I am just starting to look into getting an X Carve. I have no experience with CNC routers, however I do have a CO2 laser. My main business is custom woodworking and I would love to have the ability to carve turned pieces.
I have seen a few forums about this but frankly very little makes sense to me. I don’t know CNC software, terms or anything.
Can someone explain to me, exactly what would be entailed in getting set up with the X Carve to carve on a rotary axis? Hardware, software etc.
I do have a rotary attachment for me Full Spectrum Laser, might that be able to be used?
Thanks for any advise.
The rotary attachment for your laser would not be powerful enough to serve as a rotary axis for CNC woodworking. However, the rotary for the laser is the same concept as what happens with a CNC.
I bought the Sherline rotary attachment and its matching live center. I still have yet to do any true rotary work.
You will need software that can create tool paths for the 4th Axis. Vectric software can do that, but you will need to buy up to the higher end of their software. Vectric V Carve desktop is not capable of 4th Axis.
One thing to consider is that the rotation of the stock must fit below the maximum Z height (how high the router and bit can be raised above the bed). It may not be enough to turn out fancy cabrio legs for a stool.
I still do 3D, two sided carving where the stock is flipped over during carving. I’ve seen some designs that do 4 sided carving which achieves much of what true 4th Axis promises. The X Carve with 4th axis might be an affordable way to find out if 4 Axis carving is for you. If you need to go bigger, there are higher end machines out there built with 4th Axis in mind.
I have been reading several threads and I get more confused with each. I was thinking, like my laser, I could simply unplug the y axis and plug in a rotary, then design on a flat surface. What I wasn’t sure is how to calibrate the rotary for the steps per line. But several threads have mentioned new boards and parallel ports and a whole bunch of stuff that isn’t in my wheelhouse to really know about.
I do most of my design in Illustrator and SketchUp. What will I need for actual design? The Vectric software looks to be about $2000.00. Would I be better off buying a machine more designed for rotary carving?
Below is an example of what I am hoping to be able to carve.
I have these sherline pieces. I carefully bought them used on Ebay to bring down the cost.
The right angle attachment converts the rotary table to an A axis so the workpiece is horizontal. The tailstock has a live center and supports the far end.
You are exactly correct that you can swap the Y axis for the A axis and turn a piece such as you picture (wrapped rotary machining). However, with the sherline rotary table indexer, there is geared reduction so you would need to exaggerate the Y movements. It would take a bit of tinkering to get the right stretch for the rotary motion.
Controllers with a proper A axis are nice. This opens up more possibilities where the spindle does not need to be directly over the A Axis.
Vectric’s V Carve Pro supports wrapped rotary machining. You don’t have to go all the way to Aspire.
I set up my own rotary / 4th axis.
I am using it to engrave drinking glasses. ( I have included 2 images)
Also I would like to do some other things.
I’ve been checking out a guy who built a stand alone rotary machine using grbl. I bet you could easily adapt it to the x-carve. he figured out how to make grbl us degree output for the rotary which seems key to using one. Everyone else I’ve seen has recalculated steps per mm for every job for zeroing on the surface of the wood. that seems like a total pain. the guy has a ton of how to videos just for the rotary. I believe it’s called the Rotary demon. try googling that.