I´m a beginner, how many and what kind of bits do i need?

I´ve just purchased the X-carve, and i’m reading everywhere that bits tend to break off, mainly I want to carve signs out of soft wood like pine or mdf or chipboard.
How many bits should I have on hand if I have no idea what i’m doing yet??? and what type of bits???



Get some cheap bits from ebay to start if your afraid of breaking them. Downcut 1/16, 1/8" and 1/4. You’ll also probaby want to get some vbits as well, 30, 60, and 90 degree.

If using v carve software.

Be aware that for some reason the default feed rate is 100 ipm. Which you should never do.

And depth per pass or DOC is default at half of cutter diameter. Which is a good rule but sometimes too deep for the machines ridgidity.

My point is feeds and speeds are a big factor also.

I like to go under 60ipm. (Really 40ipm and work way up from there if needed.)

And .100"DOC or half cutter diameter which ever is less.

Step over I run at 40% of cutter dia.

And down cut is king for good clean edges. V carving is where its at but I still use .125" sometimes even in a v carve project.

Plus different materials respond differently

Great question though. I will never forget my first big project. Ramming a 1/2" em. 1/4"DOC at 100ipm (or whatever the max x carve can do) in plywood (again these were default settings in vcarve.) And I thought well this machine is junk.
But that is how we learn . Trial and error. Good luck.

I run 100 ipm or higher all the time, so why should you never run 100 ipm?

The key thing here is that each person’s experience and comfort level will vary. Trial and error will tell you your best settings.

As Robert said, you break bits when you use the wrong bit in the wrong way.

I find myself using 1/8” bits the most followed closely by 1/4” bits. I’ve got probably 12 different styles, types, etc. of bits because sometimes you need different styles.

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Thats good that works for you. I just found my machine would shake and chatter and loose steps if hogging out too much material.
You are absolutely correct. What ever you are comfortable with and works for you.

Back in the day the usual suggestion (from: http://www.shapeoko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=6921&p=64848#p64848 ) was:

  • five 2-flute 1/8" straight endmills
  • two 2-flute 1/8" ball end endmills
  • two smaller straight endmills (say 2 mm or so)
  • V-carving bits (say 30 and 60 degrees)

This will vary somewhat based on which spindle/collet options you have — you’ll probably want 1/4" versions of the above.

I like to have at least 3 of any endmill I’m using:

  • 1 for roughing
  • 1 for finishing passes
  • 1 spare

Fair bit of discussion and some suggestions at: https://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Endmills

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