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This is a compleat overview of running a job from beginning to end, w/ links to appropriate pages.

Design the part

Cocktail napkin sketches aside, this requires that one draw or code the part(s) up on a computer, either in a CAD program, or directly in a CAM program which has drawing facilities, or directly in G-Code. See Designing for Fabrication for further considerations.

List of end-to-end tutorials

Note that there are a number of tutorials available for Carbide Create.

CNCZone thread on CAM for a watch case and fixturing:


  • Basic workflow 2D --- drawing a part in Inkscape, creating toolpaths with HeeksCNC, simulating toolpaths with OpenSCAM
  • Basic workflow 3D --- glosses over drawing a part, but covers using HeeksCNC to create toolpaths, simulating with OpenSCAM

Video Tutorials


ShapeOko 2 Project: Gear Coaster [1]


Sparkfun: ShapeOko—Make a Coaster

PCB Milling

How to mill a PCB with Chilipeppr + GRBL (2 episodes) by Frank Herrman[2]




{{#ev:youtube|lyMKED_1bH4}} [3]


There are many programs for this, and as noted on the CAD page, one can use any tool capable of creating vector descriptions, or hand-code G-Code oneself.

Filetype: The CAD step will create a representation of the design as a computer file, a .svg for many opensource workflow, but a .dxf is typical for commercial workflows and other file types are possible. See File formats.

List of CAD Tutorials


This is more complex than the words, “Computer Aided Manufacturing” would suggest. The following aspects of a job must all be reconciled:

  • Source file format (from the step above)
  • Material selection
  • End mill selection
  • Offsets based on Endmill diameter and machine runout
  • Feeds and speed
  • Order of operations, type (drill, pocket, contour, V-engraving) and direction of cut(s), point of origin and Z-value
  • Workholding

Filetype: This will embody the design in a native format (such as MeshCAM's .mcf) which may then be exported as a G-Code file as that series of movements which will move the tool so that it will cut out the part. The typical extension is .nc, other options include .tap and .gcode. MeshCAM for the Nomad will emit .egc which requires Carbide Motion to either send to the machine or copy out as plain text.[4]

Previewing (and optimizing) the Job

See the page Previewing G-Code for a list of programs for this. In some instances, it may be necessary to tweak the G-code commands --- some of the programs afford this capability. For batch changes, see grecode (listed on the Programmatic G-Code Generators page).

Stock Preparation and Workholding/Fixturing

If necessary, the stock must be cut to a suitable size to fit on the machine.

There must be a mechanism to hold it in place, Workholding which may use clamps, a fixture, or a mix of them.

It may be necessary to square or face the stock when it is placed on the machine:

Run the Job

The basics of course are covered in Hello World and First Job. Please follow (and use) the Operating Checklist.

One will need to:

  • check the machine
  • mount the selected end mill in one's spindle (trim router usually) using a collet of a suitable size to hold it
  • place the material at an appropriate place on the work area in an appropriate orientation and secure it w/ an appropriate workholding technique
  • connect the machine --- discussion of order of operations here:
  • zero the machine and move it to an appropriate starting position relative to the material[5]. Note that it may be necessary to do this sequentially, one axis at a time, using relative offsets.[6] Note that the zero should be set relative to the center bottom of the endmill. Techniques for this:
    • placing a piece of paper at zero and jogging the machine down until it catches the paper
    • drill bit --- use a drill bit or other cylinder of known diameter, jog the machine down and move it horizontally until it nudges the drill bit
    • placing a conductor of known thickness at zero and clipping a wire for a light or other electronic device to the endmill (or other electronic device)[7]
    • using a corner block[8] corner finder[9] or center finder, edge finder (Brown & Sharpe 599-792-9 4 Piece Edge Finder Set) or other device[10]
    • use a parallel placed across an edge as an indicator lever --- lower the endmill until it pushes the parallel down so that light begins to shine through beneath the parallel.[11]
    • lasers ---

Other Considerations

Keep computer from going to sleep: [12]

Jobs with multiple endmills