3D carving for the first time

I have somebody that is looking for a 3D carved fish. I have never attempted a 3D carve yet, has always kinda intimidated me.

I will be purchasing a vector online and uploading to vectric aspire to generate the toolpath.


Looks for any tips you all wish you would have known going into your first 3D carve. Bits to use, settings that work best, anything to have a somewhat successful first try.

Thanks in advance.

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Creating a 3D toolpath from a vector image is a difficult and time consuming task. For your first attempt you may want to search for a 3D file that someone else created. The file will be in STL format and will be very easy to carve using Vcarve or Aspire.

You can search ebay for “Artcam STL” to find hundreds of files that are very reasonable priced.

Here is one set of files on ebay that has lots of animal 3D images for about $12

When you are ready to create the toolpath just use the 3d Rouging toolpath with a 1/4 inch ballnose and then run the 3D detail toolpath with a small ballnose tapered tool. I use a .5mm tapered ballnose with a stepover of 10%. The smaller the stepover the smoother the final product will be and the less sanding it will need. But be sure to check the estimated time, since a small stepover can cause very long carve times. So you will need to find a suitable compromise between carve time and smoothness.

It also helps to reduce carve time if you create a bounding vector around the 3D shape and then have the rouging and details passes cut within the bounding vector.


So something like this is not what i am looking for as it is only a vector image not a 3D STL file?

That 3d file will be fine I think you just misspoke when you said vector file, which is quite different.
If you didn’t already you should watch the Vetric tutorials on 3d, helps alot.

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Just be sure the file you download is a STL formatted file (meaning it ends with .STL extension)

I am not sure how much the vectorart3d sites is selling that file for, but my experience has been they are pretty expensive compared to the same files on ebay.

@ChrisRice had some good advice about watching the Vectric tutorials. They will walk you through importing an STL file and creating the rough and detail toolpaths.

They are pretty expensive, but the guy i will be making it for said he would pay for that image since that is the one he likes. I will verify it is .STL before I purchase, and will spend some time watching 3D tutorials! Still got 3 hours to burn at work anyways :slight_smile:

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1/4 bit like this, https://www.ebay.com/itm/1-4-2500-CARBIDE-2-FLUTE-ENDMILLS-BALL-END-Kyocera-1625-2500-750/381871685366?hash=item58e9537ef6:g:6EQAAOSwcBhWafX7:sc:USPSFirstClass!50701!US!-1

taperd bit like this?https://www.ebay.com/itm/1PCS-Radius-0-5mm-Nitrogen-Coated-2-flutes-Ball-Nose-End-Mill-CNC-tool/222066186989?epid=842511854&hash=item33b42d1aed:g:Qk4AAOSwwpdW91LH

Those tools should work fine, just be sure you set the tapered tool up correctly in the tool database. I think there are some threads in the forum that discuss the correct way to add a tapered tool to Vectric tool database.

Just wanted to be sure you knew that the tapered tool has a 4mm shank diameter, which is fine as long as you have a 4mm collet. If you don’t you can purchase 4mm and 6mm collets from Elaire.


I bought both 4mm and 6mm long time ago so should be good there, but still searching ebay/amazon for what to buy.

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LOL I bought that set or one like it recently.

I bought a set of those types of end mills for cheap here (1/8" shank):

They tips are great and I can cut metal or wood with these.