This post is about the XTool M1 laser cutting machine. Now this machine is unique in that it not only cuts and engraves with a laser, but it can also cut with a blade just like a Cricut or ScanNCut machine.
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Now just to let you know upfront, we were given this machine to have a play with it and share our thoughts. Those of you who follow our channel know that our reviews are always totally honest. So we will discuss both what we like and what we don’t like.
Tools and Materials Used
Designs from Creative Fabrica
These files can also be used in your ScanNCut and Cricut software programs
- Christmas Stickers
- Bee Gnomes
- Heart Design
- Snowman Bookmark
- Stand up Christmas Tree
- Pumpkin Faces for Halloween
- Tea Lover Quotes
- Welcome to the Garden Quote
- Kitchen Quotes
You can watch the video demo and review below or scroll down for more detail
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The xTool M1 is fully enclosed in a white box, unlike many other diode laser cutters. It’s quite compact and easy to move around as it’s not too heavy…I mean, it’s not lightweight either at 9.8kgs but I was able to move it around without much hassle. So you can set it up in the garage or your craft room, but just make sure you are able to vent the machine out a window as when you are laser cutting and engraving you will create fumes that you don’t want flowing inside your home. It’s an attractive device so if you do have it in your craft room it won’t look out of place.
Unlike the Cricut or ScanNCut machines, this machine doesn’t require room behind or in front for the machine to load and unload the mat, however you will need to allow about 6-8” for the vent pipe at the rear. You will also require room above it for when you open the lid – around 18”.
It’s super simple to put together, just plug the cables into the back of the machine and connect the USB cable to your computer and power cable into the power.
And one other thing, you need to attach the exhaust vent to the back of the machine. It’s really easy to do and you don’t even need a screwdriver. .
Once you’ve done all that, turn on the machine using the switch on the back of the machine.
So now all you need to get it working is the Xtool Creative Space software which is free to download. Then you simply click on CONNECT DEVICE. You will see the machine name pop-up on the screen. Just select it and because the machine has a camera in it, it is going to take a photo of the base of the machine.
When using the blade cutting feature, you need a mat on which to place your material. Just like the Cricut and ScanNCut. The machine comes with two mats – one pink for fabric and one blue for everything else.
What’s in the Box
- xTool M1
- Mats – one blue, one pink
- Triangle Prisms
When you purchase the basic machine bundle you get 5 replacement cutting blades and a materials pack which includes:
- PU leather
- Dog tag
- Adhesive vinyl
- Sticker paper
There is also a deluxe machine bundle and you get a heap of materials to use plus a rotary tool that allows you to engrave on cylinders. Well worth it for what you get
So let’s get on and see what it can do.
The very first thing we decided to cut was heat transfer vinyl and since this was the first time we were using the machine we had to insert a new blade which was simple and easy to do.
- Remove the blade holder which is held in by a magnet
- Press the plunger on the top of the blade holder and insert the new blade, which is also magnetized.
- Adjust the blade so that only the 45 degree angle tip is showing.
Now as I said before, to do any cutting with the blade you have to use a mat exactly as you would with a Cricut or ScanNCut. The big difference with the xTool mats which come with the machine, is that they are sticky on both sides.
So you have to remove both the top and the bottom protective plastic sheets from the mat before placing it into the machine. The sticky back holds the mat securely to the base of the machine. Now I place my vinyl face down onto the mat, taking care to make sure their aren’t any wrinkles.
We used the heat transfer vinyl supplied by Xtool This is a good quality vinyl and it comes in a range of colours.
Once the mat and material are in place, you just close the lid. The xTool M1 will automatically take a photo of what is on the mat and this image will show up in the software. This makes it super easy to line up what you want to cut with the material on the mat.
Test #1 – HTV Vinyl – Butterfly
Since I wanted to cut vinyl, I selected the Blade Cut option and HTV option in the software. This is really handy as I didn’t need to work out the settings. The machine automatically kiss cuts the vinyl at the correct depth.
I opened a rather nice butterfly file that I got from Creative Fabrica. When everything was ready to go I clicked on the PROCESS button and went through steps to frame the material. This ensures that the machine is going to cut within the parameters of the material.
Once that was done I pressed START in the software, and the pressed the start button the machine.
It took longer than was stated in the software, and I did find this with most of the projects, but it cut beautifully as you can see here.
Test #2 – Making Stickers
Our next project was to create some stickers. This is a print to cut process.
Start by loading a file, into the software. I used a PNG file for Christmas stickers that we got from Creative Fabric.
And once I had the sizing correct I clicked the PROCESS button. The software then takes me through the steps to print the sticker images onto the sticker adhesive.
I’ve used the sticker paper provided by xTool and when it is printed it will create cross registration marks so that the xTool knows where to cut.
- Now I place the sticker sheet onto the blue mat, put in the machine and close the lid.
- Click ‘NEXT’ in the software and follow the steps to cut out the stickers.
These stickers came out beautifully, so much so that we cut a few more with these cute little Bee Gnome designs, again from Creative Fabrica.
Test #3 – Cutting Card Stock
For our next test, we wanted to try cutting out some card stock and in this case I am using a 65lb weight. We downloaded a lovely heart design (yet again from Creative Fabrica).
I placed the card stock onto the blue mat. In the software, there was no option for card stock so I selected the closest possible option which was Kraft Paper.
We wanted to try something a little more intricate to see how it cut and as you can see it did it beautifully. So I can see lots of uses for this machine in my paper crafting.
For anyone who doesn’t have a paper crafting machine and likes the option of being able to cut out paper, leather and vinyl etc as well as being able to laser cut and engrave then I think this is an ideal option.
Test #4 – Kraft Paper Envelopes
We decided to try out the Kraft paper that came with our machine and so we cut some envelopes. It cuts Kraft paper really well and I was pleased with the result. I can use these kraft paper envelopes in my junk journals as well as for cards.
Test #5 – Cutting a Leather Pouch Project
This was our attempt at creating a leather pouch using one of the free projects that are available in Creative Space. They have a number of projects for you to select from. Great if you are a bit stumped on thinking of something to do when you are just starting out.
Click on PROJECTS to access them and as you can see there are plenty to choose from. I selected the Leather Pouch and when it loads onto the screen you can access each of the elements that make up the pouch by looking at the tabs at the very bottom of the screen.
Now, the thing with the project that we selected is that we had to laser engrave the pattern onto one of the pieces of PU leather. And as you can see it looks like it is doing a beautiful job…that is until we removed it from the mat.
As you can see, the engraving went right through the leather and to the mat.
However, it did cut out the all the slots and tabs of the project, perfectly.
We went with the settings provided by it was obviously too intense for the thin piece of PU leather that we had.
The leather needs to be thicker or the setting reduced. Considering we don’t work with leather at all and the smell when cutting was intense, we don’t really want to attempt that one again.
Test #6 – Key Tags from PU Leather
We did try cutting a simpler pattern to see how well the leather cut and it did a great job as you can see here with these key tags.
I simply glued the key tags together and added a book ring on which to add the key. So now Paula and I each have a key ring with our initial. Nice and simple and very cute.
Test #7 – Cutting Quilting Fabric
The big test for us was fabric which can be a little difficult to cut on a home based cutting machine. It takes a bit of trial and error to get the hang of and this machine was no exception.
Since we use a lot of quilting fabric, we wanted to see how well it would cut, if at all. So we placed a piece of quilting cotton onto the pink fabric mat. This did not go well. There are no settings available for cutting quilting cotton, so this will be a bit of trial and error for us.
The first piece of fabric we cut was just a piece of fabric that we had ironed. There was no adhesive or backing on the fabric. The blade simply dragged the material and did not cut it.
So for the next piece we used Mary Ellen’s Best Press to starch the fabric and added some iron on adhesive backing. This also did not work. As we work with fabric and appliqué pieces we really would like this to work.
We decided to try 505 adhesive spray on the back of the next few pieces of fabric, and again, although the machine cut out most of the shape, the final cut didn’t cut cleanly through the fabric. This isn’t a big deal as it’s simply a matter of snipping the piece with some scissors. We cut a few stars trying different settings with the same result.
We really want to be able to cut fabric so we tried again with another piece of fabric. Again the fabric was sprayed with Mary Ellen’s Best Press. No luck.
So we will continue to work with fabric pieces and once we master it, we will upload a video on it. However, this machine does an absolutely brilliant job of cutting vinyl, paper, pu leather, making stickers etc.
Laser Engraving and Cutting
But for now let’s get on and do some engraving and laser cutting.
Test #1 – Bookmark – Engraved and Cut
So the first project we decided to cut was a Christmas Bookmark. We chose the Snowman design from the bundle of 6 different designs. We thought he was cute.
- So the first thing we had to do was remove the mat that we had been working with. You don’t use mats when laser cutting or engraving.
- Place the triangle prisms onto the base of the machine. This holds the material up away from the base and gives a clear cutting space.
- Lay your piece of wood on top of the triangles, we are using 3mm basswood for this project.
Bring your design into the Creative space software and select the laser flat option, and the 3mm basswood option.
When we cut the first bookmark it had some burn marks around the hole and the base. We then realised that we hadn’t selected the ‘Height Raised – Yes option’.
So we cut another bookmark with all the correct settings and it turned out beautifully. In fact we cut another smaller one as well. These laser engraved bookmarks will make great gifts for Christmas.
The projects do take longer that the machine states, so be prepared for that. I think this is because the software is still in beta as I write this post, so hopefully this will be fixed.
Test #2 – Stand-up Christmas Tree
We are getting really comfortable with using this machine now, so it was time for a more intricate project and for this one we chose a Christmas Tree that can be decorated and set as a centerpiece on your Christmas table.
The tree cuts out in two pieces which you simply slide together.
Test #3 – Pumpkins for Halloween
With Halloween coming up it was time to cut out some pumpkin faces.
One of the pumpkin faces lost it’s chin. This is because I didn’t check that all the pieces were attached in the original file. However, I can simply glue the piece into place and it looks fine.
These pumpkin faces come in a bundle of 6 different looks and they will be so cute to add to your other Halloween decorations.
Test #4 – Rock Coaster
Time to do some engraving on the rock coaster that xTool provided.
So we selected a quote from the Tea Lover Bundle for the rock coaster. These came out great although next time will try to center it a little better.
Test #5 – Basswood Tags
We followed that up with some of the 3mm tags which you get with the Deluxe bundle. On some of these we simply added shapes from the files included in the software and the others are from the Christmas bundle from Creative Fabrica.
Test #6 – Aluminum Tag
Next we decided to engrave on the aluminium tag. For this one we chose the ‘Welcome to the Garden quote” Engraving on this type of coloured aluminum plate always come out great. We used aluminum plates from Zoom Precision for this.
Test #7 – Dog Tag
Then we engraved MAX (my grandaughter Ayla’s dog) on a dog tag. Sorry about the reflections, it was difficult to get a good shot.
Test #8 – Wooden Kitchen Spoons
I think you can tell by now that we pretty much love this machine and are having so much fun with it. However, there are a couple of cons.
One is the fabric cutting. It just didn’t do well with quilting cotton.
The other is the software. It’s still in Beta and there are a few things that need improvement. It’s very basic and there are features in the ScanNCut and Cricut Software the could be incorporated to make it more user friendly. However, it works okay in it’s basic format.
This is a great machine for someone wanting to start a business selling laser cut and laser engraved items. And having the added functionality of the blade cutter makes it ideal for the home hobbyist who is into card making, junk journal, mini journals, scrap booking etc.