I have recently been gifted the oh-so-versatile xTool M1, this incredible piece of kit is a 10-watt hybrid laser cutting machine that sits between a laser engraver, cutter and traditional blade cutting machine. Thus, it is designed to be a one-stop solution for all your laser and cutting needs.
I will be honest: being the owner of a Glowforge and Cricut, I was dreading getting my M1 out of the box. I couldn’t see how I would like it as much as a crafter. For this reason, I have tested it vigorously, I didn’t want to recommend a machine that didn’t cut to my expectations.
So grab a coffee and read on; I will tell you what worked, what didn’t and where the xTool beats the others, hands down.
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What You Will Find Here
The xTool M1 Review
xTool M1 is an incredible hybrid laser cutting machine and blade cutter in one. It is capable of cutting and engraving materials due to the fact it has a diode laser plus a blade (Many laser cutters have a CO2 laser, which is more powerful but more expensive). This gives it a huge versatility because it cuts and engraves so many products.
What Is The Cutting Area Size Of The M1?
The cutting area of the M1 diode laser machine is 15 inches by 12 inches for laser and using the cutting mats with card and vinyl. Which is smaller than the Glowforge; proof-grade materials are 12×18! However, you can cut this material size with the Cricut with longer mats or smart materials. Of course, a Cricut has many pluses, but it doesn’t have precision laser power.
How Much Is The xTool M1 in the UK?
The xTool M! 10w version is available from £959; this comes with a few blanks and blade attachments to use with your machine. And this is the key with the xTool getting the right material thickness and quality blanks; I have had some amazing results.
However, this incredible desktop hybrid laser machine is only as good as the materials it is cutting. Its laser beams don’t like cheaper quality plywood. But cuts like a dream on dry, even plywood. There is more about this below. Also, note it’s not a negative; you need to find the brands it cuts and use those.
What Comes In The Box?
- xTool Lazer Machine with laser module
- Blade Cutter
- Exhaust Pipe Hose.
- Cutting Mats
- Triangular Prisms
- Replacement Blades
How Big Is The xTool M1?
This is important, as this machine is super portable for a laser cutting machine; when it arrived, I was able to carry it upstairs alone, whereas to carry my Glowforge is a 2-3 person job. Thus, if the workspace in your craft room is limited, then the xTool is a winner. I can move it around my office as and when needed. Also, it’s 21.93W x 17.83D x 9.06H inches, so doesn’t take up too much space.
Do You Have To Vent The xTool M1?
Yes, when it lasers and engraves, it lets off fumes and wood particles, so it’s important to vent it to outside via the hose exhaust pipe. For this reason, you need to either have your M1 near a window. It comes with a vent pipe to connect and pop it out the window when in use.
Alternatively, you can buy an electric pump smoke purifier if you don’t have access to a window for the exhaust hose.
The xTool Creative Space Software
If you are a fan of Cricut Design Space, then the xTool Design area is very similar. The interface is easy to download and use; simply plug in the USB cord when you use it for the first time to connect to your machine. The wonderful thing about the xTool is that the M1 has an inbuilt camera, which projects materials in your machine onto your PC or MAC. This enables you to position projects on your materials to get placement perfect.
In the right-hand bar, you can choose laser or engrave features, materials, and thickness of materials. When you cut wood, you must use the triangle prisms underneath to allow circulation; there is a setting for this. Using the Triangle Prisms To Cut Wood With The xTool.
What Can The xTool M1 Do?
Being a hybrid machine means it can do so much, I honestly didn’t think it would perform all the tasks so well, but so far, I have had fantastic results and done lots of testing. I also love that you can convert files to SVG files in Adobe Illustrator and upload them to the xTool, thus making cutting your own files and own designs super easy. There is also a rotary attachment at an additional cost. This allows crafters to engrave tumblers.
You can expect the xTool M1 to…..
The xTool M1 Will Cut
- Heat transfer vinyl to make custom t-shirts and gifts
- Print And Cut Stickers
The xTool M1 Will Engrave
- Stainless Steel
Cutting Wood On The xTool
How Thick Can The M1 Laser Cut?
The machine can cut plywood and solid wood of about 8mm thickness in only one pass. However, the wood cannot be warped or dampened. It will also not cut cheaper plywood with lots of layers of glue.
But once you find the suitable material, it cuts magnificently. I used the Dikebao plywood from Amazon after not having success with a cheaper pack of plywood, and it cut beautifully. The key is to raise the project on the triangular prisms to circulate air around the project. You can also purchase a riser base, air assist and honeycomb panel for less charing.
The images below are all I have cut on the xTool, I started with an aeroplane which was a nice simple image. But as you can see, I wanted to challenge the machine thus continued to try more and more intricate cuts.
I had to scrap one batch as it just wouldn’t cut, but as soon as I changed the brand of basswood, the results were fantastic.
You can see there is some slight charring on the wood. However, I did not mask the wood. This is the same result I would get with the Glowforge without masking or using proof-grade materials.
Where the xTool falls behind the Glowforge cutting wood is on speed. It took 14 minutes to cut the nutcracker no two and woodland letter S. These would have taken 2 minutes on Glowforge. However, speed aside, the result was comparable; I think it depends here if you plan to cut wood in massive amounts.
Engraving Bamboo On The xTool
Engraving is one of the xTools super strengths. I found the placement and alignment super accurate on the xTool when I set it to auto-measure. However, the great thing is you can override the settings, which I did when engraving stainless steel.
I started by engraving a simple project but soon realised the amazing capabilities, so I felt more confident going for a more complex one. This Santa treat tray took 40 minutes, around the same time the glow forge would have taken, and I am thrilled with the result.
It’s important to note that you can’t leave laser projects in process. This is the case on all laser machines, as there is always a fire risk. So, if I am planning a longer project, I set myself up near the machine with my laptop so I can work nearby and watch the progress.
This is where the xTool beats my other machines, hands down. I have engraved several tags on the front and back. Plus, several metal lids and all of the results have been outstanding. I am obsessed with the xTool M1s engraving capabilities.
I did buy aluminium tags, and it didn’t work, so I went ahead and bought stainless steel hearts. However, the more I read, the aluminium should have worked so that I will give them a go again and feedback when I do.
The engraving is clear and accurate, and the xTool can engrave tiny words into small spaces, such as the back of a dog tag. I engraved our address onto the back of a dog tag for Alf, and it was so clear.
I also looked at engraving lids; the image below results from adding text in the design area and uploading star PNG files. PNG files will engrave but not cut; as you can see, the result is different from the text.
This is useful to know if you want to add a multi-layered effect. The back of the tag took 4 minutes, thus making engraving one of the most time-efficient projects on the xTool M1.
Cutting Card And Vinyl With The xTool M1
The Card And Vinyl Mat
The card and vinyl mats are double-sided and stick to the bottom of the machine, and your card/vinyl sticks to the top. I didn’t think I would be a fan of this, but I like it, it’s super secure.
The secret to getting vinyl right is setting the pressure; my first cut was too deep, so I cut through the backing, too. However, I re-adjusted, tried again and got it right. I cut the leaf below, and it took 2 minutes, thus nice and quick with great results.
I feel with vinyl it’s all about getting to know your machine and pressure settings. But the more I use my M1, the easier I think getting to know this machine will be.
I have to say I am impressed. Paper-cutting is the main core of my business, I cut cards almost daily. The xTool is nowhere near as quick as my Cricut, but if that’s not the main part of your business, it cuts precisely and again I challenged the machine.
Starting off with a simple leaf that took a minute. So thought right lets try one of our Alphabet SVG Files. I know these are intricate and a challenge to cut. I chose our Christmas Pudding Alphabet, A, B, C & D. Now this took a little longer, taking just under 10 minutes for 4 letters that filled an A4 card. But wow the results were amazing.
My Final Thoughts On The xTool M1?
It’s great, if you had asked me in the first hour of using it I would have not been as positive. But the thing with a new machine is you have to test it, see what it can do. There is also the matter of finding compatible tools? Once I did I was super impressed. Additionally, xTools graphic design software is super easy to use, which makes the machine a joy to use.
I think the decision of anyone wanting to buy a laser cutter is budget and time. This is a wonderful machine for the price if you compare it to other machines. Especially if engraving is a big deal to you. For this reason I feel it fits in between the Cricut and Glowforge.
You will have to make a compromise on speed if you are cutting card or wood. However if you are not cutting in bulk then this won’t matter. The xTool M1 is a great little machine with lots of capabilities.