Cutting Cork on Shapeoko

Hi everyone! First post here and not YET a Shapeoko owner…

I’m looking to stop outsourcing my custom cork boards, and start manufacturing in-house on a Shapeoko. The material is a 3/16" dense foam board (gator foam, for those familiar) that’s been bonded to a . 6mm thick sheet of dense cork.

Has anyone cut and engraved this type of substrate? I don’t see the foam posing an issue, but am a little worried about the cork, which is keeping me from pulling the trigger.

Looking for suggestions on bits, speeds, etc. Photos attached.

Thanks in advance!

3 Likes

Nice looking cork Switch, how large is that ?

This guy did, you will find bit + feeds and speeds info in that thread.

See also this section on the Shapeoko wiki about cutting cork.

Give in to the force and join us, it’s fun (and productive) in here :slight_smile:

2 Likes

Thanks! The switch is 11" wide.

I saw that thread, but he’s using a thinner cork and nothing on the back. Do you think the same bit & feeds will work when going through both layers? Any suggestion for engraving?

Cork and foam are like melted butter to a shapeoko, I wouldn’t worry about the endmill at at all, the only concern I would have is getting a clean cut, as cork/foam is so low density.
I have a few spare pieces of cork, about 0.4" thick, if you want I can do a few test cuts over the week end and report.

2 Likes

That would be awesome! Thanks a ton!

1 Like

I have a number of 2in thick cork but most of it is still in bottles! :slight_smile:

5 Likes

Cork machines very nice at 50" pm rate at .125" removal. smooth cuts. biggest challenge is keeping it flat in the machine is biggest challenge. Your substrate might fix that. Be happy to try a piece for you if you want to send me a piece.

2 Likes

I might take you up on that! Does this forum allow for private messaging? Can’t seem to find it from mobile.

What are these used for? if you dont mind me asking.

1 Like

You mister, know how to live. Not like those savages who put screw caps on their bottles of wine (which is an unbearable sight to a French) :wink:

4 Likes

These are sold to pin collectors to display their pin collections.

1 Like

Hey @mattmainster,

So I did a couple of tests on these cheap cork trivets from Ikea (probably the lowest cork quality in existence…) :

They are 0.4" thick, 7" wide (for scale). I first tried a few random pockets with a 1/4" 2-flute endmill, 20.000RPM, 40ipm, 0.1" depth per pass:

Then tried a 1/8" 2-flute downcut endmill, 20.000RPM, 30ipm, 1/16" depth per pass, 0.2" deep pockets:

Not that it is super interesting, but here are two videos of the 1/4" cut (EDIT: turn down the volume… you have been warned):

The only difficulties I saw were:

  • getting sharp edges. Cork by nature is just a bunch of small grains packed together, and sometimes the cutter (or the chips flying away, since I did not use a dustshoe) will tear one of those grains away, rather than slicing into it. The run with the 1/8" downcut is much sharper (which was the intent…downcuts are great to avoid tearout), and the slow feedrate seemed to help, but with a little experimentation I’m sure one could go two or three times faster without any issue. I also could have cut much deeper per pass if needed, cork is so soft it would not make any different (except for chip clearing…but a dust shoe would help there)
  • removing the piece from the wasteboard, since I used tape&glue workholding and cork is so bendy that I had to be careful. Other workholding solutions may be more appropriate.
  • profile cuts (cutting all the way through the material) would probably need to be overcut to avoid tearout on the bottom surface. Which is not fun with tape&glue workholding.

I’m not sure what your potentials concerns were, but hopefully this sheds a little light on the matter.

5 Likes

Are you getting a commission on your sale of a Shapeoko? You should at least get a bottle with a cork in it? :wink:

2 Likes

I hear they do have some great wines in California :slight_smile:
But no, just having fun trying new stuff. I may need to cut cork myself sooner or later, for the underside of a set of wooden coasters I have in mind.

4 Likes

Wow, thanks a ton for doing this! You’ve sold me and I’ll be placing my order today.

Quick question…I have some finer detail in a couple of my pieces that will require a 1/8" bit. Do I need to go with a 1/8" shank or will a 1/4" shank 1/8" dia bit work fine? Looking at the Amana Tool 46200-K in particular.

Thanks!

1 Like

My opinion, you will need a 1/8 collet at some point and the 1/8 bits are much cheaper. Get a 1/8 collet and the 102 bit from Carbide works great.

3 Likes

Sounds good– any suggestions on a 1/8 collet? Looks like Carbide is sold out of them right now.

It depends on the router you get but you can get good quality collets from Elaire Corp in many sizes, just make sure it is the right one (Makita and Carbide Router sue the same collets, Dewalt are different.

3 Likes

I have been using both a 1/8" adapter in a 6mm Makita collet (2nd from the left), and an Elaire 1/8" precision collet (first from the right) in my Makita

The Elaire is quite nice. But if you can find an 1/8" adapter quicker (Amazon…), it is a good option for cutting cork. The problem with adapters is that they induce extra runout, but I think a subtle amount of runout will be undetectable on the final piece anyway… I doubt you will be cutting cork to extreme tolerances :slight_smile:

4 Likes


I made a handful of these a couple years ago. Cork is easy. Just buy the Shapeoko. You’ll love it.

2 Likes