X-Carve Alternatives [2021] That Are Much Better But Cost Less

X-Carve Alternatives [2021] That Are Much Better But Cost Less

X-Carve Alternatives [2021] That Are Much Better But Cost Less

You've probably looked at the Inventables X-Carve CNC and you're now looking for alternative CNC machines with a similar price point but better performance.

I considered a dozen CNCs which have a similar price point and similar size as the X-Carve (1000mm) to come up with a list of the best alternatives.

Some of them are a bit cheaper than the X-Carve while some are slightly more expensive than the X-Carve.

The last CNC option in this list is considerably more expensive than the X-Carve, however, that machine is recommended only for small businesses looking to go to the next level.

In this review, I have compared the features and benefits of each of these CNCs with that of the Inventables X-Carve.

CNCRough PriceCutting Area
X-Carve (1000mm)~$2,30030" x 30"
Onefinity Woodworker X-35~$2,17432-¼" x 32-¼"
Shapeoko 4 (XXL)~$2,30033" x 33"
Openbuilds LEAD 1010~$1,90032" x 29"
Ooznest Workbee~$2,40031" x 30"
Avid CNC PRO 4824~$6,10049-½" x 25-¾"

Quick Summary of X-Carve Alternatives

1. Onefinity Woodworker X-35: Best X-Carve Alternative with Quickest Assembly

Onefinity Woodworker cnc machine with controller and touchscreen
Onefinity Woodworker X-35

Launched in 2020, the Onefinity woodworker is really a well designed CNC machine that gives all the other desktop CNCs a run for their money.

If you look at the woodworker, you'll notice that Onefinity has tried hard to identify the design flaws in most desktop CNCs and have tried to correct them in their machine.

Although Onefinity sells the woodworker CNC in two sizes (X-50 and X-35), I have chosen to review the X-35 as it is the less expensive one and is perfect for hobbyist work.

At a price of ~$2,174 plus shipping, the X-35 costs less than the X-Carve (1000 mm).

Size and build

The work area that you get is 32-¼" x 32-¼", which is 2-¼" more in each axis compared to the X-Carve.

One major point of criticism by hobbyists about desktop CNCs like X-Carve and Shapeoko were the linear motion components.

Unlike most CNCs (including X-Carve) which use V wheels on extruded aluminum for movement of gantry, the onefinity woodworker uses slick chrome plated hollow linear shafts, which are much better.

The linear shafts used on the X-35 are 35mm diameter hardened steel tubes.

Onefinity offers a 3rd rail to be added to the X rail to further stiffen it and they call it the "stiffy".

The price I considered for the Onefinity includes the stiffy add-on.

Linear bearings that run on steel shafts are much stiffer (steel vs aluminum), last much longer, and considerably more accurately finished (tolerance) compared to V wheels on aluminum extrusion.

The only reason why you would use V wheels over linear shafts is the cost but the X-35 costs almost the same as the X-Carve.

Also, instead of Leadscrews (Openbuilds Lead 1010) or Belts (X-Carve), the woodworker X-35 CNC uses precision ball screws with the following specs:

  • 16mm diameter and 10mm pitch ball screws in X and Y
  • 12mm diameter and 4mm pitch ball screws in Z axis

These are not the most expensive ball screws out there, but they are definitely better than belts and screw drives.

Ball screws last much longer (provided they are lubricated regularly), have almost zero backlash (more accuracy) and are much more efficient in using the power of the stepper motors.

Also, unlike X-Carve, the wasteboard (MDF) is not supplied with the CNC and you need to buy it locally.

Motors

X-35 uses NEMA 23 stepper motors with 178 oz.in of holding torque with dual motors for Y axis unlike X-Carve which uses 212 oz.in NEMA 23 stepper motors.

Although this is not the most powerful NEMA 23 stepper motor, most people report more than enough power for their operations with this stepper motor.

Considering how strong the frame is, I'd say you can upgrade to a beefier stepper motor if required.

In any case, motor torque is useless if your frame is not stiff enough.

Controller

The controller on the X-35 is made by Onefinity based on buildbotics machine controller.

Buildbotics controller is a highly impressive 4-axis controller based on Raspberry Pi with built in WiFi, Ethernet adapters and integrated powerful stepper drivers.

This means you can control the X-35 CNC even using your phone through WiFi or through an ethernet cable from your computer.

Unlike most other desktop CNCs, you can get an touch display unit (optional) with the X-35 which will let you operate and jog the CNC without having a computer connected to the CNC.

The USB ports in this controller can be connected to a gamepad for jogging the machine manually and also to a USB camera that lets you monitor your CNC machine from anywhere.

Software

Onefinity doesn't have their own software for modelling (CAD) and G-code generation (CAM). Most people use Carbide Create for this,

Control software by buildbotics comes pre-installed installed in the Controller.

If you are unsure about the software choices check out my detailed guide on CNC software.

Spindle/Router

Onefinity recommends the Makita RT0701C router to use with this machine. The router does not come included with the machine and should cost around $100 to buy.

However, the controller on the X-35 can support custom spindles as well and there's an option in the offline controller to choose a VFD spindle instead of the router.

Laser Module

Unlike the X-Carve and most other CNCs, onefinity officially supports the laser module by J Tech Photonics which you can add to your X-35 without voiding the warranty.

Assembly

This is a major point of victory for the X-35. The machine parts come pre-assembled as four separate parts.

In the X-Carve almost every single nut comes dismantled and you need to put it together. Most people take at least 2 days to put together the X-Carve.

With Onefinity X-35 you can be on your way in under 30 minutes and I'm not exaggerating.

The main part of the CNC (other than the controller) ships as four pre-assembled pieces.

Onefinity Woodworker Assembly
Onefinity Woodworker Assembly

Two Y axis shafts, the X axis gantry and the Z axis slider. Your only task is to join these 4 pieces together using fasteners and a hex key.

The manual with the assembly documentation is excellent. There is also an assembly video made by Onefinity if you need further help.

Community and Support

Although the Onefinity woodworker is a relatively new product, its already popular among hobbyists.

The Onefinity online forum is quite active and you can get answers to your questions there.

The company that owns the Onefinity brands is Kirbre Enterprises Inc. based in Ontario, Canada.

They offer direct phone support in case you have questions or queries.

A one year formal warranty is offered on all Onefinity products and the brand is known for stellar customer service.

Overall, the Onefinity X-35 is a machine that's becoming popular fast and forcing every other CNC brand to innovate while also being affordable.

The popularity is evident as suggested by the large lead times for the machine, on the Onefinity website.

X-Carve 1000Onefinity Woodworker X-35
Price~$2,400~$2,174 (including Makita router)
Work area30" x 30"32-¼" x 32-¼"
Linear Motion Belt drive with V wheelsBall Screw with linear shaft
FrameExtruded aluminum (Makerslide)Steel shaft
Spindle/RouterDewalt 611Makita RT0701C
SoftwareEaselNone (have to use third-party software)
Avg. Assembly time*2 days30 minutes
WarrantyNo Formal Warranty1 year

Comparison between X-Carve(1000mm) and Onefinity Woodworker X-35

*The assembly time is a subjective parameter and is based on general feedback.

I talk in detail about all the best options for desktop CNC routers in this very detailed guide-Best Desktop CNC Router Machines[2021].

2. Shapeoko 4 XXL

Shapeoko 4 CNC Wood Carving Machine
Shapeoko 4 CNC Wood Carving Machine

Launched in May 2021, Shapeoko 4 from Carbide 3D is the improved version of their highly popular Shapeoko 3 CNC Router.

The material cutting capabilities are similar to X-Carve and can cut materials such as wood, plastic, PCB, HDPE, and MDF, among other non-metallic materials.

Aluminum sheets can also be cut using the Shapeoko 4 at a lower speed than when cutting wood.

The Shapeoko 4 XXL occupies 50" x 41" of an area on the table, which is considered similar to X-Carve but weighs 63 lbs more.

The effective cutting area you get is 33" x 33", meaning you get three inches more on each side without a significant change in machine footprint.

Coincidentally both the X-Carve and Shapeoko 4 (including the hybrid table) are priced the same at $2,300 plus shipping.

However, you'll have to purchase a 65mm router for Shapeoko 4. Note that a default won't fit into the router mount.

Shapeoko 4 can accommodate 4" thick workpieces whereas X-Carve allows a maximum material thickness of 2.55".

The Shapeoko 4 uses custom aluminum extrusion frames and is thicker and rigid than the X-Carve.

The spoil board has T-slots, and the X-Carve uses peg holes for holding the workpiece. In my opinion, peg holes allow you to mount workpieces with a greater degree of freedom.

Both the X-Carve and Shapeoko 4 move on V-wheels. However, Carbide 3D uses Delrin, a hard thermoplastic, to make the V wheels, providing better rigidity.

The Drive for the X and Y axis on the Shapeoko 4 uses 15 mm belts. The Z-axis uses a lead screw drive which is much more accurate than a belt-drive, whereas the X-Carve uses a belt drive for all the axes.

The Carbide Motion V3.0 board runs the Shapeoko 4 and is based on GRBL, similar to X-Carve.

Carbide Motion is the control software for controlling the machine from your computer, and Carbide Create is the 2D (and 2.5D) CAD plus CAM package for designing and generating toolpaths.

The Easel Pro software on X-Carve is a feature-rich complete package that lets you design and controls the machine with a single software. However, in my opinion, Easel fares better when it comes to features and ease of ease-of-use. 

Unlike the Inventables Easel, Carbide Create is not cloud-based, and that's great if you don't want to stay connected to the internet at all times.

Carbide Create is free forever and runs on both Windows and Mac computers, and the X-Carve provides you a three-year license for Easel Pro.

Both the X-Carve and Shapeoko feature a dust shoe that can be connected to a vacuum to keep your work area clean.

The Shapeoko 4 makes major strides in terms of ease of assembly and takes around five hours to assemble, which is less than the X-Carve.

For beginners who are afraid they might break the machine, Shapeoko promises to replace any part damaged due to operator error at no cost for 30 days.

You will be helped by the large online community of users and the Carbide 3D online forum.

X-Carve (1000mm)Shapeoko 4 XXL
Price~$2,300~$2,300
Work area30" x 30"33" x 33"
Linear Motion Belt drive with V wheelsBelt Drive in X,Y, ; Lead screw in Z-axis
FrameExtruded aluminum (Makerslide)Extruded aluminum
Spindle/RouterDewalt 611Carbide Compact Router/Makita RT0701C
SoftwareEaselCarbide Create
Avg. Assembly time*2 days5 hours
WarrantyNo Formal Warranty1 year

Comparison between X-Carve (1000mm) and Shapeoko 4(XXL)

I do a much more detailed comparison between the X-Carve and Shapeoko 4 here- X-Carve vs Shapeoko 4 [2021].

3. OpenBuilds LEAD CNC Machine 1010: Best X-Carve Alternative for DIY Enthusiasts

OpenBuilds LEAD CNC Machine 1010 (40" x 40")
OpenBuilds LEAD CNC Machine 1010

The OpenBuilds LEAD CNC router is made by the creators of the OpenBuilds online community, known for being active supporters of the maker movement.

Just like the X-Carve, you can choose the electronics hardware that goes with the CNC machine.

You can choose from multiple options in stepper motor, router, dust shoe, controller, and software, whereas X-Carve provides just one choice in each of these categories.

OpenBuilds lets you choose between DeWalt DWP611 120V, RoutER11 110V/60Hz, RoutER11 230V/50Hz compared to the DeWalt 611 router X-Carve provides.

You can also choose to get just the hardware components and build the electronics (control system) yourself, just like X-Carve.

The complete bundle, including all the required electronics, costs around $1,900 plus shipping that is $400 less than the X-Carve.

This desktop CNC can work on hardwood, acrylic, HDPE and non-ferrous metals, whereas cutting aluminium and other metals is not recommended in X-Carve.

The Lead 1010 has a footprint of 40" x 40", which is smaller compared to the 49" x 39" footprint of X-Carve and has a similar cutting area of 32" x 29" compared to 30" x 30" on X-Carve.

The thickness of the material you can use is less at 2" compared to the 2.55" thickness available on X-Carve.

If looks matter to you, OpenBuilds LEAD has an aluminum frame and has two color options (black and silver). The X-Carve comes in black.

All the drives on this CNC are run using an Acme Lead screw (8mm), which is much better at reducing backlash than belt drives on X-Carve and improves feed rates.

The Blackbox motion control system provides 24V 5A outputs for vacuums and coolant systems. The X-Controller on X-Carve can only produce digital on-off signals. 

You can connect upto three switches or sensors to the Blackbox controller, but the X-Controller provides you with an emergency kill switch.

The Blackbox controller integrates well with the OpenBuilds CONTROL, the Machine Interface Controller software developed by Openbuilds.

I have discussed the Blackbox Controller in detail here- Blackbox GRBL Controller.

Openbuilds CONTROL has built-in features for calibration and adjustment, which Universal Gcode Sender (UGS) doesn't have.

For the CAM software, you have the option of using the Openbuilds CAM free software or any other software of your choice. 

But X-Carve takes the cake with the Easel Pro software, an all-in-one package and is easier to use and integrates well with the machine. But, you'll need an active internet connection to run Easel.

You'll have to buy a spoil board of size 1/2" x 32" x 40" locally before you can get started.

The OpenBuilds LEAD arrives dismantled, and the lack of spoil board allows for a smaller packaging size. 

However, in both the machines, the assembly instructions are clear with properly labeled parts and enough instructional videos.

In my opinion, the official customer support of X-carve is more responsive than OpenBuilds.

Both the X-Carve and OpenBuilds have a large online community and can walk you through almost any query or bottleneck.

The LEAD 1010 desktop CNC is for those who wish to have a wide range of customization options compared to X-Carve.

X-Carve 1000OpenBuilds LEAD 1010
Price~$2,300~$1,900
Work area30" x 30"32" x 29"
Linear Motion Belt drive with V wheelsLead screw in X,Y and Z
FrameExtruded aluminum (Makerslide)Aluminum C Beam Extrusion 
Spindle/RouterDewalt 611RoutER11/Dewalt 611
SoftwareEaselNone (have to use third-party software)
Avg. Assembly time*2 days1 day
WarrantyNo Formal Warranty1 year

Comparison between X-Carve(1000mm) and Openbuilds LEAD 1010

If you want to read more about X-Carve before considering alternatives, then read my in-depth review here-X-Carve CNC Review[2021].

4. Ooznest Workbee

Ooznest workbee cnc machine
Ooznest Workbee

Different manufacturers manufacture Workbee CNC machines. Ooznest, a British manufacturer, created the original Workbee.

Ooznest offers the Workbee in different frame sizes. The comparable kit to the X-carve is the 1000mm(39") x 1000mm(39") machine basic bundle which costs around £1,700 or $2,400 (plus shipping).

Since it has to be shipped in from the UK, you will have to spend around $200 as shipping charges above the kit's cost.

The Wokbee has a smaller footprint (39" x 39") than the X-Carve, with it being shorter by 10 inches on one side and provides an inch more of work area (31" x 30") on one side than X-Carve. 

The maximum thickness of the workpiece that the Workbee can accommodate is 3.7 inches which is more than an inch higher than the X-Carve.

It has a rigid frame made of C Beam Aluminum extrusions which is a bit better than the frame of X-Carve but provides the same material handling capabilities. 

Just like the X-Carve, the Workbee can process soft materials.

However, this CNC can also work on aluminum, which is not ideal in the X-Carve.

The Workbee desktop CNC uses Acme 8mm lead screws drive system. Compared to the belt drive system of X-Carve, a lead screw drive provides better responsiveness and accuracy.

On the electronics end, the Workbee uses the Duet 2 -32 bit controller board from Duet 3D.

Duet 2 controller board is superior to the X-Controller on X-Carve when it comes to features but lacks in terms of power and reliability.

For example, the Duet 2 can supply a current of 2.8 A to the stepper motors, which is comparatively low compared to the 4A limit on X-Controller.

Where the X-Carve requires a USB connection, a convenient feature I found on the Workbee is the ability to use Wi-Fi to connect to the computer. However, you can choose an ethernet connection option as well.

Duet 2 controller uses the open-source RepRap firmware, unlike the GRBL on X-Carve. RepRap can handle upto seven axes compared to 3 on GRBL based controllers and is a good option if you plan on upgrading in the future.

Where X-Carve gives you a three-year license to Easel Pro software, the Workbee requires you to purchase software for your CNC or use a free one.

Ooznest provides several customization options on routers, color, connectivity, software, and add ons, but X-Carve is more customizable.

An add-on that X-Carve lacks and Ooznest provides is the enclosure for the Workbee, which lets you keep the work area clean.

The kit arrives in a compact package, with lots of small boxes for the components. In addition, it has well-detailed documentation to aid you through the assembly.

You can assemble the Workbee on a weekend, similar to the assembly time required by the X-Carve.

Workbee is quite popular amongst DIY enthusiasts and hobbyists, but the online community at Inventables is larger.

The customer support is quick and reliable and is known for providing quick resolutions to your queries.

Overall, the Ooznest Workbee is loved by hobbyists who love to customize their machine and brag about the specs.

X-Carve (1000mm)Ooznest Workbee
Price~$2,300~$2,400
Work area30" x 30"31" x 30"
Linear Motion Belt drive with V wheelsLead screw in X,Y, and Z
FrameExtruded aluminum (Makerslide)Aluminum C Beam Extrusion 
Spindle/RouterDewalt 611Makita RT0700CX4/Dewalt D26200 
SoftwareEaselNone (have to use third-party software)
Avg. Assembly time*2 days1 day
WarrantyNo Formal Warranty1 year

Comparison between X-Carve (1000mm) and Ooznest Workbee

5. Avid CNC PRO4824: Best X-Carve Alternative for a Home Business

Avid CNC Pro 4824 cnc machine
Avid CNC PRO 4824

Avid CNC is a CNC components manufacturer that produces good quality CNC machines in the US.

The most comparable CNC machine from Avid CNC in terms of the available work area is the Avid CNC PRO4824.

PRO4824 provides a 49-½" x 25-3/4" work area that is longer in X but narrower in Y compared to the 30" x 30" work area of X-Carve.

You need a larger table for the Avid CNC as it has a larger footprint of 67" x 41" compared to the 49" x 39" footprint of the X-Carve and weighs thrice as much at 320 lbs.

Avid CNC PRO4824 will cost you around $6,100, which is about $3,800 more than the X-Carve, but it has its benefits.

PRO4824 4' x 2' CNC Router Kit (NEMA 23 compatible and 8" Z travel)$3,650
Plug and Play NEMA 23 CNC Control System$1,545
Dewalt DW618 Router with Mount$3,00
Pepperl + Fuchs Proximity Sensor Kit$254
Auto Z and Corner Finding Touch Plate$130
Mach4 Software$200
Total$6,079

Rough cost estimate of a PRO4824 4x2 CNC-full bundle

Avid also offers the CRP4824 4' x 2' CNC Router Kit which costs around $1,175 but has the same size.

However, I chose the PRO4824 because it will give you the extra speed to cut down the production time greatly for a small business.

A really great perk of buying the Avid PRO CNC is that they offer expansion kits which you can buy to convert your 4'x2' CNC to a 4'x4 or 4'x8' later.

If you are interested, I have reviewed the 4'x8' Avid machine here- 4' x 8' Avid CNC Review.

The material thickness that the Avid CNC PRO 4824 can handle is 8", which is more than three times what the X-Carve can accommodate.

The PRO 4824 also comes with an increased Z-axis travel of 12" but will cost around $150 more than the 8" version.

A heavy-duty aluminum frame and steel plate construction instead of extruded aluminum framework give more rigidity to the machine, which means you can cut harder materials using the Avid CNC PRO4824.

The rack and pinion drives system on the x and y axes provides better responsiveness and accuracy when compared to the belt drive system on all axes of X-Carve. The Z-axis uses a ball screw drive.

The resolution on the X/Y axis is 0.0005" and on the z-axis, its 0.0002" with an accuracy of 0.005", which makes it a serious hobbyist's choice with a high grade of precision.

You have the option to select either a NEMA 23 or a NEMA 34 stepper motor for your build. The NEMA23 motor provides 420 oz-in of torque. The torque on X-Carve's stepper motors are around 300 oz-in.

The cutting speed of Avid CNC PRO 4824 is around 250 inches per minute which is significantly higher than that of X-Carve.

The controller provided is older than the X-Controller on X-Carve but is compatible with multiple control software like Mach 4.

It can control four motors and has support for a fifth one too. The Avid CNC uses two motors on each axis to improve accuracy.

The control unit is packed inside an industrial-grade steel NEMA enclosure which gives me a feel of using an industrial-grade machine.

It uses the ethernet smooth stepper, which improves compatibility and provides a better speed of operation. The provisions for connecting various sensors and limit switches are a plus.

On the software front the Easel Pro is more beginner-friendly than the Mach 4 software suggested for the Avid CNC PRO 4824.

However, Mach 4 can provide you industrial grade control and precision with features like backlash compensation. Mach 4 is faster when compared to Easel Pro which improves the cycle time.

You don't have to worry about internet connection issues when using Mach4 but with Easel Pro you need to be connected to the internet at all times.

All the electronics and wires are designed to be plug and play. There is no crimping or soldering involved. You plug in the wires and et voila! It's done.

The assembly instructions are clear and detailed, with images for reference.

If you run a small business and is looking to upgrade from the X-Carve, then the Avid CNC PRO 4824 is an excellent choice.

X-Carve (1000mm)Avid CNC PRO 4824
Price~$2,300~$6,100
Work area30" x 30"49-½" x 25-¾"
Linear Motion Belt drive with V wheelsRack and Pinion in X,Y, and Ball screw in Z
FrameExtruded aluminum (Makerslide)Aluminum C Beam Extrusion 
Spindle/RouterDewalt 611Makita RT0700CX4/Dewalt D26200 
SoftwareEaselNone (have to use third-party software)
Avg. Assembly time*2 days2 days
WarrantyNo Formal Warranty1 year

Comparison between X-Carve (1000mm) and Avid CNC PRO 4824

Final thoughts

So, these are the CNC machines that I recommend you consider if you are looking for alternatives to the X-Carve CNC.

X-Carve is not a bad machine at all, however each of these machines outshine the X-Carve in at least some areas.

The Onefinity X-35 is what I'd recommend as the best choice among all the machines if you are a hobbyist.

However, if you run a home based business, I'd recommend that you consider the Avid CNC PRO 4824 instead.

About John

Hey I'm John. I talk about CNC's and Power Tools at Mellowpine. I'm a CNC hobbyist who has been making CNC's and writing about CNC's for a while. I currently also work as a consultant for business owners and hobbyists setting up their own CNC's. If you have any questions related to CNC, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at john@mellowpine.com

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John

Hey I'm John. I talk about CNC's and Power Tools at Mellowpine. I'm a CNC hobbyist who has been making CNC's and writing about CNC's for a while. I currently also work as a consultant for business owners and hobbyists setting up their own CNC's. If you have any questions related to CNC, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at john@mellowpine.com

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