Log Book and/or Journal

I bought a notebook at Walmart and use it for a log book for my Shapeoko XXL. I use it basically as a journal and take pictures with my cell phone and print them and paste them in the book. The book is getting out of control and I was thinking about going digital instead of analog.

What do others do to keep track of projects and general notes on the use of your CNC Router.

I find it useful to review the log book and refresh my self of what worked and more importantly what did not work.

For instance I made a square pocket to put my touch probe in and wanted dog bone fillets. The simulation would not show the dog bone. Finally I increased the radius to larger then the 1/4" #201 bit and the dog bone appeared in the simulation. There were no warning about not having the radius big enough they would just not show up. I made a note that the dog bone radius had to be equal or bigger than the bit used to actually cut. This seems so simple but at the time it was very frustrating trying to figure out why the dog bone did not show up. I had used .125 radius (half of .25" bit) but until I put .25" radius the dog bone did not show up in the simulation. Having that note helps me for future reference.

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i must say this is something i should do but currently don’t do well enough i went as far as creating a Databse in access with F&S problems etc but i found i was spending more time in access than i was on the machine, so now i have gone back to what looks like a wood serial killer with pictures and hand written notes spanning many volumes.

so short answer ledger!


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In VCarve, there is a feature that creates a job sheet in HTML with a picture, each toolpath with feed & speed info, bit, time of each toolpath, size of the stock, etc. I print them and I can add comments in the margins. I have yet to place them in a 3 ring binder but that is the next step. This morning, I’m reproducing a project and I will get the sheet and prepare accordingly.


I use Onenote to track my recommended feeds and speeds for all my endmills and materials. I also track projects with it and write notes down. Given how searchable things are in it, I highly recommend it to you to try keeping your journal in it. You can take audio notes, video, pictures, and text and put them in it.

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oh god i feel stupid now, never thought to actually keep them (no joke i feel a flipping Tool now)!!!

10 points to you !

I don’t know if Fusion 360 can do this. Now I’m curious if it can.

Could you post an image of such a job sheet?

I make job sheets manually and paste them in my log book. If necessary I make notes of changes when running the job. Some times the best laid plans go awry. Some jobs may never run again but some may be revived later.

So my basic question is should I continue analog or go digital. I use Libre Office as a word processor because it is free. I find it as robust as Ms office but FREE. I usually save and export as PDF. My print driver will print PDF as a booklet and is handy for shop use.

Here is a simple one Civic number job sheet.pdf (55.1 KB)

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I create a folder for each machine in Dropbox.

Typically have a sub folder for Documents (owner manual, etc), Software (drivers/firmware), CAD (designs/upgrades specific to the machine), Media (photos/videos), Settings (feed speed, charts)

Something of that sort anyhow. Easily accessed across all my devices.
Applies to manual machines, 3D printers, etc. Everything resides in a ‘Equipment’ folder.
I also use Google drive, but have found Dropbox plays better with CAD files.

I do keep a small pocket book or notepad by the machine for quick notes. Usually their job specific items, but in case an idea strikes I write it down. If I’m lazy I photo the notes and save to Dropbox to avoid risk of lost idea. Otherwise I document it accordingly.

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I use Excel to record all the projects I make. Plus i make a new page for my monthly projects i make and sell. I also add a page for , pain supplies, wood supplies Bits, ETC ETC. Then have formulas deduct what I buy each month so I can keep track of what my sales to supplies ratio is.

On my Projects page I usually put in what colors I used for the backgrounds, fonts borders, plus bits if needed for multiple cuts.


Here is one of my project sheets for a 3x5 box made from a 1’ board.
3x5_box_instructions.pdf (17.7 KB)

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I think that feature is only in Vcarve Pro and not in Vcarve Desktop - pity.

One major item of importance that is NOT mentioned is Naming & Saving that last GOOD iteration of the file that actually worked. A good practice is to set up a Folder for the PROJECT each and every time.

When you start working with a file you often need to change something. GREAT! Except you do NOT want to change that original file. Just COPY & PASTE the file and rename with a revision number or letter. Once you get your file working properly NAME THAT FILE with something like the name shown below: Tool_Bit_Organizer_03_MASTER.

When you go back to make more Tool B/O’s you DO NOT mess with the MASTER file, except to Copy and Paste it to make changes you want, OR to re-build the gcode to send. With changes you will be RE-NAMING the file as a NEW MASTER file - it it works.

Other things of note. In word processors you can plop your graphics on a page and, if needed, add a Text Box for entering information. Once you get everything you need added about that particular Project, you can use the (Free Download) GIMP software to turn that into a PDF which you are not then likely to change.

PrimoPDF is also (Free Download) great for printing anything you see on-screen as a PDF file. Sales slips, invoices, receipts, etc. are also valuable items to keep in that Project Folder.

IF your Folder Structure is well organized it will save you lots of time searching for that one quick-turnaround item you need to get going in a hurry. And, saving all of your Projects, may mean that you can start a NEW Project, simply by doing a COPY & PASTE routine from one master file and re-naming that file for the new Project - which then becomes another MASTER file.

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I agree documentation is important. I have a cncrouter folder with folders for images.manuals.projects etc… I make a folder for each project and a sub folder for gcode. If I make gcode for the whole project all once I put “all” in the title. Some times I make individual gcode files to break down the project into steps.

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I was too…

Setup Sheet for Program 1001.pdf (158.2 KB)


Well good to know! I’ll have to add those to my Onenote log of projects for documentation.

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