Is it Worth It to Buy a Laser Engraver & Cutter? (xTool D1 Engraver Review)
This product was provided to me at no cost in exchange for my honest review of the xTool D1 Engraver. This post contains affiliate links.
As a blogger and YouTuber, we get hit up often from companies that want us to try out their products in exchange for a YouTube video or blog post. It’s hilarious how they will offer up their products like they’re doing us a favor, giving us “free” products.
But if they only knew how much work, how many hours, is involved in promoting that “free” product, they’d know that we’re likely working for less than minimum wage for that “free” product.
Sometimes, though, just the right email with the right offer blows across our emails. It’s the offer that has you drooling, and you can’t reply “Yes!” quickly enough because you feel like you’ve hit the lottery.
Not because we’re greedy.
But because it has really sparked something inside of us that we didn’t know existed.
Or inspired us with a new product we didn’t know we needed.
That’s how I felt when xTool reached out to offer up a “free” laser engraver in exchange for my honest opinion about their xTool D1 engraver and cutter machine.
I’d never seriously considered the need for an engraver.
Well, maybe years ago when I saw one at a blogging conference. My mouth watered when a brand debuted its $5,000 (gasp!) engraver and I “oohed and ahhed,” only to be disappointed that they were backlogged/out of stock.
I quickly forgot about an engraver, but in retrospect, there were plenty of projects which an engraver would have taken my projects to a whole ‘nutha level.
For example, like when I made my DIY wooden journals and had to hand engrave my own name on the front. I even sold a few of these to people on Etsy and I remember the painstaking time it took to engrave their own names on the front by hand.
But now, though, I feel like my DIY skills and tools just got an upgrade!
Why Do You Need a Laser Engraver?
Unless you’re in a business that requires a laser engraver, you don’t neeeeeeed one.
But it’s okay to really, really want one.
As a DIYer, I love the idea of making personalized gifts. I don’t want my furniture to be cookie cutter; why would I want my gifts to be cookie cutter?
But it goes beyond gift giving. It’s really about creating projects that look professional, crisp, and clean. The things you can cut out with a laser engraver/cutter are often time times things you wouldn’t have the time (or the desire!) to cut out with a scroll saw or jigsaw.
I’m talking teeny-tiny things things, like intricate wooden snowflakes, and a thousand other project pieces that may require intricate cut-outs.
With a laser engraver/cutter, those things take mere minutes, not hours, to cut out or engrave many materials.
What Can You Engrave and Cut with the xTool D1 Engraver?
With this tool, (it’s the xTool D1 with the 10W laser engraving and cutting), it allows you to cut slightly thicker materials.
Engraving on Stainless Steel
This is probably the most exciting because while wood is something you can engrave on by hand, metal is a bit trickier. It’s never going to look neat and tidy if you do it by hand. Not until you get yourself a laser engraver.
This xTool D1 comes with a sample “blank” stainless steel dog tag. My nephew’s Pom is named Prince, and this was the perfect gift for him! I also engraved my nephew’s name and number on the back.
Stainless steel cups from Michael’s are about $8.00 per cup. These are a quick and easy way to personalize a gift for someone with their name, an inspirational quote, or a logo for your business!
My niece’s name, Camryn, went on this cup. 🙂
Although, it looks like a Toyota Camry fan-club. HA!
Engraving on Wood
Plywood was soooo easy to engrave on! I found that it smoked very little, and created a really nice contract between the light color of the maple plywood and the dark lettering of my name, Thrift Diving.
Most of these designs took about 7-10 minutes to engrave.
I also picked up some wooden picture frames from Michael’s Arts & Crafts (the cheapie kind) but it worked surprisingly well!
This frame will be a gift for my sister, with an inside joke we shared as kids. 😉
Engraving on Leather and Fabric
When I was younger, I used to make small bags. Mostly silk, but sometimes with other thick fabrics. When I tested out the engraving on leather and faux-leather fabric, this was pretty exciting how crisp the design. I imagined making small wallets and change purses with intricate designs or inspirational savings on them.
The faux-leather wasn’t as dark and crisp, but it still had a lovely imprint that would look great in a design! Very subtle.
Are Laser Engravers Hard to Set Up and Use?
Nope, not at all. I was worried that the learning curve would be steep for the xTool D1, but surprisingly, it took about 30-45 minutes to set up, using their instructional YouTube video.
There were only 5 main pieces of this engraver, which made it pretty simple to assemble.
The laser head is attached to the center part, which can be adjusted backwards, forwards, and can move from side to side.
The software that you can download to your computer is very simple to use for the most computer-illiterate person, called Laserbox Basic. 🙂 I don’t like how some programs take a long time to learn to use, but this one is pretty basic and straight forward, allowing anyone to get started immediately with engraving and cutting right after assembly.
The xTool D1 can be made taller with additional risers that can be purchased and screwed on. The taller the object you’re trying to engrave, the taller the engraver will need to stand in order to clear the object.
In a pinch, though, I just placed the engraver on several objects since I didn’t have additional risers to attach to the bottom.
Is Using a Laser Engraver Safe?
Absolutely, if you take the right precautions.
The lasers emit a bit of radiation, so you don’t want to put your fingers or other body parts under the laser.
And you also don’t want to look at or expose your eyes to the lasers.
That’s why they provide these funny green glasses that made me look like that old lady from the Shoebox Greeting cards. HA!
While I was checking up on the engravings, I made sure to wear the green glasses. But I also made sure to put on a mask. Some materials created more smoke (particularly the cheap wood from a Michael’s sign I had bought to engrave on).
Is the xTool D1 Affordable?
At about $700 – $800, that depends on your budget. When the Cricut Maker came out years ago, I bought it for $400. If I can buy a Cricut that cuts vinyl and paper for $400, I can spend $700 to buy a machine that cuts and engraves wood, engraves metal, glass, and so much more.
It really depends on your own personal budget. But considering that this is a tool that can earn you money, especially if you decide to sell crafts or personalized gifts on Etsy, I think the tool would pay for itself quickly.
What are the Limitations to a Laser Engraver and Cutter?
While I absolutely loved testing out this laser engraver, there were a few things you’ve got to consider before investing the money.
- You absolutely need good ventilation. Cutting and engraving creates dust, smoke, and nasty smells. You can’t just stick it down in your closed-in basement “as is.” That stuff lingers in the air. Without good ventilation, you’re risking your health. xTool does sell an exhaust fan at $250, so there’s an additional cost for that.
- You’ll need accessories. As with any good tool, there are always a bunch of accessories you’ll want and need. For this tool, you’ll definitely want the xTool Rotary accessory so that you can engrave cylinder-shaped materials. You’ll also want to order some blanks, such as dog tags, coasters, keychains, and more.
Overall, I absolutely loved playing around with the xTool D1 engraver and cutter, and I am definitely going to create its own station in the shed so that I can use it anytime I want. 🙂 You’ll love adding this to your DIY toolkit, too!
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