Best / Simplest Software for a Journeyman X-50

My wife and I are looking to buy a Journeyman X-50, mostly hobby work. I have just started looking into the software side. I am a 3D CAD designer / Teamcenter Admin by day mostly using Siemens Solid Edge and past experience using AutoCAD and Microstation products. I have written G-codes and used MasterCAM many years ago in school. The 3D modeling side will be no issue for me and I am assuming most of the CAM software will allow for a parasolid file to be imported.

As per my wife she will be using the machine also, see has experience using a Husqvarna Iris Embroidery Sewing machine and a Cricut (paper cutting) machine. Each of these come with simple but easy to use software.

I am looking for the best options for both of us.
VCarve Pro - Sounds good but a little pricy for me to start and I don’t like the VCarve Desktop limiting you to 24"x24".

Fusion 360 - Sounds a little difficult to learn for my wife. Will the free version of Fuion360 allow for a parasolid file to be imported? I am not a fan of AutoCAD as I find it to be one the most difficult CAD software to learn and use but maybe fusion360 is better.

Easel? Import parasolid files?


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I used vcarve desktop and fusion360… The 25x25 has not limited me as I have not needed bigger yet. My journeyman gets used so I have real-estate to do multiple cuts using offsets

Not sure about file import


I use Fusion (engineering background with CATIA and SOLIDWORKS) and I have been able to teach my wife with little difficulty. She defers to me for the CAM side of things because it intimidates her a bit, but she has posted code without my help that ran just fine.


Since you are already familiar with Solid Edge, you may be able to stick with that…

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Thanks. I did Beta testing for SE 2022 but I did not remember seeing this, I checked my notes and did not see it either. They must of slipped it in and at the time I guess I was not looking into CNC. I will load SE 2022 up today and check it out.

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First my background is a bit like yours. Mech Engineer who wrote software in UG’s NX open.

I bought a copy of Vcarve pro, and it is definitely worth the money … it is well done. But it’s target audience is a SINGLE piece being cut, not an assembly.

I am starting to use FreeCad (Open Source) it is full 3D, supports parametric modeling via spreadsheets, has a PATH workbench that generates G-Code. Now I have yet to cut chips on my !F but it sure looks encouraging.

My first use case is a parametric counter top stand for cutting/cheese boards. Second use case is a parametric craftsman style drop leaf end table … as in four of them. Most but not all machining done on the 1F.

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Not sure if that’s really the case. Especially with support for multiple sheets, layers and indexing. I just did a 4x8 sheet layout for the pieces needed for a child’s desk & chair. My biggest challenge is accounting for the 32" Y-axis limit over the 96" length & the need to create GCode files for every operation - long projects make that even more irritating :slightly_smiling_face:. Most of what I do has multiple pieces for assembly off-table. I think VCarve’s ability to work with our individual approaches & mindset is one of its strengths

Jim, did you design the desk in VCarve, or did you visualize the desk in your head?

Making sure that all the pieces fit together in 3D space as an “assembly”, I believe is out of scope for VCarve. ( I still think VCarve is a tremendous application but sometimes you need a truck not a car)

For me getting the design right before I cut parts is important. I am terrible with get proportions right in my head.

For me, being able to get a 3D color image of how the entire deliverable (not parts) looks is important.

The original poster also said he was a 3D Designer so my guess is they are familiar these type of applications and capabilities… and besides FreeCad is free, even commercially. At most they loose a few hours … but I would still buy VCarve too.

(By the way Jim, I very much respect you and comments)

TLDR: neither for the desk (not my design), it depends for other projects.

Long version:
Actually the design wasn’t mine. It’s from a project called Makers Unite out of Baltimore MD making flat-pack desks to donate to kids who don’t have a desk - especially with families where folks are now working from home without a proper “office” or work setup.

The design is provided in a PDF which I imported into VCarve into a 4x8ft project (it takes 1 sheet of 18mm or 23/32" plywood - nominally 3/4"). Then I created 3 “bands” of 32" and arranged the pieces into those bands. The original PDF version works for the nakerspace’s 5x10ft Laguna. The 1F requires a modified approach.

I could have then set it up as a tiled project where I’d slide the 8ft sheet down in 32" sections. But since I can do it all with 1 bit (1/4" compression), I chose to do it as 3 separate sheets within VCarve using a 48x32" material size for the chair, desk sides/legs and desk top & back as the key pieces for each one. If I needed to use multiple bits in each section I’d tile the design so I could do all of one bit in the full 8ft length sliding it forward & back as needed and then switching bits and continuing the process. It’s all in how comfortable you are in doing oversized projects, either way will work.

I added a cutline for the router to cut each section off so I can slide the next section into place. I can also just use a saw to cut the sheet into 32" sections. Depends on how lazy I am :slightly_smiling_face: But someone who doesn’t have a track saw or something might want to let the router do all the work so each piece has “factory” type precision in keeping the cuts square. In that case they’d simply feed the sheet in from the back, do the first section. Pull that section off the table, slide the sheet forward 32" and do the next section.

Within each sheet I have different layers to make selecting vectors easier for the 5 operations needed for the project - drilling some holes (using a spiral profile operation in VCarve), 2 different depth pocket operations for the leg joints, one for the cutouts for the larger tabs & slots used for wedges and “artistic” openings that also help reduce weight for shipping, and the final profile cut for each component.

So that’s why I disagreed with your post that VCarve is single piece focused vs assemblies. This desk project has 3 assemblies each with 2 parts - the chair, the desktop and the legs. From the perspective of designing & visualizing those assemblies in the VCarve software, you’re spot on - you can’t see in VCarve how those assemblies are all going to fit together. VCarve is more 2.5D than 3D even though you can also do 3D carving with it.

But with regards to the general design question you asked in terms of VCarve vs design in my head for these very much 3D types of projects, it’s an “it depends” answer. Sometimes I do a rough pencil & paper sketch and then go straight to VCarve to draw out the component pieces. In other cases like when I modified Drew Fisher’s plans for my tilting table with a lot of complicated interconnected pieces, I’ll draw it first in SketchUp and then export the faces into the 2D software - either VCarve for CNC projects or a cut list optimizer for standard woodworking tools.

When I’m doing metal projects, I use Design Spark Mechanical to create the 3D design and then use its unfolding capability to flatten the design out for cutting on my plasma CNC. Then I can fold it back using a brake and weld where needed. That same technique could be used for wood projects “unfolding” the 3D object into 2D flat pieces for the cut and assemble steps.

I could probably just use a single 3D app and then save the flat faces as SVGs and import them into VCarve for CNC router project toolpathing and Sheetcam for CNC plasma toolpathing. But I acquired the CNC tools at different times and developed tool specific workflows that I’m comfortable with. I don’t mind using different software - I’ve been a computer guy almost all my life. (I use a whole different set of apps for my laser :blush:)

Sorry for the book of an answer :grinning:

I am mechanical engineer that has done CAD work on Catia and IDEAS. I bought Vcarve pro and have used it but much prefer the Fusion 360 (Free version). It takes a bit to get to know the CAM side but its well worth it and more adjustable for toolpaths than vcarve pro. If you plan on doing lots of signs / lettering I hear that vcavre is the way to go.

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Jim, once I get over the tool envy … I am assuming the desk(s) will be donated? I too have the Journeyman and if you are willing to share the file, I could make a couple and donate them to a city school. (My wife and I made 85 wooden cars to donate to a Appalachian Christmas drive… next it will be doll cradles, so it is not just boys making toys for boys)

I agree with the tiling aspect. I can do it with good results but it is a pain in the butt.

I am actually playing with FreeCad more and more. It has a CAM workbench called PATH. I have yet to cut chips with it but it looks promising.

Thanks for the long reply … though I am still envious.

:slightly_smiling_face: I taught CNC classes at our local makerspace for years so I acquired ones for home so I could work (& learn) without having to drive into the city. Far quicker to do iterations and my wife could wander into the garage at midnight to remind me I should go to bed vs worrying about me in the makerspace late at night.

The desks are for donation. I also work with a national group that makes beds for kids so it fits in pretty well. A lot of low income or single parent households have issues just keeping a roof over their heads much less buy furniture.

My wife figures it keeps me out of bars :rofl:

Very cool. Where are you located? We’re building a house in WNC in the mountains.

I’ll send you the files for this version. It’s good for kids up to about 10 or 12. The desk height is only 25". I’m working on making a taller version for teenagers - but that will still fit on a single sheet of plywood. I’m trying to keep it in the 32" Y axis limit so I don’t need to index it. Otherwise it’s harder for some folks to do. I’ll keep you posted.

I am in Cincinnati Ohio.

As the saying goes, “Happy Wife, Happy Life” … I was actually able to get her involved with the shop.

She has a love hate relationship with the 1F. She has a scroll saw and made a few trivets … the I cut them on the CNC … she was no longer happy with her quality off of the scroll saw. A dozen trivets later … all gifts… I am yet to make any money on those … chuckle.


I checked out Solid Edge 2022 and Cam Pro has not been added yet. It sounds like it might be soon.

I have been playing around in Fusion and found it not too bad for the CAM side and I was able to import a Solid Edge file via a Step file and create tool paths.

I place my order last week for a Journeyman and now I just have to wait. I started designing my table and waste board and looking into projects to design and build.

They are saying it is a separate download available first quarter this year. We’ll see.

I like the CAM side of Fusion well enough, it is just the modelling side of it that I find a little painful.

I am waiting for my machine as well and working on projects as well. I ended up going with Vcarve.

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Well you’re in luck then. There are lots of tutorials on F360 CAD that will get you in a good place. There are fewer CAM tutorials, I find it quite tricky.

If your doing lots of similar sort of stuff then picking one package that does it well is good. As I tinkerer with a variety of different projects I find that having a couple of Apps to hand useful.

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