The Maslow M2 CNC is the next iteration of the popular Maslow CNC kit from MakeMade.
Although the original Maslow provides an affordable entry point for hobbyists, there were some clear shortfalls with the machine, such as speed, accuracy, and ease of use.
The M2 is a CNC machine that aims to solve the most pertinent issues with the original Maslow while still being affordable.
MakerMade offers free shipping within the US.
The cutting area of the M2 is 4' × 8', the same as the original Maslow CNC kit.
This CNC is suitable for beginners, hobbyists, and woodworkers who need to work with full-size 4' × 8' sheets.
In this review, I go through every aspect of the M2 CNC to help you make an informed decision on whether this CNC is right for you.
At the end of this review, I compare the Maslow M2 with the original Maslow CNC to show you what exactly has changed and whether the M2 justifies its higher cost.
Maslow M2 CNC Review
For this review, I evaluated the Maslow M2 for its size, build quality, linear motion, materials, software, electronics, and community support, among others.
1. Size of Maslow M2
M2 CNC is an excellent option for those working with limited workspace.
The upright frame structure provides a 4' × 8' cutting area.
Note that you need to DIY the frame yourself using the designs and cut lists provided by MakerMade.
The frame of the M2 CNC can be mounted on a wall to save floor space and provide a vertical work bed.
You can configure the M2 CNC according to your workspace requirements, and MakerMade offers various frame designs for different sizes.
If you need a 4'× 4' cutting area, you can build a mini frame with a 4.8' × 3' footprint and a 6' top beam.
For a cutting area of 4’×8', you can use the standard frame with a 10' top beam and a footprint of 8.5’×3'.
You can also opt for an XL frame for if you want the cutting area to be more than 4’×8'.
Its footprint will be the same as the standard frame, except for the 12' long top beam.
As it has a vertical work bed, you need adequate vertical space to install the frame and operate M2 CNC.
2. Material Capability
M2 CNC is best suited for woodworking at a low cost.
You can also cut acrylic, hard PVC, polycarbonate, polyethylene, and soft metal sheets like aluminum 6061.
Although it can cut metals, you may not get accurate results when cutting metals on the M2.
The MakerMade M2 is not an aluminum-milling CNC machine.
On the M2, you can cut full-size 4’×8' sheets with a maximum thickness of 3.8 inches.
M2 has a maximum cutting speed of 40 ipm.
For perspective, the Avid CNC with the same work area has a maximum cutting speed of 300 ipm but costs eight times more than the M2.
Although the M2 is a bit slow, a lot of users successfully use it to build projects like benches, tables, lamps, signs, and even guitars.
It might be surprising, but there are many users who run successful businesses with this CNC.
Usually, they use Maslow CNC as a part of their workflow, with the rest being done with regular power tools.
They use the CNC for repeatable tasks, which the CNC is good at, and those tasks are usually difficult to do using a regular power tool.
3. Frame and Sled on Maslow M2
M2 CNC does not ship with a frame, and you need to build one, which on average requires a weekend of effort.
For building the frame, you can use lumber and hardware available at your local store.
MakerMade provides laser-cut powder-coated stud mounts in the kit. These are made of steel and are of good quality.
You have to clamp the wasteboard onto the mount and the steel mounts provided in the kit ensure that the wasteboard is mounted accurately at an angle of 15 degrees with the frame/wall.
Its work bed needs a 15-degree slope to ensure proper movement of the sled over the work area.
The M2 CNC comes with a circular, painted plywood sled of 18" diameter with the M2 logo printed over it.
The sled supports the router and Z-axis assembly.
The complete sled assembly weighs around 20 lbs and is held onto the wasteboard due to gravity while cutting.
It has parallel rails to hold the Z-axis assembly and a universal dust collector port that you can use to connect any standard shop vac/dust collector.
The sled has two Velcro straps to attach bricks that help keep the sled in place.
You need to attach bricks weighing between 8 to 10 lbs to efficiently move the sled over the wasteboard and keep the router bit in its position for continuous cutting.
People have used free weights as an alternative to bricks with some tinkering.
4. Linear Motion
M2 CNC has a unique linear motion mechanism, and it is different from the ones used in traditional CNCs.
X and Y axes
The sled is moved in the X and Y axes by chains driven by a pair of sprocket wheels and DC motors attached to the top beam of the frame.
M2 comes with an 11' long drive chain and chain tension bungee spring, preventing drive chains from loosening. This chain size is suitable for mini and standard frame sizes.
MakerMade offers 15' long drive chains that you can purchase separately, suitable for XL frame size, and provide better accuracy around the edges.
The sled movement on drive chains is quite similar to the movement of a Yo-Yo on its threads.
M2 CNC has an aluminum extruded Z-axis assembly, which is reliable and requires less maintenance.
A lead screw and linear guides are used for moving the Z-axis. The lead screw is driven by a stepper motor through a belt and has a resolution of 0.01mm.
The stepper motor adjusts the height of the router according to the G-code, and it has maximum Z-axis travel of up to 3.8 inches.
You get an overall cutting accuracy of 0.005" on the MakerMade Maslow M2 CNC router.
Although Makerverse software is fine-tuned for improved performance, the cutting accuracy will also depend on the calibration process during the initial setup of the kit.
So it's essential that this CNC is calibrated carefully.
5. Router on Maslow M2
The M2 CNC kit does not ship with a router, and you need to purchase it separately.
However, it comes with a 71mm router clamp and three ⅛" bits for straight cut, upcut, and downcut with a ¼" to ⅛" collet reducer.
A router with a fixed base and Z-axis plunge feature are preferable for this CNC.
The M2 building guide includes a list of routers you can use.
However, MakerMade recommends the Dewalt 611 (1.25hp) for woodworking.
A 71mm router clamp is attached to the z-axis assembly.
If your project requires a bigger router, you should purchase the 91mm router clamp.
6. Controller and Electronics
The X and Y-axis chain drive systems of M2 CNC are driven by geared closed-loop DC motors for precise speed control.
The motors have low torque characteristics and include a gearbox to improve the torque.
The Z-axis uses a stepper motor for driving the lead screw mechanism.
The motors are powerful enough to offer you cutting speed up to 40 ipm.
Arduino DUE is the main controller board of M2 CNC, which is faster than other Arduino boards.
The DUE controller board is roughly 40% faster than the Maslow 1.2 controller board used in the original Maslow CNC.
The controller is integrated with a v2.1 Arduino motor shield to drive all DC motors of three-axis.
You can hook up the controller to a standard 100-240V wall socket. The whole unit draws a maximum of 5A current.
MakerMade also offers a power cord for US, EU, AU, and UK sockets.
The firmware on the Maslow M2 CNC is GRBL 1.1g, explicitly developed for M2 CNC machines.
This controller has better cutouts to access various ports for connectivity than the controller board in the previous Maslow CNC kit.
It also has a micro-USB port to connect and transfer your G-codes from the PC through a USB cable. MakerMade provides you with a 10' long USB to micro-USB connector.
MakerMade provides Makerverse software in the USB drive that comes with the kit. You can use it to control your M2 CNC router.
Makerverse software is built by MakerMade, which is free and lets you control the M2 CNC router.
This software is derived from CNCjs, which is an open-source GRBL Software.
It is a modified version of the CNCjs made to work according to the specifications and cutting area of M2.
Even though it is browser-based software, it does not require an internet connection to control the M2 CNC.
You can install this software on Windows or Mac computers or on a Raspberry pi board.
The software has useful features like jogging keys to move the router on the wasteboard, setting the desired homing position, and an auto-calibration feature for the router.
Makerverse can only send the G-code and control the CNC.
The software comes with a few design samples to set up and start your CNC for woodworking.
M2 CNC comes with a USB drive that has several sample project files.
MakerMade offers a laser engraving upgrade bundle for M2 CNC.
With a few quick steps, you can change the router of M2 CNC with the laser engraver.
The laser unit has a 71mm and 91mm router clamp version, and you need to select the one that fits the router clamp on your M2 CNC.
Both versions cost around $449 and are manufactured by JTech Photonics.
The Makerverse software is pre-configured to run this laser kit.
M2 is a DIY CNC kit. It requires your time to build the frame, assemble, and calibrate the CNC kit to prepare it for cutting.
If you have basic skills and some experience with woodworking, you can build the frame with five hours of dedicated effort.
MakerMade offers you user guides with all the instructions to build the frame.
They provide three frame sizes with different cutting areas for M2 CNC for you to choose from.
The process of software installation, connecting DC motors and power adaptors to the controller board, can be finished within one hour.
It will take a couple of hours to assemble the z-axis and integrate it with the sled.
The shipping box contains all the guides and toolkits that you will need to assemble the M2 CNC kit.
Calibrating the M2 is a bit tricky, and you will need to spend a good amount of time to ensure that the kit is accurate.
However, the time invested in the calibration is well worth it and can save you so much time and energy in the long run.
It requires a bit of patience to finish setting up the M2 CNC.
The whole process of assembly, build, and calibration can take an average of 10 hours to complete.
There are several unofficial videos and guides on frame building, assembly, and calibration on YouTube.
The M2 has large online community forums for makers.
These include the Maslow Community garden and the MakerMade forum, where you can discuss with other Maslow owners.
These forums are always bustling with activity and are a great place to discuss your ideas and get answers to your queries.
You can also find exciting project ideas to try out on your M2 CNC
Additionally, MakerMade has a Facebook group of makers and users of its CNC kits.
You can share ready-to-use project files and sell designed products on MakerMade's marketplace.
MakerMade also offers weekly Q&A sessions for queries related to CNC setup, calibrations, and any other issues.
11. Customer Support
MakerMade is known for its reliable customer support.
They have a US-based customer support team, which provides email and telephone support to their customers.
The M2 CNC kit comes with a 30-day return policy which is applicable to unopened or unused accessories.
Additionally, it has a one-year limited warranty, which is remarkable considering its price.
12. Final Thoughts
The MakerMade M2 CNC is an automated cutting machine that offers a budget-friendly solution for beginners and woodworkers.
It allows you to work on large 4' x 8' full-size sheets with a fraction of the footprint of typical CNC machines and is a great choice for shops with floor space limitations.
It is one of the least expensive CNC machines that you can buy, but it is slower than more expensive CNCs.
The assembly time required can be a turn-off for many who want a machine that can run out of the box but it also means you get to learn every aspect of your kit, which helps you in troubleshooting later on.
If you are a maker who is looking for an affordable CNC machine to work on large workpieces and if the 40 ipm cutting speed does not bother you, MakerMade M2 is a good choice for you.
Maslow M2 CNC vs Original Maslow CNC- What's Changed?
MakerMade has made some significant changes to the original Maslow CNC kit that they released in 2019 and created the M2 CNC router.
To begin with, the M2 can be mounted on a wall and the mounting brackets come with the kit. The original Maslow kit required it to be mounted on a custom-built stand.
The controller board on the M2 is new and highly capable with features that improve the ease of use of the kit.
M2 uses Arduino Due which is much faster and more capable than the Maslow 1.2 controller board used in the previous version.
The original Maslow used a bungee cord to maintain proper tension in the drive chains, and M2 uses bungee springs for maintaining the tension which is more robust and rigid than a bungee cord.
The Z-axis on M2 uses a lead screw mechanism to move the router up and down, which is better than the Z-axis mechanism on the original Maslow that uses a stepper motor coupled with the plunge adjustment knob of the router.
You get a few router bits in the M2 kit and it also comes with a 1/4 to 1/8 reducer to help you use 1/8" tools on a 1/4" collet router.
Maslow 2019 from MakerMade lacked a proper dust collection attachment, but the M2 has solved it with an integrated dust shroud and vacuum port.
The bricks are mounted using metal straps on the original Maslow CNC, M2 has velcro brick straps, which makes attaching and removing the bricks an easy task.
The calibration of M2 is simpler and takes less time than the calibration process for the original Maslow CNC kit.
Most changes you find in M2 have been made to improve the ease of use and to bring down the setup time.
In all terms, the M2 is a better machine than the original Maslow but it costs almost double when compared to the original Maslow CNC kit.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can you convert the original Maslow CNC into an M2 CNC?
Yes, you can convert your original Maslow CNC into an M2 CNC by using the Maslow-to-M2 upgrade kit from MakerMade. It costs around $600 and comes with a sled ring, upgraded controller, aluminum Z-axis module, and dust collection sled.