Day 1 with my new CNC

So I have my machine setup. Watched the 47 hour how to video. Lol It was great to learn so much about the machine and parts and thought that went into the design. So now what? I’m hitting a wall trying to learn the software side and what’s best and and and. Are there any detailed step by step tutorials anyone can recommend? Maybe a CNC for dummies?

David: I suggest that you start here on your software journey:

In short, you need a CAD application on which to design your projects, a CAM application to create the tool paths that your Mill will cut, and a gcode sender to interface with your Mill. Your Mill controller reads the gcode and does its thing. Frequently, but not always, the CAD and CAM functions are part of one application. In some cases, the code sender is also included.

In my completely biased opinion :wink:, you should strongly consider gSender as your code sender. That said, you will see others described in the link that I’ve posted.

Don’t hesitate to pose questions that arise from reading the link’s documents.

David, welcome to the community!

I will tell you my Wife and I started in the same boat. Sometimes free=good, but in our case what was free to use online did not = success.

We lived on YouTube for months trying to figure things out, I finally realized one needs good software, one with tutorials we could understand, one with standards for tools, one with community support, etc.

No promotion here, buy what you can afford, one that has support and especially one with a strong user community, on their user forum look at the dates of posts, nothing current? nothing answered, pass it by.

We had to add to our CNC cost some decent software, then it started to make some usable sense. now both my wife and i can design and create the G code needed to carve. Once it starts to make sense our biggest issue is what version g code file worked, then it becomes file discipline, which was the one we wish to save.

It’s somewhat like the guy that buys a lathe for his shop and says this was the least costly investment he had made for his shop, then he discovers all the tools, rests, sharpener systems etc to use the lathe.

My 2 cents


@Davek Bill’s take on this is spot on, David. That said, if you are a hobbyist like me, an application like VCarve can be out of your snack bracket. It ticks all of Bill’s boxes for sure. Another option is to go with a subscription-based application. A very good one, IMHO, is Carveco Maker, either the base or the plus version. Here is a link

It is very similar to VCarve in its menu structure and abilities. Some people do not like the idea of paying “rental” on software. I get that. However, when you are starting out, it may make sense.

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I truly hate subscription software! I have been an Adobe user for years, Photoshop alone could cost $1700 for the last standalone Photoshop CS6, I have been paying monthly for the Photographers plan ever since. It seems the plan works but you become locked in for life. You lose the software if you cancel, you lose your images if you’re using their cloud storage for pics if you cancel. I appreciate their model, very successful, however I resent becoming so dependent of using software that I don’t actually own.

As I retire, loading up my older software, just not paying for it anymore.

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@Bill I completely understand your position, Bill. I put it out there because some of us cannot afford the one-time outlay for VCarvePro, for example. The cost to a Canadian is just under $1000 taxes in. If there is no business income to write that off against, it can be difficult.


I Understand the dilemma, the developers will make it one way or another.
Pay me now or pay me later, or save up and buy what you need…

Thank you all for the suggestions and comments. I’ve stuck with easel for the moment. I decided to learn my machine and what makes it tick and all of that before jumping head first into more in depth software. I have looked at fusion 360 and Vcarve so far. YouTube is my best friend these days. I WILL have many questions going forward. I have all of these ideas in my head and the goal is to eventually make them tangible items in my hand. Loving the longmill so far. Made a few signs and things which have turned out well… not perfect… but not terrible either. Really appreciate the advice and guidance.

I managed to make this which was fun.

@Davek Nicely done, David. You should post this again in the Christmas Contest thread

I’m brand new to CNC but not cad! OnShape is fusion 360 in every way except that it’s free for home user (all files from SienciLabs are done in OnShape) there is also a decent gcode path generator called Kirimoto which is a free plug in.

Side note, kirimoto works with my 3D printer as well so learning 1 software for 2 hobbies is great

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I will definitely check that out. I’ve actually looked into classes for cad locally but haven’t had much luck finding something that fits what I want and my schedule

I’ve heard of OnShape, which has received some high praise from a few YouTubers. Anyone ever used this one? Help!


Every day, is definitely my goto.

With that said, I’m more of an engineering mind. I like straight lines set dimensions. I’m not very organic at all! If you put a rad on something don’t just tell methe size " cuz it looks good." You have to tell me what size you put on it or I feel like my head’s going to pop off… So yeah onshape measurements matter! Where in blender or something of that nature, You can push and pull until you think it looks good, which definitely is not my style.
If you have any onshape questions I’m not a professional. I’m self-taught but more than willing to help