Newbie software help please!

I’m feeling a little foolish as I’m vastly experienced with the router but am finding CNC very difficult to grasp! I have just completed building an Ooznest Workbee with a Duet controller installed but I know nothing about CAD/CAM and am trying to start off simply by converting a bitmap image into G code (Inkscape) but cannot get it to work. Can anyone advise how I can bypass CAD/CAM by using a digitising probe, which one (Centroid?) and what I need to get it all to work? I have the trial version of Vetric Cut2D but it won’t allow file conversion tro SVG or generate G codes. It seems every turn is met by a brick wall. Recommendations of good YouTube introductory videos for a complete beginner? I will likely want to do mostly 2D cutting (eg guitar bodies). Thanks.

I’m fairly new to my OX, but I’m a little further down the path than you are, so maybe I can help, though I can’t help with intro videos…

Are you using inkscape to trace a bitmap image to a vector image?

An SVG can contain a bitmap image, but that won’t help you for generating a toolpath in any tool that wants SVG for the input. For that, you’ll need very specifically a path in the SVG. Here are some non-video tutorials for this purpose:

For guitar bodies, are you going to want to CNC drill mounting holes for hardware, and/or chamfer, as well as cutting out the contour?

I’ve also used FreeCAD to generate gcode for parts I designed in FreeCAD, but it’s been crashing when importing SVGs for me so it wouldn’t fix that, and it is at least my impression that it has a steep learning curve. My opinion is that it has improved in the past few years but it’s still not the easiest software to learn. Probably not what you are looking for right now. :slight_smile:

I haven’t tried Vectric yet though it comes strongly recommended. I’ve been testing CamBam right now for cutting a DXF that FreeCAD did not successfully toolpath; its demo mode is 40 fully-featured sessions which should be enough to make a purchase decision. I have successfully cut pockets and contours with it so far. @Brandon_Satterfield had good luck when he ran Hobby-Fab recommending and reselling it to users who were new to CNC, so that’s another point in its favor.

Thanks for your reply Michael. i have spent hours trying to do this in inkscape. I am completely lost and invest much time trying this and that software. There is no G code file to save to from many file options and I have tried several times to download a requested plugin. I really need to know if Vectric Cut2D is the route to go (upgrading the trial version which lacks the features I need!) The guitars are my own innovation (Jez Broun Ecoustic) but to answer your question there will be pocket holes. my main interest in CNC is profile cutting, surface skimming (2D) and exploring my specialist router cutters. There xseems to be no route to really basic CNC machining without having to have a vast knowledge of all the software involved.

Always good remember Cambam has many hidden little secrets like the ability to cut things from mesh files as well. Took me about 1.5 years but once I could get into all the little things Cambam could do, I never found the need to reach for anything else.

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Its my opinion that starting from a CAD/CAM program is the easier route. If you are going to be cutting guitar parts then designing them in a CAD system in dxf format is a better route that starting with svg sources anyway as dxf is a more universal format for mechanical design. So it might be easier to abandon the SVG to Gcode for now and move to a CAD/CAM design tool to get from design to Gcode.

I started by designing and then cutting simple shapes and verifying their size

The good thing about using a CAD/CAM program is that most will generate the Gcode at the end of the process. Then you just have to get it to the machine. I use Cam/Bam and Fusion 360, more of the later.
Both of these cad programs, more prominently Fusion 360, have lots of videos on their use. Its important to pick a CAD system that is compatible with your controller. I highly value the simulation in Fusion 360 as it is a very accurate rendition of what will happen when I get on the router. Better to crash a bit in software :)!

A basic tool chain will be: CAD/CAM >>Gcode generator>> Gcode sender/management>> Controller.

Mine is Fusion 360 (CAD/CAM & Gcode generator), Chillipepper (gcode sender and machine managment), TinyG (drives machine).

All that said learning a CAD program is not falling off a log, especially Fusion 360. However, having a strong grasp of CAD/CAM and machine programming is worth the investment.

It will also serve you well to learn as much Gcode as you can resulting in an understanding of what is driving your router. Many times I have had to look at the gcode to find out why a design was not cutting correctly.

I also have not used Vectric cut as its $ is to rich for me.

I design my own parts so I have not used a digitizing probe.

Don’t know if you found these videos:

A video on converting SVG to Gcode and driving a machine.

A starting CNC video but there are a lot more out there.

Inkscape to Gcode:
This search term yielded many target videos. [“inkscape svg to Gcode”]


One more thing about inkscape and gcode: inkscape does have some built-in gcode support, but it is not what you want to start with. It requires process understanding beyond what other tools require. So when you see “gcodetool” in your search results, while it’s useful and powerful for certain things, it’s almost certainly not what you want to start with. :slight_smile: What you want is how to save SVG or DXF from inkscape to your CAM tool which you then use to generate tool paths from the paths you generated in inkscape or some other tool.


to emphasize @mcdanlj 's point. I had trouble with SVG conversion and every CAM only and gcode plugin generating the proper Gcode for my controller.
Controllers typically do not support all the Gcodes. A good gcode generator works around the gcodes that the controller does not support. This is why I like Fusion360 it has an integrated CAM tool that has profiles for various controllers.

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Finding good software and a workflow that works for you can be challenging. Needing help in such an endeavor is nothing to be embarrassed about.


@mcdanlj LaserWeb can handle SVGs with combined vector and raster data. This is ideal for products where you want to engrave an image and then cut it out.

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When I needed a CAM the first time, they all seemed too complicated to me. Then I found Estlcam, which was simple to use. So I would suggest to check


I need a software programme that is really basic and easy to use, just to get started. as I say I am struggling with the whole game and it is eating into ridiculous amounts of time. I just want to get started - even surface skimming a block of wood!!

Yes I watched these videos, followed the instructions but issues such as add ons needed cropped up. I have spent hours on this coming up against brick walls due to my overall lack of knowledge ! I agree Vectric V carve is just too expensive especially for me as a total beginner. I jusdt want a simple point and squirt programme and I thought the easiest way to start CNC routing was to convert an existing bitmap image of my name logo (about 50mm square)!!

I only mentioned SVG because that is the only savable file option in Inkscape. So are so many files types I have to learn and remember just to get started. why is CNC routing not more user friendly? I cannot believe with all the IT expertise out there that there isnt a simple all in one package for beginners to make basic 2D CNC shapes. I have been on this a whole year now trying to get a self build CNC router machine up and running. I then discover i have the wrong controller software for probing as digitised probing seems an obvious router for a beginner to bypass CAD/CAM and just generate G Code, but apparantly it is not as simple as that! I am in the UK. I need someone locally to show me face to face what to do! Frustrating to say the least.

Claudio - thank you. I downloaded Estlcam and was immediately impressed with the pop up windows that explain what is going on! This is essential for an absolute beginner. I am the author of The Incredible Router (1989) and a series of routing videos that start by explaining absolute basics - in fact my YouTube video ‘What can you do with a router?’ has 2.3 million views and for a reason - because it communicates clearly from absolute first principles! And yet here I am completely paralysed in the world of CNc routing because there is a vast amount of knowledge to possess right down to whether your CNC machine is belt driven or uses lead or ball screws! One confusion is in Esltlcam it has controller settings but I already have these in the Duet controller istalled on my Ooznest Workbee CNC router so I don’t know which to use. I think I will explore Estlcam to get familiar with the whole technology. Thanks.

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Your right about the complexity of an entire CNC system but don’t let that get you down, it grows on you. Plunge in (pun intended) and keep asking specific questions.

This is complex because all the manual setup and movements you take for granted on a handheld router are now automated.

I think the key is to take the simplest subset of pieces, focus on them and forget the rest of what you are seeing and hearing.

First you need to settle on a software that creates gcode then a gcode sender to get it to your machine. Get to the point you can send simple gcode to your machine.

You could even start with just sending gcode created by something like:

Or even just type in gcode & coordinates from your machines console.

I do not know much about your machine, its setup and connections so I can’t be more specific.

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I find that instructables has some really great tutorials. I recommend this one to get started with CNC and Fusion 360.


Hello Jeremy. I have a workbee 1m x 1m with duet controller.
I use vectric to create the gcode.
I select the work piece to start at x=0,y=0,z=0 in vectric.

Then before uploading the gcode into the duets GUI I have to move the spindle so it’s just touching the upper right corner of the wood I’m about to cut.
Have you installed the macros ooznest provide?
If so in the GUI of the duet there’s a option to set work coordinates zero. When this is pressed the duet switches to “work” coordinates and zeros. You can then home the machine and upload your gcode.
Be careful as if you restart the duet or hit the emergency stop it will default back to “machine” coordinates and if you then upload your gcode it will plunge the spindle down as it’s trying to get to z safe height.

I apologize if this is confusing (I’m not the best teacher).
If you have any questions about the duet or vectric I will do my best to help.