Part 1 – Job Setup, Vector Selection, and Basic Navigation

This article accompanies the first video in a new series I’m creating on my YouTube channel. If you’re not subscribed to my channel, here’s a link. Come on by and check it out. Hopefully you’ll find something you like.


While it might seem like a silly topic to the seasoned veteran, people who are new to CNC in general, and CAD/CAM software in specific, are joining Facebook groups and message forums every day. I frequent a lot of those forums, administrate a few Facebook groups, and am a member of a lot more. As a result, I’m seeing a lot of posts from beginners who have never done anything in CAD/CAM software, asking questions on some of the very basic tasks involved in using said software.

I’ve often thought that these people were a segment of the home CNC hobby that was being overlooked in the video tutorials provided by most of the major software companies, so I’ve decided to take it upon myself to try to help fill that gap.

I don’t claim to be a CNC expert. I’m not. I don’t claim to be an expert with any software title. Again, I’m not. I do know what works for me, however, and if I can help someone avoid the mistakes I made in the past, or at least get to the point to where they’re comfortable enough to get up and running, I’m happy to do what I can.


For the seasoned veteran; I would ask that you please remember that none of us were born with this info. We didn’t just magically start knowing this stuff. Every one of us had to learn it. So if something seems like it should be common sense to you, remember that the person who taught you thought the same thing. No, you probably don’t need a lot of the info contained in this video, or even in this series. But, hopefully you’ll pick up a tip or pointer here or there, or at least get some insight into what the absolute beginner is wanting to learn. Maybe you could start sharing your expertise with others as well. This hobby can never have too many teachers.


For the absolute CNC beginner; don’t stress over any of this. It’s supposed to be fun, remember? You CAN learn this. It’s not always super easy, but it’s never really super difficult, either. Just like anything else you want to do, there is no replacement for experience – and the only way to get that experience is to practice. Get into your CAD/CAM software, and learn it. Draw in it. Calculate toolpaths. Generate g-code. You don’t’ have to cut anything with it – it’s more important that you learn how to use the software than it is to start making chips.


The first piece of advice you’ll no doubt receive is to get into the video tutorials and watch them, follow along with them, and learn what the tutorial is trying to teach you. That IS good advice, as far as it goes. The problem, I’ve found, is that almost every tutorial series assumes several things. They assume you’ve been at this for several years, and just need to know where the controls and tools are in their software package. They assume you already know how a CNC works. They assume you already know what a vector is, how to import files, why you would want to import a file, and what kind of file you’d want to import. They assume too much.

I assume nothing. Okay, that’s not true: I assume the person who is watching the video has never done any of this before, and knows absolutely nothing about it. I HAVE to assume the viewer has used a Windows-based computer, and knows left-click from right-click, etc… But other than that…

I walk a fine line here. I have to keep things as simple, and as basic as I can, without boring the more experienced viewer to tears, and without sounding like I’m talking down to someone. I, in no way, wish to come off as sounding like I’m condescending. If you get that impression from anything I’m doing, PLEASE let me know! Click this Contact Us link, send me a message, and let me know what you think!

I try to talk as if the viewer were sitting right next to me, and I was showing them how I do something in person. In that regard, this video is just a little bit different. If you’ve seen any of my previous videos, you’ll notice that I speak a lot more slowly and deliberately in this video. I have recently begun closed captioning my videos, and that has forced me to pay closer attention to the way I speak. I learned that I tend to talk too fast, and I don’t enunciate my words very clearly. I’m working on that. This is the first tutorial I’ve done since I started closed captioning them, so maybe I slowed down my speech too much – I don’t know. Let me know what you think!


So, why am I doing this series to begin with? Simply put, 3 years ago, I was the guy who didn’t know a toolpath from a stepper motor. I had never been in the same building with a CNC router, let alone used one. I hunted for answers, asked a lot of questions, and followed the instructions and advice of Dave Gatton, Bill Griggs, and too many other CNC guys to name. What I’m attempting to do here is pay back the community that has helped me to learn, by collating the information I’ve been lucky enough to receive, and put it in one location. If I can save a person a day of searching for an answer I have, I’ll gladly do it.


That’s enough jabbering from me. Below is a link to the first video in a series that’s geared toward the absolute Vectric software beginner. In this video, we’ll get into creating a new file, Job Setup, and some basic navigation – how to select a vector, etc…

I use VCarve Pro version 9.015 in this video, but all of the information in the video applies to Cut 2D, VCarve, and Aspire software – both the Desktop and the Pro versions.

As usual, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to comment! If you don’t wish to make a public comment, click this Contact Us link, and submit it to me privately. I read ALL of the messages I get through my website, and I answer as many as humanly possible – unless you’re a spambot. Spambots get blocked – so there.

Remember, beginners – relax, take your time, and enjoy the process. It’s supposed to be fun, remember? You can do this. I’m living proof.

Remember to click that link up at the top of the page to check out my T-Shirt shop!

Until next time, take care and have fun!


This is not an endorsement, paid or otherwise, of VCarve Pro, Vectric Ltd, or any other software or company. It’s just a demonstration of how I work. For more information on, or to download a free trial of VCarve Pro, visit the Vectric website at: