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The X-Carve is a light-duty desktop CNC router from Inventables with an approximate cutting area of 30“ × 30”. The controller is an X-Controller (Arduino Uno) running GRBL.


Training is required to use the X-Carve.

To get trained, watch the CNC Orientation video (old) and complete the online quiz with a score of 100%.

Quiz access:

If you are new to CNC routers, performing an “air cut” with the spindle off prior to cutting solid material is recommended.


Ensuring safe use of the machine is the responsibility of the user. In general, you should always:

  • Wear eye protection
  • Wear hearing protection
  • Keep hair, clothing, and jewelry away from any spinning parts
  • Use a respirator when cutting wood for long periods of time
  • Avoid putting your hand or fingers near the bit while it is spinning


The process is:

  1. Use CAD (computer-aided design) to create the to-scale lines, shapes, solids of your part.
  2. Use CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) to create the tool paths in the correct order to manufacture your part.
  3. Generate (or “post”) G-code (or Gerber code) that can be understood by the specific CNC machine controller to be used.
  4. Setup the machine (including zero location)
  5. Send the G-code to the controller to run the machine.

You can use Easel for CAD, CAM, post, and sending G-code to the controller.

You can use Autodesk Inventor for CAD, CAM, and post.

You can use Vectric VCarve Pro for CAD, CAM, and post. (Note that only the shop-version of VCarve Pro can run the post-processor to generate the G-code.

Once you have G-code generated for the GRBL controller, you can also use Universal G-code Sender Platform (installed on the shop computer) for machine control and sending G-code.

Creating an Inventables account

Go to and follow the instructions to setup an account. You only need an Inventables account if you plan to use Easel.

Operating the X-Carve

Machine settings

Setting Value
Machine X-Carve
Work Area 30“ × 30”
Spindle Control Manual
Machine Type X-Carve (GRBL)
Motion Controller X-Controller
Rail Size
Lead screw
Spindle Dewalt 611
Limit switch setup Yes, enable homing

Powering the machine

The X-Controller is powered through the toggle switch as shown.

The motor drives can be interrupted by using the red E-stop button on the top of the X-Controller.

When first starting your program, have your hand ready to hit the E-stop to avoid damaging anything, if things do not go as planned.


Workholding is the means of holding your workpiece while it is being cut. There are many tools you can use to hold a workpiece:

  • Vise
  • Clamps
  • Double-sided tape
  • Glue
  • Vacuum table
  • Screws/bolts
  • Brad nails

Always ensure that your workholding tools are not in the way of the toolpath or the X-axis carriage

Illustrated here is a method of clamping your workpiece using setup clamps.

The bed of the X-Carve includes threaded inserts. The inserts are M5 × 0.8 mm (metric) spaced on a 75 mm × 75 mm grid.

Setting Z-axis zero

The Z-axis work-zero position can be set using the included touch probe. Easel guides you through the process. The photo below shows the touch probe properly setup to begin the probing sequence.


  • You must be checked off to operate this machine.
  • Don't leave the machine running unattended.
  • If you break something (other than your bit), put an orange tag on the machine and email [email protected] so the machine can be repaired as quickly as possible.
  • Always clean up after use. Vacuum up dust. Wipe the MakerSlide rails.
  • TURN OFF the drives before you leave!

GRBL Settings

To view GRBL settings, enter $$ into the command line in Universal GCode Sender.

$0 = 10 (Step pulse time, microseconds)
$1 = 255 (Step idle delay, milliseconds)
$2 = 0 (Step pulse invert, mask)
$3 = 3 (Step direction invert, mask)
$4 = 0 (Invert step enable pin, boolean)
$5 = 0 (Invert limit pins, boolean)
$6 = 0 (Invert probe pin, boolean)
$10 = 115 (Status report options, mask)
$11 = 0.010 (Junction deviation, millimeters)
$12 = 0.002 (Arc tolerance, millimeters)
$13 = 0 (Report in inches, boolean)
$20 = 0 (Soft limits enable, boolean)
$21 = 0 (Hard limits enable, boolean)
$22 = 1 (Homing cycle enable, boolean)
$23 = 3 (Homing direction invert, mask)
$24 = 100.000 (Homing locate feed rate, mm/min)
$25 = 400.000 (Homing search seek rate, mm/min)
$26 = 250 (Homing switch debounce delay, milliseconds)
$27 = 5.000 (Homing switch pull-off distance, millimeters)
$30 = 1 (Maximum spindle speed, RPM)
$31 = 0 (Minimum spindle speed, RPM)
$32 = 0 (Laser-mode enable, boolean)
$100 = 40.000 (X-axis travel resolution, step/mm)
$101 = 40.000 (Y-axis travel resolution, step/mm)
$102 = 320.000 (Z-axis travel resolution, step/mm)
$110 = 9000.000 (X-axis maximum rate, mm/min)
$111 = 9000.000 (Y-axis maximum rate, mm/min)
$112 = 1000.000 (Z-axis maximum rate, mm/min)
$120 = 1000.000 (X-axis acceleration, mm/sec^2)
$121 = 400.000 (Y-axis acceleration, mm/sec^2)
$122 = 50.000 (Z-axis acceleration, mm/sec^2)
$130 = 250.000 (X-axis maximum travel, millimeters)
$131 = 250.000 (Y-axis maximum travel, millimeters)
$132 = 65.000 (Z-axis maximum travel, millimeters)

Dewalt Collets

3 sizes of collet are available to use:

  • 1/8“
  • 1/4”
  • 6mm

Make sure to put the collets back when you are finished. They are easy to lose and expensive to replace.

Dewalt DWP611 Speeds

Known Issues

  • The X-axis home switch is broken, so soft-limits will not work.
  • The lead-screw bearing is not parallel to the Z axis. This can cause the Z axis to bind.
    • A temporary fix has been made in which the Z-axis bearing is allowed to wobble.
  • Static discharge causes a hard-limit switch to trigger.
    • The hard-limit switches have been disabled for this reason. (6/20/2020 – this has been fixed)
  • The X- or Y- axes seize up from too much dust packed in the V wheels.

The V wheels should be kept clean. Always check the smoothness of the X, Y, and Z axes before your run.


May I change GRBL settings? Yes, but be sure to change them back when you are done. If you think the provided settings are suboptimal, email [email protected] Any help improving the performance and reliability of the X-Carve is welcomed.

Can it cut metal? You may cut nonferrous metal. However, you may have difficulty, especially if you don't have the right feeds and speeds and an effective means of clearing chips. Do some research beforehand. Advanced toolpaths generated from Fusion 360 or Solidworks would improve your chances of success.

You can engrave ferrous metal, but you won't have much success making deep cuts.

Can it cut plastic? Yes. Make sure to get your feeds and speeds right. If your plastic is melting, your feeds and speeds are wrong.

Do you provide end mills and router bits? There may be some free-to-use bits available that were donated by members. If an end mill doesn't have an owner tag on it, you may use it. There is a plan to keep a stock of frequently-used bits for sale in the CNC area.

May I use my own computer? Yes. Make sure to plug the USB cable back into the shop computer when you are finished. I would recommend plugging your laptop into an outlet to ensure it is grounded.

May I resurface the wasteboard? Yes.

documentation/cnc_routers/x-carve.txt · Last modified: 2022/08/03 14:39 by bradf