How to Setup the xTool M1 Laser Machine
After drooling over all the amazing laser-cut projects on Pinterest and crafting groups, I decided it was time to add a laser machine to my craft room and take my crafting to the next level!
Laser cutters can open a whole new world of crafting possibilities, and the xTool M1 is a perfect choice for beginners.
In this tutorial, learn about this 3 in 1 craft laser machine and see how easy it is to get the xTool M1 laser cutter setup – from unboxing to your first cuts!
For the past few months, I’ve been on the hunt for a laser machine that would be a good fit for a first-time laser owner like me. My research lead me to the xTool M1, which is a laser cutter, engraver, and a blade cutter too! This machine seemed to fit the bill perfectly regarding size, functionality and affordability.
So when xTool asked if I wanted to try out the M1, it seemed like the stars were aligning and I gladly accepted. Even though xTool provided the machine and some materials, all of the opinions are 100% my own honest feedback.
In this tutorial, I’ll tell you a bit about the xTool M1 and why I chose it for my first laser, and then I’ll show you step by step how to set it up and make your first cuts!
Table of Contents
What is the xTool M1?
The xTool M1 is a combination laser cutter / laser engraver / and blade cutter machine. The laser can cut, score, and / or engrave on wood, opaque acrylic, paper, fabric, leather, metal and other materials. It also has a blade cutter (like a Cricut or Silhouette) for cutting materials like vinyl, HTV, and cardstock.
The M1 uses a diode laser, which has some differences to CO2 lasers used in other laser machines like the Glowforge and the new xTool P2. The main differences to note are that diode lasers have a longer lifespan and are more affordable than CO2 lasers, which makes them perfect for in home hobby crafters. Another thing to note is that diode lasers cannot cut clear, white, or blue acrylic. They can, however, cut opaque (solid) colored acrylics, such as black, red, yellow and other opaque acrylic colors.
One of the reasons why I chose the M1, is its’ size. It measures about 18” deep, 22” wide, and about 9″ tall (with the lid closed). The actual cutting area inside the machine measures 15.15” x 11.8” (385mm x 300mm). So it’s the perfect size for in-home use in your craft room, but still large enough for a variety of different projects.
Since I’ll mostly be using the laser cutter for personal crafting, the larger laser machines just seemed too heavy-duty and industrial for my needs. I also like the clean look of the M1, which doesn’t look out of place in the home, and nicely compliments my other craft machines.
The affordable price tag of the M1 checked off another one of my criteria boxes. The 10W version (recommended) costs $1,499 but is frequently on sale for around $999 – at the time of this writing, it’s actually on sale for $949!
With other laser machines costing well into the thousands, I couldn’t justify the hefty price tag of those machines for hobby use. The M1 is definitely a more affordable choice!
The M1 also has the ability to engrave on taller objects like tumblers and wine glasses using an optional Rotary Attachment tool. In order to accommodate the added height of taller objects, the bottom baseplate of the M1 can be removed, and the machine can be placed on riser blocks (included with the Rotary Attachment), or a separate Riser Base add-on. So this really makes the M1 a versatile machine for crafters who want to make “all the things”!
Check out the xTool website for a full list of the M1 features & capabilities.
VIDEO: xTool M1 Setup & First Cuts
Once you’ve unpacked your xTool M1, it’s time to get it set up. Watch the video below to see step by step how to setup the xTool M1:
If you prefer written step by step instructions for how to setup the xTool M1, continue reading.
xTool M1 Laser Cutter Setup
There’s only a few things we need to do to get up and running with the M1. Let’s walk through each one:
- Vent the machine
- Install the blade
- Connect to power
- Connect to the software
Vent the M1
The first thing we need to do is vent the machine. I’ll admit that venting was the part that had me the most nervous, but it really turned out to be pretty easy!
The M1 comes with everything you need to install the venting: the exhaust hose, (which looks like the hose on the back of a dryer), the hose bracket, the hose clamp, and 4 screws.
At the back of the machine, place the bracket over the fan vent, and align the holes in the bracket with the holes in the machine.
Then use your fingers to tighten the screws into the 4 holes.
Next, squeeze the clamp and place it over the bracket.
Then take one end of the exhaust hose and fit it over the bracket.
Then squeeze the clamp and slide it over the hose to secure it tightly in place.
Once you have the hose attached to the back of your machine, you can vent the other end out of a window or door. For now, I have it going out my sliding door, but when I get the machine setup in my craft room, it’ll vent out a window.
If you don’t have a window / door in your craft area, xTool also sells a Smoke Purifier unit that you can connect the other end of the hose to for venting.
Install the Blade
So now we’re ready to install the blade. The gold blade housing is held in place with magnets, so if you just give it a little tug downward, the blade housing should come right out.
The M1 comes with 5 blades, and if you’ve ever changed the blade on a Cricut machine, it’s the same process.
Remove the protective red cap from the blade, and be careful not to cut yourself.
Then press the button at the top of the blade housing.
You can just place the rounded end of the blade into the blade housing and let it go – there’s a magnet inside, so the blade gets pulled right in, and you can release the button.
Then, twist the top of the blade housing until just the point of the blade is showing. This took me just a few counter clockwise turns.
Once you’ve done that, your blade is ready and you can go ahead and put in back into the machine. Remember it’s magnetic, so just hold the blade under the opening in the laser module, and it should snap right into place.
Connect to Power
Next, connect the power cord to the back of your machine, and into a nearby power outlet.
Then connect the square end of USB cord to the back of the machine, and the USB end into your computer. (If your computer doesn’t have a standard USB port, you may need to use a USB adapter.)
And that’s it!
When you flip the power switch on the back of the machine, you’ll hear it make a whirring sound, and the light on the front of the machine will blink white until it’s finished starting up and then it will turn solid white.
Now we’re ready to connect to the software.
xTool Creative Space Software
The software used with the M1 is called Xtool Creative Space. Creative Space is a free download, so you can actually download the program and play around with it before your machine arrives.
While Creative Space is pretty bare bones right now, it is regularly updated and improved. In just the first month or two since I got my machine, xTool has released new features that make it more functional and easier to use!
The Creative Space program is pretty user-friendly. If you’ve used Silhouette or Cricut software, you’ll notice some similarities.
The canvas / workspace is in the middle of the screen, a selection of tools down the left side. Additional options along the top bar, and machine settings on the right side.
In the top right, it says “Device not connected”. Click “Connect device”….
The software should find your M1, so click on the machine name to connect it. The machine will beep and the light on the front will turn solid blue
Once the machine is connected, you’ll see the preview of the laser bed from the camera. And in the top right we see it says USB, we can click Refresh to refresh the camera and get a new preview.
On the right side, there are several machine settings:
- Laser Flat – for materials on the flat laser bed
- Laser Cylindrical – to engrave on a curved surface,
- Open Plane – if you have the machine up on risers to work with a taller object,
- Blade Cut – when using the blade of the cutting machine,
- Print & Blade Cut – printing images from your printer and then using the M1 blade to cut around it (ex. Stickers).
Material: There are several preset material settings you can choose from. But you can also tweak and add your own.
Thickness: you can use the machine to auto-measure, or you can manually measure and type in a specific thickness yourself.
Height Raised: If the material is flat on the laser bed, then you’ll choose “No” for Heigh Raised. If you’re using the Triangular Prisms then you would select that option.
And that’s it! Your M1 laser machine is setup and ready for your first cut!
First Laser Cut Project
My first project with the xTool M1 laser machine is going to be cutting wood , so I need to place the Triangular Prisms into the bed of machine. The triangular prisms will raise up the material, allowing air to circulate better underneath during cutting.
Once my prisms are placed, I’ll place a sheet of 3mm basswood into the machine, right on top of the prisms.
In the software, the camera displays an image of the basswood, which is really cool. So now I can open up a file to use for my very first laser cutting project!
To open SVG files in xTool Creative Space, click File > Import Image and find where you have the file saved on your computer.
This SVG set includes 9 earring designs, but I’m only going to cut 1 pair of earrings this time. I’ll select the pair that I want to cut, and I’ll move it up to the top corner of the board (for the purpose of saving materials).
Once the design is placed the way I want it, I can adjust the machine settings on the right.
Here are the settings I used for this sheet of 3mm basswood:
- Laser Flat
- Material: 3mm Basswood preset
- AutoMeasure for Thickness
- Height Raised: set to Triangular Prisms.
Next I can select the design to adjust the object settings on the right. By default, all SVG files will open with all lines set to Score. So you’ll need to change to the operation that you want to use for your project. I’ll set the Processing type to Cut, and I’ll leave the rest of the object settings as-is:
- Power at 11
- Speed at 5
- 1 pass.
These settings just tell the machine how much power to use and how fast it should cut. And then passes is how many times to go over the design.
Now I’m ready to click the green Start button at the bottom right.
On the next screen, I can see a preview of the outlines of my design. In the bottom left corner, it says an Estimated Time for the project to process.
So next I’ll click “Framing” in the upper right. Framing has the laser module map out the design placement before it cuts, which is important for accurate positioning of your design when cut / engraved.
A message pops up that says to push to button on my machine to begin framing. Once framing is done, I can click “Framing Complete”.
And now I can click “Start” in the upper right corner.
When we press Start, a prompt will appear on the right side of the screen, that says to push the button on the machine to begin processing – and not to leave the machine unattended while in use.
After pushing the button on the machine, it will begin processing (in this case: cutting). As the machine does it’s thing, the screen it says “Processing” and has a running timer of how long the job is taking
Here we can see the laser doing its’ thing….. while it’s cutting, the blue light on the front will flash.
As the machine was cutting, I did notice a slight odor, which smelled like a campfire. I happen to love that smell, but if it bothers you, an inline fan can help reduce the odor even further.
When the cut is finished, it says “Complete” in the software, and the total time will be displayed. Keep in mind that it’s typical for the machine to take longer to process than the initial estimate. For this pair of earrings it took about 4 minutes to cut.
And here are the results of my very first laser cut project:
Everything cut nice and clean; I just needed to poke out some of the negative areas, but they popped right out without any fuss. There’s also some charring visible on the earrings. To prevent this, I could have masked the wood using masking tape prior to cutting , or I could use a fine sand paper to sand off the charring.
Another option to prevent charring is xTool’s Air Assist Kit – which is an optional add-on that will blow away air as it’s lasering.
I wanted to do my first cut without the air assist, so I can see what it’s like. I’ll do another post showing how to setup the air assist, and will see if it actually makes a big difference.
All in all, I would say these came out pretty good! Even in some of the more intricate tight spots, the machine did a great job cutting!
Here are my first projects with the M1, including a metal engraving project and some blade cut projects! To see how I made these, check out the video above.
xTool M1: First Thoughts
With my first few cuts under my belt, I’m happy to say that I’m really loving the M1 so far!
One thing that made me super nervous about getting a laser was the getting it vented, but it actually turned out to be really easy! In fact, the entire process of getting the xTool M1 laser cutter setup was very simple.
I’m very impressed with the clean cuts on my first few projects, and love the versatility of having the laser and the blade, and the ability to engrave on tumblers and glasses.
In all honesty, this machine isn’t going to replace my Cricut Maker for blade cutting, but for someone who doesn’t have a cutting machine, or wants to dabble in a bit of everything, this crafter laser cutter is a great option.
The xTool M1 is also the perfect machine for a first-time laser owner like me, to get my feet wet with laser cutting. After my first few cuts, I’m totally hooked and can’t wait to make more!
In another post coming soon, I’ll install the Air Assist and see if it makes a different in the amount of charring. I’ll also play around with the laser scoring feature that I didn’t get to try out this time around.
Free Laser Cut Files!
Not only does the M1 open up a whole new world for us crafters, but it also allows me to expand my SVG designs as well! I’m excited to announce that I’ll be adding Laser Cut Files to my shop in a new category I’m calling “Laserables” – ’cause I’m cheesy like that! 😁
While many of my existing SVG files can be used with laser machines (as shown with the scroll earrings above), my laser cut files will be specifically designed for laser machines – and formatted by color for cutting / scoring / engraving, and easy to follow assembly instructions.
To kick off this exciting addition to my shop, I’ve designed this fun TicTacToe Game Free Laser Cut File! If you already have a laser, I’d love for you to try it out and let me know what you think.
And you know how much I love freebies, so I’ll be adding even more free laser cut files soon!
If you’re looking to add a laser machine to your craft room, or if you’re new to the M1, and don’t know where to start, I hope you found this tutorial helpful.
Feel free to drop any questions in the comments below and be sure to Pin this tutorial so you can come back to it later!
Affiliate Disclosure: I may be an affiliate for some products recommended in this post. This means that if you purchase items through my links I will earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I have personally used and enjoy and when you order through my link, it helps me continue to offer you weekly free SVG files, digital papers, scrapbook sketches, tutorials, and other fun things. Thank you in advance for your support!