Advice from experienced (or learning) software users

I looked through the forum as best I could to find an answer to my question(s) - I am sure the answers are there, but I wasn’t seeing them. I recently ordered an Elite Foreman (arrives August 2023) and have received the link for my 12 month subscription to Carveco Maker. I am new to CNC and design related software and want to get a head start before I receive the unit. When I read through some of the posts there are a considerable amount of recommendations for other CNC software rather than Carveco. My question is whether this is good (user friendly/intuitive) software for a beginner? I see that Carveco has instructional videos for beginners, but if this isn’t great software I would rather invest my time learning something better. I see myself working mainly with hardwoods making signs, other related pieces I can sell, cabinetry components and acrylic templates for woodworking (at this point I’m all over the place). Thoughts?

The answer really depends on what your end use for the software/machine is. I recently bought a machine and it came with Carveco. I’m a very experienced VCarve user, but since it was free I figured I’d give it a go.

It’s more than useable. There was a bit of a learning curve moving to the new program but it will do almost anything you’ll need it to do for hobby use. I do prefer VCarve better, and will likely move back once my free year is up, but save yourself some money for now and run with it.

Edit: Quick edit just to say I feel like going from Carveco to VCarve will be more of a natural step if you decide to change programs down the road. But for the use cases you listed Carveco will do everything you need.

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Carveco is good software. I paid for a year of Maker+ after trying out a couple of the free options out there (Easel and Carbide create). Unless you want to get in other CAD software for some feature or past experience with them, I wouldn’t switch.

The 2 top sets of software for what you describe wanting to do are Carveco’s Maker line and Vectric’s VCarve line. You could perhaps get by with the free software but there really is a step up in capability to the paid stuff, and you have a year subscription to Carveco anyway.

You could choose to buy VCarve and not bother learning Carveco if you think you may go that way later, but I’d say a lot of what you learn in Carveco is re-usable in VCarve. Might as well use the licence you have. Just remember that what you create in one may not be easily transferred to the other later.


@NewsVan thank you for input. You were lucky you had the previous experience with VCarve. Your advice of VCarve after Caveco being a more natural progression is appreciated.

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@Atroz thank you for your response. From the two comments so far it doesn’t sound like there is much of a downside with Carveco and could even be a natural steppingstone to more involved programs.

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When I first compared the 2 a year ago I decided to go with Maker+ mainly because it has support for 3D design where Vectric requires that you go with the very expensive Aspire for that. I found that although I did use the 3D design a bit, it wasn’t such an important feature for me. I went back and looked at VCarve’s latest and found that overall it seemed to do things a bit better at times (I’ve written about some of this in other posts). It’s also purchased vs subscription. So I’ve not renewed my Maker+ subscription and intend to purchase VCarve instead. I know I’m giving up the built-in 3D design and I hope I don’t regret it. I can still import 3D design that you’ve done in a different package.

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Hey Jason,

just as a side note, regarding 3D modeling and designing…


Wow. Okay…this was a lot of great information. Certainly a lot of terms I have heard of (CAD, CAM and Toolpaths) and feel I understand. My impression is that the Carveco software is the CAD/CAM software and will create the toolpaths. Is it not plug and play? I feel that the learning curve would be twofold if I decided to use multiple software’s in the beginning to produce an end product.

Carveco Maker is all you need to get started and may be all you ever need. You mentioned signs and cabinetry components, these are simple to do in a product like Carveco Maker. You’ll do your layout and tool paths in Maker. You’ll have it generate the g-code files that your CNC will then load and follow.

If you get in to production type work where time and materials are more important you may want to invest in software that does more optimization for those. If you want to get in to 3D design work (vs using other pre-designed 3D ‘clipart’) then you’l need to upgrade or switch software. For what’s known as 2.5D work, Maker should be just fine.

Much appreciated. I’m very thankful for your, and everyone else’s feedback.

Hello,i am new to the cnc to but i have 15 years of machine shop work and drafting but it was back in the day before cnc came out i am starting with carbide create the free version i found it on utube i watched so many viedos and it seemed to be the easest for me to understand and get a grasp of what i was doing to a point lol.i do mainly deer mounts for hunting season for the last 9 years by hand planning on expanding my work a lot when i get this new machine witch is supposed to be shipped on the 15 of this mounth after my 5 mounth waite the utube viodes and see witch one you like the most is my suggestion i am starting with carbide cerate the free virsion till i get more use to my machine and then maybe i will upgrade to the others. Happy wood making my friend … from savage wolf design davis oklahoma.

My advice is to not overthink it. I’ve tried a few apps and am a super newbie. Vcarve is a VERY unique app that is great for some tasks. I also have fusion 360… very diff from Vcarve, but different use cases. I’m waiting to receive my foreman before activating the carveco to give me time to try it. In the end, I’ll bet you’ll use a few apps. You don’t have to design and carve with the same app. I have a couple of those I use just for carving. It’s totally a personal choice.