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Vcarve is software for CNC routing, sign making, wood carving, & engraving made by Vectric Ltd. It has tools for 2D design and for calculation of 2D and 2.5D toolpaths. It can import and toolpath a single 3D model (STL, OBJ, SKP etc.). There is also support to import multiple Vectric Clip Art 3D models (V3M) to create advanced 3D assemblies.

Vcarve can output geometry files, toolpath files, and (G-code) files. Vcarve is the typical software used at FamiLAB to generate the G-code files for the 4x4 CNC Mill.

General Description

Vcarve can import 2D designs from other programs and also provides tools for drawing and editing.

The toolpath options cover 2D routing operations such as profiling, pocketing, auto-inlays, and drilling as well as 2.5D operations such as V-carving, prism carving, moulding toolpaths, fluting and decorative texturing. For 3D operations, options include rough and finish the model and projecting 2D and 2.5D toolpaths onto the 3D surface. All toolpaths can be previewed to show how the part will look when it is actually cut; this instant feedback allows toolpaths to be optimized.

Vcarve at FamiLAB


Use Vcarve software to create the geometry you want to cut and to output the geometry as G-code. (Could use Fusion 360 but for router work, typically use Vcarve.) Also can use Vcarve to improve vector images (e.g., .svg files and Adobe Illustrator files) and to nicely nest items onto one workpiece.

Trial Version

FamiLAB members can install the Vcarve Pro trial edition and then use FamiLAB’s makerspace ID to run it as a Makerspace Client Edition. You can use the Client Edition to create and save models and toolpaths but must transfer them to a FamiLAB computer to output the G-code file.

Basic Usage

This describes the basic usage of Vcarve for the 4x4 CNC Mill/Router for a 2D geometry.

Process Overview

  • Perform the job setup.
  • Create the model, which is typically the 2D geometry and its location on the workpiece.
  • Create the toolpaths (from the model), specify the bits, then specify the order in which they run.
  • Write out the G-code file for the specific machine (router).
A separate G-code file must be written for each bit to allow a manual tool change (unless the machine has a tool changer).

Note: The 4x4 CNC Mill/Router has the Z (vertical) axis as positive in the downward direction. {verify}



“File” – “Create New” – fill in the Job Setup window.

“Job Type”: One or two-sided.
“Job Size”: Typically the size of the workpiece.
“Z Zero Position”: Typically use the bed or spoilboard; otherwise, use top of workpiece. (Z-zero must match Z-zero you will establish when setting up the router cut, typically the touch-off point of the bit.)
“XY Datum Position”: Typically use the bottom left of the workpiece. (Must match the location you will establish when setting up the router cut.)
“OK” to exit. (You can later use “Edit” – “Job Size & Position” to get back to Job Setup window.)


You will be put into the Design window (typically on left side of screen).

Go to “Drawing” tab.
Use “File Operations” to open an image or model or use “Create Vectors”, etc. to make a new model (and/or to improve the model or image). Typically you will open a vector file (which can be of many file types).
Use the other tabs (“Modeling”, “Layers”, and “Clipart”) to add to and work on the model. See #Experts and References for more information on these operations.
Save the model.
Click the “Calculate” button. {verify}


Go to the Toolpath Operations window (typically on right side of screen). {verify all this section below}

In “2D Profile Toolpath” window,:
Set “Cutting Depth” for that toolpath.
Select the “Tool”, including depth, stepover, spindle speed (even though not used), etc.
Set “Passes” depth (typically not more that 2x bit diameter per pass) and “Finish Pass” depth (less).
In “Machine Vectors” window, select if toolpath runs on the inside or the outside of the model lines.
In “Last Pass” window, set values to give better surface finish.
In “Tabs” window, typically specify “Yes” and use 3x3mm (1/8”x1/8” ).
Always “Edit”, look at picture & shift as needed.
On “Ramp” tab (for plunging the bit), typically say “No”.
On “Lead” tab, {fill in}
On “Order” tab, specify the order in which the toolpaths should run.
Use up and down arrows to change the order.
Use RMB to select “Edit” or “Delete” for a toolpath.
Typically not use “Start At” and not use “Corners” (unless want sharp corners).
In the “Preview Toolpaths” window, preview the toolpath and the cut part in the workpiece.
Specify “Material”, “Pocket”, etc.

In the Toolpath Operations window:

Select “Save Workpaths”.
Carefully select the “Post Processor” type – typically “Mach2/3 Arcs (Inch)” or “Mach2/3 Arcs (mm).
Select the file format – typically “.tap” or “.nc”. Also “.txt” will work.

You can switch between the Design window and the Toolpath Operations window by clicking the side-tabs on the Vcarve main window.

Experts and References


External Links