What bits are essential

I only have the v bit my machine came with think it’s 30 degree round one side flat on the other. It’s done ok for the things I’ve been trying but the finish is a bit rough still.

What bits do you consider must haves for carving?

That’s a little like asking what kind of shoes should I buy? By way of an answer, “it very much depends upon what you’re intending to do with them”.

My go-to bit is a downcut ¼” spiral bit. It’ll make nice heavy cuts for me when needed, it leaves a nice finish and it’s pretty robust so it’s doubtful I’ll ever break one. Mind you, I’m typically cutting out shapes for boxes or furniture.

When carving text, I use a 90 degree bit that takes replaceable carbide inserts. It’s sharp, long lasting and exceptionally good at producing beautiful carves.

For fine work (for me that’s cutting fine wooden gear for wooden clocks for example), I use ¼” shank, 1/16th straight cut bits (mind you, I use these simply because that’s what was available to me).

I have a bunch of ⅛” bits of various type all of which look like they’d be really good, but I’ve never actually used…

This question is a little like the the frequently asked “what woodworking tools should I buy” question. My answer is always - start making stuff that interests you; the tools necessary to do what you’re trying to do, are the ones you need.

Same logic applies to router bits.

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Thanks David

I’m new to the whole cnc environment so am fairly clueless on how it all works. I watched some videos on YouTube and thought what they made looked awesome so wanted to give it a try.

I didn’t realise there were so many options available and to be honest I’ve no idea what each type of bit does.

Will see if I can find a “sample” box with different bits in to try them out.

There’s a bit written up on endmills at: https://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/Endmills including some specific recommendations.

Creating a sample file using various endmills and previewing it is a great way to learn about different options.

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We also have 2 Easel Live episodes you can watch to learn more about bits:

Bits 101

Bits 201

Thanks I’ll take a look.

I think I have all pcb cutters which might explain why my projects aren’t coming out too well

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Thanks Will

don’t buy 1/32 bits they will break right away haha, instead use a 60 degree v bit for detailed cuts

Maybe it’s obvious, maybe not, but it’s also worth pointing out why we use V bits sometimes.

If you wanted to cut a rectangle or to have sharp corners and points on your carvings, it’s literally impossible - a round bit that’s spinning cannot cut a square hole (solve this problem and your fortune is at hand).

What you can do however is to use a pointed bit and vary the depth. Have a close look at some of the lettering you see in the forum posts and you’ll notice all the sharp corners, are where the depth of cut is reduced down to nothing. As a pointed bit cuts deeper and deeper, it’ll make a cut that’s wider and wider. The same happens in reverse, so by varying the depth, you can accurately vary the width of the cut.

V bits are great because you can use a honking great bit that has a nice thick shank, which will probably be stronger than your machine. You’ll probably destroy your project before you’d break it or bend it.

Using this massively strong bit, you can carve nice delicate text and fine details. Really important if you’re a doofus like me and are better at lifting heavy things than creating fancy toolpaths…