I have recently been gifted the oh so versatile xTool M1, this incredible piece of kit is a 10 watt hybrid laser machine that sits between laser and traditional blade cutting machines. Thus 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 just couldn’t see how I would like it as much? 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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The xTool M1 Review
xTool M1 is an incredible hybrid laser cutting machine and 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 is a huge amount of versatility given that it cuts and engraves so many products.
What Is The Cutting Area Size Of The M1?
The cutting area of the M1 is 15 inches by 12 inches. Which is smaller than the Glowforge, proof grade materials are 12×18, however if you can cut his with the Cricut with longer mats or smart materials.
How Much Is The xTool M1 in the UK?
The xTool M! 10w version is available from £959, this comes with a few blanks to try out with your machine. And this is the key with the xTool getting the right blanks, I have had some amazing results.
However, the machine is only as good as the materials it is cutting. It doesn’t like cheaper poor quality plywood. But cuts like a dream on dry, even plywood. There is more about this below. Also note its not a negative, you just need to find the brands it cuts and use those.
How Big Is It?
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, where to carry my Glowforge is a 2-3 person job. Thus if work space is limited then the xTool is a winner. I am able to 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 so its important to vent if to outside. For this reason you need to either have your M1 near a window. It comes with a vent pipe so you simply connect and pop it out the window when in use.
Alternatively you can buy an electric pump if you dont have access to a window.
The xTool Design Area
If you are a fan of Cricut Design Space then the xTool Design area is very similar. The interface is easy to use and the wonderful thing about the xTool is that the M1 has an inbuilt camera, this projects materials in your machine onto you PC or MAC. This enables you to position projects on your materials to get placement perfect.
In the right hand bar you have the ability to choose laser or engrave features, materials, thickness of materials. When you cut wood you must use the triangle prisms underneath to allow circulation, there is a setting for this.
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. You can expect the xTool M1 to…..
The xTool M1 Will Cut
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 have any dampness. It will also not cut cheaper plywood with lots of layers of glue.
But once you find the right 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 images below are all images I have cut on the xTool, I started with a aeroplane which I thought was a nice simple image. But as you can see I really 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 charing on the wood, however I did not mask the wood. This is exactly the same as the 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 2 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 are planning on cutting wood in huge amounts.
Engraving Bamboo On The xTool
Engraving is definitely 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 felt more confident to go for a more complex project. This Santa treat tray took 40 minutes, which is 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 risk of fire. So if I am planning a longer project, I set myself up near the machine with my laptop so I am working nearby and can watch progress.
This is where the xTool beats my other machines hands down. I have engraved several tags 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 went ahead and bought stainless steel hearts. However the more I read, the aluminium should have worked so I will give them a go again and feed back when I do.
The engraving is clear 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 had a go at engraving lids, the image below is a result of adding text in the design area, and uploading star PNG files. PNG files will engrave but not cut, and as you can see the result is different to the text.
This is useful to know if you want to add a multi layered effect. In terms of timing 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, its 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 its 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 card almost every day. The xTool is nowhere near as quick as my Cricut, but if thats not the main part of your business it cuts precise 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.
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.