Variable cut depth for initial pass

I’m hoping to find a better way to do this… I need to cut a “scoring” pass in my initial cut pass on my projects to prevent tear out. I have an X-carve with CNC4 Newbies upgrades, using a 1/4" compression bit, cutting Baltic Birch. I chose a compression bit as I was seeing tear-out on the top with an upcut and tear-out on the bottom with the down cut.

I’d like to make an initial cut of say 0.01" then increase the remaining cuts to 0.1" to help with this tear-out and allow for a cleaner cut and retain the cut speed through the rest of the project.

The way I am currently accommodating this is by setting my cut depth to 0.1" and using a 0.9" thick block under my touch plate and increasing my material depth by 0.9". Is there any other means to accommodate variable pass depths other than what I am currently doing? I’m not opposed to changing software either.


Well first off, the compression bit will function best if the initial pass is deep enough to engage the downcut portion of the bit, and I doubt that 0.01" is enough to accomplish this.

I prefer 1/8" compression bits to cut 3/4" thick stock as it has a shorter upcut portion which allows me to make that initial pass only 0.05" But a 1/4" compression bit would typically need a pass depth of 0.1" to get into the the downcut part (depending on the specs of the bit of course).

All that Said, the way your doing it is basically what I’ve done in the past, However I don’t use the gapping plate method, instead i use a different gcode sender. OpenBuilds Control allows the user to probe to set zero to the true surface, then you would lift the Z by your desired amount (0.9") then click the “set Z zero” button Effectively performing the same function but without a precise gapping block.
This is probably the fastest / easiest way while using Easel.

You mentioned the possibility of using other software: Vetric and Carveco have the functionality to control pass depth, but the learning curve is steeper, they don’t like overlapping vectors and all of the toolpath assignments can be a more time consuming and tougher process vs easel. I have all 3 (and F360 and Carbide Create) and keep coming back to easel to get the 2.5D toolpaths 95% of the time. because it’s just so much faster to design and toolpath in.

IF Possible based on machine rigidity Another Solution is a full depth cut at a slower feed rate to accommodate chip clearing. . . using a belt driven workbee I’ve taken full depth passes in 3/4" MDF, the Cheap Home Depot Birch and Maple Plywoods. this required slowing the feed, but it resulted in clean surface finishes (no chip out) and an overall faster carve time vs doing faster feed multi depth…

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Hi Seth,

Your comments here really helped a lot. I have kinda muddled through this on my own and not really asked a lot of questions. Your first point is really where I think I’m missing the boat with the compression bit. I’m going to take your advise and drop down to a 1/8 bit and make sure the depth of the first pass engages the downcut. I may also try the 1/4 to check it’s performance.

Regarding the software, agree 100%. I’ve dipped my toe in Vcarve and the time that it would take to fully learn the software has always defeated my productivity, so I tend to design most of my stuff in Illustrator (formerly a graphic artist), save as SVG and import into easel. Everything I do it 2D.

I appreciate the advice! All the best!

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