Tom Cancelleri

XCarve Vs Other Option

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I can't wait for the CNCing isn't woodworking argument to start. Before it does, here's my interests in getting one.

Complicated inlays (specifically for fretboards) Things like this

1811184-9.jpg

Cutting .023" width fret slots for fanned fretboards. If you're not familiar with a fanned fretboard on a guitar it's a fretboard consisting of a series of frets are angled to retain intonation while increasing the length of the low strings to give more depth and bass, while shortening the vibrating length of the higher strings for brighter and crisper sound.

CH8-mahpers-p1-750.jpg

 

 

Lastly, it's use would add random abilities in making stuff like jigs, templates, and other guitar related stuff. Yes I know I could do it all by hand, but messing up pieces of ebony and 80 hours of inlaying isn't something I want to do.   

Does anyone have experience with the XCarve vs some other CNC option? I'm not looking to bang out production speeds, but the size would need to be at least 24" x 24" Are there things I should be looking for that I am not aware of? 

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Engraving names, inlay, jigs , parts...... Lots of chores for CNC. Just fess up that it's machining work not craftsmanship.

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Engraving names, inlay, jigs , parts...... Lots of chores for CNC. Just fess up that it's machining work not craftsmanship.

It is machining work, it requires a higher than normal amount of design. Usually I can shoot from the hip on a piece, but if you're building an acoustic form jig, the amount of layout necessary is more than saying ok this piece goes here with a domino. There's roughly 24 slots that need to be routed. A radius dish requires a very complex jig to make, and still requires hours of work and cleanup after that.

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I would think that using for inlays on fret boards, cnc is a logical choice.  Some fret boards are expensive woods, I think minimizing the potential for screwing up and wasting wood makes another compelling reason. 

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I would consider a more commercial machine, unless you really enjoy tinkering. The 'some assembly required' aspect of the XCarve seems to have been a problem for a lot of YouTube crowd.

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I would consider a more commercial machine, unless you really enjoy tinkering. The 'some assembly required' aspect of the XCarve seems to have been a problem for a lot of YouTube crowd.

Tinkering isn't an issue for me. Building stuff, wiring, and hooking up electronics is something I've done a lot of in the past. My biggest wonder about it is the reliability.

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That's something else I see from the YouTubers. Several have managed the assembly, only to run into reliability (or lack of ability ) issues, which led them to shelve it. This may be a function of so many videos about the XCarve that resulted from their promotional give aways.

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1 minute ago, Pwalter5110 said:

I have the X carve that has the 1,000mm rails. What do you want to know about he machine?

31 minutes ago, Tom Cancelleri said:

My biggest wonder about it is the reliability.

 

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I have the X carve that has the 1,000mm rails. What do you want to know about he machine?

After getting it setup and ready to cut. Have you had to make any measurable amounts of adjustments or square things up again, any specific things about it you don't like? Have you had any issues? Would you buy it again?

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Not to HIJACK!! here, but in addition...  How important is planning with grain direction in mind?

 

(sorry, TC, hope that's ok!  I've been curious about CNCs, too)

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30 minutes ago, Tom Cancelleri said:

After getting it setup and ready to cut. Have you had to make any measurable amounts of adjustments or square things up again, any specific things about it you don't like? Have you had any issues? Would you buy it again?

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I bought the machine last black friday. I did the original setup and haven't had to make any major adjustments. Now, I was extremely meticulous adjusting the belts. I used a fish scale and made sure all of the belts were adjusted evenly. (I seen videos on youtube) and I haven't had to adjust the belts. I also put heatshrink on the ends of the belts to keep them from loosening. The hardest part for me was adjusting the v-wheels. But I made sure they were adjusted properly and applied loctite so that they wouldn't vibrate loose.

I am having one problem that I need to fix. as I can towards the back of the machine, the cut becomes slightly shallower. I plan on fixing this by using the cnc to flatten the wasteboard.

You will need a good program. When I first got the machine I tried using all of the free software, honestly, it is all garbage. Include Vcarve in the price. Vcarve desktop is $350 and does a 24x24 work area. Vcarve pro is $700 and does any size. The software is extremely user friendly, and very in depth. Then I use a mixture between easel (xcarve program) or chillipeppr to send the G code to the machine. I am starting to use chillipepper more because it allows you to add a zero touch plate that I added.

The only other problem I have is missed steps because sawdust packs on the rails and the v wheels seize against the sawdust. I NEED to add a dust shoe, but im not sure if i want to make one, or buy one.

I havent had any issues with it, but a lot of people who cut aluminum stiffen the rails. Again, I havent noticed a need to. But keep that in mind.
I am still learning on the machine. For the first 4-5 months I was having trouble with software to design stuff to make. It wasn't until recently that I got vcarve and I love the machine now more than ever.

I build a lot of end grain cutting boards. Cutting the juice grooves with a router is easy, but as you slow down in the corners, you always get burn and it is a pain in the rear to sand out of end grain cutting boards. Now I just slap it on the cnc, no slowing down, no burning, which means a heck of a lot less sanding.

I would never use the machine to build furniture, where is the fun in that? But it definitely has it's place in my shop. Especially since I don't think I could ever do advance inlays.

23 minutes ago, -MattK- said:

Not to HIJACK!! here, but in addition...  How important is planning with grain direction in mind?

 

(sorry, TC, hope that's ok!  I've been curious about CNCs, too)

I really haven't noticed anything. I always cut using a climb cut on the cnc though...

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I have a Shapeoko 2, which is basically the precursor of the Xcarve.  I like the machine but they are small and honestly not very powerful.  It is ok for little things, but not really mass production work.    If I were to buy a new machine I would get something far more robust.  Even more robust than the Xcarve.

There is lots of trial and error in the beginning with CNC.  I find the people that think CNC isnt woodworking usually just aren't familiar with the process and what all is involved.   It is so far from just pressing a button.

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1 hour ago, mds2 said:

I have a Shapeoko 2, which is basically the precursor of the Xcarve.  I like the machine but they are small and honestly not very powerful.  It is ok for little things, but not really mass production work.    If I were to buy a new machine I would get something far more robust.  Even more robust than the Xcarve.

There is lots of trial and error in the beginning with CNC.  I find the people that think CNC isnt woodworking usually just aren't familiar with the process and what all is involved.   It is so far from just pressing a button.

The Xcarve no longer ships with a 24V spindle like the Shapeoko2 did. It comes with a Dewalt 611 1.25HP Router, which should be sufficient for my needs as I use my 1.25hp PC router for inlays now. I don't see me running it nonstop for weeks of work. I see it more as operation by operation basis with multi day/week breaks, much like my lathe there are times I want to do nothing but turn, and weeks and at some points months that go by where I don't touch it.  

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20 minutes ago, Tom Cancelleri said:

The Xcarve no longer ships with a 24V spindle like the Shapeoko2 did. It comes with a Dewalt 611 1.25HP Router, which should be sufficient for my needs as I use my 1.25hp PC router for inlays now. I don't see me running it nonstop for weeks of work. I see it more as operation by operation basis with multi day/week breaks, much like my lathe there are times I want to do nothing but turn, and weeks and at some points months that go by where I don't touch it.  

Sorry, i wasnt talking about the spindle.  I have a 1 hp bosch colt in mine, which in itself is powerful.  The problem is with the strength of the stepper motors that move the spindle around.  They are a bit under powered in my opinion.  This can cause problem with the machine pushing the router through material. 

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41 minutes ago, mds2 said:

Sorry, i wasnt talking about the spindle.  I have a 1 hp bosch colt in mine, which in itself is powerful.  The problem is with the strength of the stepper motors that move the spindle around.  They are a bit under powered in my opinion.  This can cause problem with the machine pushing the router through material. 

Ahh ok, do you know which motors you have? I know they offer the Nema 17 and Nema 23 stepper motors with the 23 being more powerful.

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8 minutes ago, Tom Cancelleri said:

Ahh ok, do you know which motors you have? I know they offer the Nema 17 and Nema 23 stepper motors with the 23 being more powerful.

Honestly I dont know.  Probably the smaller ones.   If you go this route get the most powerful ones you can. 

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10 hours ago, Tom Cancelleri said:

Ahh ok, do you know which motors you have? I know they offer the Nema 17 and Nema 23 stepper motors with the 23 being more powerful.

I have the nema 23s. They are plenty powerful enough. i haven't cut anything out of aluminum, but for wood, I've routing through Purple Heart. I typically do light passes at a slower rate anyhow. The frames can flex and cause imperfections. But the reality of it to me is, I don't care how long it takes, I'm doing something else while the machine is running.

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On 7/7/2016 at 7:27 PM, Pwalter5110 said:

I am having one problem that I need to fix. as I can towards the back of the machine, the cut becomes slightly shallower. I plan on fixing this by using the cnc to flatten the wasteboard.

The only other problem I have is missed steps because sawdust packs on the rails and the v wheels seize against the sawdust. I NEED to add a dust shoe, but im not sure if i want to make one, or buy one.

Doing inlay on a CNC is very easy if you have a program that supports doing it correctly. The software should have the ability to enter an offset, or gap, between the two pieces so that they fit together correctly AND automatically put the correct radius on any outside corner to compensate for the radius of the bit on the mating inside corners. The school where I take woodworking classes offers guitar building classes. Some of the guys approached me about doing exactly the type of inlay you're asking about, but also to put a convex curvature top to bottom along the length of the fretboard so that the string offset was correct. In the CAD/CAM programs I'm most familiar with, this requires 3D programming capabilities. I'm not certain, but I don't think VCarve has that ability, you'd need Aspire or the equivalent. Vectric may offer a plugin to do the convex curvature.

As much as I know I would love to have a small CNC, I don't because capabilities go hand in hand with price. There are some good ones out there, but they're priced accordingly. Here is the problem as I see it - a router is designed to turn at high speeds (as opposed to a milling machine). At the entry level, this means the torque is a function of rotation speed - higher rotation speed = more torque. But higher rotation speeds require higher feedrates which require a more rigid machine which costs more money.  

Pwalter5110 correctly pointed out some potential issues you might run into:

1. Most controller software has the ability to decelerate and accelerate the router as it enters and exits a sharp turn. If not, less stable machines overshoot the corners and the pieces won't fit properly. The trick, as Pwalter5110 said, is to keep it from burning. That's where the Catch 22 comes in. On a cutting board, overshoot wouldn't be very noticeable. On an inlay the overshoot becomes very obvious. On a stepper driven machine the motors will simply keep pushing the router even though it's out of position. When you try to put the puzzle pieces together, they won't fit. The workaround is to slow the feedrate down ALONG WITH the spindle rotation speed. If you just decrease the feedrate without also slowing the spindle you'll get burning which dulls the tool almost immediately.

2. You should always mill the spoilboard flat before doing anything else. Most of these table surfaces are MDF which swells and shrinks with the relative humidity level changes. For precise depth of cut you have to mill the surface flat. Doing so ensures that the surface is parallel to the rails and gantry in X and Y.

3. If I were looking at a CNC for my shop for doing inlays, I would shy away from machines with V roller guides for the very reason Pwalter pointed out - dust accumulation on the rails. The machines I've sold and worked with over the years have all had prismatic bearing rail guides. They're more expensive, but they are far superior. We decided to introduce an "entry level" router several years back (still $25,000 plus, but entry level for us) with V bearing rails. We killed it almost as soon as we introduced it. 

The one justification that I can see is what Pwalter said - he doesn't care how long it takes and is willing to accept the flex and imperfections. For many types of woodworking that's fine. If I'm making a guitar with inlays, it would not be.

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Tom please check out CNCROUTERPARTS.COM . They have great options. It's where I got my 4x8 machine.

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52 minutes ago, SplinteredDave said:

Tom please check out CNCROUTERPARTS.COM . They have great options. It's where I got my 4x8 machine.

That looks like a very good option! True R&P dual drives. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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