Inventables Community Forum

Bits?What kind, and where from?

I was so very excited when I finally received my Carvey. Of course, I couldn’t catch a break, as I actually received it several days ago, but couldn’t do anything with it.

First, the table I had planned on using with the Carvey wasn’t big enough, so had to order and wait for a new table.
Secondly, the USB Printer cable is way too short, so I had to order one of those, and am waiting for it to arrive on Saturday.

I was able to do a quick test with my laptop to make sure it worked, but then I noticed all it includes is a single 1/16 inch fish tail bit. Of course, while waiting for my Carvey, I was watching all sorts of CNC tutorials, most of which used 1/8 inch end mill bits, some kind of ball end bit, a tapered bit, etc… All of which I don’t have, I just have this tiny, ever so small 1/16 inch fish tail bit.

So now I’m guessing I need to buy some additional bits, as I really want to get into carving, specifically 3d reliefs. So I’m asking for some advice on what bits to get, and where to get them from? And what sizes can I use in the Carvey? In the product description is says “he spindle operates at up to 12,000 RPM and can be configured to accept 1/8”, 3/16" or 1/4" bits." When it says it can be configured, is that something else I gotta buy, to allow me to use these different sized bits? I’m really kinda lost here.

Look on eBay for 1/4 inch shank bits. Get a tapered ballnose (various tip sizes), a 60 deg vbit, a 1/4 inch downcut endmill, and a 1/4 inch ball nose. And of course get a 1/4 inch upcut endmill. I would also start looking for 6mm and 4mm collets for your spindle. You can purchase 6/4mm shank tools for much much less than the equivalent 1/4 , 1/8 inch tools.

For doing Bas Relief work, I like to use a 1/4 inch ball nose for the rough pass and then either a 1/8 ball nose or the 1mm tapered ball nose depending on the amount of detail (and time) I want to achieve. Then use the 1/8 end mill to make the profile cut.

I also strongly suggest you download the free trail version of Vcarve (if you don’t already have it) and carve the Bas Relief eagle (the free trial will allow that to be carved) It is a great way to learn how to do 3D carving.


I had actually purchased Aspire, and have been watching tutorials for it like crazy, but of course, all of them use bits I don’t have. So thank you for your advice. Thank you for helping such a green novice.

The Carvey will use a 1/4 and 1/8 bits as is? I’m asking because of the line in the product description stating it can be configured for those size bits, but I don’t know why they mean by “it can be configured”.

Again, thank you for your response.

Spindles can use a variety of bits with different collet sizes. The carvey comes with one collet I think… a 1/8". The others are optional. A router can use either a 1/4 or 1/2" shank bit depending on the router size. Router bits come in different shapes and sizes but still have a 1/4 or 1/2" shank. If you have a spindle, you’ll probably want to order different collets to expand your bit options. I’ve been cnc-ing for years but never owned a spindle so that’s about all I can add to the discussion. If you search at the inventables website for collets, you’ll see what they offer. They also have a collet adapter for smaller diameter bits.

What you are carving and what the detail required will deterimine what bits you use. Finer detail will require tinier bits. Personally the smallest one I ever use for my work is 1/8" dia.

The spindle on the Carvey uses a standard ER11 collet so you can find lots of sizes for it. As I said I would really consider getting a 4mm and 6mm as well as the 1/8 and 1/4. You will be able to find lots and lots of inexpensive tools with the metric shank sizes

Here is just one place to shop (ER11 collets are everywhere)

Thank you @AllenMassey… if I may, just one more question. Do I get strictly a collet, or do I need something else as well to use the collet, maybe something to afix the collet?

There are two parts to the Collet, the inside Collet that actually holds the bit and the Collet nut that secures and tightens the collet. Your spindle already has a 1/8 collet which fits inside the collet nut. You just remove the 1/8 collet and replace it with whichever size collet you wish. It will press into the collet nut and you should hear it lightly click into place.

The Carvey should come with a set of collet wrenches that fit the collet nut so you can release or tighten it. These same collet wrenches will work with any collet that fits in the collet nut.

Just be sure when you purchase a new collet you get a quality part, the collet is not a place to try and save a few dollars. A precision collet will significantly reduce runout which will make you machine cut much better and help prevent bit from breaking. Also, no matter how big the temptation never never use a collet adapter. The are little tubes that slide over a bit to make it fit into a different sized collet. These adapters will introduce lots of problems into your machine, it is just not worth dealing with. Spend the $20 or so dollars and just buy some good quality collets.

Again, a great big ole heartfelt THANK YOU… I had really hoped the Carvey, which is marketed as a starter machine would’ve had a bit more verbose starter information such as this. So I need to buy at least 2 quality colettes (ER11, 1/4 & 1/8 at a minimum) and then I need to start looking at bits.

I am sure it already comes with the 1/8 collet. Get the 6mm and 1/4 first.

There were no other collets in the box, just what was in the spindle and a single 1/16 fish tail bit. So I ordered the 1/4 and 1/8 ER11 collet, and am now looking at bits. Is this a good set to start with? (I’m looking at sets right now as opposed to individuals because they’re all so overwhelming)

No, you do not want to order the router set. Unless you are making cabinet doors 3/4 of those bits are useless

Get the ones I mentioned in the first reply, those 4 or 5 bits will handle 95% of what you want to do. If you really want some more, get 90 deg, 45 deg and 30 deg vbits.

Be sure you have a high quality upcut 1/4 end mill (two flute), get the downcut 1/4 also,

Get a set of cheap set 1/8 upcut 2 flute spiral end mills. You can buy 10 of them for under $20 (get the cheap ones because you may break a few while you are learning. And there is really not that much difference between real expensive and reasonable cost 1/8 endmills. (The expensive ones may stay sharp longer, but you will probably break it before it gets dull anyway)

You may also need a few extra long 1/8 end mills if you plan to cut thicker parts

Get a good 1/4 ballnose, it is perfect for roughing and even work good for some detail passes. (you won’t break it and it will last a long time)

Then buy a set of 6mm shank endmills from 1mm to 6mm cutting diameter, the same for the ballnose

You already have a 1/8". And, although I’m late to the discussion, I think a good variety of 1/8" shank end mills is all you’d to get started. Careful with your feeds and speeds if you use larger endmills…the Carvey’s spindle is not very powerful.

I was able to change my order, removing the 1/8, and added a 4mm and 6mm collet.

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I am still waiting for my machine and have copied and printed all your bit advice… Thank you

@BrianFleig one thing you might need to keep in mind is the USB Printer cable they send you isn’t very long. I had to order a new one (15’) so I could connect it to my desktop.

Oh, and in case you didn’t know, there’s an actual power button on the back… I sat there for 20 minutes trying to figure out why the button on the front, bottom right corner didn’t do anything… CUz the main power switch is in the back. lol

If you intend to work with acrylic I would also get a few different sizes of single flute upcut bits, to me they work better than 2 flute on the Carvey.


Yup saw the power button. :slight_smile: The USB cable is fine for me as I have an older laptop I’m dedicating to the shop. The cable btw is just a garden variety usb cable that every store sells. Pretty sure even walmart has them.

Yes Walmart does have them but it’s not a standard usb cable… it’s a standard usb printer cable which has different ends. I live fairly isolated and had to actually order one cuz it’s not something I had in my box of cables and no way of just going to pick one up…

oops you’re right. I had just glanced at it, don’t have my entire machine yet.

Hi I am a newbie as well and compiling notes and info. for a lab and find this thread really great. Thank you. To check my understanding would it be correct to say that the Carvey machine comes with a 1/8" ER11 Collet. The collet size must be the same size as the shank diameter. For instance if I have a bit with a 1/4" shank but a 1/32 cutting diameter I need to be sure I have a 1/4" collet in the machine. You recommend getting 4 or 6 mm collets and a 1/4" collet to use with bits that have respective sized shanks. Do I understand correctly? My question is when shopping for a 1/4" upcut bit, is the 1/4" the size shank or the cutting diameter? Thanks again for sharing your wealth of information.