X-carve VS Shapeoko

I am researching to purchase a CNC and it is between X carve and Shapeoko. I know most on this forum will probably say X carve, but If you were buying a new CNC what is your opinion of the two and why would you buy it?

Plenty of other threads asking very similar questions - make sure to search around.

X-Carve owner here. X-Carve is more capable, but you need to spend time learning its ins and outs and properly adjusting/tuning it. Shapeoko is more “out of the box”, but can’t do as much.

What do you mean by this? They are both kits.
And what can the X-carve do that the Shapeoko 3 can’t?

Were you thinking of the Carvey?

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X-Carve owner here,

I had the same decision to make when I wanted to purchase a cnc.

Shapeoko = more ridged-stiff. this is due to the design of the maker slide or extrusions being thicker and wider.

X-Carve = open sourced design. this means that if I need a part in the future I can use the original design file to make my own parts or use them as a template to improve on them making it better.

Shapeoko also has a program like Easel that can be installed on the local machine and design and generate G-Code, it uses local fonts installed on local machine and also has V-Carve ability.

I choose X-Carve due to the open source design as I always try to own my equipment and keep and maintain what I have. with the open source I have the ability to modify and maintain this machine as long as I can produce the parts needed to keep it going. If Inventables closes shop I can still use and maintain this machine. If the makers of Shapeoko close shop you do not have the same options unless they release their design files, and as of now that has not happened.

so in closing both make a great machine. what options you like is up to you. read all you can and make a somewhat informed decision as that is the best anyone can do.

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Where do you find the specs for all the parts?

The X-Carve is a cosmetic fork of the Shapeoko 2 which since its introduction has had Wide Makerslide added to replace the double extrusion X-axis.

The Shapeoko 3, Carbide 3D’s current product was a clean slate design by Edward R. Ford (who is now a partner at Carbide 3D having left Inventables) applying all the lessons learned from previous models to create a better, albeit larger, heavier and more expensive machine.

Both are opensource designs (the SO3 has an NC clause), with files available at: https://wiki.shapeoko.com/index.php/Parts#Source_Files — one limit is the custom extrusions, the carriage extrusion for the X-Carve would have to be replaced w/ plates and spacers as were used on the SO2, while there isn’t a compatible extrusion for the custom SO3 extrusions, folks have worked up similar extrusions using V rails (one person made an SO3 clone from scratch).


I don’t have either, but I like the ease of use of Easel to allow my children to produce projects and I like the community’s available projects.

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The machines have the same firmware and can pretty much use the same software — the exception is where the manufacturers have tried to limit things. My understanding is Easel when controlling the machine only works with the X-Carve, while Carbide Motion is tied to the Shapeoko or Nomad.

Sure was. Whoops.

The “stock” Shapeoko is significantly stiffer due to the beefier extrusions, as others have mentioned. However, the X-Carve can be stiffened fairly easily (there are at least a couple kits, or you can do it yourself to your own contentment).

Personally I’m not a fan of the Shapeoko’s belt-driven spring-loaded Z-axis, and much prefer the ACME screw of the X-Carve.


The Carvey competitor would be the Nomad 883 Pro, which makes your note on belts seem a bit odd.

The Shapeoko’s belt-driven Z-axis works well for most folks, though some have replaced it w/ an Acme screw system (some folks have even gone to a linear slide) and has the advantage of skipping on the belt rather than damaging things in the event of a mis-command or typical crash.

The big thing is, the Shapeoko and X-Carve are kits, and one can do pretty much what one wishes with them.

If it were me, and the Shapeoko3 XXL was available when I purchased my X-carve, I would have bought the Shapeoko. As mentioned before, they are essentially a upgraded X-carve out of the box. They run 9mm belts, larger pulleys, stronger extrusions, inboard and larger steppers, etc. For the money and time I’d probably just start with the Shapeoko at the moment. I’m sure Inventables next generation X-carve will be a proper competitor, but at the moment these machines are at different generations. As far as the Z-axis, the X-carve’s Z axis is the weakest part of the machine. It’s a pretty poor design from a rigidity standpoint. I would say both machines would benefit from a linear Z, so I would not let that be the deciding factor.


cg49me: I, too, am researching first purchase of cnc. Apart from the rigidity, which is addressed in every comparison I’ve seen on both machines, is there functionality that the one has over the other? I read somewhere that Easel can generate gcode for the Shapeoko, and that Carbide Create will generate gcode that can be used on “almost any machine.” So if the software is (almost) cross-platform, where are the differences in functionality?

My head is overloaded with input, and no clear winner is emerging…:slight_smile:

You can generate G-Code from Carbide Create and send it to an X-Carve using Easel.

You can generate G-Code from Easel and send it to a Shapeoko using Carbide Motion.

The differenced is you can use Easel to control an X-Carve and Carbide Motion to control a Shapeoko.

No…they do the same thing and work the same way.

Do you have a good list of stuff that Xcarve/Shapeoko can do that Carvey can’t?

That’s a really loaded question. The Carvey is a small desktop unit for small work pieces. The X-carve and Shapeoko are much larger more powerful units for bigger workpieces.

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That much I’m aware of - our school got a Carvey for the out-of-the-box ease and (especially) the easy dust collection. Other than size, though: anything we’re missing out on? It seems like cutting metal would be harder, since you can’t get in to lubricate constantly, but that’s not big on our list anyway.

Only Material Removal Rate (MRR) which is a function of machine rigidity and spindle power.
A factor more relevant to a commercial shop where time = money :slight_smile:


My limiting factor is often bits - 'lil 1/32" bits snapping. I do get some off-path stuff from time to time, so I tend to go with thinner layer depths with most bits anyway. I guess this would be better with those machines.

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Hi Tim and Tami, I can not speak for the Shapeoko but I have had my X Carve 1000 for almost a year now. I have been an artist most of my life and had some ideas but needed a cnc to create what I wanted. This has been a big adventure and a lot of learning. First be sure this is something you truly want to do, if it is, go all in. Now as for my X Carve. I have had very little problems with it, to be honest most problems I have had I created not the machine. I am now making thing with this that I did not even think I ever could. It is not a heavy duty machine, but for the price its a great machine. I do not know if you have to put the Shapeoko together like you do the V Carve. But putting it together teaches you all the parts and how to fix a problem. For me X Carve was the correct choice. Hope this helps