Two basic principles. Do I understand correctly?

Thanks to great tech support I finally got my XL to work. I have ended up buying Cut2d and use um, the open source Universal CNC Sender for driving the router. I’m a Mac user so running a Win machine has been its own bundle of larfs!

(1) The C3D app Carbide Motion always wanted to Home the machine which made me think that was an important step but I realized it really wasn’t. The few pieces I have cut I made the home position bottom left in my design. I zeroed the machine roughly where I thought the cut should start and everything worked out fine.

So why all the homing that C3D does? After such great help from tech support I am loathe to knock their software but Motion is one of the worst apps I have ever used. No interface to speak of and no cancel buttons when u get into the homing cycle.

(2) Designing in Cut2d - am I right in assuming that if I import a vector that has a fill, not just the outline, will Cut2d create a tool path that will cut out the areas that are filled rather than just the outline?

The few pieces I have cut really impressed me with the clean cut and the speed. Only used MDF but for the art I want to make that is my material of choice. Based on the size of the XL work area I can get 9 pieces roughly 16" x 32" out of a 4’ x 8’ sheet. My pieces are all going to be roughly 15" square so I end up with 18 pieces out of a large sheet.

Lots of fun.

Thanks, Les

In CM when it homes the machine it establishes that as a reference absolute position. When you jog to a point you want your job to start at and zero it there CM remembers that zeroed (job start) position in relation to the home position. When a job is finished the machine returns to home.If you wanted to do a series of the same job or wanted to repeat it or needed to do a tool change you can move exactly back to the zeroed position quickly with the Rapid Position button. You can’t do that if the machine hasn’t been homed.


To add to waht JaredHooper said about homing, I found having it really saved me this weekend.

My Shapeoko was doing a series of cuts but I’d messed up programming a series of cuts and the Shapeoko lost its positioning because it couldn’t move through I chunk of wood that wasn’t actually cut away. By homing it, it was able to quickly and perfectly regain it’s positioning and I was able to fix up the cuts and the last hour of carving was salvaged.

I was very happy to have the homing switches after that.


Hi, I’m new to all of this too.

For the homing question, see this thread I started a month ago: A couple of questions about homing the XL

Will Adams links to some references that really cleared up the value of homing for me. If all you’re doing is a single work session with no tool change, homing is an unnecessary extra step unless something goes wrong as mentioned in a previous post. However, I think it’s probably a good idea to get in the habit of making that part of your workflow now anyway so that when(if) you start doing more complicated jobs you’ll be ready.

I agree that Carbide Create isn’t the prettiest software but I find it perfectly functional for my purposes. I’ve been a PC user most of my life and I am used to working with open source software where often function is king and form an afterthought, so there’s that. If you’re coming from a Mac background where presentation is much more important (or so my outsider observation leads me to believe), I can imagine it would be … an experience. :slight_smile:


For point 2 — not necessarily.

One has the option of several different sorts of cuts in the Toolpath (CAM) options for Carbide Create — pick the one which meets your needs.

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Actually you can move back to the zeroed position quite easily without homing. I can’t remember what the button is but it moves there because just like when homing you are still zeroing on your work. Once you have zeroed then that’s remembered in the machine unless you turn it off or something to do a tool change which there is no point in doing. I disabled my homing switches after having so many problems with them and I’m much quicker without them. Tool changes are a breeze because now instead of the machine going away from me after it finishes a job because it would go home, now it goes to my zero I set and I turn off the router and move it towards me to change the tool. Hit the button for it to go back and boom back to zero, just have to reset the zero for z and that’s it. Homing to me on this machine since its so slow and tedious is really a waste of time.

So there is no need to home to the limits of the stop switches?

If I am cutting something and then it needs to change cutters doesn’t it just stop moving waiting for me to change cutter? AND THEN CARRIES ON OBLIVIOUS TO THE HOMING POINT BACK RIGHT? Damn sorry about all caps!

But then I read the messages about tools breaking and stuff like that and I can see how you might want it to move to a point off the workpiece.

Does the Shapeoko remember home or does the app?


The app remembers where you zero it at once you set it. So zero x,y, and then I move my cutter to the work piece and zero z. If I had the app in front of me connected I could tell you the button you hit to get it back zero x/y but I don’t but its there and I’ll post it later. So once you run the program and its done it will move back to that same 0/0. From there you can move it using the jogging buttons off of the work piece and then move the z up or down by eye to make sure when you hit the button for 0/0 that it doesn’t hit the work piece and break like you said. From there you just reset your z for the new cutter and run the next program. Simple as that and I do it seriously daily multiple times a day.

It also has the z +6mm button if that helps with which ones I am talking about. So I forgot that, after you zero z then hit the z+6mm button to get it off the piece and then the x/y 0. Hope that helps

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I can really recommend Universal CNC Sender. It’s free so give it a whirl.

Vis a vis having to use Win, I don’t mind for something like this, I have a single PC on my network dedicated to the CNC.

Although the ‘look’ of OS-X might be the attraction, for me it’s all down to Human Interface Guidelines. These were written down in a book when the Mac came out. And basically they were guidelines for developers to follow so that ‘most’ apps had a familiar feel. On most Mac design/photo apps there a bunch of CMD-keys that they all have in common. CMD-v, c, x, ;,± etc. So if you move from one to another you know straight away how to zoom in, out, center, show guides etc.

That’s why many Win apps, and sadly now some Mac apps, are painful for me to use and very frustrating. As far as I can tell there are no keyboard commands on Cut2d - none that I have found anyway. So if I want to zoom out, instead of CMD-(minus key) I have to click a damned icon. What a waste of time.

Keyboard commands and macros are powerful tools.

Oh well. Les

Forget about using Parallels or Boot Camp or anything, you’re using the same kludgy app, just happens to be on a Mac. And as for drivers! Oy vey!


Les I use parallels on my mac and it works decently enough although I am having an issue right this minute where I am reinstalling parallels which is irritating. The other issue I have for CM is that the windows version for some reason wont work so I create in vcarve pro in windows and then open in CM using the mac version lol. Its wonky but hey its getting the job done for now that is. I will probably be having to get a windows laptop soon (I really hate the idea of this) to run CorelDraw for my epilog helix laser that comes in tomorrow though

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Do you know what laptop u will get? Some of the Win 10 surface gizmos are pretty cheap and small. I like small.

I played with a bunch of apps and Cut2d was the first one that made sense so I ponied up the $150. Apart from the key commands issue it is fairly intuitive to use and doesn’t seem to allow you to make mistakes. Don’t know if that’s a common feature but it’s very handy for a newbie like me.

And I really like Universal CNC controller. It’s java based so works on Mac, PC, Linux etc. has clear jogging commands, allows you to enter code. Has visualization, although not as good as Cut2d which has an animated preview of the tool cutting your material.

In short, I started the week with no idea what I was doing, but feel confident now to execute some simple projects. Of course I’m a newb so I could be talking out of my hat. I do that a lot, but with great conviction!


Awesome laser cutter thang BTW. Would love one AND a waterjet cutter! God knows how much I have given WJ cutter shops over the years.


Les, you can do your own keyboard shortcuts with a program like AutoHotKey or AutoIt3. It’s a little like programming but pretty simple.

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I would suggest a small, simple hotkey program called g-hotkey from What makes it a touch better (in my mind) than Autohotkey is it works with directX/directinput if you have an app that only understands the directx/directinput stuff. This would be mostly games, but it’s very simple to use and there’s no script writing.

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Thanks y’all for suggestions vis a vis keyboard macro creator thangs. I will check them out.

I have another question. On my Mac I use an app called Alfred. I press Command-Space bar and a text entry field opens, I start to type the name of a file or folder or app I want to open and it shows a list of matching names. I use up and down keys too select and then hit enter to open. Use it ALL day long. Is there a Windows equivalent?


Any of the newer Windows (>=7) has that built in to the OS. Just hit the Windows key and start typing.

Thanks Kurt. Maybe Windows isn’t that bad eh? :wink:


Lessee, ways I loathe working in Windows:

  • no drag-drop into file dialog boxes (instead, this allows file manipulation as if in Explorer — what happens if one cancels, are these changes undone? (the answer is no and that’s why it’s a stupid interface)
  • selection not maintained when changing sort order in File Explorer
  • no Miller column filebrowser
  • no Services
  • Powershell lacks the tight application coupling of AppleScript
  • Windows key commands late addition to UI, so no preserving of Control key for alternate things, or usage of Command key for frequent ones (in particular, no emacs text editing keys in standard text fields)
  • no pervasive support for rich fonts, PDF, &c,
  • no easy way to get a screengrab of only a particular window (In Mac OS, Command Shift 4 (or Command $), then tap space bar, then click on desired window) EDIT: with transparent corners and drop shadow — thanks @DanoInTx

Well, the obvious solution is to get the Carbide3d stuff running in Unix and then everyone will be happy.