Best of the Best: CNCCookbook’s Best Articles

Best Articles on CNCCookbook.

Out of nearly 2000 articles, these are the Best of the Best Articles on CNCCookbook, as rated by you, our readers.

How does that work?

These articles were chosen based on how well they maximized the following metrics:

  • Pageviews:  How popular was the article?
  • Time on Page:  How engrossing was it?
  • Exit Rate:  Did it make you want to leave CNCCookbook, or keep looking?

At a gut level, I know these titles.  After all, I wrote pretty much all of them.  And I can tell you they’re the ones I would have chosen too.

So, without further ado, here they are, categorized just a little bit.

Basic CNC Machining

Feeds and Speeds: The Definitive Guide

Should you seriously consider CNC, it becomes essential to maximize your Feeds and Speeds. The reason being, feeds and speeds constitute the basis for achieving the best:

  • Tool Life
  • Fastest Machining Time (MRR)
  • Surface Finish

Fortunately, it’s not that hard to get great feeds and speeds with the right approach, and this guide will teach you how.

Optimize Depth of Cut and Stepover for Better CNC Milling

Cutting Speed, Feed Rate, Stepover, and Depth of Cut.

Before you can generate the g-code for any given feature, CAM software needs to know those things.   Most CNC’ers calculate Cutting Speed and Feed Rate using science.  Unfortunately, most CNC’ers have no scientific way to choose Depth of Cut and Stepover.  Your choice of Depth of Cut and Stepover will limit Cutting Speed and Feed Rate.

That means we can unlock a lot of potential by adopting a more scientific approach to Depth of Cut and Stepover.

11 Ways to Locate Part Zero on Your CNC Machine

Originally published in 2016, this article providing 8 strategies for locating Part Zero gained immense popularity. Now, I’ve added multiple new techniques to the existing version.

One of the first things you have to do before you can begin machining a part is to tell the machine where part zero is.  Part Zero is the datum corresponding to the 0, 0 coordinate on the CAD drawing that you used for all your CAM work or to generate the g-code for your part program.

Free Master Class?

Beginners:  How would you like to stop breaking cutters and get past all the jargon?

Experienced CNC’ers:  How would you like to take your game to the next level?

I’ve put together a free in-depth email course for CNCCookbook readers.  It’ll arrive in the form of one new lesson each Friday, once a week.  It starts from the absolute basics and goes on to the most advanced topics.  You can skip ahead to take the course at your own pace.
Sign up here in this article!

Tool Setter: Measuring Tools for Length [Tool Data Management]

CNC operations heavily rely on precise tool measurements in terms of length. CNC machinery requires data related to the length and diameter of the tools in order to accurately pinpoint where cutting is taking place. The CNC controller requires information about the tool’s length in relation to an applied standard (for instance, the “gage line”).

Also, knowing the exact diameter of a tool is beneficial because tool diameters abide by a specific tolerance level that can impact the precision of the created parts. In this article, we will discuss how to measure tool length using methods such as touch off and tool setter.

Note:  Chip Thinning & Rubbing is Lesson 3 of our Feeds and Speeds Master Class.  Sign up by clicking the link.

Chip Thinning and Rubbing: two reasons why slowing down may not lead to longer tool life.

A lot of Beginning CNC’ers back way off recommended feeds and speeds in the interest of conservatism.  They think that this will reduce the risk of breaking tools.  After all, how could it not?

But what if going to slowly or taking too light a cut turned out to be the worst possible thing for your Tool Life?

It turns out to be true due to two phenomena called Chip Thinning and Rubbing.  Let’s learn what they are and how to deal with them so they can’t hurt our tools.

CNC Design of Parts: Easy Guide

Note:  This article is part of our Learn CNC Basics: Easy Guide and Tutorials series.

The initial stage in Creating a CNC Part involves Designing the Perfect Part.

Design the part in the CAD software based on sketches, photos, specifications, and any other ideas we have for the part. The part is “Idealized” because we haven’t done any serious homework yet to evaluate how easy it will be to manufacture the part. Experienced Designers will have avoided many manufacturing problems at this stage while Beginners will discover they need to change quite a bit to make the part easy to manufacture.

Who is Afraid of Tool Deflection? [4 Evils + The Cures]

Remember: This is the 4th tutorial in the Free Email Feeds & Speeds Master Class. Click here for more information about the Master Class.

Well, if you’re not afraid of tool deflection, you should be.

But how much is too much deflection, and how should we think about it?

Tool Deflection has four evils:

  1. It can instigate chatter.  If deflection is low enough, chatter in machining is much less likely.
  2. It can reduce tool life.  Deflecting a tool is bending the tool, and we all know what happens when we bend a paperclip too many times!
  3. It can ruin surface finish.  Depending on the conditions, the tool may deflect into the wall of the cut leaving a chatter-like ripple.
  4. It messes with tolerances.  Your CAM software assumes a perfect cylinder, not a deflected bent up one that is thrashing around in the cut.

OK, then what are the limits of Tool Deflection?  Why?  And is G-Wizard Calculator optimistic or conservative about those limits?


CNC Controller: Software, Drivers, & Boards [Complete DIY Guide]

The CNC Controller or CNC Control is the package of electronics and software that take input either from g-code or the cnc control panel and converts it to the signals the CNC machine’s motors need to move the CNC axes.  Every DIY CNC Machine needs one.

In the hobby and entry-level CNC machine world, Tormach’s mills are ubiquitous. They may not be the highest performance machines out there–but they are a tremendous value and so they’re like the Chevy Small Blocks in the engine world. It’s not the same as a Ferrari V12, but you can keep one running cheap and build it up to be amazingly powerful. And like the Chevy Small Blocks, there are hot rodding options galore for the Tormachs.

CNC Routers

This article will walk you through the basic types of software for CNC Routers. Most folks will not use all of the cnc software described here. But it’s good to know what is out there in case you do have a problem one of these cnc software packages could solve.

CNC Router [ CNCCookbook Complete Guide ]

CNC Router users, this is your CNCCookbook home page for information and resources on your favorite wood cnc machine.

Have you thought about using a drag knife with your CNC Router?

Drag Knifes are really handy for cutting soft materials like vinyl, cardboard, mat board, foam, wood veneer, leather, and many others.  With flat sheets, you might use a drag knife to create some custom packaging for some product, for example, or at least to prototype the packaging.

Software, Utilities, and References

Quick Start: Using G-Wizard’s Tool Crib

Why enter the information for a tool you use frequently over and over again?

Our G-Wizard software allows you to manage collections of Tools gathered together under what’s called the “Tool Crib”.  The Tool Crib has its own tab next to the Setup Tab

27 Handy Machinist Calculators and Charts [ Free! ]

Do you refer to Machinery’s Handbook a lot for the quick reference charts?  Do you use online Calculators of various kinds to figure out your machining problems?

I used to, but then I got tired of leafing through thick handbooks and trying to find things on the web at the last minute.  Yes, they’re great resources, but I wanted things to be a lot closer to my fingertips.  I wanted a higher concentration of useful tools.  In fact, what I wanted and needed was a cnc machinist calculator.

Fun CNC Projects

CNC Project Ideas – Wish List of CNC Projects [Dozens of CNC Ideas]

Here are a few dozen CNC Project Ideas to mull over for your next big thing. There is always something more you’d like to beg, buy, borrow, build, or steal!  Here is my list of projects I’d like to someday tackle in my shop.  The easier projects are below and then there’s a whole other section filled with more ambitious projects below.  Also, don’t forget our page of model engine projects!

Machining is often about mechanical precision and function, but not always.  There is a huge body of knowledge concerned with machining for artistic effect.  This article will sample some of the techniques involved.

Advanced Topics

Vacuum Chucks, Fixtures, and Clamping Systems can greatly boost productivity in any shop setting, and they are particularly useful for quick prototyping and sheet work such as signs and electrical panels. In turning processes, vacuum chucks are favored for turning wooden bowls and spheres as they can secure the piece without damaging its surface.

Note:  If you’re looking for information on CNC Router Vacuum Tables, we have a page for that too.