I am an absolute beginner to CNC

Hi everyone.

I have been creating fine art, rustic home decor, and custom signs for 10 years. I have been creating my custom signs with MS Publisher and transfer the design onto the wood with graphite transfer paper. I then taking the design out to my workshop and route it by hand with a plunge router. This method is very time consuming and there are times when the router would jump, or bump causing irregularities in the design.

I have been wanting a CNC machine for several years so my work looks nice and clean.

I purchased the LongMill in December and it should be delivered some time in March. This gives me time to learn CAD/CAM before my machine gets here.

I have been watching beginner CAD videos on YouTube.

WOW!!! I have a lot to learn!!

I have downloaded several trial versions CAD programs to try and decided on VcarvePro. I am now getting comfortable with the software and should have plenty of jobs set up to run.

My next step is to learn how to set up and run my machine as an absolute beginner.

When I 1st start learning a new skill set, I get overwhelmed in the beginning but I keep at it every day.

I already have a wood shop set up and need to do some rearranging for my CNC table. I have 3 months to do so and will be ready.


Like you, K, I have a full wood shop in my basement, but am a beginner to CNC.

I received my LongMill a few weeks ago and I am playing with rigid foam as the medium until I have the confidence to proceed with wood.

Since you are going to use vcarvepro, I suggest you look on Youtube for Mark Lindsay. He has a series on vcarve for absolute beginners, which is very good.

Yes, I am watching his series. I am on #8 absolute beginner training video with him. He is a good teacher. There are some training videos on the Vcarve site, but they move too fast for me.

You have the pro version, that supports the larger machines? I am really, really on the fence about getting it. I keep running into walls and problems with the freeware offerings. some support svg, others support dxf, I run into problems converting between the two, etc.

For vcarve, they have a ton of tutorial projects on their site, you can download, and then follow the video to get to the same or nearly the same end result. I tried that with the trial version. The advantages seemed pretty clear - for example for me to try to create a v-carved inlay coaster, I would need to do the vacarve and inlay work in F-engrave, then use some other software to create the tool-paths to cut it out. In vcarve I can do that all in the same design file. And it would save the weirdness about toolpaths, I have to do a bunch of gyrations in f-engrave to get my feeds and speeds sorted for clearing.

I would make sure you attempt all the training stuff to make sure you learn it, I followed along with a bunch of Fusion 360 tutorials, just pausing when i needed to. made the skills stick.

Yes Vcarve Pro supports larger work tables.

Yes, I am taking advantage of all the training videos because I want to be up and running when I get my LongMill. I even keep a notebook from the training videos, it helps when I get stuck using the software. I am tinkering around the software getting familiar with all its’ functions. I am still setting up the laptop with more fonts, my photos that I want to use, and I downloaded the software for the LongMill. Next I have to get into some CAM training. I never did this before. Luckly, my brother has been using a industrial CNC lathe for years and he said he will help me.

Here is something I find to be good - There is a piece of software called Camotics which is a Cam simulator. there is a touch of a learning curve, but basically you can import your g-code file and it will simulate the cutting and show you the end product.

It wants you to specify the M6 T### commands in the g-code, which is a simple edit. So if you had a 1/4 endmill you could set that up in your camotics library as tool 1, so you would just add a M6 T1 command to the beginning for your code for it to use the right tool.

It came in handy with my trying to do v-carve inlays - i could add the different tool paths to the same project, and then specify the proper tools and make sure the result looked correct.

Vcarve pro does much better previewing, but, still might be a good tool to check into regardless.


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Yes to G’s answer. I have viewed all of Mark Lindsay’s videos. Very helpful.

We are in a very similar situation. My wife does the same thing as you, but uses a Cricket Maker (read mini CNC??? lol).

Her desire was to step up the sign making to better looking signs. She has been down the stencil, vinyl, and transfer road and likes them all for various reasons.

I have always wanted to get into CNC, so learning is what I am doing now until my “hopefully” March delivery of the Longmill. I currently have a Whittle CNC, which we bought a few months ago BEFORE I found the Longmill. Wish we had waited but oh well. I will sell the Whittle when the big boy arrives. It works fine for smaller jobs and has been very helpful.

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I use Vcarve Pro which has the tool path simulator and universal G-Code sender built in.

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Vcarve Pro is a fully functional CAD/Cam program. You create the piece, set tool paths, simulate it, and then save the G-code. Vcarve Pro also has a universal G-code sender called: “V transfer” which is great!

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I have been shopping around for a CNC machine that would take large material. I stumbled upon LongMill which is exactly what I need and the price was very reasonable.

The desktop CNC models are too small for what I want to do.

I am also updating our house, I have a LOT of ideas for woodworking.