CNC Howto

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There are a few steps involved in cutting an object using the CNC machine.

  • Object design and export
  • Conversion to machine instructions (GCode)
  • Preparing the material and workspace
  • Loading the design to the CNC and preparing the machine
  • Cutting
  • Cleanup



You will want to design your object using a software that can export to a format that is standard for a CNC toolchain. These formats are

  • DXF
  • STL

Programs that are known to work well:

  • Inkscape (DXF)
  • OpenSCAD (STL)


Converting intermediate format to gcode instructions go here.

PyCam / PyCad ?

CamBam ?

Rhino ?

Preparing your workspace

  • Load your cutting material on the platform.
  • Secure it.
  • Make sure you are not obstructed.
  • Know the location of the emergency stop button.
  • Don eye and ear protection.

Load your design

  • Plug a USB stick containing your GCode into the controller machine. Load it with Mach3.
  • Power on the motors.
  • Zero the machine.
  • Make sure everyone is wearing protective gear.
  • Turn on the router and the dust collector.
  • Make sure you can stop the cut at any time by the emergency stop or using Mach3.
  • Begin your cut.


  • Turn of the machinery.
  • Unload your material.
  • Take off your protective gear.
  • Clean the work surface.
  • Remove your USB drive from the CNC Controller.
  • Take photos and and describe your process to the mailing list.

See Also