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David - Machinist in wood
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Welcome to the forum, Andy! Cheap and good don't often collide in the same sentence. What's your budget, how much space do you have, what do you intend to cut, and you looking for speed and power, wanting to do 3D, willing to do some assembly yourself or looking for turnkey solution, what's your location, etc?

Hard to help until we know those things.

David
 

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Welcome to the forum Andy. If you fill out where you are from in your profile it will help us figure out what may be available in your area There are members here from all over the world. It is probably easiest if you keep your posts in this thread, unless you are commenting directly about the topic of someone else’s thread.

An X-Carve is capable of doing 3D, but the included free software ”Easel” is somewhat limited in capability (cannot v-carve, for instance). Almost any CNC is capable of 3D, it is the CAM software that creates your toolpaths that allows the 3D cuts. There is software ranging from free to very expensive that can be used generate designs and toolpaths.

This forum is primarily for woodworkers. The X-Carve will certainly cut wood (it uses a woodworking trim router as a spindle), but it’s light mechanical construction and belt drive will limit cutting speed and depth, so projects will cut slowly. 3D carvings are inherently time consuming, they will be even more so with a lightweight machine like an X-Carve. It also has a very limited Z travel.

I would strongly suggest spending a little more time deciding what it is you want to do with it before you commit to buying a cnc. You can read different forums (Inventables has a forum for X-Carve) to see what people are doing with different machines and materials. Many of the available software packages have free trials. Download them, follow along with tutorials and see if you can create the types of designs you would like to cut. Continue saving up, because the actual machine is only a part of the total cost (software, bits, dust collection, and materials to carve will also be required).

There are a lot of lower priced kit machines to which these same comments apply. Check out Shapeoko, machines by Zen Toolworks, Bob’s E3, generic 3020 Chinese machines, machines by Stepcraft and more.

The most important advise is to decide what you want to do with it first, then buy a machine capable of doing it. Do not decide on budget first.
 
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