FreeCad Tips and Recommendations

I recently learned the basics of FreeCad and have been using it to design things for my 3D printer. I thought that Fusion 360 would be a better choice for the 1F based on the tool paths. After getting very frustrated trying to design in Fusion, I’ve decided to at least get started with FreeCad tool paths. I’ll continue learning Fusion but the 1F table is done and I want to make some wood chips NOW!!
Anyone using FreeCad who can give me some tips and recommendations on setup and warnings about “gotchas”?

Hi Jeff,
I downloaded FreeCad and have spent a few hours playing with it. I’m waiting on the delivery of my CNC so I have no practical experience to share. I’m okay with the design aspects of FreeCad but completely in the dark about the post processor. I know that FreeCad is open architecture and you can literally write your own post processor but I don’t want to do that and assume that you don’t either. That said, it DOES export G-Code and the BuildBotics controller is supposedly able to handle G-Code but there are nuances that until I can test, will remain a mystery. It would be WONDERFUL if FreeCad just plain worked, start to finish, but that’s probably a pipe dream. I suppose one could just run the STL into VCarve and use their post processor. I would rather not have my computer cluttered with a bunch of confusing ‘stuff’ and I want to keep the learning curve(s) under control. You’re the only other person I’ve seen out here that has shown interest in FreeCad. My goal with the product is to use it in my shop for guitar making. In particular, I want it to carve neck shapes.

I use F360 and, more recently, VCarve (I believe it is easier for 3d model carving footpaths). I’ve had a go at freecad quite a few times.

I believe F360 has more functionality than freecad, but I have not done a side by side comparison.

I think F360 is just as easy as freecad (if not easier) for modelling but has the advantage of a built-in cam (which is good, but I find it tricky with more complex 3d model paths).


1 Like

I just downloaded Fusion360 because although FreeCad can open one, apparently it cannot output/save an STL file.

This is a file saved with FreeCad: 'MakitaSwitchStop.FCStd’

That’s a hurdle I don’t need. Even though it can run a G-Code post processor, the proprietary file extension makes renderings ‘unreadable’ in other 3D software that use the more common STL file extension. File transportability is kind of a big deal for me so I’m going to stick with the ‘standards’ (…‘standards’, ha! that’s pretty funny!).

If you discover that I’m in error with my observation(s) please accept my humble apologies and kindly set me on the right path. :yum:


Hey Dale,

You are. Try File > Export …


Further Reading

Export to STL or OBJ - FreeCAD Documentation
Import Export - FreeCad Documentation


…and then some - Excellent! Thanks very much!


When you double click the drawing it selects the entire thing. Then File …Export and choose STL. I use it all the time for 3D printing. I load the STL into Cura or SuperSlicer to make the G-code for printing.
Setting up tool paths and Post Processing is a whole other animal. I thought I had a job set up to create my spoil board but the holes didn’t go thru. The counter bore sections were there but no thru hole. This kind of stuff drives me crazy (crazier). Even so, I’m happy for the counter bores because it’s my first real programmed job. I know it’s just an ID 10 T error. :wink:

1 Like

So I am, once again playing with FreeCad. I am working on a counter top stand for cutting boards etc.

The model will use a spreadsheet form to enter size parameters that will drive the dimensions of two parts based on sketches. The parts will then be but into an assembly.

Each part will have a PATH workbench that will cut the part out on the CNC.

Is anybody else interested in working this with me?

1 Like

Sure - Sent you a message

Hi, FreeCad definitely can output .stl files, I’m away from my pc atm but I think it’s Export rather than Save As.
I know this is an old post and you’ve prob found this out but have replied for anyone else searching.

1 Like

I too have used FreeCad for several years with my 3D printer. Having used industrial CAD/CAM software I can say that FreeCad rivals what would cost $$$$.

And I also am in the wishful thinking stages of getting a CNC machine, after having run CNC equipment for over 25 years in a Machine Shop, I miss being able to make things. Just need to ease the wife into the idea of getting one first. :slight_smile: (Happy wife, happy life)


Hi Ron,
Sorry about the late reply. I was out of town. I went with a Onefinity Woodworker X50. It’s set up with a 3-hp, reversible, variable speed, liquid cooled spindle instead of the Makita router they recommend. I know there are less expensive CNC machines out there but I wanted accuracy and reliability, soooo… Anyway, the Onefinity Buildbotics controller uses the linuxcnc gcode from FreeCAD. I’m a neophyte with both FreeCAD and the Onefinity CNC machine. I’m having a good time with the challenges though. Feel free to email me at if you’d like to correspond outside of this forum. Thanks! Dale

1 Like

Hi Dale,
Thanks for the info. I am curious about who makes the spindle you are using. A router is not made for long duration running like what you would see in that application. Plus seeing as I have machined metals for the last 45 years, I am sure I will be wanting to do some of that as well, although at a greatly reduced cut depth and feed from what I have been used to, but then I do not have a 30hp 3 phase motor and 80,000 lb machine either.


1 Like

Back to chime in …

First FreeCad, I am looking at creating a Masso post processor. The Forum’s recommendation was to start with a Fanuc 6 … so the one in FreeCad is only ~650 lines of Python so giving it a whirl.

My machine is a Elite Foreman with 2.2 Kw spindle air cooled with ATC. The spindle manufacturer is CNCDepot, but the package is put together by I have machine serial number 000002. I will be making lots of youtube about it.