CNC vs Milling machine

Wonder what you folks think.

To go along with my Glowforge I’m looking at maybe getting an X-Carve OR some sort of milling machine. My idea was that depending on my project I would make custom bases using thicker material, either aluminum or wood. I’m sure a lot of people have seen the engraved acrylic with the LED under it. I’d want to do that with custom bases.

The X-Carve caught my eye mostly because of the price but I was worried that the depth wouldn’t be sufficient for larger bases. I’m okay with manually controlling the machine in the case of a mill but is there a place I can get a small milling machine for under 1000 that will do something thicker than 6 cm?
Any other options I haven’t seen?

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Did the same thing. Must say, I’m enjoying my XCarve. I can work with additional materials and stuff that is thicker. Can’t wait to get the Glowforge to add fine engraving, etching to the mix.

I don’t have experience with other CNCs. Theoretically, you could design some sort of removable or variable height bottom to allow much thicker material but you will still be limited by the cutting depths of the bits themselves. Typically the finer the bit the shorter the cutting depth to minimize breakage.

I got an x-carve and I really like it. I do have some issues with depth, as the 6cm/2.35 inches z limitation has prevented me from making certain things, but that is easily fixable. You just have to add a height mod to it. The Z carriage it comes with has quite a bit more travel than 6cm/2.25 in, so if you do extend the Z axis a bit you wont have to change much to get things working again.

I have a Shapeoko 3 CNC router. I believe it is priced at $999 (without the DeWalt DPW611 trim router). It has a 16" X 16" X 3" work area. Had mine for about a year and am VERY happy with it. I looked at the XCarve as well, but opted for the Shapeoko 3.

I also have a Grizzly G0619 milling machine (no CNC but I added a 3 axis DRO and x-axis power feed). It has a 6" X 21" table travel and cleanly a foot on the z-axis. Totally different animal from a CNC router IMO.


Does anyone have a Carvey? Or have any experience / input on them?

Thanks for the replies folks!

What are you doing for tables for your x-carves? If I buy one I’ll be putting it in an already packed shared workshop/garage so I’ll need something small.

You want something very solid and very permanent so that when you can square and tram your CNC machine it stays that way. If you put it on something like a workmate you will not be able to keep you machine true. I went to the Salvation Army Store and bought an old ‘solid a rock’ dresser ($12.50 on sale) that was the same depth as my Shapeoko 3 and about 20" wider. Worked great.


I have a Handibot and I love it. It has some size limitations but it makes up with other capabilities. I plan to build one of these larger units at some point.
The max size, price point, etc. is constantly in flux and getting better all the time so I will not settle on one until it is time to order.
As @jdodds said, you want something very solid.

I’ve used a manual milling machine before. I really, really want my own bridge port. so badly. the thing weighs a ton, so I really can’t justify getting one, but I want…

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I built the table for my Xcarve using a torsion box top (3/4" MDF over 2x4 torsion box) and shelf. I used a kit for the legs for a work bench, and this thing is solid and super level. BTW, the 1000mm version is bigger than you think (it’s great, but huge) so if you don’t need the huge space, then the smaller version is stiffer and way, way easier to fit in the shop (soda can for scale). I also modded with a SuperPID speed controller in addition to the X-Controller… BTW: Dust Collection is serious business! Get a cyclone seperator and one of the dust shoe designs


Real nice bench. Tons of storage and expansive top.

The $12.50 Salvation Army recycle Shapeoko 3 bench. Solid as a rock! Super PID was a really nice upgrade to the Dewalt DPW611 router as well. :blush:


Perfect fit, Hard to beat that price!
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I really like seeing the shop areas that have blossomed around you people!

My shop looks similar Jim. I went to finish my basement and rocked the shop walls first so I could establish a work area, and moved the tools in to get them out of the way.
Everything down there has rounded corners, knock-down texture and paint - while 20 years later the shop still sports the raw walls.
That’s all that was needed. The next owner can do what he will with the area, it suits my needs perfectly.


The 1000mm XCarve is pretty huge. Lots of days I kind of wish I had gone with the 500mm. Most of the time I’m dealing with 12"x12" or smaller anyways

Bought a Nomad 885 Pro last year (chose that over a Carvey mainly because the Carvey wasn’t in the wild yet, and still an unknown quantity). So far its been amazing. Having never used any of the others mentioned, I can’t recommend the Nomad OVER anything, but I can say that its pretty freakin’ solid, exactly what I was expecting and totally works for my needs. Also must mention that the Carbide3D team is amazing and super responsive with their support for both hardware and software.

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Mine arrived today, :sunglasses: so too soon to comment, will update later

So you’re saying you didn’t carve out that soda can? :grin:

X-Carve vs. Shapeoko 3 - For those thinking along the lines of adding a CNC Router to the Arsenal.

Reviews from someone that didn’t get the machine for free. :wink:

Speaking from my experience, all the criticisms of the Shapeoko 3 were very fair with the exception that I have no EMI issues.


Looks like they are very similarly priced even with mods. Both have unique issues. My take away was that the XCarve has X and Y axis flex and the electronics can be kind of kludgy. The Shapeoko, assuming the EMI issues are fixed, is more rigid in X and Y, did not yet have a large version, and has some Z axis flex. I have an X Controller and did stiffening mods to the 1000m XCarve so I guess I’m good to go. I don’t know, but there are probably Z axis mods for the Shapeoko 3 and the XL/XXL version starts shipping today, so guessing everyone is happy.

Its hard to decide between the Xcarve and the Shapeoko 3, I’m thinking il want the smaller version of the carve so the Shapeoko would be a bit more space then the smaller 500m xcarve