X-carve upgrade essentials?

Hey everybody. To give some background, I’m soon to be a new x-carve owner. I’ve read through a lot of posts here and I’m trying to determine what everyone considers to be “must have” upgrades for the x-carve. The first thing I’m considering upgrading are the stepper motors. I want to use the x-carve as more of a production workhorse (in some ways) rather than just a hobby piece that gets occasional use. I’ve seen posts discussing stepper motors with higher oz as getting quicker carves, and that’s the biggy for me - I don’t want to have to wait 2 hours for a simple 4"x12" sign to be carved if I can get it carved in half the time or less. In regards to the stepper motor, one reviewer for this stepper motor mentioned getting 400ipm :open_mouth:!

Outside of the stepper motor, what are the “essential” upgrades that you all consider to get after getting your stock machine?

Assuming you’re already getting a dust shoe with your order, the fun upgrades I’m planning to get are:

  • CNC4Newbies z-axis slider
  • risers to get more available room for depth of cut
  • a laser
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I saw the same z-axis and I’d like to do that as well! I’m also looking to eventually get a laser module for mine… thinking of the 2.8w from JTech. I’m not wanting to use it for cutting. It’d purely be for laser engraving.

The JTech 2.8w is probably what we’ll go with, but if money were less of an object, the Opt Lasers kit with magnetic docking looks really snazzy.

Check out the screw drive upgrade kit from @LukeWilson (tbdcnc.com). Just installed it over the weekend, and if I were using the X-Carve as a production workhorse I would definitely have wanted it, plus the Y stiffeners, from day one.


second @RohanSingh suggestion

his Z slider is much better than the newbies and he offers risers as well.


Yeah, I’m generally happy with my cnc4newbies slider and the slight “wobble” that it has doesn’t seem to actually cause any issues with my carves. It does really trigger my OCD though :grinning:

I think that it might be the limiting factor now with the screw drive though. Will have to do some jobs and see!

If I didn’t already have it, I would go with the tbdcnc one though, looks way more solid.

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I’ve been looking at stiffening options since it was mentioned and I’m already making arrangements to get parts for the x and y rails to stiffen those. After stiffening the two rails, do you think that the screw drive would make that much of a difference over the stock belts?

Just upping the feed speed is not enough…I tried this and found the little biddy Dewalt not man enough…

Try this out

I actually have a Bosch 1617EVSPK that we used to do this kind of work free-hand with. I’ve often wondered if you could put a full size router on an x-carve and get better/faster cuts. I obviously don’t even know how you’d go about making that work though.

It depends on the weight of the router. I looked at several and took advice…that monster of yours may be too heavy though.

Once I found the post on the best suited router to use, I then used another guy on the forum to make the enclosure for me…

Works a treat now

cnc4newbie z axis upgrade is a great upgrade. Also a great upgrade if you want to call it one. Would be to make an enclosure for the x-carve. I did and it works really good at keeping the dust confined and also it drops the noise a massive amount if you build it right. I can run my x-carve at 3am if I wanted and nobody would even know.


Having just installed the screw drive this weekend, I don’t have enough data to personally tell you how it’s working.

That said, the screw drive upgrade comes with thicker, rigid side plates and risers. Kind of makes the stock ones look hilarious when you do a side-by-side. These plates also have two additional V-wheels, for a total of six. That definitely improves the rigidity of the machine.

The real difference from the screw drive though seems to be in motion. Previously, when working on furniture-size stuff with a lot of pieces, I really tried to push the feed rate. Especially with 3D carves, the difference between being able to run at 120 IPM instead of 60 IPM completely changed how much I could get done in a day.

So I pushed my machine with belts, and generally things would be fine. But then I’d run into some issue and end up having to trash a work piece. Sometimes the X-axis belt would slip while in motion. Other times, I wasn’t delicate enough about a tool change and the gantry would slip. In the end, I had to change my process to go back to a lower feed rate and to minimize tool changes, which sucks.

With the screw drive, the holding torque is high enough that there is no way I can make it slip during a tool change. I’m also excited to be able to do more work in aluminum now rather than just wood, which I was always worried about with belts.


Wow, I have the latest z axis from Cnc4newbie, it’s a square linear bearings z axis and it’s really rock solid. I like it more than my z axis from eBay!

The new one is a piece of art!! The machining is awesome!! Better look than the tbdcnc and probably more rigid, the leadscrew is supported at both end.

For a while now I’ve been really wanting to buy the newbies Z slider, but now that I’ve seen Lukes supergrade DirectDrive Z slider I’m glad I didn’t buy the newbies slider. The DirectDrive Z slider will be my next upgrade.

The new newbie slide is completely different than their other one, it’s all square linear bearings, direct drive, rigid aluminum motor mount, leadscrew supported at both ends, all billet parts!!
I like it so much!! Rock solid! And 7” travel vs 6”, no printed parts here vs yes, all machined parts vs cheap extrusion!!

It’s my opinion!

Check it here: https://cnc4newbie.com/store/en/xcarve-slider/xcarve-slider-7-with-square-linear-bearings-p99c66/

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Yes the newbies slider looks good too, but for me personally there is more that goes into the decision of which one to spend my hard earned money on and buy. For example, the newbies website looks like a bunch of 4th graders put it up as a weekend project. There are so many things wrong with the website design that I literally laugh every time I visit there. Why is something like their website design important to me? Because I wonder in the back of my mind of they will be around tomorrow, if they don’t care enough to present themselves as being professional.

The tbdcnc website on the other hand looks much more professional. Gives me confidence that he actually cares about his companies future. The only thing that I like more about newbies (than tbd) is that newbies doesn’t paste logos all over their parts. Last thing I want is for my X-Carve to start looking like a Nascar with a bunch of different logos pasted everywhere all over it. However with that one exception, I do personally prefer how tbd handles their upgrades VS. how newbies does it. You probably wouldn’t go wrong with either slider as both are better than the e-bay variants, but at this point I think that tbd deserves my purchase more, and he’s a great guy too :slight_smile:

I have a Bosch 1617 too and I love it. In-fact I’m building a router cabinet for it this weekend, It’s a great router as routers go, but I think it’s way too heavy for something like a X-Carve. A water cooled spindle is a much better way to go.

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I look in my gmail archive and I bought a slider from cnc4newbie on eBay in July 2011, so it mean they are here since ±8 years!! For me it’s a sign of a good company!! TBD is here since lately only!!

I still own this slider, on my DIY sls printer.

** Many company with nice wibsites, nice buildings goes bankrup!!! And some others invest to the right places!!

Just my opinion!!

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After spending the weekend with the Dewalt 611, I really don’t have any doubts that it’ll do fine for all of our carving needs. I think the 1617 is going to go into a permanent cabinet going forward. What is this “water cooled spindle” sorcery that you speak of???

I’m installing my 1617 into a custom cabinet as we speak. I’ll be using it to make my Torsion box for the X-Carve.

I started with the Dewalt 611 but it has many limitations once you start to get serious with the X-Carve, so I’m upgrading my X-carve with this water cooler spindle soon;

You’ll also need a VFD to control it (shown below). If you decide to get a water cooled spindle be cautious about the ones sold on e-bay. Yes their low price may be tempting, but their “quality” is hit or miss. There are many brands of water cooled spindles available. Personally, after doing much research, I have decided to go with a Huanyang set-up. They seem to have good build quality and customer service. A water cooled spindle will also give you things like speed control for your X-Carve spindle, and they are also much, much quieter than a electric router style spindle. There are many videos on YouTube which go over all their features and set-up.

Don’t get me wrong. the fact that they don’t put logos all over their products, and the fact that they offer a 7" version (instead of a 6" version) are both very big selling factors for me. I haven’t yet decided which company to buy from. I’m just saying that the newbies website is literally laughable with all its amateurish HTML and CSS misused coding. It’s far from being professional in any way, so why should someone assume other aspects of their business would be treated any differently? Seriously, their website is the ‘face’ of the company, it’s what the public sees and interacts with. They should have at least tried to make an attempt to look more professional. Personally it just gives me pause about shopping there, that’s all I’m saying. I know they have good quality and good customer service, but so does tbd, and the tbd website looks like they are really serious about being professional and business like. Anyway like I said, I haven’t made any decisions yet, I’m just pointing out what concerns me about shopping at the newbies website.

Luke has been a valued member here for as long as I can remember, so buying something from him is a good thing in my opinion. Yes his company is new but that’s not an issue. Everyone has to start somewhere. If I bought something from tbd and had an issue with it I am confident that they would make it right. Like many of the ‘regulars’ here, Luke is like family, and I trust in buying something from him. I strongly believe in supporting the members here. We all help each other in the best ways that we can.