However I can imagine the lack off stiffness at bigger X-Carves. This was the reason to look for an alternative. The Stepcraft is more stiffer than the X-Carve. I have no problems with flexing. I do MDF, plywood, hard woos and HPL.

  • Assembling and support ist equal. Both manuals are great and easy to understand. Both companies offer great support. Both forums are very helpful. Especially for the German forum of Stepcraft.

However, I don’t like the wiring of the Stepcraft.

  • Stepcraft has a lot of options like the T-nut table, 4th axis or the automatic tool changer. I really like the different tools, like 3D printer, drag knife and laser. All tools can be powered and controlled via the included hardware. That is awesome.
    Stepcraft is not Arduino/GRBL operated. They have their own driver board which incorporates the different tool operations.

  • Easel is a great peace of software. I really appreciate the efforts of Inventables. Stepcraft includes a very crappy machine controller software without CAM module. At least in Germany. You can upgrade the Controller Software for 160 EUR. Then you have full control over the tool changer, 4th Axis and so on.
    At my X-Carve I switched to ESTLCAM for CAM and machine control. On my Stepcraft I also use ESTLCAM with an Arduino attached to the Stepcraft driver board. In the German Stepcraft forum there are a lot of people building their custom Arduino Stepcraft shield.
    Please note, that IMHO ESTLCAM does not support a 4th axis.

  • X-Carve comes with a wasteboard option with threaded inserts. The Stepcraft has an HPL-wasteboard and some clamping mechanism attached to the X-axis rails. I am not sure what to think about the Stepcraft mechanism. I was used to the threaded clamps of my X-Carve and didn’ get used to the Stepcraft mechanism. But this is something personal, I think. You can get a T-Nut board out of aluminium for the Stepcraft. However, I mad and X-Carve style MDF wasteboard for my Stepcraft.

So, these are my thoughts.
Comparing my machines is like comparing apples and oranges (different size, different spindles).
If you like different tools and upgrades, integrated in one system, go for the Stepcraft. But you need a good CAM and controller software.
If you just do milling and you want/need a guided way from sketch to finished product, go for Inventables.

Hope this helps.

Best regards


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Most people would argue that the best thing about the stepcraft is the screwdrive and z height.
But I did study the machine when I was helping a friend make the decision. However I noticed the screws were belt driven which is not that bad calculating for mechanical advantage, but it was a single motor for both y screws. Didn’t think that was great, and correct me if I’m wrong but direct drive would have been a better way to go considering stepper size used.

I am not quite sure what you mean wirh “considering stepper size used.”
Do you mean that a Stepper Motor on each axis would give more tourque? I ageee wirh you, but if you have 2 motors and ohne loses a step the gantry could misalign and stall.

So I have a dual stepper and the chance of only one losing a step is unlikely. And its very difficult at 200 steps per mm to even notice one missed micro step.
And the mechanical advantage of screws makes missed steps extra unlikely.
Broken bits yes. Ask me how I know. :yum:

Someone plz correct me if I’m wrong.:+1:

One motor driving both screws is a better design than using two motors from the stand point of alignment and ramifications of missed steps. There may be other factors that would tilt the balance the other way.

It is more likely that, with two motors in parallel being driven by the same step pulses, that one motor would lose a step and the other not lose a step.

The load placed on each motor in the two motor setup is not evenly divided between the two motors. The reason that a motor would lose a step is that the torque generated by the motor is not sufficient to move the load. Therefore the motor that takes up the larger portion of the load (assuming that that portion exceeds the capability of the motor) would miss a step, and the other motor may or may not miss a step depending on the load distribution.

Using micro-stepping reduces the torque that a stepper motor can produce and that torque reduction is greater for a larger number of micro-steps per full step.

Having said that, it is also important to consider …

That’s what I was thinking. So based on what I said I was correct? Dual higher torque motors is better than one? I have yet to hear my stock 23’s complain even when ripping aluminum at 50ipm .5"doc don’t remember radial step over.
What they did do was break my bit due to me being cheap on the coolant. :roll_eyes:Idiot!
Only complaints were during homing I crashed the Y when my limit switch failed (forgot to connect). Motors made a loud buzz l, hit the readhead on the noggin and checked for damage. Nothing at all.
And I’m on only 1/4 step @ 200 steps/mm so resolution is fantastic and motors are still torquey.

Also side note. A belt driven dual y is more likely to slip a tooth in the event of a crash. One tooth is huge compared to 200steps/mm

Just looking at the alignment and the motor/s missing steps point of view a single motor is better than two motors as long as the combined torque of the two motors is the same as the torque of the one motor.

Based on that, if i remember correctly the stepcraft had a smallish stepper motor… Either way i feel like the x-carve can be pushed harder and maintained cheaper than the stepcraft.

My X-Carve has NEMA17 Motors. Compared to my Stepcraft, I can push the Stepcraft harder.
However I would name based as hobby grade machines.

Stepcraft has a more complete offering and a more stiffer construction.
The X-Carve is not that stiff but is easier to operate, to maintain and comes with a complete workflow solution.

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Ok so step craft vs X-carve is a big significance, the Step craft is built really nice with lead screws and nice accessories and is from Germany which is suppose to be the best engineers other than the Swiss and Japanese, i really don’t think the engineers were thinking at step craft about the torque and the amount of material users were going to be trying to cut at a time, the step craft has nema 17 stepper motors with little torque and the nuts are not anti back lashed which will cause major problems outside of the two year warranty this machine is basically designed for engraving only not heavy cuts or 3d carving, and it only takes 1/8th bits, the machine needs a major upgrade right off the shelf, it needs nema 23 motors with the minimum of 300oz torque and anti-backlash lead screw system so it doesn’t bind when taking rough cuts,

now lets talk about the X-carve its a nice machine with up gradable features and the support is great, some of the parts are a little expensive and it would be great if it was driven by lead screws instead of belts one of the problems is you have to like the y axis to one driver which takes away power from the driver with lead screws you don’t have that issue because your using one motor and one driver for each axis, the dust build up on the rails is easy fix a plastic shield mounted to the y axis on each side is sufficient enough the other issue is everything should be enclosed such as the controller now they sell a controller for about $329 with a pretty long wait time which these controllers could actually be built in-house, the price of the machines are better than the step crafts but still over priced, i understand a company has to keep up with overhead and what not, Im building two machines with German and USA made parts that will be anti backlash lead screw driven the rails are anodized aluminum the bearings are self lubricating polymer and so is the nut for the lead screw this machine will be completely maintenance free and will accept anywhere from your smallest routers and spindles to your medium 3hp routers and spindles, all stepper motors will be from 450oz to 520oz torque the machine will come on a stand or cart with a set of bits of various sizes and tools, the machine will come in different sizes either pre-built or in kits i will be posting them on my facebook page within the next few months and also the machine is upgradable

you can use easel with your machine just choose either setting and it should work fine