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Kent CNC Split Shoe Review

Dust Sucks!

xcarve_dust_shoe_magnetsUsing a CNC machine to carve wood without some form of dust collection can be compared to trying to take a bath on the floor without a tub.  Nothing piles up and everything is all over the room.  The spinning cutter bit will throw sawdust up into the air causing an inhalation hazard and what doesn’t get inhaled will inevitably end up covering up everything in your shop.

I knew dust was going to be an issue when installing the new X-Carve CNC machine from Inventables in the shop, but what I didn’t realize was how long some of the projects were going to take to cut.  The initial plan was to stand over the cutter with a shop vac hose in my hand while the project completed. After about 30 minutes and less than a quarter of the project done, I realized the flaw in my plan.  Something was going to have to change.  There had to be a better way to control the dust in my shop during X-Carve projects.

Solution

xcarve_dust_shoe_two_piecesThere are at least two acceptable options to containing the dust created by the X-Carve.  The route I choose was to use a mini split shoe (dust shoe) made to fit the DeWalt DW611 built by Kent CNC.  The other option was to make my own dust shoe from shared plans on the X-Carve forum.

The decision was pretty easy for me. It was very important to get something that would work correctly the first time.  Being new to creating projects on a CNC machine, I was excited to start carving rather than building a dust shoe.   I had some issues with the CNC machine early on and I wanted concentrate on my projects without wondering if the home made dust shoe was causing issues.

Split Shoe Build Quality

xcarve_dust_shoe_setup_close_upThe Kent mini split shoe unit is made up of two parts that are held together by three rare earth magnets.  The upper portion of this unit has a 2-1/2” connection for a shop vac hose and an opening to go over the bottom half of the DeWalt DW611 router.  The unit is tightened around the router with an allen head bolt and nut.  This unit slides on snug and with just a couple turns of the bolt, tightens right up.  The top is also made from a clear thick acrylic that when coupled with the DeWalt DW611, makes it possible to actually see the progress of your cutter as it is working.

The bottom half of the split shoe is basically a ring that has two inch bristles and attaches to the top half.  The nice part about how the two haves come together is the way the magnets are placed.  There are two magnets on one side and one on the other, so there is no way to put them together incorrectly.

If you are wondering why the dust shoe comes in two easy to remove haves, it is because of bit changes.  Being able to change bits without removing the dust shoe saves time.

Once the units are together and in place, one word of advice.  Make sure the router bit is below the bottom of the bristles.  I was having a few issues with how my X-Carve was cutting and I wasn’t sure where it was coming from until a friend of mine suggested to me the bristles were a little too stiff for the X-Carve unit and was causing it to cut a little erratically when hollowing a design out.  The mini split shoe can be ordered with either 2” or 3” bristle lengths.  For my setup, the 2” setup works the best. The 3” option would be too long for my X-Carve.

Other than the bristles being stiff, the mini split shoe is top notch.  I love how easy it is to attach and remove.  Couple that with the fact that I can actually see how the cutter is performing, makes this unit a welcome addition to my X-Carve setup.

Kent CNC

Kent CNC makes many different types of Split Shoes for a large variety of routers and CNC setups.  For more information on the different split shoes they have to offer, or more information on an X-Carve setup like I am using, check out www.kentcnc.net

xcarve_dust_shoe_setup

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2 Responses to “Kent CNC Split Shoe Review”

  1. I was just contacted by Kent CNC. They have changed the brush ring on this unit and now the bristles are more flexible. Therefore, you can take the brushes right down to the bottom of the bit for a complete seal. I’ll get one of these new rings and comment back on how they perform.

    October 18, 2015 at 1:09 pm Reply
  2. donny carter #

    Nice review John!

    October 18, 2015 at 8:14 pm Reply

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