Total newb need some cutter bit suggestions


Just bought a Shapeoko XXL with the DeWalt Router.

I did not buy any bits because I have no idea what I needed. I know the Carbide site sells them and should have gotten at least 1 to play with.

I plan on cutting more MDF, MDO and acrylic shapes Also have some HDU I will be doing some signs with. I will need to cut in 2D and 2.5D with a V-Bit but not sure if I need the 60 or 90?

Any help for this newb would be appreciated!

First off, unless you got the 1/8" precision collet, or some other 3rd party collet, you need 1/4" shaft endmills.

Second, you can use 1/4" router bits, so long as they don’t have bearings and are suited to the sort of geometry which you are generating.

A suggested starter set in the context of an SO2 w/ a 1/8" collet is at:

Third, for V-bit angle, this is determined by the feature size and depth which you wish to cut. Discussion of this in the context of text at:

Draw up some files, then determine how you want to approach cutting things — that should inform one’s endmill purchases.

Further points:

  • get spares, buy inexpensive ones to start — they’re consumables, and you’ll break some
  • usually there are local vendors — they’re used by machine shops

Generally, for large amounts of material removal, and if you’re doing larger parts, the 1/4" end mill is exactly what you want, it allows high cutting speed without deflecting a lot.

I would recommend going with a 90d V-cutter, unless you have a specific reason to go with a 60d (doing finer engraving work will likely give better results with the 60, but for larger work, the 90 is going to rule).

You should highly consider a 1/8" collet, or collet adapter if you plan on doing finer work.

Over-all, Carbide 3d has the best price on most of the common tools (1/4, 1/8) and would recommend you purchase from them, mcmaster-carr sells similar tools, for about %160 of what C3D does. (C3d 1/4 end mills are $25-30 for 3, mcmaster is $20 ea)

Generally, I would recommend sticking with carbide tooling, I have some work coming up I was going to try running HSS tooling with it. (cutting brass, HSS is king!)

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Thanks for the reply’s!

William: The wiki’s… figures I should have started there.

Andrew: Exactly what I was hoping for, thanks! Might try some metals down the road, got to get the basics down first.

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No worries, glad I could help. I wouldn’t recommend metals without at least some experience, doing lighter materials. There’s a lot that can go sideways if you’re not ready for it.

The shapeoko lends itself to doing stuff out of MDF which is a cheap material, it’s dusty, and messy, but a great way to test things out.

Okay, another newb question. Shapeoko comes with the carbide create and carbide motion, I find the carbide create a little to “basic” for what I plan to do.

I’m looking at V Carve Pro, I think that will do the trick. Now if I understand correctly, V Carve only does the design process and generate the gcode but no actual production. So I still need the carbide motion to run the Shapeoko (gcode), correct?

Or is there a better option to control the design/workflow?

I come from a workflow where I design and produce in the same program. I’m very failure with working and manipulating vectors and raster files. Sooo not 100% sure I know how all this works.

Correct; VCarve does design and toolpath generation, and then you use Carbide Motion to send the gcode to your device. This works out well, especially since you can run CM on an old netbook and not expose your good computer to dust.

By the way, unless you really need the extra features (clearly described on their web site), VCarve Desktop is much cheaper than Pro.


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Thanks J!

Thanks for that clarification.

The PC I’ll be running it with is nothing special, I did order the suck it dust boot to minimize the dust (fingers crossed).

I ordered the Shapeoko XXL so from what I read the desktop version is only limited to 24" X 24". The pro has no size limit?

So I feel I should point out, you just bought a CNC router, why do you necessarily need to order a boot? why not just make one? :grin:

I designed one, it’s in my github repository:

You may also want to look at LibreCAD or Q-CAD, the Carbide Create software takes dxf files, and allows you to generate your toolpaths from it. I’m doing all of my design in solidworks, exporting to dxf, and then setting the toolpaths. Over-all you will be much happier using a real cad package to generate your parts than Carbide Create, or a graphics package.

I also went out and bought a $50 used desktop PC off craigslist to run my router, I just VNC/rdesktop into it, and run carbide motion through it. It’s much better than tying up my laptop or workstation with the job (not to mention the dust, oh god the dust)

Even with the dust-shoe, I think I’m probably going to build a plexi enclosure for my router, I like to keep my shop mostly clean, and all the MDF moon-dust kinda interferes with that.


I believe you should have gotten a Bit with your machine as part of the “it comes ready to cut except for material” part. I received my XXL a week ago and got a Nomad #201(1/4" square tip) in the package with the stickers/serial # plate, even though I did not order a router with mine…
In the mean time I ordered two cheapy packs of 10 from Amazon to risk in my learning curve, and 12 Nomad bits for when I am ready to ditch the training wheels-er bits!

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Ah, I missed the XXL part, so yes, if you go past the 25x25 size limit in one toolpath, you’ll need Pro. You can design parts of any size in Desktop, but to cut them out you have to use the “toolpath tiling” feature that autosplits your job at N-inch boundaries. So you could tell it to split it up into four 16x16 jobs and generate g-code for each one in turn, changing the x,y zero so they cut in the correct place.


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Andrew, Thanks for sharing that link! Ya know, sometimes when someone else invests their time, effort and material into a solution just pay the person what they are asking… LOL I’m not a neat freak but do try to keep things “tidy” ya know? Computer is a i3 w/ 10gigs network to the rest of the shop, just sitting around as a back up anyway…

I will attempt to try some of these projects once my Shapeoko shows up, Delivery is set for the 8th and I still have yet to clear the area and build a table for it all to sit on. The bread and butter of the shop still roles on as I attempt to get this going.

William, I did go back and order a few bits to yesterday, hope 1 does show up with the package. I see Carbide is out of the 1/8" collets (dang it), will have to wait on that one til they are back in stock.

J, in my current work flow we call that “paneling” same thing just a different word. Although that could work, I think I’ll just opt for the pro version, see I’ve already sold myself on it…

Thanks again for the reply’s guys, very appreciated! I’m sure I’ll be back with more stupid newb questions…


I had the same issue with the 1/8" collet so I checked amazon when I went for the super cheapy sacrificial bits and found an inexpensive Amana collet, with a positive Shapeoko Owner(Nick) feedback from February of last year… and the sacrificial bits: and Amazon Prime shipping is impressive!

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As Will and others have suggested, you should rally get a nice precision collet set. Makes a world of difference… Get the 1/8-1/4 set.

60 and 90 degree v-cutters a must too… Maybe some smaller engraving bits for fine lettering and detail work.

Have a blast!!


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I got the Dewalt Style Palm Router Collet 1/8" Item# DWP-1250 from Elaire and it works well. I’ve been building up my bit collection a little bit (get it?) at a time but I’m now favoring ordering mine from carbide3d, though the cheap bits work fine. I did find a few early purchases I ended up with 4 flute bits and it seems for woodworking you’re better off with 2-3 flute bits. They still work and I run them with a slightly slower RPM but as they wear out will stick to 2-3.

When starting out I got:

These are super cheap, I don’t expect them to last that long but they haven’t broken so, who knows.

I got a Whiteside 60 degree 1/4 inch V bit and a Grizzly 90 degree V bit. I did my last project with a Uxcell 1/16th 4 flute end mill cutter, which worked well but I did get a Freud 1/16" 2 flute straight bit that hasn’t come in yet.

My first 1/4" bit was a Kodiak 4" long 2 flute end mill because I thought I was going to do a project that needed the extra length. I also have an uxcell 4 flute 1/4" square mill that I haven’t used.

I’m probably going to sit on those 1/4" bits because I have the 1/4" square bits from c3d and the round nose ones on the way, along with their 1/32" bit to try out on something I have in mind that needs the extra detail.


Thanks just got mine and broke 1 those are a great price for newbys …experimenting and trying to figure things out …thanks…for the links

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Learning to do well with cheapies mena you will do even better with the better stuff once you get familiar!