Help With Cutting Letter Signs

Hi everyone - I’m still very green to SO and CNC in general. One of the projects I want to tackle is making one of those cut out signs in script (like those ‘gather’ signs). I tried a few iterations so far, using the #102 cutter (.125 flat) and it has been a catastrophe. First I realized I need to use a boatload of tabs, but even with that on my 2nd to last final pass it is destroying some of the letters. I’m wondering is maybe the letters are too small? Tried it on MDF and .25" maple plywood.

I guess my question is, given if I make the sign big enough and use enough tabs, is there anything else I should be doing? Is the .125 flat endill the right one to use?

Thanks in advance!

I use the masking tape and super glue method for almost everything now and I stopped using tabs for the most part. This may help you ! Also what size letters are you trying to cut? You may need a smaller bit


Here’s another video using CyanoAcrylate (Instant Glue) with tape. Great idea.

Give it a look.

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Is it because the tabs are being cut or is something else going on?

I should try that, thanks for the suggestion. For example I was trying to do the word ‘family’ and it was roughly 12" long and 8" high, some of the letters (since they are script/cursive) were pretty thin, like maybe .25 inch in some areas and that is where i am having issues.

Do you think speeds/feeds could play into this too? I was running at 70ipm and 40 plunge rate.

I think it is a few things:

  1. I’m not using enough tabs
  2. Probably going a little bit fast on speeds & feeds - 70ipm and 40 plunge
  3. The letters themselves are thin (around .25), but I don’t want to change that

You think if I use more tabs and go slower it would be ok?

More tabs = more clean-up.

Try the glue & tape approach first, chances are you will realize it is so superior that you will forget about tabs and never look back. Plus, glue and tape acts like a giant tab that sticks the full bottom (uncut) surface of your design to the wasterboard. It is a way to make “more tabs”, if you will.

Finally, I would suggest to first reduce depth per pass before changing the feed & plunge, if you think there is too much force being put on the material. In my experience, DOC is the easiest “linear” factor that can be adjusted without thinking twice, whereas feeds & RPM are inter-related and you need to adjust both simultaneously/consistently.

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This kind of sign? Simple pantry sign

The 1/8" flat cutter should work fine, as long as you make sure all the inside curves are big enough to accommodate that bit. I’d suggest slowing down to 1/16" DOC, 45ipm, with a 22.5ipm plunge, 30krpm. The smallest width of my sign was 1/10" so 1/4" shouldn’t be an issue. Running a 1/32" offset from your vector for roughing using conventional milling, then a finishing pass using climb milling would also be good. For the finishing pass you can do 1/16"DOC, 135ipm, 60ipm plunge, 30krpm. Basically, for your finishing pass you’re only cutting 1/32" wide material, so you can really go a lot faster and get nice finish.

As for work holding, masking tape and CA glue are the only way to go, just make sure you put a couple of beads of CA glue ALL the way across your material. You want to make sure some CA glue ends up on your project piece after all the waste is removed. Tape/CA glue is great but it takes some planning to ensure all the pieces that need to be held down are still held down after you cut away the rest of the material… and some of your bigger waste pieces are still held down and don’t go flying off when you cut through lol


Awesome thanks, will definitely try this as well!

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