Pocket cutting small letters?

Working on doing some small letters (.125" in height) and am wondering if anyone has had success just using a pocket toolpath rather than doing a vcarve?
I’ve got 10, 15, 20 and 30 degree engravers, but when I vcarve with them, the detail level is so great it’s taking a very long time to do just one letter.

Anyone have luck just setting a 20 or 30 degree engraving bit to a set depth on a pocket cut? Using very simple calibri font.


The most expedient thing to do here is to use a light weight of the font, set a little smaller than is actually desired for cutting and spaced out as needed, and then to cut as a no offset/follow contour path.

Thanks Will!

I’ll put together some samples and try them out.

I’m assuming if I were to use an engraving bit with really small tip like one of those in the picture, I’d be able to get some decent results.

If you don’t want follow @WillAdams really good advice, but feel you need to actually fully pocket the lettering with a straight end mill, I use small end mills down to 0.010" - 0.009" with great success. I like using v-bits, but when I go below about 3/8" I prefer to use the single line fonts and a small end mill. But that is just me.

This is one of the single line fonts from the CamBam single line fonts. The cribbage peg holes are 0.0781". The font was cut with a 0.0150" End Mill.


Thanks! I see you mentioned single line fonts. Are you also designing in Vcarve?

I saw they had a single line font option and was wondering if that’s what it meant.
Does single line font mean that it will not try to draw an outline of it, or do you still have to try and do a convert text to nodes, then pocket cut?

By the way, love the wood you use for your boards. Is that bottom board Kingwood?

These were designed using Inkscape and g-code created with MakerCam (I downloaded the standalone flash program and the MakerCam program and run it locally now). BUT! I do use Vectric V-Carve Desktop for some stuff now, and the CamBam single line fonts sit on my computer as do all of the other fonts, so I can use them in both programs.

The single line fonts are designed so that the cutter follows a single path of the letter in one direction, then reverses and “backtracks” keeping to the original path it followed going forward. You treat it the same as any other font.

Heres a message I sent someone a bit ago. I am at work and don’t have time to edit it, but it shows why I like using Inkscape for the single line fonts. It shows very closely how they would look when cut.

The first thing you need to do is when you are making a smaller board is to ensure that the players can actually get their fingers between the pegs when the pegs are next to each other. I will usually buy the pegs I want to use first and then space the holes at different distances to find the minimum spacing for my fat fingers. I buy my pegs from http://www.petespegs.com/ but it recently (year or two ago) changed hands, and the prices went up (shocking, I know) but there is still a good selection of metal pegs.

I use either the standard 1/8" pegs or the 5/64" pegs for my small boards. I had some custom ones made for my super small boards that look like #4, but are for 5/64" holes.

For the detail lines around my boards, and the numbers, I tried using V-bits, but I just did not like the look of the engraving. I love using V-bits for other things, but for lines, I prefer to use straight end mills. I buy 95% of my bits from drillman1 on ebay, and I have not been disappointed yet. I use 0.0236", 0.0177", 0.0150" and 0.0120" end mills for the lines and details on my cribbage boards.

This board is made with the 5/64" (0.0781") drill bits and an 0.0150" end mill from drillman1.

This board uses an 0.0236" end mill because the numbers are a bit larger and the thinner lines didn’t look right. It is difficult to get your machine to track exactly perfectly, so I would recommend using a single line font (CamBam single line fonts are my favorite, and they are free) and get an end mill that looks right for the size of your font. Another thing that is great about Inkscape is you can set the line width to see what each font will look like when cut with a specific end mill width.

Here’s an example: image

This is how the default line display settings look when you use the single line fonts. Sharp corners, nothing is rounded, but if we go in and tweak the settings, we can get a really close approximation of how things will look when cut with your machine.


You set the [Width] to your end mill diameter, se the [Join] to this selection and the [Cap] to this one and you get this:

A much more realistic looking view of what your machine will actually cut. Now, you can mess around with cutter diameters to find one that looks best for the size of the font you want.

Here’s the font with an 0.0120" diameter:

I think it is too thin for the size, so I would go back up to a larger diameter end mill.


Also, the top wood is Bolivian Rosewood, and the bottom is Katalox, also known as Mexican Royal Ebony.

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Thanks so much for the information! What a coincidence, on a recent trip to the lumber yard, I procured some Bolivian Rosewood and Katalox as well! Beautiful woods!!

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I fell in love with the Katalox because of how dense and fine grained the wood is, the spectacular coloring of the sapwood and heartwood. and how with just some 400 grit sandpaper and mineral oil you can put a beautiful finish on it.


Thanks so much for the help with the lettering/numbering. Found the size and depth I want to go with using the cambam font! Lettering

I’m working on a special cribbage board for me and the boys for fish camp this year. Can’t wait to try out the Katalox and Rosewood now that I’ve seen yours . One of my favorites is the one I did out of Bocote for my son. Grain was just spectacular!

Thanks again for the help!


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