Favorite Bits

I am totally lost on what bit to use. Attached is a sign I cut last night with a 1/32 bit. It took about an hour to do. I had two 1/32 bits and I have broken both of them. As you can see the smaller text at the bottom was even too small for the 1/32 bit. I bought the whole kit that came with the X-carve last month and there are small sticky notes on the little ziplock bags they came in but other than “Bit set for Wood and Plastic”, I don’t know what to use and what I shouldn’t. Is there a guide for the bits that will help me determine what is “normal” use for each bit? Is there something better I can use for text like on this sign? Thanks for any/all help.

I will have to look up some of your terms because I am new to all this but I do appreciate your response and look forward to learning all of this.

1/32’s should really only be used for finishing passes.


That may be one thing I’m missing. I understand about passes but I guess I don’t understand how to tell the X-Carve not to cut again from beginning to end all over again. How to I tell it to only visit the places I need to refine other than starting over?

there are a couple of ways to do this. one is to use the “+” sign and add another bit. then when you hit carve it will ask you what bit you have in (rough pass or finish pass)

the other way that i sometimes do things is to save different parts of the project as separate easel files (one file for the rough pass and another for the detailed pass).

get yourself some cheap mdf and just try a couple different things. vbits are great for doing lettering though.


Not bits, but just as important, I started out buying a full set of PreciseBit dewalt 611 collets to be able to use whatever bits I choose regardless of shank size. I have been very happy with them.

Starter Bits
For bits, I did not start with any of the inventables kits. Instead I started out with some inexpensive 10 packs of 1/8 and 1/16 end mills and ball nose from ebay. I also already had a 5/8" 90-deg router bit from a craftsman router bit set. They have been great for learning, and I wasn’t afraid of breaking them because I had plenty of extras.

These bits have been great for learning:

1/16 bulk bits from ebay user roguesystemsinc:

  • 1/16" solid carbide end mill LONG 3/8" LOC 4 flute square end USA 5 pieces
  • NEW 1/16" Carbide End Mill LONG 3/8" Cut 4 Flute BALL End USA Made 5 pack

Favorite Bits
Now that I’ve started doing some work with more expensive materials I have been investing in PreciseBits (http://www.precisebits.com/). Everything I have bought from them has been exceptional. I’ve gradually built up this collection over time to ease the blow to the wallet.

For profiling / pocketing:
1/4 in. (0.250 in, 6.35 mm) 2-flute fish-tail end-mill, 1.40 in. max DOC, 4.0 in. OAL, 1/4 in. shank

For v-carving:
V-tip carving / engraving 4-bit set (1 each 30°, 45°, 60° & 90° tools)

For sculpting/carving clearance passes:
1/4in (0.2498 in, 6.345 mm) dia. 4-flute 0° Tapered Ball-nose Carving bit, 1.00 in. max DOC, 1/4 in. shank, 2.5 in. OAL

For sculpting/carving final detail passes:
1/32in (0.0313 in, 0.775 mm) dia. 3-flute 6.2° Tapered Ball-nose Carving bit, 1.00 in. max DOC, 1/4 in. shank, 2.5 in. OAL

For cutting plastics:
0.1250 in. (3.18 mm) micrO-Flute 1-flute upcut thermoplastic cutter, 0.250 in. max DOC, 1/8 in. shank, 1.50 in. OAL

Other Specialized Bits
Some specialized bits that I have purchased for various projects.
From Drillman1 on ebay for engraving coins:


And some misc bits from amazon for engraving:


Do those bits last long? I am looking into getting some bits for plywood and those look great!

I’m about to cut some melamine paneling. I was planning on using a two flute spiral down cut, what do you guys use? Anything I need to know before cutting melamine? Also, it seems the consensus is two flute upcut bits for acrylic? Is that right?

Alan. I was going to pick this one up to do my wastedboard. Mind sharing what your settings were for that 3/4" wasteboard bit from sears? From what I can tell on the speed calculator, I can’t even get a 3/4" tool close to a proper speed with an x-carve. I’m showing at 300IPM feedrate I need to have a spindle speed 6,000rpm, and I can’t even get close to that.

I have a “bit” of a question. I want to perforate 3/16 in ABS with my new X-Carve. None of the bits that came with the unit seem to be what I need for a simple plunge hole. Any recommendations?


Don’t plunge/drill.

Use 1/8" end mill and cut it as a pocket.

I’d say do a bore operation with a 1/8 bit rather than a pecking if you want to achieve a 3/16" hole? That way you don’t have 100% engagement but you’ll clear the entire hole of material. Or watch this for a few options and see what’s best for you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKbEzSleF14 @TodJones

Yeh I’d agree with you there for speed if you used a drill bit. But as he needs a 3/16 hole he’d need either a drill chuck with a 3/16 drill bit or 3/16 bit with 1/4 shank. Or if it’s not something he’s going to do very often or doesn’t want to invest in the extra tools then using the 1/8 bits that came with xcarve I’d go with a bore.

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And 8mm collets can be bought to 611 :slight_smile:

What’s funny is I just read some CNC articles on Woodworker Journal and they said not to use downcuts on MDF. LOL When I see articles like that in magazines, I wonder how much expertise the author really has or is he/she just repeating what they’ve heard from others so they can go to print on a “new” technology. (New as in for hobby use).

I trust the people’s judgement in this forum much more since I’ve seen their work and know they are beating their heads against the gantries of CNCdom nearly every day. :slight_smile:

If Robert or Phil or several others say a particular technique works yet it goes against mainstream publications… I got with the locals here.


Avoiding downcut endmills/router bits in MDF makes sense since the dust expands after cutting and will fill a slot if there isn’t some means to evacuate it.

Ok guys, what’s your favorite 1/4" bit for hard maple. Every bit I get dulls out quickly when doing long mills on this stuff. Any recommendations would be appreciated.

I’ll take a look! it’s not really the cutting issue, it’s the longevity of the bits.

These are very durable. There are also a couple of coated versions that are supposed to increase bit lifetime.

I’ve done many jobs in Paduk, Wenge, Purpleheart, and Bloodwood with the same bit and it is still performing well. (usually at .125 doc with 40% step over pushed at 30 IPM)

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I’ve used the following, that I found on Amazon.
1/16 end mill
30 degree engraving bits

I need to restock after some of my downcut bits have broke, I’ll definitely check out some of the links shared here