The learning curve

My Pro is up and running and I am climbing the learning curve to figure out how to make good use of it. My wife’s first question when I decided to buy it was “What can you do with it?” I replied that I could make almost anything within reason. Naturally, she just laughed. The first carve turn out well, but not so much the others.
The speeds and feeds thing hasn’t been an issue yet because the defaults are dialed in pretty conservatively for wood. On an engraved piece I accidentally had chosen softwood when carving a piece of oak. The results were still excellent.

My problems seem to be workholding and stock size inconsistencies. The first thing I carved ended up being successful because I ended up with material that was actually the size I used in CC. It stayed in place because it was reasonably large and I wasn’t doing anything really aggressive.

Other pieces got messed up because there were large variations on the stock thickness I got cuts that were too deep in places and not deep enough elsewhere.

I could use some help with this.

You pretty well nailed it. Make sure the stock you are cutting, matches the stock dimensions that you used in your model. Avoiding clamps or other hold down devices? That’s where you set your z height higher, and cut air.

For stock which is not even in thickness, surface it on the machine (and flip it over and remove a similar amount of material from the other side).

For workholding, there are entire books written on this — we have an assortment of clamps and other things for workholding:

if you’ll let us know the specifics of the difficulties which you are having, either here, or at we’ll do our best to assist.

For surfacing, what is the best way to do it? I don’t have a wide bit for that, but I could use the 1/4" bit for now until I get one.

What is the best way to set this up in CC?

Mostly I just use a 1/4" endmill and a pocket toolpath.

If you wish, you can draw something up using the grid as a guide:

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I’ll give that a try. I have also been looking at the site for work holding ideas. There are some options that look like they would be very helpful.

The Nomad low profile vise is also very handy when you have a bunch of smaller pieces to machine.


The painters tape and super glue is very effective at avoiding clamps because there are no clamps to get in the way. There is a learning curve but worth it.


so if I’m cutting small pieces from mdf they tend to get sucked up into my vacuum port. i tried using painters tape on the bottom and then clamps to hold the piece down but pieces still got sucked up. do you think the tape/ca glue method would help?

Yes, the blue painter’s tape and cyanoacrylate glue actually bonds things to the surface of the wasteboard — just make sure small things are on the MDF filler strips, not over the T-track channels.

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would it make sense to have a clamped down scrap of 1/4 plywood/scrap under your material and attach the tape to that? would eliminate cutting into the MDF filler strips…


Nothing wrong with something under project. However it is called a spoil board for a reason. My thoughts on the hybrid tables is heresy but I am not a fan. I like a mdf threaded supplemental spoil board. You could make a supplemental spoil board to put on and remove when not needed. You dont need to cover the entire bed just big enough for your average project size. Have the best of both worlds.

I took some of the advice here (some options I haven’t been able to explore yet since I have to put some orders in). Carpet tape work really well for a few carves until today. It was warmer and as far as I can tell that was the only difference, but I had huge challenges getting the tape off this time. It turned into a real sticky mess. My spoil board looks well loved and the project part is sticky mess on the back. I was using a putty knife to free it from the goop and well, not the knife is a mess too.

The challenge is real. Any ideas?

I am going to try the painters tape and super glue idea next. At least with that option sanding should get it off.

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I have been using the blue painters tape and super glue to great success. I find if you zero Z on the spoilboard using a piece of paper such that the bit is just barely grabbing the paper that I don’t actually end up cutting into the MDF. It’s similar to setting Z on a 3d printer.


Tape and superglue. 3M 2093EL blue tape and thin CA superglue for the win. Good execution (burnishing/rubbing the tape once applied to ensure adhesion, good even application of CA glue) makes things virtually impossible to remove.


Mineral spirits will remove the adhesive. Put mineral spirit on rag and rub on project. Let stand a few minutes to loosen adhesive then use the soaked rag wipe adhesive off. If tape wont come off use mineral spirits to soak tape. Let stand to soften.

The mineral spirits will not raise grain and dries quickly. Rags soaked in ms can spontaniously combust if wadded up and thrown in waste can. Spread rags out preferably outside to dry. If possible put in airtight container or imerse in water.


This is news to me :flushed::grimacing:

The warmer it is the more likely the rags can combust. The mineral spirts are combustable but reactions with other chemicals you may be wiping can heat up and start a fire. So spreading the rag out can help prevent heat build up and outside less hazard to your shop and/or home.

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I was also surprised to see the same warning on a tin of Danish Oil…

You can also use Isopropanol if you don’t have mineral spirits, I’ve used both that and the Trend tool cleaner to remove bits of blue tape and adhesive.

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Guessing Danish Oil contains boiled linseed oil.

All rags coming into contact with products containing boiled linseed oil should be treated with @gdon_2003 method.

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