Newbie Question

How do I get a V carve bit to use just the tip? If I have a line and choose “contour” for the tool path with a shallow depth (say 0.010") it shows the feature as the full width of the Vcarve bit, not just the tip.

To cut along a path to a defined depth use:

Toolpath | Contour | No Offset

Unfortunately, I don’t believe it will properly preview a V endmill for that.

Proper solution instead would be to select the geometry you’d like to follow, offset it to the inside by half the width you need for a given depth and again to the outside, then select the two paths and do a regular V carve.

Thanks for the quick response Will. It dawned on me to do just what you said (offset and make a channel). that is what I will do.

thanks again!

Jason, what I do since the preview does such a crappy job, it that I LIE to CC. I select a 1/32 or 1/16 cutters, but in reality, I install a V-Bit cutter. Preview looks great, and the job too. (Just watch your (max) depth, and depth per pass.

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that makes sense.

Another question. I am looking for to get into more carvings, is Vcarve worth the $350? Are there less expensive options with similar functionality? I tried Vcarve Desktop and really like how its laid out and how intuitive it is. I was all set to learn Fusion 360 but it runs really slow on my PC so I was looking for soething in its place.

VCarve is great, if you can’t stomach that cost upfront I would suggest checking out estlcam. Lots of great functions in this, but it is solely a cam software so no drawing in it. You would have to download your drawing files or draw them elsewhere.

There’s also Artcam that has, if I remember correctly, a community edition that might work for you for basic carving. I recently used Fusion360’s “engrave” process to carve some 150-point letters in the Mrs. Eaves font and they came out better than I expected F360 would do them. People everywhere swear by VCarve; I know I would have to do a lot more vcarving to be able to justify the cost. Besides that, I’m an incredibly cheap bastard (as well as being ugly, fat and old).

The alternatives to Vectric Vcarve would be:


  • Carbide Create
  • Inkscape w/ the gcodetools plug-in
  • F-Engrave


  • ArtCAM (but I believe the community edition doesn’t do V carving, so would need to get a commercial version)
  • EstlCAM

There may be a few others listed on the Shapeoko wiki.

Vcarve desktop is the best money you will spend, I promise. I dorked along with various free solutions without much success, then finally held my nose and bought vcarve…never looked back :slight_smile:

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I have to agree with @Adam_Xett here, VCarve Desktop was the best “tool” I have spent money on during my mini CNC journey. When you think about what you’ve spent on your machine, bits, clamps, material, dust extraction, the list goes on, a $350 piece of good “tooling” really isn’t much of a stretch if it allows you to fully use the rest of of your investment. I still use Carbide Create for some stuff and think it’s come a VERY long way in the 18 months I’ve been goofing around with this stuff (C3D for being a small software AND hardware company REALLY gets my applause here), but once I bought VCarve and learned to use it, which was pretty simple, it opened up a whole new world of what I could do with my machine. Software is often over looked because it isn’t something tangible, that you hold in your hand, like a big shiny machine, but development costs are no less expensive (and sometimes more) than making a physical object. When I use a piece of software like VCarve it’s obvious where my money went, and when I think of the big CAD system I use at work (which probably cost several thousands of $$$'s per seat) it’s obvious why it costs so much as well, with VCarve I think I got off cheap. When I started looking at this stuff a couple years ago I mentioned it to a machinist friend of mine and he told me to take the cost of the machine and at the very least double it before it would do what I wanted it to do, and he was pretty close, and then some!

Enjoy the journey!