Want to learn how to do 3D carving

So I bought myself a Shapeoko 5 pro after selling my 3XXL when I moved. I haven’t done much with the machine since getting it in January other then building a nice cabinet to sit it on. I’m pretty good at using it to cut 2D but still learning. Messed around with some inlay but plan on doing more of that until I can get consistent, good results. What I need to learn now for some project I want to start is 3D carving.
I want to be able to carve an image of a pineapple and an image of a palm tree on some doors I’m building for some outdoor furniture my wife asked me to build. Now if I can learn how to do this it will not only open up all new possibilities with my machine but my wife will now under stand why I spent all this money on this machine and stop reminding me of that fact. Probably also won’t care as much when I tell her I’m going in the garage.
I basically want to learn the steps involved, what software to use and what tooling I would need.
I tend to learn things best with step by step instruction that I can follow over and over until the whole process Is committed to memory.
I like to use Carbide Pro if possible since I figure I already know the free version so using Pro would have a shorter learning curve.
I don’t want to draw these images I prefer to buy them on line so I would need a source for that. From what I read over the years from reading this forum and others I should be able to buy a STL of the image I want, import it into a software like Pro then once it’s in the software I would need to learn how to create the tool paths that I could export to Carbide motion to do the actually cutting. Well that how I see it going in my mind.
So is there any tutorials or written, step by step direction I could get my hands on to learn this? Can anyone explain the process to me so I can know if the way I see it going down is correct?


3D carving is a lot of fun and not really hard to do. If you are going to go with CCPro here are the tutorials that should help. Depending on the size of the project a 1/4" or 1/8" Cutter for clearing and a ball nose for Finnishing should get you started.


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We had a bit of a discussion on this sort of thing previously which resulted in @KevBarn14 making a wonderful video:

The first thing to do will be to source the desired imagery — there are many sources as has been discussed here in the past:

and it is also possible to use a pixel image and trace it:

So we start with image searches for

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Use your preferred search engine and search for the desired imagery — it may be necessary to add additional keywords such as “vector” or “black and white” or “public domain” or “line art”— eventually one will find something like to:

which are pixel images which may be traced and then the vectors used for 3D modeling.

Trace Image


Adjust and then select:

This interior detail needs to be removed from the perimeter:

So go into Node Edit mode:

zoom in:

right-click and choose “Cut Vector”

for each side of the opening:

Reselect and resume Node Editing and drag things around:

Adjust so that there is no self-intersection:


Use “Join Vectors” to close things:


and it is now possible to select just the outer perimeter:

which may then be modeled in 3D:

Note that the 3D modeling parameters must be adjusted so that the model is within the stock — anything higher than that will be shown in red, either increase the stock thickness or reduce the height of the 3D Model.

Then, select details to either subtract or add:

and adjust the selection and the 3D Model parameters until one arrives at the desired result.

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I did write up a bit at:


which may help as a grounding.

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We will be talking about the 3D Tool tomorrow on Carbide Create Live at 3pm Pacific.

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Meeting ID: 864 8692 6256
Passcode: 338810