Just purchased Elite Foreman, what prep can I do?

Hey All, thanks in advance for any nudges in the right direction here. I’ve been navigating through the forum all evening trying to find a topic that’d help a noob here, but I can’t seem to find solid answers to anything. Maybe that’s because the Elite series is newer…? If there’s a thread out there that I’ve just missed, I’d greatly appreciate the info so I’m not repeating a bunch of what’s been asked before. However, if y’all are kind enough to answer here, that’d also be greatly appreciated ;).

I just purchased the Elite Foreman, my first CNC. I do a ton of CAD modelling in sketchup for my woodworking so I’m not starting completely from scratch, but I’ll be spending a lot of time between now and delivery learning a new software. My woodshop is primed with excellent dust collection, tons of room, and a lot of material to make a super robust table based on the footprint specs provided in the forum.

My first question is: what gear should/could I pick up in the meantime to be up and running smoothly prior to the actual CNC arrival? I’ve ordered a spindle and will be getting a dust boot (once I settle on one), but any additional recommendations would help a fella out.

I’ve read a bit of conflicting info on how great the Masso zeroes the machine, but does anyone have somewhat updated experience?

I’ve got the 1 year included subscription to Carveco so I’ll likely be using that, but does anyone have other recommendations for SW they prefer? Most of what I’ll be doing are straightforward cuts, but I’ll likely learn some 3D carving once I gain some comfortability and I’m planning on Fusion360 since it’s free for hobbyists. If there’s a superior tool, I’m all ears.

Is a vacuum table worth the extra $? I know that’s a somewhat loaded question as everyone’s budget differs, but Does it make life that much more worth it? Related to that, what’s y’all’s clamping systems that you’ve transitioned to after gaining experience?

Beyond the basic tutorials one can find online via google, this forum, and YouTube search, does anyone have recommendations on a specific content creator that’s got a good library of SW tutorials? I found the sketchup tutorials put together by Jay Bates super useful, for example.

I’m just getting into this so I appreciate y’all providing me with any info that you can. I’m an experienced woodworker but very behind the curve in regards to the CNC world. Looking forward to garnering as much info as I can from this forum throughout the education process. Thanks!

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Make sure you get the tool setter, touch plate, Z Brake Stepper (Not sure what Spindle you got)
But I have the 2.2KW 80mm Water cool, so if you got the water cool then you need a few other things to support. I am using the V Carve Pro software. I have had my Elite foreman now for two weeks and I love it.
Table before I got the 1F

All connected and up and running


Also this is my spoilboard a design from Eigen "The G.O.A.T spoilboard. Lots of hold down options with this design.

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Welcome aboard! No one has done a thorough soup-to-nuts specific to the Onefinity ELITE series. But there are lots of resources out there. Search Onefinity ELITE on YouTube as a starting point.

  1. Gear - dust hood as you mentioned is important. The only other highly recommended item is the Tool Setter. It makes changing bits much simpler - especially for new users. I wish they had things like that supported in controllers when I got started 30 years ago! You will also need some end mills. Don’t go crazy on these and don’t get the expensive ones to start. You WILL break them and it is a lot easier on your wallet to break a $15 bit than a $35 bit. They both will do the job - especially when you are getting started. I recommend a 1/4" end mill, a 1/8" end mill, a 1/8" ball end mill, a 60° V tool and, of course, a 1" surfacing bit. The ball end and V tools are optional if you are just wanting to get started cutting out profiles (simple 2D parts). You also need to think about work holding and what you might need for that. You mention vacuum tables (I’ll discuss this below) and that is one option but not suitable for every workflow. I’ve used it all and each approach has pros and cons. It comes down to what is it you are making and how many of them. Production - even small 10 part - runs require a different approach than one-offs. One-offs need a more flexible work holding solution. Production work holding solutions need to be reproducible and fast (time is money). Since you are getting started and don’t really know what you are going to be making yet, I recommend a basic T-track or threaded insert spoil board approach. These are very adaptable to a lot of situations and easy to implement. I’ve used a LOT of controllers and control software over the years. This is my first MASSO experience and there are many things I like about it and many that I do not. Likes: completely turnkey and highly integrated by Onefinity. This takes all the guesswork out of it. It does everything the vast majority of users need. I don’t know what you are referring to by “how great the Masso zeros the machine”. There are two concepts users confuse - 1) homing the machine and 2) setting the datum (reference) of your part - commonly called “zeroing”. Every controller and software I’ve ever used can do both and do them well. However, homing the machine requires that the machine is designed and equipped with some form of indicators (end stop switches, etc) so that it can be homed. Many home brew machines are not so equipped. That’s fine, there is no magic in homing but it does offer more flexibility and advanced features like power failure recovery.

  2. Software - I’ve been doing CNC, laser and 3D printing work (metal, wood, plastic) for 30+ years and have built from scratch and converted manual machines to CNC. I’ve used most all of the CAD and CAM software out there over the years including some of the really high end stuff. On the software side, it really comes down to finding the best fit for the type of work you do AND the best business model. The 2 big contenders in the small shop CNC router space are VCarve Pro and Carveco. I’ve used and am proficient at both. There are technical differences but they both can do anything you’re likely needing to do on a Onefinity machine. The biggest differences for me are 1) subscription vs desktop pricing and 2) community / support. Carveco is an annual subscription and if you don’t resubscribe, that’s it. VCarve Pro is a desktop license. You are not required to upgrade when the next major revision comes out, so you can keep using your license for a long as you operating system supports it. I believe VCarve Pro has a larger community and an excellent forum of their own. They’ve been around a lot longer. In any case, you can’t go wrong with either - especially for basic 2D or 2-1/2D work. As for real CAD - Fusion is great for many things. It is not great for everything. Personally, I use both Fusion for basic parametric modeling and RhinoCAD for anything “sculpted”. I should add that I do a lot of work on 3D printers and am biased to Rhino as it has superb mesh editing and design tools. Note that some router software has 3D design tools built in. The big brother to VCarve Pro, Aspire, does for example. But I still prefer to do my designs in a true CAD app like Rhino or Fusion and import the model (STL usually) into the CAM application (i.e. VCarve Pro or Carveco).

  3. Vacuum table - save your money and headache until you have experience and a need for it. Even if money were no object, learn how to use the machine and clamp your work properly before moving to vacuum. Vacuum setups aren’t good for everything - for example, designs like an open trellis or parts with many through holes in them become problematic since the holes leak! Vacuums are great for top-side milling/lasering operations in high throughput production situations. I built and used one for years on my CNC mill to manufacture fly fishing reels.

  4. Tutorials - I’ve given serious thought to writing a book on this. I’ve built several small businesses using CNC, laser and 3D printers and have worked in the industry developing software for these machines on both the CAD side and the machine control side. I also am a high tech entrepreneur and have a lot of insight into what to think about when it comes to throughput, pricing, marketing, and all of the other elements of creating a side hustle, small home based business, and larger scale businesses. A lot of people buy a 3D printer, laser or CNC router wanting to supplement their income in some way. There are lot of pitfalls and traps. I’ve seen and avoided a lot of them!

Good luck! Ask questions, do research, and don’t be afraid to experiment! People are good at the first one - asking questions. Not so many are good at the second - doing research. And very few actually experiment. Strangely, you learn more, faster, in the reverse order! (as long as you have the basics and safety considerations under control).


I do like the G.O.A.T. for flexibility but it is more time consuming to construct. But, for many, the journey is the reward and fine tools are a joy to use.

Consider: there are two commonly used types of work-holding clamp attachments: T-tracks and threaded inserts. To the inexperienced user, these look basically the same - they both can hold down your work. But, there is a very subtle but important difference between them that can bite you if you are not aware of it.

T-track - the bolt/shaft that clamps and other devices are held by usually project UP into the work envelope of the machine. Especially the common (and colorful) knobs that are used to screw the clamp down to the work.

Threaded inserts - the bolt that attaches clamps and other devices only needs to have its head project up into the work envelope - a much lower profile projection.

Basically, any object that projects into the work envelope of the machine, that is not the workpiece itself, is a potential obstacle for the tool. A 1/4" end mill (from the cheapest to the most expensive) has no chance against a projecting knob or clamp that is rigidly attached to the bed; i…e the tool breaks.

You can find clamping solutions for T-tracks that are low profile (edge clams with hold down bolts that are sized to minimize projection into the work envelope). And you can also use a knob and clamp that projects too far when used with threaded inserts.

For me, I try to make sure that anything metal does not project above the cutting plane of the workpiece. I use 1/4-20 threaded inserts (I personally don’t use t-nuts as they don’t have a long length of thread and they have to be inserted from below) and have a collection of 1/4" button head socket screws (very low profile) that are countersunk into the clamp itself. Simple, effective, and I haven’t broken an end mill in years.

NOTE: since tho OP asked about vacuum tables - this is one reason why folks like vacuum tables - there is nothing projecting above the lowest plane of the workpiece that can be struck by the tooling. In that respect, any technique that holds only from the bottom of the workpiece is good - vacuum table, double-sided tape, or my favorite, painter’s tape and super glue (or just super glue alone for metal milling).

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As far as accessories go, this Dustboot has been, hands down, my best purchase to date… Nighthawk by Nick of SolaFideDesignsKc

Link for the 80mm 4" version


I grabbed these photos from the web (not mine) but they show the difference pretty well.

This is an example of threaded insert use. The hold down clamp has minimal projection into the machine’s work envelope and, even so, it is is wood or plastic so the tolling will likely not break. Threaded inserts have a longer threaded length and in my case are through holes through the spoil board and table top so long screws do not stick up.

This is a T-track (actually a milled dovetail but the concept is the same). The threaded shaft/bolt that the knobs are threaded on are usually too long and jut out too far up. This photo isn’t terrible but the knobs are still a potential to break a tool.

Note that both options CAN minimize the clamp projection and both can be big liabilities. I just find it easier to work with inserts. Also note that your CAM software provides a “clearance” or “rapid Z” gap that can also be used to clear clamps. However, the larger the gap, the more time it takes to machine/carve the part because every time the tool needs to move from one place to another, it is raised to this clearance height. Also note, that for limited Z machines like a CNC router, a thick part might take up most of the Z height the machine is capable of so a true clearance height might not be possible. I had this problem on my previous router.

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You can use the same type of clamp in the first photo with t track using t nuts like these. T nut

Absolutely you can and I’ve used those types of nuts too - especially in constructing machines using 8020 or other aluminum slotted extrusions. My point is that these type of t-nuts are less forgiving since they have very short thread lengths and also that the bolt will bottom out on the track - relying on the operator to have a selection of different length bolts to choose from. New operators don’t realize that until they’ve broken a few end mills and even then they sometimes don’t correlate why.

My main point is that the operator needs to be aware of clamps protruding up past the work piece surface where they are potential hazards for breaking the tool bit.

One also needs to understand the forces from routing operations - including the type of end mill/bit that is used. Work piece clamping is all about constraining the piece to counteract these forces. A really good example of this is upcut vs downcut end mills. Each has its uses (otherwise there probably wouldn’t be an option!). But from a purely “routing force” perspective, the uncut end mill lifts the workpiece off the bed. So the piece needs to be held down - literally. A downcut end mill pushes the work piece into the bed so very little force is needed to keep the workpiece from lifting off the table. Climb vs conventional cut direction also have slightly different requirements for holding.

All of this is usually a non-issue since we typically over-clamp and over-constrain parts. But it is good to develop an understanding of these cut forces and how to counteract them with work holding for those times when things go astray or you have some unique work holding requirements to deal with.

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Thanks so much for the list, @Woodpecker ! I am planning on going with an air-cooled spindle. My guess is that’ll be good enough to get me started into the hobby and I can upgrade down the line. I dig your setup. I happen to have a ton of 8020 and other bits of extrusion from my work that we toss into the scrap bin. I rescue as much as I can! I like the idea of the G.O.A.T. spoilboard too, but that may be v2 of my spoilboard. The options are impressive but I think I need to put some use on the machine to see what I’ll be going for. Greatly appreciated all the same!

@mhackney thank so much for all the valuable info! There’s a lot of good stuff you recommended. I think I’ll take your recommendation and stick to just the inserts for hold down solutions, at least to start. I happen to have a ton of those in different sizes in the shop and a bunch of 1/4-20 bolts in an array of sizes to boot. You’re right in that I need to beef up my vocabulary a bit; when referring to homing the machine, does the MASSO have this built in or would I need a separate controller?

I’m a fan of desktop versions of anything as I loathe subscriptions. I’m holding tightly to my 12 year old gateway computer because it’s got sketchup on it and I don’t want to let it go. I’ve kind of been thinking I’ll use mostly carveco to start since I’ll have a free year but then download vcarve pro once that’s up. I’m glad to hear you say you like Fusion because that’s likely what I’ll end up with for carving. I haven’t heard of Rhino but I’ll give it a gander too. Big thanks on the input for vacuum table. You should write that book for folks like me ;). And I’m no stranger to research. I’m a scientist during the day, so that’s part and parcel for daily life.

@Dustoff00 thanks for the rec. I’ve been seeing a number of folks say the same thing and I’ve tried to find others that wouldn’t cost as much, but as positive as the reviews seem, it looks like I’ll be picking one of those up as well. I’ve got a dust collection system that purports to pull >2500cfm in the shop, so even in the worst of times, the table should be staying clean.

Thanks for all the info and input, folks! I’m kind of at the point where I’m drinking from the firehose, but all this helps to get familiarized, so it’s appreciated. Cheers!

MASSO and Onefinity ELITE home properly - homing is simply moving the 3 axes to their end of travels that is detected by a switch on the ELITEs. This is - by convention - set up as the front left corner for X and Y and all the way up for Z. That location is set to machine home x=y=z=0. Moving front to back is moving in the positive direction for Y. Moving left to right is moving in the positive direction for X. Moving the spindle down is moving in the negative direction.

I’m also a scientist by education and an engineer by vocation. My PhD is in Chemistry. I know you get it!

Woot! That’s what’s up. Thanks for the clarification.

Jake, where are you located? I’m in Colorado Springs, would like to share experiences if you are interested. I have had my Elite for 1 1/2 weeks, just got it up and running last weekend. I had an accident and then my wife shared Covid with me so I’m running behind my intended schedule.
Thanks, Gene

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Hey Gene, that’s a generous offer. I’m up in the Erie area, so a fair hike away. But I may ping you and the rest of all these kind folks in the coming months because I am definitely interested. How long did it take you to actually get your machine from when you ordered? I ordered mine the Sunday before last, so it hasn’t even been two weeks yet. The website says I’ve still likely got nearly two months until I see the bad boy.

At the time I ordered (Dec 21st) they were quoting 7-9 weeks and it was right at that. The first four boxes arrived on the 16th of Feb and the controller came on Saturday. While waiting I had grand plans to have my table and everything ready to go but that didn’t work out too well. I finally got it running on Sunday and did the test cut that Hamilton Dilbeck has on his YouTube channel and it worked perfectly. I’m hooking up dust control now and hope to be able to spend some quality learening time soon.

Nice. That’s good to know. I watched that video from Hamilton a few days ago. I’m glad to hear that went well. He makes it look easy, but the proof is always in the pudding. I haven’t started building the table yet as I haven’t settled on a design 100%, still CAD-ing it up. Cheers!

Hi Woodpecker,

Do you have a source for where you got the components to build your electrical enclosures? I was planning on doing something similar but if those modular components are available they look like they would make a great option for my plans. Thanks.

I am just using 2020 that you can get from amazon

A better photo, all custom just cut the 2020 to the size box you want to make.

I also have one 2020 above that I slide the water line and spindle cable on with 2020 sliders
Works Great


Thanks for the additional pic. I think I am going to have to take this custom approach as it better suits what I want to do.