CNC help

Hey guys and gals,
I’m looking to get a desktop CNC. Been looking at the x-carve 1000 and the carvewright. Gotta stay in my wife made budget of $2k. Any reviews or suggestions on either? Thanks


Oh yeah. By the way, strictly gonna be used for deep relief 2d cuts in wood.

You might want to add the Shapeoko XXL to your list of options. Definitely get you in south of $2,000.

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I was hoping to be able to help, but I don’t have any experience with wood routing (CNC or otherwise). I can throw out some questions that might give others more info to work with…

Can you give an idea of your experience level with CNC equipment? CAD experience? Also related is your comfort level with learning software and stuff (would you seek out an “easy” user experience or are you willing to sacrifice ease for versatility?)

When you say “deep”, how deep do you anticipate? Also, what size pieces of wood do you anticipate using? Like, are you wanting to make cool jewelry boxes, some ornate doors, or something in-between? Both? Bigger? Smaller?

The “Shaper Origin” might be an option, depending on what you’re looking to do. It’s basically a trim router with CNC features that is currently being presold with a currently planned release in September of 2017. I plan for it to be my foray into CNC wood routing but I have no idea what I’ll end up making with it.

There are at least two threads about the Origin on the Glowforge forum…


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The Shaper looks very amazing. I have a half-assembled CNC router sitting in my office, and am waiting for the Shaper to actually do any routing.

If you are similarly prone to lazy moments that make assembling your router a potential source of procrastination… make sure to buy something ready assembled. Though no matter what you get, it seems that building your own enclosure is a first project for just about every router.

There are a TON of options out there, so knowing what you plan to do with it would help people guide you to the right machine. If you want to work on very large pieces, then Shaper is a great start. Otherwise there are a few machines which have large bed sizes and proper stability to the frame.

If you want to occasionally do milling (work on metals other than the softest of aluminum) then you want a REALLY sturdy frame, which normally means small frame as well.

Some machines have very little Z height variance. So if you plan to work with really deep carving, people can steer you away from those. Some machines have limited Z clearance, so you cannot route on top of large objects (like carving a pumpkin).

Some machines have limited selection in cutting tips available (most use standard collets though). I am sure there must be some machines built to reduce the natural mess of a router. Some are very easy to set up and align, while others may be more of a pain.

Oh, another use case you may have in mind is making PCBs. There are quite a few routers specifically designed for that purpose, which may be capable of a few other things as well.


No CNC experience currently. But looking for the machine right for my needs. Wouldn’t mind the easy interface over a CAD interface as I have no CAD experience as well. I currently use a hand router to make deep relief signs. I’m proficient in Adobe illustrator and Photoshop. As for the depth I’m talking about a quarter inch to a half an inch deep. It’s mostly to be used for
speeding up the process of cutting for more of a business aspect. I have no interest in 3-D designs strictly 2-d designs. I had the pro forge on order and downgraded to the basic so I can get another tool in the shop to compliment the forge. I’ll attach some photos of deep relief cuts.


The tree is magnificent!
The laser is perfect for your application.
(SLAWN-cheh): :four_leaf_clover:


Hear’s the thing, with a 2k budget you have several impossible compromises to make. Are you okay with a box full of parts that eventually will become a cnc? Are you good with a tap and die? Are you okay with spending 30% of your time tracking down problems and doing alinment?

How big is the minimum cut area you can live with?

From the little bit I know I’m going to suggest you find another 5-6 hundred and get this.

I have no experience with piranhas but they have a decent reputation and you will be up and running in hours, not months. It comes with Vcarve Pro, a perfect software package for what you are wanting to do.

I’d suggest a ShopBot desktop but that TOTALY blows past your budget.


I have no problem putting one together. I’m one of the unfortunate waiting till March for my forge so I have all the time in the world. For work area anything bigger than the basic forge work area. At least 24"x24". Checked out the piranha and might have to scrap up that extra budget.

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Okay, if you have no problems with assembly then the only one of my objections to a hobby box of parts left is getting it and keeping it running right. Hobby units are getting better all the time but you’ll definitely spend a lot more time troubleshooting one than a good commercial unit.

Like everything, do your research, which you are doing, and make your choice. I would definitely strongly suggest getting Vcarve Pro though and this might influence your choice as bought seperatly it is not cheap. The guys at ShopBot and Piranha make some kind of deal with Vectric the way Dell does with MS.

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You might want to watch this video and do some research into the limitations of commercial hobby-grade CNC routers.

He claims you could build your own machine for $800, but I suspect that you’d have to add a bit to that, for software live VCarve, if nothing else.

One of the brands you or others mentioned may be just fine for your needs but make an informed decision. If there is a makerspace near you, it might be worth some time there to check out what machine(s) they have and how well they work for your sorts of projects.


Does VCarve do much that Fusion 360’s CAM doesn’t?

It was my investigation of the XCarve before purchase that turned into purchasing a Glowforge. I was just about ready to get one and then the crowdfunding campaign kicked in. Since there was such a long wait for a Glowforge, I have had many temptations to cash in and switch to a CNC router. At this point in time, I would like to make something like Frank Howarth’s, but I have checked out all the usual kit projects and thought of them. I have slowly gathered what was needed to make a small one and have the electronics. Waiting for the Glowforge to cut that plates and other parts. I would say that with your sign business, having a bigger, more robust machine would translate fairly quickly into more use cases for larger signs.

I’ll be interested in how you decide this. I like your stuff, especially the classic road signs. They would certainly be a treat for anyone who has been to Ireland.


Speed and ease of use. Vcarve was designed around sign making but it will do so much more.

For simple projects, I just open Vcarve, for complex things I model in F360 and then hand off to Vcarve for tool pathing.


Having used both VCarve and Fusion 360, I concur with @markevans36301’s assessment. I was designing great good quality signs within a half hour of installing VCarve. I have since upgraded to Aspire for more 3D capabilities. I plan to use both Aspire and F360 with the Glowforge. Which I choose for each project will depend on the specific design.

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Oh yeah, I forget that VCarve has design functionality too.

Have you used the CAM in Fusion 360 very much?

Do you guys think the speed and ease is worth the purchase price? It seems like with a budget of $2000, it would have to be considerably easier than Fusion 360 to justify purchasing it with money from that budget.

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I’m still new to F360 and I’m finding it a challenge to learn. As I said before, I found VCarve extremely intuitively.

When I purchased the CNC Shark many years ago, it came with VCarve so I didn’t have to consider whether it was worth the price. When I wanted to go to 3D design, I felt the knowledge I had gained from using VCarve was worth retaining by moving to Aspire which is built on the same platform.

I looked a little at the CAM functionality of F360 but I wasn’t able to find out how/if it can work with my CNC Shark.


I have not gotten f360 cam to work for me at all, that may just be me but…

You can be cutting inside of an hour with Vcarve so yeah, I feel it is worth it.


Ah, I would have guessed that virtually every CNC router used gcode but, after searching around a little, it appears that CNC Shark decided to eschew the standard and make their own.
I finally found a sample of a CNC Shark .tap file and it actually appears that it does use standard gcode.
Sorry to anyone who saw this post pre-edit.

The Shaper Origin almost certainly doesn’t use standard gcode either. Of course, it also doesn’t use traditional toolpaths.

@jasonpowers626, you may want to avoid machines that don’t conform to standards.

ShopBot machines use an open source extended code but will read straight G-code as well.

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