xTool M1 Review: What to Know Before You Buy

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The xTool M1 is marketed as “your first smart gift-making laser & blade cutter for home use,” but does it live up to its promise? I’ve put the machine to the test in this xTool M1 review, and the answer is a resounding YES! We’ll cover the main product features, must-have accessories, and a few beginner projects. Then you can judge for yourself.

xTool M1 on desk in craft room

This review is sponsored by xTool, but all opinions expressed are my own. This post also contains affiliate links, and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. See disclosures for details.

Since this is a comprehensive review, feel free to skip to the section that most interests you using the table of contents.

The Bottom Line

xTool M1

The xTool M1 is a hybrid laser and blade-cutting machine intended for home use. With a 10W diode laser, the xTool M1 can cut, score, or engrave over 300 types of materials, but the speed is slower than CO2 laser machines. Still, the finished results look professional and worthy of selling as handmade goods. There’s a small learning curve for the xTool M1, but a thriving xTool community offers tutorials and friendly advice. The included software (Creative Space) has a user-friendly interface, and most projects take little time to set up. A live preview with a built-in 16MP camera enhances design capabilities vs. machines like Cricut or Cameo. At around $1,000, the xTool M1 offers a ton of versatility and impressive results at a fraction of the price of other laser-cutting machines.

Editor's Rating:
4.5

Pros

  • Versatility to cut, score, and engrave over 300 materials with good accuracy
  • Affordability compared to other diode laser machines
  • Intuitive software with sufficient design capabilities for beginners

Cons

  • Exhaust from laser cutting and engraving may irritate some users for indoor use
  • Limited product tutorials may increase reliance on community forums

Watch this review (<1 minute)

You can also watch the full xTool M1 review on YouTube.

What is the xTool M1?

Let’s start with the basics. The xTool M1 is a laser cutting, engraving, and blade-cutting machine all in one. Perhaps you’ve seen layered wooden signs, engraved metal tags, or etched tumblers and wondered how those Etsy sellers make them. That’s where a laser cutter comes in.

Various items made with the xTool M1 machine, including a rubber stamp, bookmark, and Christmas earrings
Stamp, earrings, and bookmark made with xTool M1

Specifically, the xTool M1 has a diode laser, which allows it to cut up to 8mm (0.3 inches) in one pass (like basswood) or reportedly 10mm for soft wood. Compared to a CO2 laser machine, a diode laser machine is much more affordable and often smaller, though it has some limitations on the thickness of the material it can cut as well as the transparency of the material. The xTool M1 cannot cut or engrave clear acrylic, for instance.

Both xTool and their competitor Glowforge offer more expensive CO2 laser machines, but we’ll cover those options later.

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Special xTool Coupon

CURRENTLY ON SALE! Save $80 on your xTool M1 (U.S. store) with the promotion code FDOH80! Redeem here.

Overview: xTool M1 and Accessories

xTool M1 machine sitting on craft desk in craft room

For this xTool M1 review, I tested the following equipment:

You can buy the xTool M1 Deluxe package to receive the Air Assist and RA2 Pro Rotary at a better value. There’s also an xTool M1 Bundle that includes everything but the Premium Material package.

After successfully completing a few projects, I strongly recommend buying the Air Assist Set for optimal laser cutting and engraving results with the xTool M1. The Riser Base also promotes better ventilation and provides flexibility to work on larger materials and cylindrical objects (with the Rotary attachment).

I’ll share my thoughts on all the accessories below, but let’s start with the main focus, the xTool M1.


What materials can the xTool M1 cut and engrave?

xTool M1 Premium Materials and Basic Materials package
xTool Premium and Basic Materials Package

The xTool M1 can cut or engrave 300+ materials, from wood to metal to opaque acrylic, which gives you plenty of project inspiration. Since the machine can process SVG, DXF, JPG, PNG, BMP, TIF, and CR2 files, you have a wide range of designs you can use for cutting and engraving (even photos).

The M1 also has a built-in 16MP wide-angle camera with autofocus. This allows you to visualize your project in the Creative Space software and batch process multiple items at once with the “smart fill” feature, like in the photo below.

Batch processing wood tag designs in xTool M1 software
Wood tags after using “Smart Fill” before engraving

The camera also performs an “automeasure” function, allowing the laser to detect the distance to the material. When this fails, xTool has instructions for manually measuring the distance with the provided ruler.

What size can the M1 cut?

The maximum cut size is 15×12 inches (385x300mm) for laser projects and 14×12 inches (365x300mm) for blade cutting. The Honeycomb Panel reduces the workable space slightly to about 15×10 inches, but it still feels adequate.

Since the M1 machine can cut materials using either a laser beam or a blade, be sure to select the correct operation in the Creative Space software. Some materials like vinyl and PVC are hazardous to cut/engrave with a laser because they can create a corrosive vapor.

What can the xTool M1 laser cut?

Laser cut wooden earrings in xTool M1 laser cutter
Laser-cut earrings on 3mm basswood

With its highly focused dual-beam laser head, the xTool M1 can cut through a variety of materials in one pass, including:

  • Basswood Plywood (up to 8mm)
  • Black Walnut Plywood
  • Pine Plywood
  • MDF
  • Bamboo plant labels
  • Kraft Paper
  • Wood tags
  • Some dark acrylics (not transparent)
  • Leather
  • Fabric
  • Felt

What can the xTool M1 laser engrave?

The xTool M1 can both score and engrave (raster engrave) materials depending on your desired outcome.

What’s the difference between score and engrave? When “score” is selected, the xTool M1 will etch the design with a single stroke onto the material, while “engrave” will fill the entire shape or text.

The xTool M1 can engrave a wide range of materials since the thickness of the material is less critical compared to laser cutting.

I tried engraving the metal tag that came included with my premium material box. The monogram looked perfect on my handprint ornaments!

Laser engraved tag with monogram hanging on footprint ornament.
Engraved metal tag made with xTool M1

Engravable materials include everything listed under laser cutting, plus:

Full wrap engraved honey bee design on a powder-coated tumbler.
Laser-engraved stainless steel tumbler

What can the xTool M1 blade cut?

As a hybrid laser cutter, the xTool M1 has a blade to cut materials like heat-transfer vinyl, frosted PVC, sticker paper, and PU leather. The machine comes with both light-grip and strong-grip cutting mats for blade-cutting projects.

Cutting faux leather with xTool M1 laser cutting machine
Cutting faux leather with the blade on the strong-grip mat

In my test of faux leather, I found that I needed tape around the edges to help it stick to the mat while cutting. Overall, the cut was clean and had similar results to my Cricut Maker 2 and Explore 3 machines.

DIY shirt made with heat transfer vinyl and xTool M1 machine, shown with HTV sheets and weeding tool.
HTV shirt made with xTool M1

I have a complete tutorial on how to use heat transfer vinyl using the M1. It walks through the steps to design your own SVG in the xTool software to make a t-shirt.

The blade is easily removed when performing laser cutting/engraving operations.


Safety Considerations

The xTool M1 comes with built-in safety features like a safety interlock that stops the machine if the lid is lifted during operation.

Like other laser-cutting machines, the xTool M1 generates fumes when laser cutting or engraving certain materials. For this reason, the machine includes an exhaust hose that you can vent out a window.

Many users aren’t bothered by the exhaust with this setup, but I personally wanted more ventilation for my indoor craft room space. I’ll share the solution I came up with in a separate post, but there are two things I highly recommend to help with the exhaust out of the gate.

Air Assist Set

The xTool Air Assist attaches to the laser module to blow high-pressure air while the laser is cutting or engraving, removing dust and debris. The noise from the pump is minimal, and you can fully adjust the air volume depending on the project need.

By turning the air assist on, you’ll achieve a cleaner cut and avoid scorching and discoloration. I’ve seen plenty of pictures of scorched wood from people not using the Air Assist accessory. It’s worth the additional investment, which runs just under $150.

Riser Base with Honeycomb Panel

The Riser Base sits underneath the M1 machine, enabling it to cut or engrave larger projects. (Think of thicker pieces of wood and cylindrical objects like tumblers.) It comes with a Honeycomb Panel that you can slot in at different heights depending on the object.

xTool M1 Riser Base with Honeycomb Panel

Most importantly, the Honeycomb Panel allows more smoke to escape under the material. Having the smoke enclosed in the Riser Base helps with the exhaust and also protects your work surface underneath. Without the honeycomb, you’ll want to use the triangular prisms (included in the box) to elevate wooden objects and prevent scorching.

Other Safety Accessories

The makers of the xTool also sell a Smoke Purifier to help with the exhaust. It sits near the machine, connecting to the exhaust pipe, and is about the size of a trash bin. According to most Amazon reviews and Facebook group users, the purifier significantly helps with the exhaust, but the filter replacements can be costly. It’s still a great option for those who are sensitive to the exhaust.

You also have the option of installing an inline fan to extract the exhaust, which some owners in Facebook groups recommend.


xTool Creative Space Software

All of the magic happens with xTool’s free software called Creative Space (XCS). There is both a desktop/tablet and mobile version of the software available. I find it’s easier to maneuver on a desktop for intricate projects.

When you set up your M1 machine, you’ll connect via USB cable to your computer. Setting up a Wi-Fi connection is easy, but be sure to avoid special characters in the Wi-Fi password for it to work properly.

Cutting board shown in xTool Creative Space software preview
Project preview in xTool Creative Space

The great thing about the XCS software is having the ability to preview your project with the built-in camera. You’ll size and format your design for laser cutting, engraving, or blade cutting within the software. You can also batch fill within the software if you’re creating multiple copies with the same design.

Another popular software option is Lightburn. While you can’t directly control the M1 from Lightburn, there is a workaround that you can read about here.


xTool M1 Beginner Projects

I decided to test the xTool M1 on three projects. Of course, I got a little carried away and started making gifts and accessories for myself in the process! Overall, I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.

Always follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions when operating laser equipment like the xTool M1.

1. Engraved Cutting Board

I’ve wanted to make an engraved cutting board for ages, but I was skeptical about the results I’d get with the xTool. This project won me over completely.

You can buy a beech cutting board directly from xTool, though other brands will definitely work. I just decided to play it safe with my first attempt.

Beech cutting board and material settings card for the xTool M1 laser cutting machine
xTool cutting board and material settings card

For this project, I used the Riser Base with Honeycomb Panel, but it took a little detective work to realize I had to lower the panel and place my cutting board on a thin piece of wood to elevate it.

The cutting board came with clear instructions for the material settings. It was just a matter of sizing my SVG files and hitting “process” to begin engraving.

We can’t wait to surprise Grandma with this engraved cutting board for her birthday!

Engraved cutting board made with xTool M1 that reads "Grandma's Kitchen: Where Memories are Made" shown with wooden spoon and napkin

2. DIY Rubber Stamp

Whether you enjoy creating custom stamps for cardmaking or you’re a small business owner needing a stamp with your logo, the xTool M1 has you covered.

I tested the rubber stamp kit from xTool, which included two rubber stamp sheets, rectangular and round wooden stamps, and two ink pads.

Rubber stamp sheets, stamps, and ink pads from xTool

I wanted to see if the xTool could engrave an intricate design, but I had to keep it small enough to fit on the 1.5×1 inch stamp base. I came up with a reindeer design since the image was available in the free Creative Space software.

The results blew me away! Those antlers!

Wrapped present with ribbon and gift tag stamped with a reindeer rubber stamp, shown with ink pads and scissors
Reindeer stamp made with xTool M1

In a future post, I’ll cover an in-depth tutorial on how to make stamps. (I’ve learned a trick or two.) Can you picture making personalized stamps for friends and family this year?

3. Engraved Glass Tumbler

Engraving glass was the project that scared me the most, but I can assure you it was far easier than I imagined. I’ve done plenty of etched glass with Cricut, so I felt comfortable with the old stencil and etching cream technique. Let me tell you, using a laser to etch glass will give you far cleaner lines.

When you want to engrave something clear with the M1, you’ll have to apply an even coat of dark paint. Otherwise, the laser won’t accurately detect the object and will shine right through the glass. I used three coats of chalk paint I had on hand, which easily rinsed off after the laser engraving.

Glass tumbler jar with lid and straw next to xTool Rotary attachment
Glass tumbler shown with RA2 Rotary Attachment

Since I used a cylindrical object, I also had to use the RA2 Rotary Attachment. This accessory plugs into the M1, and the software rotates the wheels to ensure the design wraps around the object while engraving.

You’ll also need the Riser Base or individual wooden risers that come with the M1 Deluxe package. It helps accommodate taller objects, putting them at the right level for the laser to read the surface.

Engraved glass tumbler jar etched with a sunflower and the name Crissy, made with xTool M1
Engraved glass tumbler (with black paper inside for contrast)

I chose a monogram sunflower design to dress up a Dollar Tree glass tumbler, and I couldn’t believe how crisp the lines looked. I placed a piece of black paper inside just to reveal the design in the photo, but it’s easily visible (and gorgeous) in person.


xTool M1 vs. Other Laser Cutting Machines

There are many laser cutting and engraving machines on the market. Here’s a quick look at the price and performance of xTool M1’s main competition.

xTool M1 vs. Other xTool Machines

xTool offers two other machines with diode lasers, ranging from around $500 to $1,600 in price. (Remember diode lasers tend to be cheaper and smaller but less powerful than CO2 lasers.) The xTool M1 sits in the middle of the price range around $1,000 on sale without accessories.

xTool M1 (10W)xTool D1 Pro (10W)xTool F1 (10W)
Price~$1,000~$500~$1,600
Working area15.2 x 11.8 in.17 x 16 in. (can expand)4.5×4.5 in. (can expand)
Max speed250 mm/s400 mm/s4,000 mm/s
Unique featuresBlade, Camera, EnclosedEnclosure sold separatelyPortable, Enclosed

The D1 Pro also offers a 20W option which has the ability to cut thicker materials in a price range closer to the M1. The portable F1 includes a 2W infrared laser to cut a wider range of materials.

xTool also just released the S1 Enclosed Diode Laser Cutter, which comes in 20W and 40W versions and has switchable laser modules. The 40W version runs around $2,200 and can cut up to 18mm thick wood in one pass. However, as a diode laser, you won’t be able to cut clear acrylic.

The higher-end xTool P2 (55W) uses a CO2 laser suitable for larger projects but will cost around $4,500. If you have a commercial need to cut up to 18mm of walnut or 20mm of acrylic (including clear acrylic) in a single pass, this higher-end machine might be for you.

xTool M1 vs. Glowforge Machines

The xTool M1 competes most closely with the new Glowforge Aura, which is a similar diode laser machine. Other Glowforge products use CO2 laser technology and will cost quite a bit more.

Here’s how the xTool M1 stacks up vs. the closest Glowforge products:

xTool M1 (10W)Glow-
forge Aura (6W)
Glow-
forge Plus (40W CO2)
Price~$1,000~$1,200~$5,000
Working area15.2 x 11.8 in.12×12 in. (can expand)19.5 x 11 in. (can expand)
Max laser cut depth0.3 in.0.25 in.0.5 in.
Unique featureBladeWorks with clear acrylic

All of the machines above include cameras with a live view of the work area. The real question comes down to price and required functionality, but clearly the xTool carries a lot of value for the price.


The Final Verdict

I was officially blown away by these beginner projects and can’t stop coming up with more ideas for things to make, especially for DIY gifts!

Of all the features xTool offers, I believe the laser cutting and engraving options have the greatest appeal, especially if you already own a Cricut, Silhouette, or other craft cutting machine.

With the Riser Base installed, it’s a bit tricky to swap back and forth between laser cutting/engraving and blade cutting. You’ll have to remove the honeycomb panel for blade cutting and put the base plate back in its original position at the bottom of the M1. (Some users just place one screw back in instead of all five.) Then you’ll unscrew the base plate and replace it with the honeycomb panel when you return to laser cutting. I recommend batching projects to do all your blade cutting together.

That said, the versatility of this machine and its relatively small size make it the perfect solution for crafters or small business owners starting out.

I will definitely be sharing more tutorials and ideas to help beginners get started with laser cutting, so don’t forget to subscribe to my weekly newsletter!

Helpful Resources for xTool M1

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xTool M1 in box sitting on craft room table. Text overlay reads "xTool M1 Laser Cutter Buyer's Guide"

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