Newbie needs basic tool advice

I have been tasked with trying to get a Shapeoko 3 up and running to try and get an income stream for a small charity to which I belong. We have a Shapeoko 3 CNC machine but we only have one cutting bit which is a 1/16 inch straight sided router bit ( I think) on a 1/8 inch shank. I have never used such a machine before but no-one else (we are all quite elderly) seems interested or feels they are up to learning new skills. We only have the basic free version 6 of Carbide Create as well as Carbide Motion of course. I am getting the machine to cut some basic designs but the tool bit we have seems limited in that the cutting length is only about 4mm (1/6 inch) and will therefore not cut through 3/4 inch thick material. Can anyone suggest what basic tool bits we should purchase? Any help would be appreciated because I am a bit out my depth. Should we go for quality bits (obviously more expensive ) or get something cheap and cheerful in the knowledge that we might break bits in the learning process.

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There’s a bit on tooling at:

and the community has a bit more at:

and it’s also discussed in:

Which trim router do you have as a spindle? Do you have a 1/4" collet? (ideally a precision one)

What sort of material do you wish to cut?

Assuming wood, my recommendation would be to start by dropping by your local Lowe’s or Home Depot or specialty woodworking shop and picking up a 1/4" uncut spiral router bit such as:

(or purchase a #201 pack from: #201 .25" Flat Cutter (Qty 2) - Carbide 3D )

That should allow for basic pocketing and profiling to a reasonable depth as a start.

Beyond that, what you get depends on what sort of cut you wish to make:

  • 3D — a succession of ball-nosed tooling in various sizes
  • V carving — V endmills in sizes and angles appropriate to the scale of work you are doing
  • joinery — whatever specialty tooling that requires

If you’ll let us know what you wish to accomplish we could better advise.

Note also that if you’re able to use a recent version of Carbide Motion you can update to the latest Carbide Create which will help a lot.

If you plan on doing any V carving, I personally recommend the carbide 3d V-Bits.(301 and 302)
I machine hardwood 90 percent of the time and I have found them to be durable and keep a sharp edge through numerous projects. :smiley:

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I have a tray in front of my Shapeoko 3 and inside it are my most used bits. In that tray is:

1/4" Up Cut bit
1/4" Down Cut bit
15 Degree vee bit
60 Degree vee bit
1/8" down cut bit
1/8" up cut bit
1/16" up cut bit
1/32" up cut bit

With those bits above I seldom need to go into my stock of other bits.

You can buy the C3D bits which are competitive with others but my 1/4" down cut bit is a Whiteside and I just use the #251 1/4" down cut bit from C3D. If the 3rd party bits are basically the same as the C3D bits just tell CC it is one of the C3D bits. You can create custom bits in a library but why reinvent the wheel. If you go into a hardware store and they have bits on sale then buy them cheap and use them as the C3D tools if they are similar. Check to see if you have a 1/8" collet or just a 1/4" collet. When buying bits I try to buy 1/4" shank bits regardless of the bit size. I just hate changing the collet. You an buy collets for 1/8" an 1/4" online or if it is a Makita/C3D router you can buy them from C3D. The Dewalt was used on a lot of older Shapeoko machines. You can buy the Dewalt collets relatively cheap but try to get only 1/4" shank bits.

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Thanks for all the info Will. I think at first we will only be dealing with wood as the material. Our initial ideas are to make house nameplates (e.g.Rose Cottage) to order or house numbers. As I see it we can either engrave the names/numbers or have them standing out in relief by carving out the material around each letter/number. Here in the UK our organisation is a “Men’s Shed” where a number of us meet each week for company, chat and projects to get us an income stream.

We only have the one toolkit which is a 1/16 inch bit of unknown variety. I think the collet is a 1/8 inch but another of our members will have a look at it to try and identify it.

You’ve given me plenty of links to follow, for which I am grateful.

Thanks John. Useful info which is being added to my memory banks!

Thanks Guy. That is a very useful insight into a possible starter kit. I am getting so much useful info from the Carbide community that I am beginning to form ideas about how to progress.

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