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Best CNC Machine $1k-$3k range

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Forum topic by Notw posted 01-27-2022 07:09 PM 1094 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Notw

1238 posts in 3205 days


01-27-2022 07:09 PM

I starting to think about investing in a CNC machine for hobby use. Seems like there are a lot of choices and new choices coming out all the time. I wanted to see what people are using in this “lower” price range of CNC machines, the durability and bang for the buck. Considering total package, machine, accessories and software being included or not. The ones I have found so far are the Longmill benchtop CNC with a 30” x 30” x 4.4” cutting area and ~$1,400 cost, Onefinity woodworker with a 32-1/8” x 32-1/8” x 5-1/4” cutting area and ~$2,435 cost with not router included, X-Carve with a 29.5” x 29.5” x 4.5” cutting area and ~$2,600 cost, Shapeoko with a cutting area of 33” x 33” x 4” and a cost of ~$2,500

I am leaning towards the X-carve but it seems to include the most in it’s price but I want to make sure i’m not missing anything an get honest reviews from users.

Thank you


13 replies so far

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Notw

1238 posts in 3205 days


#1 posted 01-31-2022 03:19 PM

So no one has experience in this price range of CNC machines?

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gwilki

375 posts in 2925 days


#2 posted 02-01-2022 12:54 PM

I have the Sienci Long Mill Mk1, now replaced by the Mk2. IMHO, for the money, it can’t be beat. The machine is very stiff and solid. The after sales support is second to none, and there is a very strong forum of knowledgeable users. I suggest that you read the forum, which will give you an excellent picture of what users think of their machines.

-- Grant Wilkinson, Ottawa ON

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Monte Milanuk

73 posts in 5145 days


#3 posted 02-01-2022 05:40 PM

I’m very interested as well!

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JohnMcClure

1498 posts in 2092 days


#4 posted 02-01-2022 05:51 PM

I started with the Shapeoko 3 from Carbide3D. It was, at the time, just around $1000.
Eventually I upgraded to the Axiom AR6, which cost several times that amount. I understand it’s above the price range listed, but it is in another class entirely from Shapeoko.
I’ll make 2 suggestions, take it or leave it:
-If your CNC uses a real spindle instead of a router, it will perform better and be much quieter.
-If your CNC can run without being connected to the PC (mine takes a file on a thumb drive), it is much easier to use.
-Reliable homing is absolutely key to success. I don’t remember how good it was with Shapeoko… but it’s great with Axiom.

-- I'd rather be a hammer than a nail

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DevinT

3056 posts in 418 days


#5 posted 02-01-2022 06:59 PM

I’m still on Shaper Origin—no space for a gantry style setup.

-- Devin, SF, CA

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Notw

1238 posts in 3205 days


#6 posted 02-04-2022 06:07 PM

gwilki – what software are you using on the LongMill?

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Notw

1238 posts in 3205 days


#7 posted 02-04-2022 08:05 PM

I made a chart of some of the features but I’m not sure I’m any closer to making a decision

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DevinT

3056 posts in 418 days


#8 posted 02-04-2022 08:09 PM

If you are willing to wait until August of this year, you might consider the Carvera Smart Desktop CNC Mill

Jumping on the kickstarter (which is fully funded) as an Early Bird will be at the upper end of your range ($3,099 USD) but you would be getting a machine in August that is scheduled to retail for ~$4275

The Carvera has features you won’t find in others—like automatic tool changer and 4th axis—those two features alone put it in amongst much more expensive machines (compare to an entry-level Tormach PCNC440 starting at $6,490 USD, over twice the price, albeit the Tormach comes with even more features)

Watch Naomi Wu take video of a key and create a duplicate of said key using the Carvera’s 4th-axis

-- Devin, SF, CA

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gwilki

375 posts in 2925 days


#9 posted 02-05-2022 02:41 PM

I use VCarvePro for the CAD/CAM work and gSender for the code sender. gSender was developed by the Sienci group.

-- Grant Wilkinson, Ottawa ON

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LumberJockMan

33 posts in 251 days


#10 posted 03-02-2022 05:01 PM

I have not personally used these, but other people have posted that Avid machines https://www.avidcnc.com/ (formerly CNC router parts) are quick to assemble and good. An advantage is that if you want to make your footprint bigger, you can (longer extrustion, gear rack, etc)

I think you need to ask yourself:
“What am I going to do with this CNC”
“How much am I going to use it”

If you think that you will use CNC a lot, I’d recommend AVid or something similar, as it has an upgrade path.
IF you can spend the money to get rack and pinion from the beginning, I think that’s worthwhile.
Anyhow, it might end up a little over 3k , but that’s what I would recommend. It seems a lot more heavy-duty and rigid than the other options you mentioned, which means faster cutting times, can hold a heavier router as opposed to a palm router , etc.
You can also go the DIY route. Mine is DIY and based on Joe’s CNC. You will learn a lot about CNC on the DIY route, and if you use plans from a proven design, you know you will succeed. AT least 10-15 years ago, you could save significant money that way too.

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WillAdams

92 posts in 3446 days


#11 posted 04-15-2022 09:07 PM

The X-Carve was forked from the Shapeoko 2, while the designer went on to do a clean sheet design of a new machine, the Shapeoko 3—- since then the X-Carve has been upgraded (but still has the same extrusions) and the Shapeoko has moved on to the Pro and the version 4.

I work for Carbide 3D, so obviously think it’s the best choice. Some things to consider:

- Warranty: https://docs.carbide3d.com/general-faq/warranty-information/—- esp. see our 30-day warranty: https://carbide3d.com/blog/mistakes-are-on-us/
- Software: Carbide 3D is the only manufacturer which makes a complete software stack for the machine, and we make Carbide Create freely available for anyone to use:

https://carbide3d.com/carbidecreate

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JohnMcClure

1498 posts in 2092 days


#12 posted 04-19-2022 02:51 PM

Will Adams! Man you were so helpful to me (and hundreds of people) when I was getting started with CNC, back on the Shapeoko forums. At that time I wasn’t aware you worked for them, but it makes sense.
I looked for that forum a long time ago to find pictures of my first machine but couldn’t find it. Did it get merged with the new one or did it disappear forever?
I’m not very active on LJs like I used to be, but it’s great to see you here.

-- I'd rather be a hammer than a nail

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WillAdams

92 posts in 3446 days


#13 posted 04-27-2022 09:56 PM

Back in the days of the Shapeoko forums I was a volunteer who occasionally freelanced, and who was given free machines (an SO2 in exchange for doing the instructions, an SO3 as a thank you).

The old Shapeoko forums and wiki are off-line because the person who was hosting them moved and lost the broadband access which made that possible and they’d gotten pretty out-of-date since the Shapeoko 4 and Pro were launched.

If you need a photo or something from it, let me know the specifics and I’ll try to look it up.

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