Introduction: Create Nameplates With VCarve PRO

With the opening of the TechShop in my city , Heaven came to Earth! (

One of the most amazing machines they have is the "ShopBot": a CNC Router/Engraver.
They have 3 of them, a desktop, a medium and a large size.

Since I started, few weeks ago, I took all the classes required to use the Shop Bot (3) and unleashed my creativity!

In this instructable, I will show you how to use the sotware available for you at TechShop to quickly create nameplates and virtually review the result.

In this way, you can familiarize with the software before you take the ShopBot classes, and waste no time once you can access this fantastic machine!

All you need is a TechShoop membership, and your creativity!

Step 1: Start the Design

First thing, you need to define your design.

TechShop has for you to freely use, one of the easiest and coolest software: VCarve Pro.

So, Open it and click to "Create a new file" (1) and insert the dimensions of the piece of wood you want to carve (2), in my case,9"x6", set the thickness (0.75"), the upper corner as Z Zero, the lower right corner as XY Zero, and leave the rest untouched. Click OK

Step 2: Create the TEXT

Now click on the "T" icon in "Create Vectors" to define the text properties (3).

(4) Write your Text in the "Text" box, select your font, the alignment and the text height.

Text Alignment refers to the origin you defined earlier, and as you can see here, the origin is right of the text.

Experiment to see the different results. Click "Apply" to update the design, and when satisfied, click "Close"

To center the text on your piece, select the text by clicking on it and then click the icon "Center in Material" on the "Align Objects" menu (5)

Step 3: Design the Border

Now, you want to design the border of your plate.

Click on "Draw rectangle" in the "Create Vectors" menu (7), select the Corner Type you want (i selected "Radiused internal", for a fancy finish), draw the rectangle on your design and click "Apply" and then "Close" (8).

Left click on the rectangle and center on material as in the previous step.

Now you should see your text and the border neatly aligned with the material.

Make any adjustment you need and then save the project before proceeding to the next step.

Step 4: Define the Toolpaths

Now it's time to define the Toolpath, the instructions that we will feed to the ShopBot to create your final piece.
On the top right corner, move your mouse over "Toolpaths" (9) and click the little pin to keep the window from sliding back (10).
Select the border you defined earlier and click on "Create Profile Toolpath" (11).
The 2D Profile Toolpath appears (12)
The most critical parameter to define is the "Cut Depth", you want to be exactly the same as your workpiece, so that you do no go over and damage the board underneath (I now, we are just simulating the process here, but better do things right and learn the right steps, you won't be sorry!).
So, measure the thickness of your workpiece and enter it.
Define the machining path as "On", and "Conventional" as the direction.
Since the tool will cut through the material, you need to set "Tabs" that will keep the external shell in place (and, in the real world, will be cut away).
Set the length and thickness, check the "Create 3D tabs" box and click "Edit Tabs": the "Toolpath Tabs" menu appears (13); select "Constant Numer" and deselect the rest. Hit Add Tabs and place 4 tabs  on the border as per figure 14. Click Close, call the toolpath as you like and click Calculate.

Step 5: Preview the Toolpath in 3D

Congratulations! You made your first CNC machined piece!

Once you click calculate, the view switches in 3D and shows the toolpath, with all the passes the tool will make to execute the job. Just click on "Preview Toolpath on the Preview Menu (15) and voila'!

Step 6: Define the Name Toolpath

Now, switch back to 2D view, clicking on the tab at the upper left corner of the drawing area (16) and select your name and click on "Create V-Carve / Engraving Toolpath" Icon (17).

In the V-Carve / Engraving Toolpath menu (18) click "Select" to select the V-Tool, and chose Ball Nose (0.125 inch) and click  OK (19).

After you understand the basic process, you can come back and experiment with different tools and see real-time what's the result look like.

Leave everything as is and click Calculate. The toolpath will show in the 3D Preview window (20).

Step 7: Preview the Name Toolpath

Select the color you want to have the carved path look like by choosing the "Global Fill Color" (21) and click "preview Toolpath":

If you did not anything wrong, you should see your project come to live (in a virtual way!)

Don't hesitate to experiment, you cannot damage anything now, but be careful and take the 3 classes on CNC macining and always, in doubt, ASK THE TECHSHOP STAFF, they are very helpful!

See you soon with more instructables!!


Blown406 made it!(author)2015-05-22

very well documented and great photos to follow along with. Having a machine myself, I would like to mention a couple things that will keep you happy machining signs or other projects.

1. When performing several different cuts, always make the cutout the last step. You want to keep the material as secure as possible while carving or machining out the inside and then perform the cutout step last.

2. I cut up a sheet of MDF the size of my project and practice on that before cutting out or engraving on my expensive piece of Myrtlewood or Oak. Pine also works well and it is much cheaper to work with.

Happy carving.