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Open Builds CNC

Continuing the discussion from Scarlet Cruiser | Long Haired Boy Scarlet deck | Dual R-SPEC | Space Cell | VESC:

The electronic involved are pretty straight forward once you get going. I admit it all seems daunting at first but it gets easier to understand once you start assembling.

@cmatson I am using a tiny-g controller on the OX I have built and there is a big community around that alone. The designer of the OX also posted a really informative video series that can be applied to almost any V-slot build.

OpenBuilds OX CNC Build Part 1

Thanks for the info, and I’ll definitely consider it as an option.

My basic goal is to build a router than will have enough of a build volume to route decks and wood enclosures for around $1000 or less. I also realize that it will have a small vertical axis (2-3 inches most likely) so I don’t expect to make a whole box in one go- they will be multiple level boxes with a removable top lid, very similar to what’s on my current board.

Like I said I was looking at the larger Xcarve because it’s right at that $1000 price point, has easy to use software, and is simple to assemble.

But seriously, thanks for the recommendation because after just browsing around some openbuilds I shut the idea out when all the parts looked wildly complicated… but after this convo I’m re-checking it out with a more open mind.

Any chance I could also see a pic of your rig aswell :smile:

Here is the z-axis assemble mounted on the gantry. You can get all the plates needed for this machine for around $150 and start from there. If your order the BOM yourself you will be able to build a much more robust machine for less money.

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The big x-carve is a little more then it looks like. The smaller routers have complaints, and the only setup with the x-carve that I saw good reviews about was the fully loaded with the pricey dewalt 611 (which costs $1400), but then the shipping is insane. For mine, I paid $230 in shipping, so the total cost of my x-carve was $1630.

I think still, $1630 is a great price for what in another fully built and polished machine, would cost $15000 or more.

I am suppose to get the rest of my parts by January 8th, so once I get it and try to make my first board, I’ll post some videos and pictures of how it turns out.

Another great feature of the x-carve is the really easy to learn and use software. I built my first design in under 6 hours of starting to use the software, there’s almost no learning curve, which can’t be said about most cnc software.

Thanks for input @evoheyax!

Haha I’m going to look at both options, and then take action in a month or two :smile:

If you get this thing working maybe you can cut the shapes out of my blanks for me. :smile:

We are reorganizing the shop this weekend and moving it into position! I would definitely be willing to help you build one for yourself. The logistic behind just cutting decks would cut into your margins pretty hard.

Once I get more time on this machine maybe we can talk about making some molds. I am currently still using a large band saw to cut the outer contours of our boards. When We first began pressing DH decks a procured a small 10 inch craftsman bandsaw from sears. That with a router table and 2 inch cutting head makes short work of an otherwise time consuming task. The trick with using a router table is in the use of a flat plywood template. Before BC Longboards made their split the made a great video showing the process.

They used ink sublimation for their graphics too.

Currently i’m using a hand held jigsaw and a hand held belt sander. It takes me about 20-25 minutes to cut and sand down the edges of my decks.

A bandsaw would be pretty sweet, as would a bench-top belt and drum sander.

I have to say that as I use my xcarve, I am more and more impressed as to what I can do with it. I’ve learned that the best use is to use multiple pieces of wood cut into different patterns. This allows me to run wires through the board, and create the thickness required to fit all the electronics inside.

Starting out by saying IMO. :wink: Totally not trying to step on anybody’s wieners here!!
You would be better off with hand tools for the most part. I am actually a member of Openbuilds forum. At first I was stoked, but the more research I did, the more I realized how lame it was compared to similar stuff at fairly close price points. No offense to anyone, but Openbuilds stuff is pretty much garbage. The X carve as well. Especially for the price. The problem is that they just aren’t robust enough to provide repeatability and accuracy without mega preload on the leadscrew and linear rails. First thing to realize when you are running acme is that you are going to burn up stepper motors a lot more frequently than on a ballscrew setup; The main issues with both Openbuilds and Xcarve, is that they use Acme threaded rod which transfers rotational energy to linear motion with a dismal 20-40% efficiency rating. Whereas a ballscrew setup will easily run at over 90%!! These inferior CNC machines cannot and I repeat cannot be used for any type of production use. They are super slow and you are going to still have to manually clean up the parts at the end. However, if you are running very slow feeds and speed rates it will work out OK. The higher the feed and speed rate the lower the resolution of the part.
Here are the main issues:
1: Lead screw inaccuracy and inneficiency. (Without Massive preload here, repeatability is dismall and accuracy can be sketchy, depending upon the part and the complexity of the tool path.)
2:Linear rails used on these machines are simply wheels rolling through an under engineered aluminum extrusion track that is not stout enough to keep from deflecting under load. (Shit tolerances and need massive preload for accuracy further reducing max feed and speed rates.)
3. Extruded aluminum 8020 like used on both of those cheapo machines is NOT flat or straight enough to be considered precise. There will be problems here and there as the cheap parts move out of position little by little. You will be wondering why your machine gives unpredictable results and you will tighten up bolts, rebuild sections, cuss…repeat…
4.The z axis assembly is not stiff enough to keep from deflecting as the spindle is dragged through the piece. Seriously, if the feeds and speeds are not low you will get ragged edges and any carvings will not be super high res. Also the cheap, underpowered spindle will not be able to cut fast enough to keep up with more desirable speeds and runout easily.
5. The extra preload needed, compared to ballscrew, will put a lot more wear on your stepper motors. They will get pretty hot when running a larger or more intricate piece.
6. Which brings us to the stepper motors…Hate em’!!! Noisy,Crap torque and they can “lose steps” which creates inconsistencies in the work. They heat up under load a lot faster and they can also completely stall out in the middle of the program. FUN!! (trust me…Not fun.) There are servo motors available from Teknic that rule steppers in every way.
7: Time. Some parts take literally hours to produce with these crappy machines. There is a video of a dude using his X-carve to make a single ESK8 motor mount. @ 2:45ish he talks about it. He also does the math on the time it took vs. the time it would take to cut it all out manually.
So if you’re looking into CNC… DIY dude!! There is a lot of good information out there to guide you.
For starters…
Cheap, but decent C7 grade ballscrews and linear rails for under $400. THis link is just an example. other deals lurk.
A great start for a far superior way to run your CNC.
Teknic servos!!
How about a Spindle with 2.2KW power instead of the dismall 400watt Xcarve…
For the Frame you can save a little money by going the 8020 extruded aluminum route, but in order to assure a perfectly flat surface to mount your linear rails and ballscrews, you will need to make friends with your local machine shop and have them “flycut” the surface to a precise flatness. This comes out a lot cheaper than steel and you still get a really nice result.
Hope that gets the ball rolling. These parts would make a really kick ass start to very respectable and decently robust machine. I think all that stuff will come up over a grand, but you gotta budget for a little more if you want a lot more. Don’t get caught up in the false economy.
The accuracy and efficiency of both Openbuilds and Xcarve is appalling once you get yourself in front of a real CNC machine like a Mazak or Haas. Or even Laguna and Tormach. You won’t get up to those levels of quality for under a $10k investment, but you will be able to get much better results than with those little toys at under $2k. And well worth it.
I’m building a CNC right now with C5 grade precision ground ballscrews by NSK and Hiwinn and 4 course linear rails and blocks by NSK of Japan. Teknic Clearpath servos round it out with power and precision to spare.
I’ll post some pics when I can, but some of it I can’t really share all the way because some elements of the frame design and vibration/deflection reduction designs are a bit proprietary and I’m not ready to give away my secrets just yet…Hint: 1.618 is the golden ration…
If you hit a brick wall or need some info on the subject PM me and I’ll do what I can to help out.

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Its not that you can’t get very accurate cuts, but it’s tricky. I have made 2 boards now, about to finished my 3rd with great accuracy. However, I’m not using a low point x-carve. I’m using a dewalt 611, and the nema-23 motors. So I can get away with making more mistakes than the low point machine.

It’s not as fast as it could be, but you can make up for that by creating good blueprints. I have cutting an entire board down to about 8-10 hours. Seems slow, yes, but it used to take me twice as long to make the same board before. And most importantly, as someone trying to make a board for myself, this is important. When I come to sell my boards, it may be the case that I outsource the cnc milling, but its GREAT for prototyping…

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I’m not trying to argue, but I think you’re missing the point of the Xcarve and OpenBuilds…

Now, let me start out by saying that I have zero experience with a “real” CNC machine, so this may completely invalid to you.

The simple fact is, most people can’t drop 10k on a CNC machine; and quite frankly, from what I’ve seen the Xcarve and other OpenBuild CNC machines do, I’d say they are well worth the 1,000-1,500 dollar investment-

You are right that a 2.2kw spindle is better than a 400w one, but it is also $390 for just a spindle!!! That is way more than Xcarve’s offering or something you could get for your OpenBuild that will at least get the job done.

I agree that you can do better, but better costs more- I feel that you are hating on the lower end offerings for simply being worse than the 10k CNC machines, which really isn’t a fair point.


Sure these open build cnc routers can’t blast through projects as fast as big production models but they work fine with lighter passes and smaller end mills. Plus you are not going to fit a big production grade CNC router in your bedroom. Comparing apples and oranges.

These smaller units bring CNC to the masses and that is really what makes them so great. Set them up with a bosch mated with a precision collet and you can have a machine that works very well.

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I’m sorry if I came off like I was hating. I was trying to share with you another option and encourage DIY. Just give it some time and you will know what I’m talking about. I’m not coming from a place of ignorance. For under $2-$3k you can have a really sweet C-7 grade rig that can handle a variety of metals and much more satisfying feeds and speeds. Really!! My overall point is simply this: You will love the X-carve up to the point where the parts begin to fail. I’m not saying that the X-carve is not functional, but…Seriously…I already pointed out all of the deficiencies in great detail. You would be better off saving the cost of the x-carve and buiilding a more robust DIY setup. Pure and simple. There are better choices. I left a link to a $400 set of ballscrews and linear rails!!! Adequate to build a nice, decently large, machine. The other parts and programs would set you back another $1200-1500, but you would be getting a MUCH better machine for the price. With DIY you can pick and choose where to spend and where to cut budget. There is a wide range of in between price points, machine sizes, accuracy grades, etc…It’s fun and interesting to explore. Check it out. Down the road you will experience issues with acme lead screw , fried steppers, spindle runnout, excessive deflection, etc…Just trying to give you more information,!! Not trying to bring anyone down, but encouraging a higher standard…LOL

Hey, on my last post on this thread I started out with IMO! What? I don’t get to have an opinion around here? :smiley:

No worries man!

It’s just I didn’t even want to spend the 2-3k you are talking about…

For $1400 I got a really solid machine that was easy to assemble, and has worked well thus far. I feel like it’s a tool- rather than DIY’ing my tool to make DIY eboards and other things, I’ll spend a little bit more and get a mostly complete and tool that is easy to work with.

I seriously debated going DIY with it… just felt like the complete kit (minus the spindle) was the better option.

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Can’t wait till you start pressing decks and making molds. We will need to collaborate a create an open source hollow core deck.

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I really like your posts and vids on Youtube. I’m new at the ESK8 thing, so I’ve tried to watch and read everything I can get my hands on. Your stuff comes up a lot and it’s killer stuff. Happy battery pack building. Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

appreciate it man :smile:

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This topic is a little old now, but I’ve built a CNC router/laser/3d printer in my garage.

Rapid speeds up to 1000 ipm
Rack and Pinion X/Y movement (infinitely scale-able, mine is 24"x75")
Ball Screw Z axis, 10" of movement
3.5hp Porter Cable Router
2W laser (bolt-on)
3D extrusion head (bolt-on)

Soon I hope to add a lathe axis (my electronics allow for up to 8 axes)(Mach3 only goes up to 6 I think)

It cost me $3500, but you could go smaller and cheaper. This setup is all spec’d and designed for machining metal, but I personally have not yet. It’s more expensive than the ones you guys are talking about, but it is pretty impressive IMO… I’ve run it for 50 consecutive hours no problem. Simple, basic, easy to fix. I have a parts list but no instructions (if someone was interested, I could help)

The frame is 8020 extrusion with steel roll plates. Basically it’s like erector set. Most parts came off of

Let me know if anyone wants more info!

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