CNC Router Class

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The CNC Router class is intended to teach safe basic use of the Hive's CNC Router. A CNC Router is in essence a wood router that can be controlled and moved by a computer. Materials are mostly limited to those that a normal wood router can cut (woods, some plastics, foam, etc).

The two main programs used are Vectric VCarve to generate gcode and Mach3 to control the router.

If you have any questions about use of the CNC Router or other classes talk to the CNC area warden.


The CNC Router is a computer controlled device and as such does exactly what you tell it to do. If you are not extremely careful this can lead to a lot of unsafe situations such as bits breaking, material being launched off the table, fingers being crushed, etc.

Important safety precautions

Keep your hands and other body parts away from any moving parts! The gantry has many exposed gears and other moving parts which can easily catch clothing, pinch or crush fingers, etc.

Make sure anyone standing near the machine knows you are going to run the machine.

General safety advice

Wear hearing protection and safety glasses.

Generating gcode

Programs you can use:

  • cambam
  • Fusion360 post processing: MANUFACTURE workspace BROWSER Toggle the arrowhead in front of Setups     Right click on the active Setup ◉ name     Click on Post Process in the drop down menu       In the popup window, choose the Settings panel         In the Machine and post subpanel             Machine: chose a match to the Hive CNC (a generic 3 axis makerspace machine)             Post: choose Mach3mill/mach3mill         In the  Post properties subpanel               Safe retracts and home positioning                 Toggle the arrowhead in front of                   Safe Retracts: choose Clearance Height (not G28)
  • Vectric VCarve
  • millions of others

Setting up the machine

Initial setup: Power electronics on. Make sure all emergency stops are off. Check that motors are running smoothly. Click REF ALL HOME in Mach3. Click Zero X & Zero Y to set machine zeroes. Load mill into spindle (use Mach3 to lock the machine to prevent moving while installing the mill).

Gcode setup: Load gcode. Make sure the toolpath is rotated the correct way. Make sure it isn't larger than the cutting area.

Material setup: Secure material to be cut to spoil board. Variety of methods for this. Make sure it is square. Set X and Y zeroes for your material.


Make sure gcode is at the top of the program (hit rewind or ctrl-w). Make sure your zeroes are correct. Set z height higher than you need to and do a dry run. Use the probe and Auto Tool Zero to set the correct z height for the mill you just installed and do actual run.

Tips on Speed Correction

As of June 2023, our CNC runs the spindle at a faster rotation than the G-Code lists. Check your toolpath speed as shown in the lower right panel “Spindle Speed” against the readout (in red) on the back-wall -mounted speed controller. Use the up & down arrows in the panel to get the red readout closer to your intended speed.

Presentation (updated 10Aug2023)

Hive13 CNC Intro 2023 (11.7.2)

Hive13 CNC Setup 2023 (11.7.1)

CNC Router and VCarve Overview

CNC Class and Project Setup Summary