Engraving using meshcam?

I’m looking for different ways to engrave letters on hardwood blocks. My first try turned out well but each letter took 8 minutes to cut.

I guess what I’m curious about is if there is a good single line font out there that you folks recommend? And also wondering if I can modify fonts in meshcam to be the same thickness of whatever cutter I’m using, so cutting letters is just a few simple cuts.

Thanks for the input!

Darren, it is kind of a dilemma. The closest you’ll come in MeshCAM is the pencil finishing in a depressed letter shape. But there are very few suitable fonts that have a truly consistent stroke width. Avant Garde, which you can find in several stroke weights, comes pretty close. There is a font called Bryant that is even better–even stroke width, rounded ends and no really acute joins. It is more or less a digital equivalent of the old Leroy Lettering Guide font. But I haven’t found a freeware version–just the commercial version.

For engraving I don’t use MeshCAM myself. There is a little freeware program called DeskEngrave ( http://www.deskam.com/deskengrave.html ) that will take the outline of TrueType fonts and trace directly (no area clearing etc.) and you can find single-stroke fonts that work with it (it comes with one itself). Delcam used to have 5 single-stroke TrueType fonts available for free download, but they are not currently on thier website. Two (machtgth.ttf and machthsc.ttf) are still available at http://www.grasshopper3d.com/forum/topics/invalid-text-lines-single about halfway down the page. If you Google for “TrueType single stroke” you’ll find a few resources, including a listing for turning TrueType fonts into single-stroke (which I haven’t explored) which you could theoretically use in DeskEngrave.


Another option would be Inkscape which can use the Hershey Fonts: http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Inkscape#Hershey_Text — direct link: http://www.evilmadscientist.com/2011/hershey-text-an-inkscape-extension-for-engraving-fonts/

Good resources, thanks Will and Randy!

Regardless of which font solution you work out, you may also want to look at getting some engraving cutters, so you can do fancy tapered side-walls :wink:

Something like this 80-degree cutter for example:

Her’es a bunch from Bits&Bits with 1/8" shanks and 2" long, just like the end-mills you’ve got already.

Just be aware that it’s a single flute cutter, so you’ll need to adjust feeds & speeds accordingly to not overload the tool.

What about a program like vcarve? I know it’s not cheap but just curious if that’s an example of a solution for engraving.

That certainly is an example of a solution for engraving, but it’s a lot of bells and whistles and a whole new interface to learn, and yes there’s the price tag :wink:

If you’re willing to do some file-prep gymnastics you can get the same kinds of results out of MeshCAM without having to invest in something else at all, you just may not have as efficient a tool-path strategy to do it. I’m going to try to put together a tutorial on how to “cheat” at MeshCAM to get it to give results you want with tapered engraving cutters and such. [edit: now you just need to check out CarbideCreate instead of needing to cheat!]

Also, if you’re going to start diving into the design/CAD side of things a bit more, then you may want to look at other CAD packages out there to pick one that’s going to suit all the different kinds of parts you’ll want to make, since there are a lot of great tools that offer different strokes for different folks.

I personally use Fusion360 with the integrated HSMworks CAM engine, but I’ve used Solidworks with HSMxpress, and I’ve touched MasterCAM and BobCAD/CAM, as well as the software that ships with the Roland machines, and RhinoCAM for Rhino from McNeel.

I run a PC, so I realize since you’re on MAC you’ll have some different options to pick from, but I’d say download some 30-day trials of different packages and give them a whirl and keep the community posted on what you think of the experience with each!

While I can’t say I’ve tried all the different packages out there that you might find, a lot of the principles overlap so I’m happy to try to answer CAD basics questions and provide some reference resources.

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Just fyi, I often use http://www.autotracer.org/ to convert image files to various types of vector lines in DXF format for laser cutting. Possibly may be useful to pre-convert imagery you want to engrave, vs. importing the original imagery into MeshCAM. It is a free online tool.

@UnionNine — Wondering if there’s been any other chat/development of engraving workarounds using/definigh engraving cutters and MeshCAM. I’m looking to “scratch” the blackened surface of .050 AL plate (think trophy name plate). I’ve got a 45-degree mill, my AL plate and just need a little push in the right direction.

I’ve experimented with setting up a tool definition in MeshCAM for my cutter, but when I attempt to make a tool path for a simple design, MeshCAM crashes unapologetically. I realize there’s a lot of unknowns, but I think you know what I’m getting at with tool definitions and file prep to at least simulate what an engraving machine might do. I haven’t found any software for the Mac that might be helpful (other than possibly Eagle?) for making gcode or tool paths. @robgrz

I totally forgot about a very nice freeware program called F-Engrave ( http://www.scorchworks.com/Fengrave/fengrave.html ) which I used a couple years ago to engrave dedications on a couple of Parkerized shotgun receivers. Besides straight engraving, it does v-carving where the depth of the engraving tracks the stroke width.

@krekof try app.easel.com

I’ve used it successfully for a number of engraving projects.

I haven’t tried using a Vbit but I do have one that I’m gonna give a whirl soon. In easel you can set the tool to any tool size you like. I think the trick with the Vbit would be to set the depth of cut to a value that doesn’t plunge beyond the angled part of the cutter (if that makes sense). So set the tool size and depth of cut to whatever shows a single pass on the toolpath simulator. Then it would just make one pass at that particular depth.

The trick w/ a V-bit is to use a tool which will allow you to enter its angle and which will alter the depth on the fly.


How do you use app.easel with the Nomad pro and a 0.64" ball nose?



Easel doesnt recognise the nomad. Does anyone know wat settings to enter manually?


What file type are you working with?
Between MeshCAM and Carbide Create there is probably a way to do what you want.

What are you cutting? I can help with the settings.

I will post a new thread

Hi Apollo,

I tried Arial and Times New Roman. the hard wood part is 150mm x 50 mm. it cleans the surface then hovers above and tires to engrave the text but it doesn’t. I will post my settings tomorrow.

I am going to download carbide create now.



ok so I tired to run a job form carbide create… the spindle sat above the surface started tracing the text but not on the wood just above it. Then after about 20 mins just stopped but the spindle was still running.

The only tool path I could get was using v-carve but I don’t have a v bit. attached is the g-code and the and the carbide create file.

hb.egc (99.2 KB)

Carbide Create file
hb1.c2d (2.9 KB)