Maslow 4 vs classic hobby CNC

Hi there,

I’d like to equip myself with a CNC machine to mainly work on plywood, MDF panels and occasionally solid wood (in limited thickness). Ideally, I would like to be able to make furnitures such as a whole kitchen as shown in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_A1wRaMdRg8

I really enjoy designing 3D models (using Fusion 360) and I’d like to create furniture and boxes as a hobby (Already have a high end 3D printer).
I live in France so available models are limited if I don’t want to speed thousands onyl in shipping, customs and VAT.

I have looked at what was available and discovered the Maslow 4.

I have a few questions about this CNC:

  • What are the benefits of using a Maslow 4 against a classic hobby CNC like Shapeoko or Onefinity ?
    I’m afraid the Maslow to be too slow to calibrate for example or not precise enough to create furnitures, small objects or 3D carving.

  • I’ve not been able to find how to zero the XYZ on the Maslow. How to home everything so the gcode match the piece of wood ?

  • Is the Maslow 4 compatible with the small Makita router ? I’ve got one at home.

Thanks for your answer.

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What are the benefits of using a Maslow 4 against a classic hobby CNC like Shapeoko or Onefinity ?

The largest difference would be the size of the work piece you’re able to put on the machines. If you build a large enough frame, you can work with full sized sheets of plywood, etc, using the Maslow 4.

You can also have multiple frames (because you can save the calibration data for each) and take the Maslow around as a portable machine if necessary. I have an 8 ft by 12 ft frame in my garage, but am also building a collapsible 52" frame so I can take my Maslow with me to do commissions on-the-go when I travel to events.

Past that, you’re looking at $525 US plus the cost of a router, a frame, and assembly/calibration time, for the Maslow, vs whatever those others cost. You also have to assemble the Maslow yourself and this forum is your only real resource for getting assistance (which isn’t actually a complaint, this focused space has been the best “customer service” experience I’ve had for new tech).

I’m afraid the Maslow to be too slow to calibrate for example or not precise enough to create furnitures, small objects or 3D carving.

Calibration has been improving by leaps and bounds since Bar/Roman/Anna have been getting user feedback and they and other contributors have been making the needed changes to software and processes.

There have been some that have had issues with accuracy, one dimension (either vertical or horizontal axis) being stretched slightly has been the only real thing I’ve seen concerning that. Would be problematic for making cabinets/boxes, potentially also furniture. This would be down to a bad calibration, though, and should ultimately be solvable.

The Maslow is very good with reproducibility, though. If you tell it to run the same job twice on the same calibration, you should expect the cuts to be exactly the same, within the margin of error accounted for by your fitness score. I was able to do a topographical relief carving in multiple passes, even taking the unit off the frame in between the rough and detail passes, and it was able to accurately continue the job.

I’ve not been able to find how to zero the XYZ on the Maslow. How to home everything so the gcode match the piece of wood ?

There are options in the UI for setting the XY home location and for setting Z home and Z zero, though the Z home and zero options are in a sub-menu.

Is the Maslow 4 compatible with the small Makita router ? I’ve got one at home.

Compatibility with the current version of the Maslow 4 is down to the router clamps and the belt spools being designed for an ideal fit around the Dewalt DWP611 (69mm diameter). If your unit is larger than that, it would not fit without redesigning the spools and router clamps. If your unit is smaller, you would just need to fashion a sleeve to act as a spacer, but you would be able to use it and it should work just fine. Multiple others have done similar with other routers and even with proper CNC spindles. There are even discussions around redesigning the overall assembly to allow for larger tools, as well as making it so that tools can be swapped easily.

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Do we still have to calibrate for every job? I got tired of setting up the ladder, tracking someone down to help me take down the Maslow, go through a 45 minute calibration, have it fail, then do it all again. At least with our other hobby cnc I can zero it out or say “start here” and we’re ready to go.

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No, calibration is a one time thing. Once you are calibrated for your frame you do not need to do it again unless your frame changes.

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I think that another big thing to consider is cost. The largest thing that either a Shapeoko or Onefinity can cut is 48 inches and the 48 inch models are $3200 and $3750 for those machines. Maslow gets you 96 inches for $500…but that better larger work area at a smaller cost comes with other tradeoffs too. Maslow4 is a very different kind of machine so it has different strengths and weaknesses vs most of the other options out there

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The UI for remounting the unit to the frame directs you to Calibrate OR Apply Tension.

If you are already happily calibrated, you choose the latter.

The machine does not have a state change for being calibrated, it just has a config for frame size/anchor locations that is updated (hopefully with more accurate values) when you run a calibration, so it’s just up to you to not run calibration when it isn’t necessary and to apply tension to get started instead.

When you upgrade firmware, you can bring your calibration data forward by first backing up your Maslow.yaml and then copying the relevant fields from the old one to the new one (any that start with “maslow_”) before loading the new file onto the machine.

This is not as intuitive as it could be, but it’s a lot better than it might look, initially.

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Thanks for your replies :slight_smile:
How do you answer things like these ones (counter arguments from the Internet) ?

  • “It is not rigid enough to do most operations, and because the Maslow rides on the top surface of the wood you are cutting, any pieces that become loose and pop up at all will alter the path of the router.”
  • “It’s good for big components like furniture, but won’t be as accurate in harder wood. Also keep in mind it sits on the workpeice and uses that as a reference, so you are pretty limited to 2D cutting.”
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Isn’t the DeWalt router 69mm diameter?

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you are correct, 69mm

many people have used smaller routers/spindles

David Lang

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Yes. I was second guessing and did a search, but I searched 67 and got results that, with the context in the preview plus many results showing up, made it seem like that was the right one.

I’ve since corrected my original post to say 69 instead of 67.

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Both of those are saying essentially the same thing.

The sled sits directly on the workpiece and the angle of the sled relative to the surface of the workpiece is decided by the surface of the workpiece. If it is flat, your sled will stay flat, if it is not, the sled will only stay flat if it is always bridging multiple high points on the surface of the workpiece that keep it flat.

All CNCs technically have a more difficult time with harder materials than they do with softer materials. We haven’t seen specific issues with the Maslow 4 in hardwood that I’ve seen reported. We have had people cutting 3mm aluminum, though, and it appears to have went quite well. Another person was also carving Baltic birch with seemingly no issues (caused by the type of wood)

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Certainly the maslow’s comfort zone is 2d cutting. I would state it as you are limited to 2d with caveats. If your sled is not resting on the same reference, then there will be issues, but pockets or v groove, or small carvings, for example, will work fine unless they are so large the sled “falls in” them when carving. The sled is rather large and I’ve got some detail, like this vcarve (please ignore my really crapping painting :slight_smile: )

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Maslow does great for 2.5d carving. This simplified-Colorado I did as a test went quite well. 7"x5"

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I was wondering what that was

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These comments are more aimed to the classic maslow with chains. Gravity had to do alot of the work, pulling the sled downward while the chains loosened, you can see where this could cause accuracy issues in harder material if your feed was too high. M4 has 4 belts to pull it around so it doesn’t rely on gravity.

A stiff frame is still needed. And the sled does ride over the workpiece so you are limited on 3d carving as the sled will tilt and snag when it falls into pockets.

M4 accuracy will be much better than the classic maslow. The only open question is the accuracy in the red areas where the arms hit the frame, which may be able to be solved via code. More testing will have to be done. These areas are small and in the corners. Most work shouldn’t be impacted.

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Maybe not super 3D but certainly 2.5D :