Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Review of the New 2017 Inventables X-Carve with Upgrades

Inventables, the maker of the X-Carve CNC Machine, contacted me and asked if I would like a free 2017 X-Carve with upgrades so that I can compare it to the previous 2015 model.  They wanted my honest opinion about the improved assembly process and upgrades, so that's what I gave them in my video review below.

To learn more about Inventables and their products, please click the affiliate links below so they know I sent you.
My first project on the new X-Carve is this picture frame.  It's a one-sided carve and the picture is held in place by bending a piece of clear acrylic and wedging it between two frames.  The frame can be customized for any theme by changing the words.  I was going to leave the letters plain, but my wife decided I should paint them...she was right as usual!  Click here to view and copy my Easel project.

The Carmichael Workshop X-Carve CNC Picture Frame

Overall, I really like the new X-Carve and the upgrades that they've made.  The assembly seemed easier this time although it still took me about 10 hours over the course of a week.  I made a new table for the X-Carve that is 40"x52" and it fits nicely.  I am donating my old X-Carve to my local woodworking club, the Gwinnett Woodworkers Association, so more people can learn how to use a CNC machine.

The Carmichael Workshop New 2017 Inventables X-Carve

Here's what I like about the new 2017 X-Carve:
  1. The holes in the ends of the extrusions come pre-tapped with threads.  That was 3-4 hours of torture on the old X-Carve that has been eliminated.  Thank you Inventables!
  2. The Dust Collection Kit is awesome and works incredibly well.  It's my favorite upgrade.
  3. It's good to see the Dewalt DW611 is the stock spindle now.  Upgrading an older X-Carve spindle with this DW611 Mount is easy.
  4. The X-Controller has more power which will help drive the machine through a variety of materials better, especially with the added weight of the Dewalt router and dust boot.  I really like the pause/play controls and the e-stop button that are on it and the sideboard is a nice addition.
  5. The gantry rail is now a solid square extrusion, which is much sturdier than the pair of thin maker slides that were on the old X-Carve.
  6. The drag chain and cable management features are much improved.
  7. The eccentric spacers that are held on by nylon lock nuts will eliminate the issue of the eccentric nuts coming loose on the old X-Carve.
  8. The Z-Probe is cool and eliminates the need to used a slip of paper to set the bit height.
  9. The new Belt Sleeves are a better solution than tape for keeping belts from slipping..
  10. The 60 Piece Clamp Set makes clamping materials up to 1.75" thick much easier.  You could not do that with the old wooden clamp set.
These are the areas that I think still need some improvement:
  1. Belt tension causes problems for lots of people.  A different method of driving the router around could be more user friendly, but I suppose it would increase the price.
  2. I found some discrepancies in the assembly instructions and pictures.  I submitted my notes to Inventables so they can make corrections to help future customers.
  3. The DeWalt router comes very close to the Z axis plate as it nears the homing switch.  More clearance would be nice.
  4. A knob should be included in the kit for raising and lowering the router manually.  Bob at I Like to Make Stuff designed this one that can be 3D printed.
  5. The kit contains the exact amount of most parts.  I had a few leftovers that must be extras, but I still wonder if I missed something.
  6. There is a small packet of lubricant in the kit, but no mention of it in the instructions.  I found a user forum post that explained it was for the threaded rod.  I didn't use the lubricant because I thought sawdust might stick to the rod and gunk it up.  Others recommended dry lube.
  7. A storage rack for the clamps, wrenches, z-probe, etc would be nice.  I found several rack designs by other users in the Inventables projects, so that will be my second project.
Thanks for checking out my review of the new 2017 Inventables X-Carve!  If you have any questions about it, message me on my Contact Page or visit Inventables and check out their User Forum.  There are lots of people there willing to help!  Stay dusty my friends!