Cutting metal with the Carvey

Hi, I was wondering if anyone had been doing much metal cutting with the Carvey as I’m having a few problems!
I seem to be able to cut out nice soft aluminium by hitting it fast and shallow as someone suggested on the forum, but when I graduate to copper or brass (only 5mm) I seem to get one cut out of ten …the majority of cuts don’t actually go through the material. it just mills out the channel, sometimes skitters a little, and then does not complete the cut. But, as I said, sometimes it does it perfectly, so I’m a bit frustrated! Particular bits possibly? Better bits maybe??? Questions questions.
I’d really appreciate some help as this is a completely new thing for me,a bit of an impulse purchase as I loved the idea and I do so want to make it work!

Hi, I’m not in a position yet to be able to answer any of your questions, sorry, But for my own info and because your issues interest me, if I may I’d like to question you. :slight_smile:

I accept the Aluminium conditions, it was pretty much as I expected, I probably would never have attempted brass, it being so hard (although I have heard of people doing stone, tiles and glass, but that’s with the x-carve, not sure if the Carvey can handle those, it would be amazing if it could), but copper, being softer, is quite high on my list.

How shallow are you going? What bit are you using? I’d probably have chosen to go as absolutely shallow as possible for a few runs using a v-shaped tip then switch to flat once I had the guide groove, I have a tendency towards over-caution. What speed did you run for the aluminium? Did you change it for the copper?

As an asides, I notice by your spelling of aluminium you’re from the UK too, do you remember what your shipping cost ran to?

I’m glad the alu isn’t an issue anyway, hope you get it sorted for your copper and brass.

(edit… having just seen other posts on the subject (although nothing definitive for your problem), the type of bit, I would assume this to mean material and design of it’s cutting edge, is definitely a consideration.)

Hi, thanks for the reply.
First I realised that I made a really big mistake which probably confused you! - I am of course talking about 0.55 metal etc, not chunky 5mm. I get so used to thinking in fine sheet that I don’t even think of putting the 0 part in - stupid! Sorry!:anguished:

Today I went back to the copper and took the speed to 15in/min and 0.001in pass and swopped to the 1/16 two flute fishtail that I’d got from inventables and it worked like a dream. The bigger bit version did the same skittering and metal chewing - even at the faster pace…

Where are you getting your v-shaped tips etc? Using this type of machine is all new to me and I’m not sure on ebay as to which stuff is appropriate.

In terms of the shipping to the UK, it was $150, which was ok. The real hit was the £419 in duty! - gulp, and that’s why I feel a bit desperate about getting it to do what I want…

Nice glad you got the copper to work… so smaller bits and faster speed seems to be the recipe. So next up is the brass again, maybe?

Sorry, I don’t have a machine yet, that’s the reason why I couldn’t provide any real answers for you, my comments were simply based on (informed-ish) assumption from when I have used this kind of machinery, and I was curious about your details on the issue which was why I ended up questioning you, lol. :/… My apologies if I wasn’t clear.

Thanks for the shipping info, the shipping was about what I thought it’s be… BUT THAT DUTY … that is a lot of money over and above the machine and other considerations…

I have more calculations to do… that’s kinda steep, and deflating.

I hope you managed to get making things that’ll justify the cost for you… oo that duty… Sore.


(edit… actually can I ask another questions… how is the noise level on it, quite, loud, middle?, TY)

If you want to cut metal with Carvey you will need a coated bit. The reason is you can’t lubricate the bit because the door is closed but a coated bit dramatically reduces the need for constant cutting fluid.

It’s also recommended you use some advanced toolpath strategies like those available in Fusion 360. Trochoidal tool paths and graduated plunging will get the most out of the machine.

I’ve reads about the x-carve and stone, tiles and glass engraving, is that possible on the Carvey at all, maybe using diamond tips or something? Just curious.

I’ve never tried it.

Marble cuts very nicely on the X-Carve, it should do well on the Carvey also. But it does make a lot of dust so that may be a problem on the Carvey without a dust shoe

Poor Micky, I think I hijacked her thread… Sorry Micky. :confused:

I never thought of marble, that sounds pretty good, if I do manage to get this system I certainly couldn’t do it without a good filter system, so it’s all good. I was thinking sandstone also because it’s soft too… and if you have any tips on milling brass, I’m sure OP would appreciate it. :blush:

Hi Zack, thanks for that. It does makes sense as I was wondering how well the cutting would go without some sort of lubricant.
Do you have any favourites that you might have tried? I used one set of coated bits, supposedly for copper, and they were a washout- probably too cheap!

I thought in your aluminium video it looked as if you were using the four flute - to deal with the speed? But have you had time to test copper and brass? I might eventually do limited cuts in silver, but you have to be sure of the outcome!

Actually it’s not that loud. When you’re cutting metal it’s bound to be a bit noisy but I would rate it as pretty good - I have it in my garage and close the door and you can hear it but it’s not really a nuisance!

I just recently tried experimenting with aluminum. My biggest problem was actually getting to cut the first layer. And that cost me a milling bit, because it went too deep in the first pass and then the bit broke as soon as the spindle started moving sideways. I dont know what went wrong because I measured the material thickness very precisely but it seems the material either must have been warped or wasn’t flat to the wasteboard. The intended total cut depth was 0,2mm done in 2 passes, but the actual result is a cut depth of 0,45 - And that must mean that the first cut must have been 0,25mm instead of 0,1mm.

That being said, this is a cut without lubrication with a 2FL 1/16" Fishtail:

And in this second one I put a little bit of alcohol on the aluminium before cutting, but the same bit. (That was an advice from a professional CNC programmer) Notice that the cut is more shiny and the edges are much better)

I still have to find ways to get it even better. But my biggest issue right now is getting the first layer right, and i have no idea how to finetune this with the parameters i have available in Easel.

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Hey Thomas
thanks for your post - it’s very helpful!
I’ve tried metal with a number of bits but found that the 2FL 1/16" fishtail does seem to be the most successful, so I’m glad to have that confirmed, although I’m also trying to source a good coated equivalent…
Interesting what you say about the first pass - until you highlighted it I hadn’t thought about it as I was mainly cutting through the metal rather than engraving, but I did find that the first passes were indeed erratic in terms of depth - sometimes I also got the spindle slightly skidding sideways which didn’t actually break a bit, just resulted in very rough cuts.
I have been trying to pre-flatten my metal to avoid the complication of warped material (not so difficult for me as I’m using Carvey which only takes relatively small size sheets) but although this does seem to help, it doesn’t seem to solve the problem entirely.
I’ll try out the alcohol tip - looks good!
I’m going to be having more attempts with metal so I’ll post some pics of how I get on and I’m going to be chatting to the team about the Carvey so hopefully I’ll come back with some good ideas.

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Just as a followup on my prior post.

I haven’t been able to adjust the home position of my Carvey and haven’t gotten any good suggestions from support, so I’ve kind of made a hack to be able to cut Aluminium. And after this small adjustment the carving is close to perfect - Again I used alcohol as a lubricant and paused the machine several times during the cut to make sure there was enough near the bit. (feedrate 280 mm/min, 0.1mm cut depth)

In order to get the correct cut depth of the first layer, I have put 0,4mm of paper under a reference sample and clamped the material freely on the wasteboard. So now I have the correct height of my material. At least now I am working my way down to the material instead of risking a 0,5 mm cut in the first layer.

The setup looked like this:


I am very new to CNC mills and have alot to learn… i honest bought the CNC Mill to cut aluminum shapes for my jewelry business so i don’t have to hammer them out on diecuts. Any tips you guys could give me would be awesome! i honestly have had the machine for months and yet to do much with it… i tried cutting some thin 0.05 (16 Gauge) and i kept having the bit break on me numerous times just cutting out a circle… i was using a bit from ebay maybe that was the issue it was a 2 Flute 1/16… i don’t want to use too big of bit because my shapes are on the small side… could you guys tell me how you are making the advanced adjustments on speed and such… i will buy the bit that inventables sells to see if that helps… but i am having trouble cutting thin aluminum so any info will be appreciated thanks!

Hi Karisa
i think we are in the same sort of boat, although I’m mostly cutting copper! I’ve never used a CNC cutter before but was attracted by the out of box experience and wanted to use it to cut out metal shapes for samples/prototypes, instead of spending ages with a piercing saw. However, I’m finding the results a bit erratic and am not sure that I’ve managed to reach a solution as yet.

I think one of the problems is that it seems to be trickier to get a consistent through cut of metal shapes, rather than surface engraving, so this might be why you’re having problems. I have tried a number of bits as this is pretty essential to get right, and I’ve defaulted to the Inventables 1/16 2 flute fishtail upcut as it seems to give the most consistent results out of what’s available. I’ve only had one bit break on me (not the Inventables one) but I’ve tried a number that I’ve sourced from ebay (looking for finer bits) and often the results were really not worth it.
In terms of playing with the speeds I’ve experimented with the idea of fast and shallow (which Zack used on an aluminium cutting video) and slower and a bit deeper but I can’t say yet that I’ve reached a definitive solution - if I get time later this week I thought I’d try another lot of trials with speed and using Thomas’s depth solution, as this is also a factor with cut through.
To experiment with speed and depth you need to chose the cut settings bar in Easel. It will give you a choice of recommended (for the material you have selected) and custom. If you click on custom you can change the feed and depth.
Inventables were going to work on some metal cutting solutions to add to easel, along with new bits - so fingers crossed!