New to CNC Design

Hi every one. I am a complete noob when it comes to CNC design and was wondering how you all learned how to design. I have been working with sketch up mostly which I also very new with.

Here is the product that I have created.

For the most part everything is at the correct dimensions that I would like the carve. One un expected thing happened when I rotated around to the bottom of the box. When using the push pull tool it was moving the the lines up and down instead of re scaling them like it normally does. (I want the bottom to be flat)

Any one have any ideas as to why this would be happening?

Also what would be the next steps into getting this set up on Easel to carve? I know that it needs to be a .svg file but it does not appear to be able to export in that format.

Any help for a good would be greatly appreciated. And if any one knows some where a good place is to go learn how to design for CNC that would be greatly appreciated!


Hi Ryan,
Designing and machining is different propositions. Designing models like you’re showing is the job for any 3D design Software like 3D Fusion, Autocad, TurboCad ETC.
When comes to machining that design, which the machine we have X-Carve only capable of running 2.5D not 3D.
lets say we cut also botom plate on this box design and make it 3 pieces, it is possible. All we’re doing is after finish design, we’re generating some kind of machine language called G Code. The secondary Software takes this G code and communicates with the CNC Router by sending all those codes line by line to little tiny board named Arduino, Arduino sends signals to another controller board, other controller board controls every other gizmos on the machine like Steppers, spindle.

Short story, if you planning to dive into CNC Routing business could be for profit or Hobby, this is the chain. The key is creating design. Generating G code is the easy part.

I hope this puts a little flash light to your question.

Forgot to mention that, first you have to plan buying CNC Router, on that part, click on Inventables X-Carve configure yours today then join the club.

My first thought about the push-pull operation is to be sure to pull up the inside rather than push the bottom.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, a product that works within SketchUp is SketchUcam. It enables you to define toolpaths and generate gcode, which can be 2.5D or 3D. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but it might work for you.


The X-Carve in a standard configuration and using the standard electronic and software is best suited for 2.5D single tool machining. It will do 3D machining but is limited to 67mm part height and then running tooling that is long enough to cover that distance is a problem.

The parts you have shown are best suited to multi tool operations. If you want to tap the holes in the box for screws to hold the cover on you need to drill the holes with the correct tap drill size. That is a problem with your machine.

You are also doing an outside profile and you will need to figure out how to hold the material. Depending on the material you may be able to set up you Gcode to have tabs that leave the part attached to the parent material when done.

As to design software. Fusion360 and Onshape are good new programs for mechanical design. They are free for the hobby user.

I am not familiar with Easel but I believe at this time it has limited CAM features. A good CAM program is CamBam

Well of course I have an x carve. Not sure why else i would be on here asking for help! So how would i go about generating the G code for this design then?

For sure i plan on running different codes to bore out centre and the different holes that will house rare earth magnets not screws. No tap needed. The out side profile is for visualization only. Will be rounding the edges on the router table.

Sorry you where not clear on that. Some good guys coming to forum and asking questions to prepare buying equipment.
So you must use your drawing software to generate that.

Fusion360 have CAM option to create Toolpath. After creating, select all, copy/paste to notepad and name it something with extension .nc, .Gcode or similar

Generating Gcode. One way is exporting your part as a DXF file and import it into CamBam.
Then for the box inside you do a pocket with the top of the box at Z0 and pocket to depth in multi passed using feeds and speed that fit your material and chosen tool. Gwizard is a good program for figuring those feeds and speeds.
Next you will want to drill the holes for the 4 corner holes. Start with a center drill and then the tap drill.
Last you will do an outside profile with holding tabs. Leave a .01 roughing clearance. Then do a finish profile to take off the last .01 Be sure to set up holding tabs at the same location as the tabs on the roughing pass. Again make sure to get your feeds and speeds correct.

You would do basiclly the same thing for the cover just not as deep. You will also do to out side profiles. One for the lip that locates the lid and one for the outside profile of the lid.

Hope this helps.


PS you could also spend $15K on a CNC milling machine, CAD software, CAM software and tooling. :smiley: :smiley:

So unfortunately this is really just confusing me more. I am surprised no one has done a you tube tutorial or something along those lines for someone who is very new to this and needs to gain some knowledge on how everything works and how to put the idea in my head onto the computer to carve on my 1000mm X carve


Yes when starting out from ground zero CNC machining is very confusing. One thing you may want to look into is getting a book on CNC principles. There are several out there and can really help the noob.

I’ve been a machinist for 30 plus years and I forget that other folks are just starting out and may not understand what I am talking about when trying to help.


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I think i know what you are asking, i do not have my XC yet but i have seen just about every video on YT and here is one that goes over the workflow for making an item that might help you get on the right track.

Hope it helps.


Thanks a lot Aaron I will give it a watch. Really hope it helps! Just need something to start me on the right track

This is exactly what i needed. Thanks a million!

Hi @RyanBell

I see that @AlanDavis @BillArnold and @DavidSohlstrom have chimed in and I will second Fusion 360 or even using SketchUcam with Sketchup if you wanted to create this object in a 3D environment and also make the tool paths in the same application. It would go something like this:

Design in say Fusion 360 > Generate Tool Paths in Fusion 360 and save each Tool’s tool path to G-Code, then send them to the X-Carve with Chillipepper or Universal Gcode Sender.

Getting into a discussion about a 3D workflow may be useful somewhere, but here’s the thing though… since you plan to just make pockets for magnets, this is just a 2.5D object, unless I am missing something. You are correct in thinking that the next step might be to head over to Easel. Keeping it simple is usually the best solution.

Since you want the bottom to be flat this could easily be just an SVG imported into Easel and then cut. Easel is more than capable for what you need with this part.

Would you mind sharing the file or at least the dimensions? I wouldn’t mind quickly making the part in Easel and sharing it and writing up what I did, so you would have something like a tutorial specifically for the part you are trying to make.

That would be amazing @sketch42. I have attached the sketch up file. All dimensions are correct on there. Box with magnets.skp (185.6 KB)

Cool, thanks. I’ll try and get this to you as soon as I have a few minutes to work on it.

Greatly Appreciated!

Props to @sketch42 for taking time out to do something like that. That’s why I’m totally digging this community!


Ok, here goes:

First, you could export your vectors from SketchUp as seen here:

You could also use these dimensions to create the vectors in Inkscape or Illustrator and for the purposes of this tutorial, I’ll be doing this with Illustrator. I’ll also try and keep this post as short and simple as I can, so if you find you need more information on a specific step, then feel free to ask.

Steps in the process:

  • Create vectors in Illustrator based on dimensions
  • Save vectors to SVG
  • Import SVG into Easel
  • Set depth (this is basically taking the place of the extrude that you may have done in SketchUp)
  • Carve

Create Vectors
This process is pretty straight forward for most vector based apps, but just in case here is a short video:

Save Vectors
Even more so than the last step, this process is even more straight forward, but just in case here is a short video:

Import and set depth in Easel
Ok so here I am pretending that I am going to be carving these parts out of a single block of wood that is already the height of our tallest part… so 1.5 inches. as a side note, I would probably go about milling these from separate pieces of wood, but there could be good reasons for doing it this way

Again, it is probably easer to see it in the video, so here you go:

So now you would follow your normal process for carving. Some things to think about:

  • can your bit fit the depth of these pockets (if not, then adjust)
  • if your bit can’t fit the pockets you may want to stair step the outer pocket to accommodate the collet nut
  • have you measured your bit? (seriously… the package may say .125" but measure with calipers twice)
  • how are you clamping this 1.5" tall piece down? (I would probably go with cam style clamps)