The X-Carve by Inventables is pretty nice machine to have around the shop.  CNC is rapidly changing the face of the woodworking hobby and the maker communities has a whole.  The possibilities with these machines are almost endless, as being able to cut very precise computer controlled parts for inlays, replacements components, etc is a dream for many.  But the X-Carve as I received it came with a major downfall.  It lacked the horsepower required to cut harder materials like aluminum and brass.  And cutting hardwood or MDF was a slow laborious process of waiting.

Well that all changes today as The Geek Pub’s X-Carve get’s an upgrade from the 24V DC spindle that was included in the original shipment, to the DeWalt 611 router.  My X-Carve just went from neat to awesome!

The DeWalt DW611 Router as an X-Carve Spindle

DeWalt DW611 Router Mounted to X-CarveThe DeWalt 611 makes a fantastic spindle for the X-Carve, as compared to the original 24V DC spindle that was included. The original 24v spindle was extremely underpowered and had a hard time even cutting MDF and hardwood.  Aluminum was basically out of the question, as you’d have to cut slow slowly and make so many passes that it just became an effort in futility.

The DeWalt DWP611 is a 110v/220v handheld router that your simply remove from its base and insert it into the X-Carve as a spindle.  You will need a DeWalt 611 spindle mount from Inventables to mount it, as the the DWP611 is a much larger unit and will not fit in the 24V spindle’s mount.

The DeWalt 611 is a 1.25HP 110v 7A machine, which equates to about 770 watts.  In comparison the 24DC spindle at 180 watts!  This is truly a massive upgrade.  In fact, Inventables not ships the DWP611 as their standard spindle on all X-Carves due to the feedback from owners like us!

Another fantastic upgrade that comes with the DeWalt 611 is that is has LED lights on the bottom that directly light the surface of your material.  This makes it very easy to see what is happening with your materials and the bit (remember to wear safety glasses).  This was an unexpected plus I found out after the upgrade!  The only downgrade I have found is that you will lose your automatic spindle on/off control.  You’ll have to manually turn the router on or off with each operation.  And let me tell you, with all the other awesome benefits, this won’t even matter in the bigger picture.

Upgrading the X-Carve to the DeWalt 611

Upgrading the X-Carve to the DeWalt 611 is breeze and only takes about 10 minutes to accomplish.  In fact, it took me more time to read the directions than to actually do the upgrade.

On the back of the Z-Axis carriage assembly the 24V DC motor connects to the wiring block for power.  Loosen those screws and remove the two wires.  Tighten the terminals back down as they will no longer be used. Don’t bother to remove the 24v spindle from its mount.  There is a plastic cap on the top of the motor.  Just pop that cap off, behind it are two screws holding the mount to the ACME rod.  Don’t remove them yet.

Remove the two eccentric nuts holding the V-Wheels on the right side of the Z-Axis carriage (the two actually connect to the spindle mount).  Now remove the two cap head screws that hold the mount to the ACME rod.  You can now remove the mount.  Finally, remove the other two V-Wheels.

That’s all there is to it.  To install the DeWalt 611 spindle mount, just reverse the process with the DWP611 mount and you’re back in business.

How to Secure the Power Cord on the DWP611

Cable management can be a little tricky on with the DeWalt DWP611 because the power cord is not going to fit into the drag chain.  The only way to accomplish that would be to remove every single link on the chain and assemble it around the 611’s power cord as the 110v plug on the end will not fit through the assembled drag chain.  Doing that’s is probably a bad idea anyway, because there are stories of interference on the step motor controllers when they 110v source shares the same conduit.

To remedy this problem, I used some velcro wire-wrap and simply wrapped the 611’s power cord around the drag chain ever four to five inches.  That seems to work out fine.

DeWalt DWP611 Power Cord to Drag Chain on X-Carve

A Few Upgrading Tips

The screws that came with my 611 mount were about 1/8″ too short.  I remedied this by using a clamp to squeeze the mount closed before inserting the screws.

The DWP611 comes factory with a 1/4″ collet.  This is likely too large for most CNC needs and most certainly will not work with any of your existing bits.  You can either buy a 3rd party 1/8″ collet replacement, or you can do what I did and just buy a 1/4″ to 1/8″ bushing reducer (AMANA RB-102).

The DeWalt 611 will need to hang out of the bottom of the mount by at least one quarter of an inch!  If you don’t do this then you won’t be able to press the spindle lock button.  This means you won’t be able to loosen or tighten the collet to change bits!

If you upgrade your X-Carve leave me some comments below to let me know how it went!