LumberJocks

CNC - what to buy?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by Robert posted 09-07-2021 04:48 PM 347 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Robert's profile

Robert

4749 posts in 2730 days


09-07-2021 04:48 PM

Thinking about venturing in. Xcarve $1200.

But I see a myriad of machines on Amazon for 1/3 to 1/2 that much from manufacturers I’ve never heard of.

Is this one of those things, they’re basically all the same? If I could get a decent machine as a starter for $400 I’d pull the trigger.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!


11 replies so far

View JAAune's profile (online now)

JAAune

2041 posts in 3566 days


#1 posted 09-07-2021 05:02 PM

There’s a large variety of CNC routers and they don’t perform the same. We’d need to know what you’re doing with the router and the specs of the specific machine you’re looking at to even guess at suitability for your tasks.

Then there’s software. At $400, it’s a pretty good chance you aren’t getting a $700 VCarve Pro license with that machine.

-- See my work at http://altaredesign.com

View them700project's profile

them700project

306 posts in 2268 days


#2 posted 09-07-2021 05:34 PM

I dont think you can get anything for under 1200 that would perform.

There are a few genmitsu out there that you could jump on and learn how it works. However these smaller machines most likely wont have enough power to do anything but the lightest of engraving in a very small format.

I personally wouldnt drop below that 1200 mark you mentioned unless you plan on engraving coasters. or very small signs. Another option if you want to keep the budget low is a laser. The Ortur Laser Master is under 500 and gives you a bigger footprint and will allow for some good work.

View brtech's profile

brtech

1171 posts in 4172 days


#3 posted 09-07-2021 05:55 PM

The thing about CNC is that 90% of the problem is software, until you get good enough to get the software to do what you want, and then (and only then) it’s the machine, of which working area, Z height, rigidity and accuracy are the issues. The cheapie machines, if you can get the typical CNC software suite to work, are plenty good enough to learn how to use the software, but then they quickly get in the way because they don’t have one (or all of) working area, Z height, rigidity and accuracy.

But, OTOH, the decent machines aren’t really any better at helping you learn the software. At best, they pretty much guarantee the hardware works with the last piece of software (the part that actually makes the machine move).

So I’d say try to find someone that has any CNC machine, regardless of specs, that will let you run your tests on it. And before that, use a simulator that shows you what the finished run should look like. Once you can get the shape you had in mind off any machine, then buy the hardware, and yes, I think $1200 is about as low as you can go, but you should be able to get a better machine than the one you are thinking about for that $1200 if you are willing to do more assembly.

View DS's profile

DS

3956 posts in 3670 days


#4 posted 09-07-2021 10:04 PM

All good advice here.
I can’t think of anything more to add.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS

View LumberJockMan's profile

LumberJockMan

5 posts in 49 days


#5 posted 09-09-2021 01:47 PM

A big question is.. what do you plan to make with it?
If you are just engraving letters/pictures on wood, the X carve is probably ok, as long as you go slow enough.
If you want to cut through 3/4 plywood relatively fast, you would want something a lot stiffer.
Note, I have not used the X-Carve personally, just looked at the design.
I would not bother with a $400 machine.. Again, I have not used one personally, but that seems like an exercise in frustration. Plus, I think the really cheap machines are GRBL based, so if you ever upgrade, then you have to relearn with Mach or whatever the new system is. Your CAD/CAM software will still be the same though (Assuming it’s something like VCarve/Deskproto which is compatible with many machines, there’s some free/cheap CAD/CAM that only works for GRBL machines)

View Mike_D_S's profile

Mike_D_S

798 posts in 3464 days


#6 posted 09-09-2021 08:59 PM

I would add 3 comments.

First, something with a well built aluminum extrusion frame with a solid gantry design can be rebuilt with better steppers and electronics. The best electronics in the world won’t fix a frame that flexes too much.

Secondly, table size matters. You don’t need a 4 ft by 8 ft machine, but getting one big enough for reasonable projects to get started is nice. A design which allows longer pieces to be stepped through for cuts is nice. as size and rigidity go up cost does as well, so finding a balance point based on the things you think you want to do will optimize cost.

Lastly, though frame rigidity is a factor, just about any machine can cut any thickness of material given enough time. So if you think you want to do inlay work and cut the occasional piece of 3/4 plywood, then taking 16 passes to the cut the plywood once in a while is probably no issue if it does well at inlay work for the 75% use case. With that being said, if you want to rip out 3/4 plywood cabinet sides in a timely fashion you need a real machine that will cost real dollars.

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

8004 posts in 2637 days


#7 posted 09-09-2021 09:36 PM

Perhaps you found something different but most of the machines I have seen that are in the 1/3 to 1/2 price range when I looked in the past on Amazon are little more than engraving machines. The spindles are usually pretty wimpy so would struggle with through cuts in thick material. Look very carefully at the specs.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Mike_D_S's profile

Mike_D_S

798 posts in 3464 days


#8 posted 09-10-2021 01:43 AM

Yeah, I was not really thinking about OPs requested price range of $500 ish. I was making a more general statement about looking at inexpensive CNC machines.

But in the near the Xcarve price range of $1000 to $1500 it looks like there are maybe some options for machines that will fit a palm router.

Mike

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

View DS's profile

DS

3956 posts in 3670 days


#9 posted 09-10-2021 01:52 AM

Just by comparison, a decent industrial CNC machine can cost around $135,000,the software another $30,000, about $6,500 for the rigging, $10,000 for the electrical, vacuum and DC hookups and another $4,000 for tooling.

Depending on what you are doing, this can actually be the most cost effective option over even a $500 machine.
Just sayin’ it all depends on what you’re trying to do.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS

View Mike_D_S's profile

Mike_D_S

798 posts in 3464 days


#10 posted 09-10-2021 01:48 PM

I feel very confident saying that for the majority of people using a CNC for hobby and light project work you can get a decent machine in the $4-$6k range that will do pretty much anything you want.

But that’s still a lot of money for a hobby. Given how much you can spend on CNC and still be unhappy starting with a entry level machine at $1000 and even if you sell it later for $500, the learning curve is probably worth it.

The guy I bought my machine from had convinced himself he was going to make a bunch of craft products and CNC signs, so he spent about $2k buying pre-packaged “sign making” tooling kits before he ever really tried to make a sign. Given that he never used 90% of the bits and 3 years later I’ve only used about 30% of them, he likely overspent $1000 or more compared to just buying the bits as he needed them.

So if you ended up liking it and wanting another more capable machine the $500 you lose won’t be painful as you’ll save that over time and you’ll be in a much better position to know what features are important to you on the next machine.

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

8004 posts in 2637 days


#11 posted 09-10-2021 02:09 PM

Mine was a similar deal. I went to a garage sale for a guy who was moving and had to sell all of his nearly new woodworking machines including the CNC which he had literally never used. I paid $1200 for what was at least $3-4k worth of machine, stand and tooling. I bought several other tools that day—all practically new and all half priced. (Yeah, I suck :-)

Anyway, before you buy new, look around for someone who bought a machine but never really figured it out and/or needs to get rid of it to make room. You may also find someone unloading a starter machine like you are looking for because they are upgrading to a production capable machine. Being a newbie and maybe not knowing what to ask or look for, I would at least ask if they can demo the machine for you just so you know that it is basically working.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com