How many TOOLPATHS should I have? HELP

I am experimenting with my new Shapeoko XXL and was wondering if there was any benefit to having more or less Toolpaths?

Do you create Toolpaths for every small section of your project and then order them by bit, or do you do one Toolpath for each bit?

I noticed the project completes sooner with more Toolpaths, however, I also noticed the cut depths are different for the second and third tool pass when cutting repeat shapes. (359.1 KB) SEABEES.c2d (1.1 MB)

Your help and comments are appreciated and I look forward to hearing from you.


Create as many as are needed — usually it’s a tradeoff:

  • fewer toolpaths will “let the program have its head” and result in inefficient toolpaths
  • more toolpaths will allow greater control and ensuring the cut order is efficient — it also facilitates things which CC doesn’t support such as roughing clearance and finishing passes
1 Like

The answer to your question depends. If you have a bit setter it is no problem to have multiple tools and multiple tool paths. If you do not have a bit setter it is better to have separate tool paths to make tool changes and zeroing easier.

Even if you have a bit setter sometimes it makes sense to break up very large files. Some versions (current and back) can stop working with extremely large files. So breaking up into separate tool paths can keep you from having the Shapeoko just stop in the middle of a job.

The newer versions of CM promise to not have file size limitations but for now keep your very large jobs cut up into smaller chunks. Also you can take a break in between tool paths. The Shapeoko has got to have a babysitter. You cannot just start a job and walk away. Some people have walked away and almost burned down their shop.


I should have added above about separate tool paths. If you have 5 toolpaths and you save the gcode all 5 toolpaths are in the same file. You have to “Disable” 4 of the tool paths and save only one toolpath with a unique toolpath name. Then disable the one you saved and enable another tool path and save that one with another unique name and so and so on. If you save all the tool paths together that is how gcode files get too big and can cause halts. Then when you are ready to run you run one toolpath at a time making any tool changes and zeroing as necessary. If you are using the same tool for all 5 tool paths you do not need to change bits and rezero. The zero is persistent even with different tool paths and the same tool that are run separately.

The rezeroing is the advantage of the bit setter. with multiple tools in the same gcode file.


some of this is a matter of taste (e.g. no hard rules) but for me

  1. In CC, I make as many toolpaths as I consider “loigical”, so say I need to make a pocket in a word and also somewhere else a pocket in a ship… I would make 2 toolpaths. This is optimizing for my understanding basically, I can see what each logical piece does, and I can also tweak each piece (say make the ship cut deeper without also the text cutting deeper) in a way that is more intuitive for me
  2. in CC, I name each toolpath also with the bit number
  3. I have a bitsetter, so I make one .nc file, however I will still order so that same bit is grouped together, even with a bitsetter I try to avoid bit changes since I just don’t like doing those
  4. without a bitsetter you need to split the nc files such that no nc file has more than one bit in it

Thank you for the great information!

Thank you!

Iv’e noticed something that I was hoping you could help me with. I have an American Flag file that has 50 stars. If I split the 50 stars into 4 Toolpaths (11 stars, 11 stars, 11 stars, & 17 stars), the first 11 stars have more roughing clearances and finishing passes. The last 3 Toolpaths plunge harder than the first and take less time to cut, even though the setting are the exact same for all the tool paths. Would you have any idea why Carbide Create is doing this?


Usually oddities like that are caused by stacked / duplicated geometry — if that’s not the case, send the file in to us at w/ notes on it and we’ll gladly look into it.

1 Like

Email sent. Thank you!

For some reason the C2D file was corrupt. I created the file from scratch and all the Toolpaths look right now. Thank you everyone!

This topic was automatically closed 30 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.