Vcarve Pro and Spoil Board Surfacing Issues

So my wife and I have watched a ton of videos. On how to create .gcode and resurface the spoil board. We zero the machine at its park place, which is were we also told Vcarve to start the job (back right). However, as soon as we tell Carbide Motion to start it want to go to the (forward left) position. We’ve tried everything. We have set the cut area to 31.85 on the (X) and 32.85 on the (Y). We zero the (Z) to the top of the spoil board which seems to be the only thing it gets right. The preview on Vcarve Pro looks great however, reality is not the same. It doesn’t start where we tell it to or where it shows us it will on the preview. Any help or suggestions. Would be great like i mentioned before we’ve watched a ton of videos and have followed them to a T with no success. This is our first project and boy are we losing patience with Vcarve. Our machine is S3 XXL we’re using a 1” surfacing bit with gcode created with Vcarve Pro and loading it to Carbide Motion to get the job done.

FWIW, I find many things in Vectric’s software confusing/annoying — it works great each time I go through the effort to get everything set as the software wants, but it’s an effort for each project, and I don’t use it often enough to remove that obstacle.

There’s a sample file for this sort of thing in Carbide Create at:

and I worked through relating the rapid position points to the actual layout of the machine at:

Someone working through a similar process for Vectric would be welcome (and I’d probably find it helpful as well).

Have you tried running the GCode through CAMotics? This would make it clearer if the problem is with VCarve or CM. I have done several projects in VCarve with the center position (and front left) and had no issue.

I can see why this is a pain for you but I don’t understand why you want to start from the home position instead of the front left or the center.

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Post your Vcarve file and generated nc file, and we’ll probably be able to check what’s off.
You did not mention how you set your zero after homing ?

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We load the file into CM. The machine is already at its parked position so we measure Z to the top of the spoil board and then click on “zero all”. Go back to run and start it. I’ll upload the gcode in a few.

Actually, this might be perfectly normal:

Setting the “XY Datum position” to back right corner, only tells Vcarve that this is where you will be zeroing, but it has no influence on how it generates the toolpaths geometry itself, and among other things where it will decide to start cutting into the material.

In the example below, I set the zero to the back right corner of the stock, created a shallow pocket op, and you can see that the first rapid move (red line on the right) will be from the zero (where the green/blue/red arrows are) to the front right corner of the stock, and then it starts sweeping the area with the tool from there:

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That does help in my understanding of how Datum works. However, my machine seems to follow the long diagonal line when I click start. I have attached a few screenshots of my set up in Vcarve and the .gcode. If it’ll help I can upload a short clip of the set up and getting the machine running. At this point I’ll try anything.

Also when it does follow the diagonal red line it also wants to start past the front metal rail. The one thing non of the videos we have watch do. Is to show the set up on the actual machine. i.e. zeroing and starting the job.

It’s quite possible that in your project, the first rapid move will be the diagonal to the front left corner. The point is, the machine moves exactly as the preview shows (move at the other end from the zero, and start surfacing there).

I think, the only real issue you have is that you are trying to surface an area that is too large: the actual work area INSIDE the machine is always slightly smaller than advertised (because the rest of the cutting area is in the front, beyond the front plate, and is only usable under specific circumstances). So my guess is that your value of 32.85 on Y is too big.

Are you trying to surface the original spoilboard (wrong answer), or a supplementary spoilboard that you mounted on top of that (right answer)?

To determine the max size of the wasteboard that can fit inside your machine, you can manually jog to the extreme positions you want to be able to reach (while still staying behing the front plate), and make a note of that, then adjust your project accordingly.

It might help if you start from a wasteboard project that somebody else created ? I hear many people found the Myers wasteboard design to be a good starting point


You might be right. I am using the advertised cutting area dimensions. I made them slightly smaller once I started running into issues. I am trying to surface a spoilboard mounted into top.

I’ve read about the Myers design, I have no problems paying someone for something useful. My only issue is that I hate to not understand why something is. I feel that if I can’t fix something like this on my first project. How am I going to fix things when they get really difficult.

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That’s a very good mindset to have.
So, jog manually to the front left corner or where you want your surfacing to start, and make a note of the machine absolute coordinates. Then jog manually to the back right of where you want the surfacing to end, and make a note of the absolute coordinates there. Then subtract X and Y between the two sets of values, and you’ll know the square area dimensions that you can program in Vcarve for this to work.

a simple suggestion: Rather than trying to spoil the whole thing, kind of assume it’s flat, and pick a smaller scrap of wood, put it in the middle of the machine, and try to do the whole test on that.

Not a bad idea. I was actually thinking of it last night.

one thing I learned quickly was that getting very close to the edges, you need to be dang on on all your geometry, but if you stay away a bit (at least the diameter of the tool) things are much more fool proof, and the fool is between the keyboard and chair in my case, I decided to start safe.
Over time you’ll get more familiar with all the subtleties of going near the limits… but for a first project I’d try to simplify life.

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I think that you are going by the maximum surface size of the Shapeoko XXL which includes a couple of inches at the front of the frame. I did the same when I designed mine for the XL and ran into trouble. It is not clear looking at the specs especially for the beginner to realize that Carbide quotes specs that are beyond the frame. In my case, I started at the front left and found that I was hitting the limit of the Y at the back causing the Shapeoko to miss steps so the holes to recess the T-nuts were becoming oval instead of round.

I think you have to re-measure and go back to the design.


Solved! The surface area was too big. My wife and I were using the cut de mentions provided by the manufacturer. We had to measure the correct distances and it worked like a charm. The real issue is the “Y” axis. Just like you stated machine can cut beyond the rail. Thus the reason for the manufacturer cut dimensions. Thank you!


Thank you all for the help. As stated a few times the cut area the manufacturer provides is beyond the rail on the (Y) axis. Thus you have to measure exactly what you want to cut in order for it work properly.

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You will be amazed at how much you guys pick up as you go… I doubt there is anyone on these forums that hasn’t struggled with something! And if you ever get stuck there are plenty of people here to help!


Thanks, y’all came to the rescue right away! I’m a tinkerer so I love messing with things and taking on challenges. In the end it was a newbie mistake to not measure and just take the manufacturer specs as the answer. “Measure twice cut once.” Should have defines taken that advice.

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One thing you got wrong is the cutting area is 31 X 31. sending it other values could well confuse the motion software.
My XXL works perfectly with both Vcarve Pro and Carbide Create.
I have also written a Post processor that works with tool changes now with Vcarve Pro and Shapeoko.

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