To demystify the process of working with a CNC mill, here we'll show you what you need to learn to cut a basic part out. In broad strokes, there are four steps:
1. Setting up the drawing file
2. Converting your drawing into toolpaths
3. Mounting the bit & workpiece
4. Cutting the part
A CNC mill offers you an amazing amount of options within those four steps, and in future episodes we can drill down into them further; but for now we wanted to ease you into it, so think of this as more of an overview.
We're making appleboxes for our first project, starting with the top and bottom pieces, which require both straight profile cuts and rounded edges. Here we go:
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For 1/2" plywood, how many passes do you make when cutting with the tool you selected? Is there a good rule of thumb for this?
Typical rule of thumb is to cut no deeper than the bit is wide, thus a 1/4" end mill you would cut no deeper than 1/4" per pass. This is all dependent on your feeds and speeds of course. I personally like to cut only half of the diameter deep per pass and crank up the feed a bit, it allows for better chip clearance and longer end mill life.
What has not been mentioned is depth of cut is also determine by work holding. The holding power of the fixture in use and the
rigidity of the machine. Vibration is the enemy. Spindle speed and
feed rate can be adjusted and different tool geometry can be chosen but
little will improve if your work piece is rattling around.
My understanding is that adding ramps to your profile toolpaths helps increase the useful life of your endmills. Source: Makerspace cnc router class