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X-Carve CNC Router

X-Carve CNC RouterThe X-Carve has a cutting area of 750mm wide x 750mm deep x 65mm tall (~29.5 x 29.5 x 2.5"). In theory, it can through cut material up to ~32mm/1-1/4" thick and engrave material up to ~57mm/2-1/4" thick. The JCPL X-Carve Quick Start (2MB PDF) provides a step by step guide for setting up and routing a project (note: we don't have a z-probe).

Easel is the free online 2.5D CAM software for the X-Carve. A good place to start is the Learn Easel in 4 Minutes video. Using V-bits (V-Carving) to achieve 3D effects requires Easel Pro which can be used 4 days per month for free (paid monthly and day passes also available). True 3D carving using Fusion 360 (free for startups and hobbyists) appears to be somewhat involved.

X-Carve Troubleshooting and FAQ's
Easel videos, guides and tutorials
Projects - video tutorials and many ready to go things to make w/ the X-Carve.

Center Origin

Center OriginThe default Easel origin is the bottom left of the material. The default laser origin is the top left of the material. The laser does have a center-center origin option and it is relatively easy to give the X-Carve a center-center origin. The easiest way is to select all the objects in the drawing (Ctrl A), select the Shape tab, click the center circle and enter 0/0 for X/Y.

The problem with text is that it doesn't center (its bounding box does) or center isn't the best place for it. Here it's best to have a shape surrounding the text (temporary is fine), center it on the material, note its Width/Height, select all objects and then enter half the surrounding shape Width/Height as a negative X/Y Position (w/ default/bottom left circle selected).

While this is the way to do registered operations on both machines, e.g. drill partial depth holes or route pockets and then laser cut and/or engrave the part, center-center or half centered (X or Y) X-Carve origins are also handy for for things like keeping the bit away from holddowns. Note: the only reason for work area and material dimensions is to visually insure everything will fit. The only information sent to the X-Carve is how and where it should move the router. When designing stuff in Easel (not on the X-Carve PC), reducing the Machine Work Area dimensions to match the material dimensions will make previews and simulations easier to see.
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Polylines

PolylinesPolylines (12min) cut cleaner and faster than segmented lines (32min). In Easel, the only way to cut inside or outside of the line is with closed polylines. Polylines show up as an unbroken path when Simulate is clicked in Easel. Hidding the material and tilting the preview should show a single vertical start/finish line.

While Inkscape has a Path Combine/Break Apart that looks like it works, and that I thought had worked for me in the past, nothing I tried in Inkscape got me an unbroken path in Easel... The DXF Segmented Line Fix in Inkscape video shows a couple of ways to fix/join segmented lines. The shift-select adjacent segment, box/select node, shift-J to join method may simpler to do in CAD (e.g. clicking adjacent segments can fix or join them, depending on the tool selected).

Another solution, in this case, is to open the dxf or svg in (the free version of) QCAD, add a layer and use the polyline tool to rebuild the shape as a closed polyline. Delete the layer 0 shape, save and import into Easel. For shapes with curves, I use an old CAD program (AutoSketch 9) to join the segments into a polyline (save as dxf and import into Easel). Apparently QCAD can do this, but not with the free version.
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Router Bits

Generally, cutting wood works best with straight flute bits and plastic with up-cut spiral bits.
Carving Bits 101 - Bit Basics
Carving Bits 201 - Feeds, Speeds, and V-Bits

Cheap Bits
AliExpress : Milling Cutters
single flute   single flute 10pcs (e.g. 1/8 carbide $6+)
straight two flutes   straight two flutes 10pcs (e.g. 1/8 carbide $9+)
The straight two flute HUHAO (Hozly looks very similar) brand is better than Fdit (Walfront looks very similar). Both the tip and edge grinding is simplified/slightly flawed/cheaper on the Fdit's. More facets on the ground shape generally means higher quality and a few bucks more.
Weix spiral two flute bits are ground well (better than Kitbakechen).
1/4" shank
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