Software suggestionsfor a newb?

Hey Folks,
I’m totally new to this whole CNC thing and have been learning the basics one terror filled experiment after another. So far the only damage has been to scrap wood but there have been a few incidents that have converted my boxers into a thong.
I have been using Carbide Create and so far it has been functional for what I have needed although I have not found it very intuitive in a lot of its applications and I can foresee a serious Come to Jesus meeting between me and it in the near future.
Does anyone have a recommendation for a good CAD program that would be able to utilize the full capabilities of a Shapeoko Pro but won’t scare a total newb into wanting to hide under a rock?


CAD/CAM products are not intuitive to most people. Carbide Create is free with an upgrade to the Pro version for additional cost. The free CC does what most people need it to do. Unless you are an advanced user of another CAD/CAM program and have experience with graphic design then stick with CC. If you later out grow it then buy some of the various CAD/CAM programs like Vetric, Fusion 360, Carveco and many many others. There are open source versions that are free but you already have a free one with the C3D tool data base installed.

You need to learn to crawl before you walk. So if CC is too much for you I guarantee the other much more expensive options will be way over your head. Learn how to operate your machine with CC and later if you out grow it then get something else. If you master CC you may never need to move to something else.

I have friends that play golf. They never practice and get frustrated when the do play. So of course if they go buy a new fancy club they will be better but in fact they are not going to get better with a new club. If you were a good golfer and had the most expensive and high tech golf clubs made and you played Tiger Woods and he had a broken down set of clubs he would still beat you. Not because he is a professional but because he has practiced a million times more than you as an amateur. Now if you bought a basic set of clubs and practiced until you mastered those basic clubs then it would be time to get something better but the better will only make you incrementally better and propel you from an amateur to professional alone.

So master your basic clubs and then move on up to something more powerful. You can spend a fortune on fancy new things but that alone does not make you better just broke. Practice, Practice and actually doing it makes you better. You must learn the fundamentals before you move on because buying something fancier will be just as frustrating if you do not learn the basics. There are hundreds of cnc machines sitting in garages that are collecting dust because the buyer got frustrated that it was not automagical and gave up because they did not practice and actually get better with experience.


If you got questions, please ask. There are a couple thousand years experience on this board.

We have all been wading thru the learning process.

Sorry I could not offer a suggestion for you.

Good Luck


What they said ^^^

CC is quirky, and a challenge sometimes, but I’ve seen a lot of really cool stuff made with it.
I made the first version of my spindle fan using only CC (The white one)


There are some cool things CC does that my $50,000+ copy of NX won’t do*. V-Carve for example.

And there are a bunch of really smart people here that love to solve problems.
If you have a challenge that you think CC can’t cut, post a topic here.

  • I work for Siemens, I didn’t buy NX :wink:

Be Well


What sort of work do you wish to do and how do you wish to approach it?

What tasks have you found difficult to perform in Carbide Create?

Which resources have you found for learning Carbide Create?

All the cliches are true.

In the world of tools, using a screwdriver requires technique. Correct size head, proper pressure, correct rotation, adequate torque.

CNC machines look great on video and the YT world shows you the wonderful end results of what they can do. They are clearly more complicated than a screwdriver. Much of what you see on video is the result of practice.

I have a woodworking shop. It is a well-equipped hobby shop and my Shapeoko came online in June. I use Carbide Create in part because it does not require internet connection to make it work and also because it is designed to work with this particular machine. This forum board is an added bonus. So all the parts are in place. Yet with all my time and effort, I’ve created mostly trinkets, trays, a couple of signs.

Thing is, where it previously required several hours of design, reworked design, then readjusting the design in order to make personalized tray, I can crank one of those out with very little thought today. My technique, familiarity, and efficiency improves with each simple trinket project. Every one of them teaches me something more and while the process often grows tediously frustrating, there are obvious and tangible signs of progress with each item.

Go look in the mirror and tell that guy to cut you some slack. You are not the first one to go down this road. As was said, all the cliches are true.


One of the big problems I am having with CC is that many of the pieces I want to create are irregular in shape, they have long arcing curves with different radia along the curve (think the Nike swoosh mark but not exactly). If I try to free hand the shape using the poly line tool I can not get the correct arc and it is a always rough and for some reason I cant get it to (close the loop when I get back to the start point. If I try to create it using the pre programed shapes and modifying them, well no luck so far. Yes, I have played around with t h e boolean functions.

I have watched the courses on t h e Carbide site a few times and what I can find on Utube some of it has helped, most, not so much. IF any of you know of a good training course/video series I would love t o hear about it.

That’s what the Curve tool is for.


If you’ll post a design we’ll gladly walk through it w/ you.

Alternately, draw something in solid black and white, then use the Image Tracing tool:

and examine how it puts the curves together using Node Edit mode.

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I feel your pain… I’ve only had my SPXXL for a month and have upgraded the free CC to CCPro since I know I will be using the modeling features at some point. I have many tools in my shop but unfortunately the self where I put my supply of “patience” is completely bare. And yes I do want to ,make all the cool stuff yesterday.
I did find the CC documentation lacking and was hoping for more detailed documentation for CCPro. Unfortunately that is not the case. BUT there is help in the form of YT tutorials, Look for Chris Powell, he does a great job of explaining CC.

We have a new video course done for CC Pro that should be uploaded in the next few days.


For the Pro modelling, see:

If there’s something you’re having difficulty w/ post it and we’ll do our best to assist.

Thank you Rob
I will be looking for it. I love to learn new skills, and happy to work through difficulties because I believe the lessons learned with difficulty will form a better foundation to the skill set. Having documentation and/or a video course really helps. Please express my gratitude and appreciation for the exceptional work the people at Carbide 3D has displayed.


Learn inkscape or another graphic design program. Infinite resources and will play really nice with Create, so you won’t have to cobble solutions together.

Looks like I may have some competition coming from Carbide 3D. Different view on topic are good.

Look at “Carbide Create Pro Training” on this form for CC and CC Pro Training videos on youtube.

Started a YouTube Channel with some Carbide Create Pro Training and Examples.

Just trying to help spin up Carbide Create Pro users a little faster. It has 8+ videos, but I will be adding more. Just doing it for something to do in retirement.

Channel is "stephen k cox or search on Carbide Create Pro Training

Just posted this Carbide Create Training today. Sorry it moves quickly, lots to cover.

Here you go Ed, we just got it uploaded at:


Very nice videos. You cover some topics I haven’t gotten to yet. I think I’ll focus on more examples for now.

Thank You Rob I will look at it this weekend.

My design process up till now has been paper and pencil, a compass, and a long very flexible stainless ruler. Sketch and erase until it looked right then cut it out of poster board and test the fit and movement in small scale. if it worked enlarge to full scale and try it again, this time with dollar foam board. If that works then make a template out of tempered Masonite and use to do layout. Cut out with a saber saw then use the template on the router table witha strait cut bit and a bottom bearing to clean up the edges. Roughly thirty minutes per piece and no mater how careful I was there was always some variation. When you are dealing with pivoting and rotating parts variation is bad.

The time factor and the variations are the two issues I am hoping this CNC can fix.

I have a sinking feeling I am going to need to buy a digital camera or a scanner for the computer.

It should work just to take a photo w/ the phone against a suitable surface (I like to use a cutting board w/ a grid).

Then, you can either use Image Tracing, or re-draw.

Could you post a picture of one of the templates you’re trying to re-create?