X-Carve: Precise, Reliable 3D Carving Technology
by Jamie Cope, Robert C. Byrd Institute
At RCBI's makerspace in Huntington - which we've dubbed the Maker Vault - we've managed to acquire some diverse equipment. One of the most powerful tools in our Maker Vault is the X-Carve, a tabletop CNC router from
X-Carves use an off-the-shelf DeWalt router. The router is attached to a mechanical positioning system, which is controlled by a computer running Easel software (other software also is available - but Easel is free and easy to use).
The Easel software allows users to create designs with preset patterns, text and shapes or the ability to input a graphic in JPEG format and convert it to a usable design. After the design is complete, Easel controls the router to cut the design into wood or other similar materials. As the user you have full control over the depth of the cut, so you can engrave a design into the wood or you can cut all the way through the wood to make the shape you choose.
The X-Carve appears intimidating at first. If you don't have any experience with a CNC router, you'll probably want someone to show you how to set it up. After you get past that initial fear of the unknown, you'll realize the X-Carve is very easy to use. There is a spinning cutting tool and it presents the possibility of material splintering, so this probably isn't a great fit for elementary school students or minimally supervised students of any age. It's also noisy and creates a fair amount of dust, so take those factors into account if you plan to purchase one. The biggest word of caution for anyone interested in purchasing an X-carve is its initial assembly. It takes several hours and quite a bit of know-how to put together.
The X-Carve is a fun, easy-to-use tool that creates high-end results. Users with little-to-no woodworking experience can begin creating professional-level signs and other projects almost immediately. The online community that supports the X-Carve is fantastic so there are plenty of sample projects online for those who need a creative nudge. Overall, this is a fantastic addition to most makerspaces.
If you would like to see an X-Carve in action, please visit our Maker Vault at RCBI in downtown Huntington (1050 Fourth Avenue).
To contact Jamie Cope, email
or phone 304.781.1680.