Need advice on bit type

Hey gents / gals…

I have a sign project for a friend to be done on 2" fir. It will be a hanging sign outside, app 32" wide by 7.5" high.

First panel will have the house number, second panel below it will have his company name / logo.

The problem I’m running into is that in order to get the wall of the ‘JSR’ letters in the logo to be wide enough to accommodate even a .125 endmill, the letters have to be scaled up too much to fit the layout. I’ve suggested we just run the same font for JSR Electric and forego the logo itself in this application, but my buddy really wants the logo to the left of the text like an ‘icon’.

The other problem area is the ‘loops’ on the inductor symbol. Is this where a ‘V Carve’ would come into play? I’ve only done a few small jobs using the included 1/4" downcut bit. Attached are a few photos to show the logo I designed for him, the house number on fir (for reference of what I’m going for), and a screenshot showing how the ‘J’ has to be scaled up for the strokes to match 1/8"…

Any help is appreciated. Essentially we want the letters to look embossed as per the house sign… having a hard time wrapping my head around this one ;).

P.S. in the ‘screenshot’ image, the red square represents a .125" x .125" reference - when I scale up the ‘J’ so that an 1/8" endmill can carve the letters, it blows the scale of the design.


JSR-OUTLINE-curves.pdf (90.9 KB)
HouseSign-JSR.pdf (1.3 MB)

Here are some jpgs (instead of PDFs) for quick-view in this thread…

I would suggest cutting the logo at least as a V carve:

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I’d probably try and vcarve the whole thing. It can all be done in CC.


Thanks guys - any recommendations on bit size for the VCarve? For this job, I think I’ll continue w/ the 1/4" for the larger letters (to match the house number) and then use the VCarve for the logo itself (after some test runs).

For a V carve w/ Carbide Create you want to ensure that the widest part of the path is narrower than the endmill, so for a #301 or #302 — no paths wider than 1/2"


Will, I’m trying to import the main logo from Illustrator as an SVG file. When I do so, there is missing artwork (line segments etc.). I found your reply to another post RE checking document info to see if any paths are open. I have 14 paths that are open for this piece but have no idea how to close them. Are you able to assist? The text comes in fine once converted to curves / outlines.

My thinking is that if I can get this to import I can then define the paths as needed in CC. Am I thinking about this correctly?

Sounds about right.

One way to force objects closed is to export to a .pdf from Adobe Illustrator w/o including the ability to edit the file in Illustrator — then open it, AI will parse the PDF and the open paths which have fills should be closed (but may be doubled up)

Alternately, edit the files to correct them in AI.

If you want to post the file here or send it in to we can look at it.

Thanks Will -
I tried as you suggested but when I re-open that PDF it still shows 6 open paths.
I’ll post the file here and really appreciate you taking a look. I’ve been using Illustrator for over a decade and have not had to be concerned w/ this issue before. Here’s to learning new things ;).HouseSign-JSR1

Article on it here:

Fixed file:


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Thanks Will - so short of a plugin, the knife tool should essentially close any open paths (after knifing around said object)?

Is there a way I can download the revised file you uploaded? The preview is just a jpg I think. Thanks for taking a look.

I find using Illustrator infuriating, and always have, despite having used it since v3.2 — the interface doesn’t match how I think about vectors, and it stupidly allows things such as filling open paths. I exported to a PDF, opened that in Freehand, fixed it there, then exported to a pdf, opened that in Inkscape and re-saved.

The preview being a pixel image is caused by using a browser which doesn’t support native SVG display.

Here’s a .zip archive to download. (7.4 KB)

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Thanks for this, Will. Man, that seems like a very cumbersome process. If not illustrator to design basic 2D artwork such as this, what do you recommend? Is there a one-stop solution that a guy can create artwork and then import into CC in a straightforward way (take for example, this particular file… what would you have used to design this or if say, writing a tutorial for a newbie that you’d likely lose with a less than ideal workflow?).

V-carve is probably the way to go, but I cant help but mention the other option here is to get a 1/16” end mill so fitting a 1/8” mill is not such a problem on fine detail.

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The thing is, Serif’s Affinity Designer is what I usually recommend, and either noting the dimensions of the art, or drawing in the box of known geometry has worked well for me — having to open a file up in a third program to adjust it just doesn’t seem a big deal to me in comparison to some of the workflows I’ve used:

  • use a proprietary package to scan a file
  • open the scan in Photoshop and adjust / edit / fix as necessary
  • open a CAD file in a proprietary package and save as a .ai file
  • open the .ai file, import the scan, draw up the design for a box or point of presence display
  • save the file as a .eps
  • open a Quark file, place the .eps on two different pages, export two files, one for customer proofing, the other for production
  • distill the customer .eps and production .eps to .pdfs
  • load the customer .pdf into a proprietary system for approval
  • load the production .pdf into a proprietary program for trapping to send to an imagesetter

That was one of the workflows from my first job out of college — spent 40+ hours a week drawing in AI and FH.

Inkscape does work well for importing into Carbide Create, and Adobe Illustrator does as well, if one can coerce it to make good files. You can just fix thing w/ the pen tool — newer versions might have a close path checkbox (which Adobe would have copied from Freehand). You’d also need to expand the strokes and use Pathfinder to union them into closed paths.

I’d’ve drawn this up in Freehand — I pretty much draw everything in Freehand 'cause I’ve been using it since before it was Altsys Virtuoso 1 — the pen tool is derived from Freehand v1–3, which got it from Altsys Fontographer (I used to design typefaces). I’ll probably switch over to hand-coding everything in METAPOST rather than use Illustrator or anything other then Freehand.

101 Question:

If I’ve created 2 separate paths, one using a 1/4" endmill and another using a 1/16" endmill, is there anything I need to do to initiate bit changes or will CM pause once a given path is carved to allow a change / hit continue?

Since the Shapeoko doesn’t have a tool length sensor one ought to use separate files and re-zero at least the Z in-between jobs:


Perfect - I think this is exactly what I need. Thanks! Is the touch probe I hear everyone lusting over solely to ‘touch off’ the z-axis as mentioned in the article? In other words, would this replace the paper method?

The Probe allows one to determine one or more axes relative to an edge, surface, or corner.

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Basically yes, and then some.