Best Practices before starting a job

Good day all,
Brand new CNC user, long time woodworker.

I am supposed to be getting my X50 woodworker this weekend.
I have purchased vcarve pro and have been working on designs
I have my table built and ready, I have a 20 x 20 woodshop with dust collection.

I have ordered my “starter bit set”, and my router.

I have been immersing myself in YouTube, and these forums, as well as vectric forums.
I want to create a short list of things to do before I actually start carving.
I am thinking about the top 5 or 10 things that need to be done before starting any job.

examples like:
making sure my work piece is secured and clamps are out of the bit path.
making sure my xyz probe is accurate
hook up my dust collection

Any clear safety measures needed?

Then of course the last checks to make in the vcarve software. (another list :slight_smile: )

I am so new that I don’t know what I don’t know.
This forum and Mark Lindsay (YouTube) have been very helpful.


Hey Mike,

a checklist like this: Ready To Go Checklist?

Welcome to the forum!

1 Like

I’ll give you two more candidates:

  1. Make sure the collet is tight so the bit won’t slip
  2. Make sure the xyz origin matches the origin in the gcode (e.g., lower left vs center of model and/or top vs bottom of workpiece)

… don’t ask … :slight_smile:

1 Like

Welcome, Mike! Not so much a specific item as an approach. I strive to take the same actions every time. Moving from right to left as I move across the front of my table, dust collection on, visual check router is plugged in, dial set to the correct setting, bit is above work piece, move to monitor, make sure it’s the right file, scroll gcode to verify speed is what I just saw on the dial, scan table to make sure nothing will interfere with rails, grab monitor, hover thumb over play, press play, keep thumb poised over pause.

Much longer to type the do…that’s maybe 10 seconds worth of activity, but it’s the same physical movements each time. That’s really what I meant by approach, literally the physical approach to each cut more than the specific steps.


Something to keep in mind - if you’re stressing over that expensive piece of wood that you’re about to carve, and you want to make sure you don’t immediately plunge into the wrong origin point and destroy the piece of wood or hit a clamp, etc…, turn your touch probe on its side and probe the edge of it. That way your Z will be much higher than the stock and you’ll just be carving air. You don’t even need to turn on the router. Hit the play button and make sure the CNC is carving in the same manner as you were expecting. If not, go back to the computer and check your origin points again and re-export your gcode.


You definitively want to make a checklist, particularly if you have tool changes. It’s so easy to screw up a tool change by, e.g. forgetting to probe for Z.
Over time your list will grow to cover small mistakes but the main steps from mine are:

  • In Fusion 360
    • Ensure WCS matches probing
    • Export all the toolpaths at once
  • Secure the part, mount the bit
  • Probe
  • Remove the probe
  • Mount the Suck-it Dust Boot
  • Ensure the machine moves freely and the Suck-it Dust Boot will not run into the clamps
  • Ear protection
  • Open the window
  • Turn on vacuum, router
  • Load gcode and go
1 Like

lately, I’ve been cutting wood and acrylic.
Made a mistake where I used an end mill instead of an o-flute on acrylic.

it was short cut so it was ok but the bit was screaming.

1 Like

Yes I did see that.
I had that as a starting point.

1 Like

I concur with No.1. Just had this happen to me. Buried the bit in my workpiece.

If using a Makita router, it’s advisable to use BOTH wrenches as opposed to the spindle lock button. Many have broken the lower router casting by not realizing how much torque it could withstand.

That said, I’ve only used the button myself, as I typically only run 1/8" cutters that don’t require that much torque to hold securely. Even on the occasions when I do use 1/4" tooling, I’m very mindful to not overtighten the collet.

1 Like

Thank you all for the suggestions.
I have a good beginning list and will add to as needed

1 Like

I do this to make sure I’m not going to plow into clamps or hold-down screws. Sometimes you cut it too close, literally.

Being a woodworker you probably already know this, but don’t bottom out the bit in the router before tightening

For a checklist, I created the following in Excel, printed and taped it to the wall next to the machine. The layout is based on checklists that airplane pilots use.

1 Like