Vinyl cutter attachment with standard vinyl drag knife

About a year ago, I wanted to cut some vinyl and wanted to figure out how to get the shapeoko to do it rather than purchasing a dedicated machine. Looking at pictures online, I tried to understand how the dedicated units worked. I ordered a roland-style drag knife holder and extra blades and set about figuring how best to adapt it.

With the cartridge I bought, it was going to be difficult to mount it. I lucked out in that I was able to cut threads in the barrel and mount it into some angle-aluminum. I made a bracket for this initially and tried to mount the angle directly to the router mount. The trouble with this approach is that your work piece and machine have to be absolutely flat and square. When cutting vinyl, you’re trying to cut something 3-4 mil thick, but you don’t want to cut into the paper underneath. Your assembly has to have give in it.

I got around this by mounting the assembly on a linear bearing. The z-zero is set just below the point that the cartridge contacts the surface so it can deal with surface irregularities. The weight of the assembly combined with the length of blade that’s protruding determines the cut depth. With this assembly, I am able to cut very detailed, precise pieces.

I’m sure I’m not the first to cut vinyl with this sort of setup, but thought I would pass along. Enjoy!




Very nice results ! i was actually in the process of researching options to make a drag knife (I have no intention to shell 200+$ to buy a Donek…) for my Shapeoko, I was going for a spring-loaded thingy, but this gives me another interesting and simpler option. Gravity rocks :slight_smile: !

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One thing I’ve rather regretted is that there aren’t some standard holes / (metric) threads in the mount — I think that would make a lot of upgrades easier / cleaner — our inestimable competition had holes on at least one mount, and I think following that as a de facto standard would’ve been a good idea.

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The Donek has its place…primarily in cutting clean through items and in particular through items that are thick. The cutter I have suggested is really geared toward thinner materials. The one nice thing about thinner material is you don’t have to worry about programming swivel offsets. Once you go with the Donek, that becomes a big deal. You basically have to account for the swivel motion in your g-code. Vcarve can account for it and there are some web tools as well, but the small one is way easier to get started.

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This is very cool. You said you were happy with the amount of detail you are able to achieve?
Thank you for sharing and I think for fun I’m going to have to give this a shot. Well done, Ray

Yep pretty happy with detail. Have fun and feel free to reach out if you have questions!

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I have roughly the same cutter. It works amazingly well for $10. I already had some holes in my spindle mount so I spent all of 5 minutes designing the most hideous mount ever. Function over beauty. :blush:


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