Best bits for cursive script

Newbie question. I am trying to make a sign for a campsite using the “National Forest” font. Through trial and error, plus some helpful people on the Shapeoko beginner Facebook page, I have successfully converted the word “Recreation”, typed in the National Forest font, to vectors, using Affinity Designer 2, and have successfully edited the vectors in Carbide Create to link the individual letters into a word. Now I am experimenting with various bits to engrave the letters into some relatively hard cypress lumber I have on hand. The capital letters are being carved 1.5 inches tall and the small letters 1 inch tall. The photo below shows my attempt with a 60 degree V bit, carved in a scrap board of maple, which I didn’t care for. Depth of cut was 0.15 inches.

The next image is a screen print from Carbide Create of the tool paths for my next trial in a piece of cypress. The top path used a 1/8" Amana downcut bit with zero offset, simply tracing the lines. The bottom path used the same Amana bit with the offset direction “inside/left”. Depth of cut for both trials were 0.10 inches.

Below is a photo of the actual production, using cypress, on my Shapeoko Pro with the 1/8" Amana downcut bit.

Of these two I like the bottom one best but I would like to see some of the extraneous material in the path of the writing removed (see the R for example). Should I run this file as a pocket instead of a contour? If so would it make sense to cut the outline of the letters with a 1/16 downcut bit and then clear the pocket with a 1/8 upcut bit? Any other suggestions?

I’m still a novice trying things with wood from my workshop scrap pile in order to learn processes and how different bits perform under different situations.

I’d recommend using a pocket toolpath instead of a contour, so you can get rid of those other chunks.


If you have a Vee cutter, try the advanced V carrve with that font, I was having the same issue (different font) and I tried the advanced V Carve and was super happy with the results. The small letters inside the circle are the ones that would not turn out properly until I tried the advanced V Carve.


The problem w/ the V carving is your tool is too narrow, or your depth of cut isn’t deep enough to allow a normal V carving to cut as deeply, and as wide as you wish.

Alternately, an Advanced V carving which cuts along the perimeter might be more what you want.

If you have a BitSetter you can enable “Pocket Clearing”:

You will want to use V carving rather than a traditional Pocket or Contour toolpath, since it will better capture detail.


In addition to the great suggestions above, there are a number of specialty bits available for engraving text on signage. If you haven’t already done so, you might try googling “sign making bits for CNC” or similar. I looked into this a couple of years ago and seem to remember an asymmetrical bit (straight along the axis with kind of a “half V” on one side only) – I think it was specifically for cursive text. Naturally, I can’t find the link today…

I appreciate all of the suggestions. I have done additional trials and have found the advance V carve with contour works well.