X carve cutting out my tabs

So When i design a word and put in tabs so they dont move and set it up how i assume im supposed too, it always ends up cutting through the tabs and messing up my letters because they shift all over the board or get sucked up in the shop vac. Is that because im cutting to deep? Is it based on the fonts ? is it based on the size of the letter? material? How do i make the tabs stay if im trying to cut out small or any size letter ?

I’m trying to make a sign for my church using birch plywood. so for example this is what i do… I first go to easel, pick font and type my words and size them and all of that, then i set my tabs to keep them in place, then i go up to machine tab and type in 24 x 24 (im a visual person, i like to see what im working with) then i go over set my material to birch plywood - 24 x 24 y .58 z so it cuts all the way through without having to fight it (when it doesn’t cut all the way through its hard to get it out so i make extra sure i cut it out all the way.) then i go up to my bits and i did a straight cut so i would have a smooth top instead of smooth bottom … but its cutting out my tabs also and i need it to not do that!!! IVE WASTED 5 BOARDS OF PLYWOOD TRYING TO GET IT TO WORK !!!


is there any way you can share the project that you are working on?

is it actually cutting tabs? by that i mean do you see the machine Z raising and lowering in the area that tabs are supposed to be?

first. Have you calibrated your Z axis? you need to be sure that the machine is cutting as intended.

second. If you are using 1/2 (.5") plywood, then your thickness setting of .58" is exactly 2 millimeters too thick. you can place 24 tabs around a design, and it won’t matter if they are being carved into the wasteboard. i have NEVER bought a piece of sheet material that was exactly the advertised thickness. my .5" MDF ranges anywhere from .488-.510 in thickness.

i get the idea of adjusting the material thickness to cheat the machine into cutting a teeny bit extra. i do it regularly. but i only add .05-.10"

Thank you so much for replying !! how do i share it with you ? im not sure really of any of what you said lol. im completely new to it and self taught myself. i do know that the machine is just cutting it doesnt even show on the preview board there are tabs…

Chris, thank you for the help. I am going to start over and answer each of your questions.

  1. The project is set with tabs but when the router cuts, it is not cutting any tabs. It is just cutting the letter without tabs and then as you already know it begins to cut into the letter and completely messing up what was cut.

  2. I do not know how to calibrate anything. Is there something that I can pull up that will explain calibration?

  3. We are using 1/2 plywood but when you digitally measure it, it is .53 or more. None of the pieces ever digitally measure 1/2 inch. We then bump that up a little because we first cut the letters using .53 and it never cut completely through the wood.

  4. We are definitely adding too much extra because out wasteboard is completely distroyed. I probably need to buy a new one.

  5. We are just a small home decor company and we love creating but we are not machinist so now that our X carve is a few years old, we are beginning to have issues and have no one to fix them. We are in Knoxville TN and would love to be able to call a service tech to work on it when needed but there is no one in Knoxville that works on X Carves. The machinist around here work on large industrial machinery and they just laugh when I call them.


Before anything else we need to establish the calibration of your Z-axis.
Lower you Z as far as possible, if you have a ruler by hand place it up against the Z-axis and find a reference spot on the moving part. Command a single 3" jog up using Easel, measure actual travel, what is that value?

yes, we can all help out. this wouldn’t be the worst problem these guys have helped sort out

1 Like

The nature of the problem is that tabs start at the bottom of what Easel thinks is the thickness of the material. You said you are setting the material thickness a little more to make sure it would cut all the way through. By default the tabs are only 2mm tall, so if you set the thickness to be oversize the tabs will exist, but cut into the wasteboard. I’m guessing you mean that when you set the thickness to the measured size it cuts some areas all the way through, but not others. This would be because your waste board is not flat and in places where it is lower the bit doesn’t reach all the way through the material.

In any case, one thing you can try fast just to get the tabs back is to set them to be taller - their height is an option in the Easel panel where you set that you want them. For starters just try a value of maybe 6mm and do a carve.

In the less immediate term you’ll want to calibrate your z movement more closely and flatten your waste board - there are tips on this forum for both.

In a pinch I´d suggest the following, say material is 6mm thick:

  • Jog the bit down to the waste board, then jog it 7mm up. (commanded distance, not measured) and use this as Home Position.
  • Set carve depth to 7mm, run carve.
    If the waste board is level relative to Z then it will not carve into the waste board unless stepper motor steps are lost.

There are a lot of us that share your frustration. It’s a steep learning curve. Some ideas:

  1. Get away from Easel. Yes, it’s free, but at least try the free demo of Vectric’s Vcarve. It’s pricey, but I’ve found it well worth it in terms of power and time saved. No connection to the internet (which can fail). Very intuitive although there is a learning curve but lots of video tutoriials.
    2 No 1/2 inch plywood that I know of is 1/2 anymore. Somewhat less. Use vernier calipers to verify the thickness every time you set up a job.
  2. If you want to “cut out” the piece, set the depth to plus 0.02 inches (at least if using Vcarve). Wasteboard will be minimally affected. Maybe apply a sheet of plywood or MDF over the wasteboard to avoid buying another one. You can also “fill” cuts in your wasteboard with some kind of wood filler and then sand smooth.
  3. You MUST level your wasteboard. It’s not that hard and there are articles on it.
  4. You MUST calibrate your X, Y, Z “steps per inch/mm”. Again, there are articles on this.
  5. Carving is a lot like playing the piano. The more your practice, the better you get. Pick smaller, simpler, projects to speed up your learning. I generally start with simple pine because it’s cheap. But, always use hardwood for the final carve. In any case, different woods have different results. I always expect “tweaks” before the final carve.
  6. Make sure you have an “UPS” for your machine and computer.
  7. Sometimes, computers don’t “service” the CNC fast enough and the carve quits. Maybe because you’re trying to use the internet at the same time or another software or a virus checker is working in the background. Turn all these off until you get confidence in the CNC interface.
  8. Don’t “punt”. Many users have had some kind of problem that gets solved.