You can find a great source of projects for the hobbyist CNC router at the Craftsmanspace website. They have a large selection of vector download files.
Is Craftsmanspace for the Hobbyist CNC Router Only?
No. Craftsmanspace offers free woodworking projects, patterns, 3D models, books, software, and knowledge. Their knowledge includes hand tools and their uses, woodworking joints, and outdoor structures.
They've geared their website toward artisans, students, hobbyists, enthusiasts, and students, i.e., anyone interested in areas such as woodworking, metalworking, graphic design, decorating, 3D modeling, 3D printing, CNC manufacturing, etc.
They even have a showroom page on their website. TThis page includes pictures of finished projects created by people who downloaded their project plans. Many people like the variety of project plans available on this site.
I'm more interested in what file downloads they offer for the hobbyist CNC router. The closest section of their website I could see was their Free Patterns menu option. I'll be the first to admit that they have many different styles of patterns.
Since this review aims to evaluate the quality of their pattern vectors for CNC router usage, I need to choose two.
A Japanese Stencil Plate
I decided to try something different with this website, so I looked in the site's Chinese and Japanese patterns section. I decided on the Japanese stencil plate, which looked like an interesting pattern.
The birds were a common motif in ancient Japan, especially on designs for the katagami (Japanese paper stencil) technique of decorating fabric or brush painting.
This stencil is a digitized version of an illustration from the old book "The manipulation of the brush as applied to design: a course of brushwork for elementary and secondary schools."
Since they offered the SVG file format for download, this design should efficiently work for a hobbyist CNC router project.
As mentioned, I prefer using the SVG format as it tends to be cleaner in CNC CAD/CAM software. In addition, clicking on the link provided opens the image up in displays in another tab on your browser.
I want to save the file on my PC, so hovering over the link and pressing your right-mouse button opens a menu. I chose the "Save link as..." menu option.
The website then prompts you for the file's name to save on your PC. I accepted the default name.
It was now time to create a new file with Vectric Aspire. I imported the downloaded vector file, centered it, and resized it to fit.
Interestingly, it included two sets of birds.
I could see no difference between the two, so I deleted the set on the right. I then recentered and resized the vector design to fit my material.
Once imported, the first vector quality check for a hobbyist CNC router project is to enable the node editor. It looks busy, with a lot of node points.
However, if I zoom in on a busy area, for example, the top right portion of the pattern, they look pretty clean. You can see that there are primarily blue-colored, smooth node points.
The second vector quality check is to use the Vectric Vector Validator. The vector validator found three different Overlap issues.
I zoomed in on one of the overlap issues. The designer needed to join the vectors properly. You can see the darker portion where they overlapped.
In keeping with my reviews, however, the goal is to download the file, create the toolpath and simulate it without fixing anything. So I left these overlap problems unchanged.
The third vector quality check was to select any "open" or "duplicate" vectors. Vectric makes this easy in their software with a right-click menu option. I checked for both, and the function found no problems.
The final review process is creating a simple V-Carve toolpath and seeing if these vectors work with a hobbyist CNC router.
I used a 60-degree v-bit without a clearance tool. I also left the Flat Depth option unchecked. I'm using 1-inch thick material for these reviews, so it's unlikely the V-Carving will cut through the material.
After clicking on the toolpath Calculate button, I did receive a message about the vector overlaps. So I clicked on the Continue Anyway button to ignore them.
The final task is to run the toolpath in the Vectric simulator. I did this, and the result looked excellent.
A Hobbyist CNC Router Corner Decorative Ornament Project
This pattern is another slightly different but exciting vector pattern design. It's called a Corner Decorative Ornament.
According to the website description, they named it descriptively the decorative corner ornament and found it in an old book on architecture. It consists of curved lines with foliage design elements such as stylized flowers and leaves. Although more than 100 years old, the ornament has an appearance you can still use today.
To get the vectors for this project, someone must have traced these old images to create these downloadable files. It's easy if you enjoy this kind of task.
I once again downloaded the SVG formatted version of the design. It downloaded the same way by right-clicking on the filename and selecting the Save As file option.
Once I downloaded the file to my PC, I created a new file in Vectric Aspire. I imported the vectors, centered them, and resized them to fit the material.
This design file came with two different drawings of the pattern. Unlike the previous vector file, these were not duplicate patterns. I used the Vector Validator function to highlight the differences.
Because the left drawing vectors had more problems, I removed that one. Then, I centered the remaining vector design on my material and resized it to fit.
As always, the first Vector quality check is to enable the node editor. There were lots of blue-colored, smooth node points. It looked good.
The vector validator check revealed thirty-four different intersection problems.
I zoomed in on some of the intersection problems. I also selected three different vectors. You can see the issues - one vector is crossing over another. But the problems seem like they need to be more consistent.
Most likely, this design will not V-Carve correctly. Either way, I will leave the problems unfixed to see what happens.
The final vector quality checks were to look for "open" and "duplicate" vectors.
It turns out that there are quite a few "open" vectors, as you can see in the image below.
Checking for duplicate vectors found none.
The final task is to create a toolpath and run it in the Vectric simulator.
I used the V-Carve toolpath with a 60-degree v-bit. I did not use a clearance tool and left the Flat Depth option unchecked.
If you've created a toolpath before, you can see the problem developing in the image below.
I clicked the Create button to generate a toolpath. Immediately the message displayed that the toolpath generation was ignoring 37 "open" vectors. That number is a large portion of the design.
I ran the toolpath through the software simulator and saw the expected result. However, since a V-Carve toolpath can only process closed vectors, the router carved very little of the design.
If you clean up the vectors, this vector design will work as a hobbyist CNC router project. Unfortunately, this is a common issue with more complicated vector designs not designed specifically for a CNC machine.
Fortunately, the website offers an SVG formatted file download, so the vector editing would not be that difficult. You would need to trim and join the "open" vectors. Most CNC CAD/CAM software offers vector editing tools to make this task quick and efficient.
The best feature of this website is the large variety of vector designs. Depending on your needs, they may be worth node editing.
VCarve Pro Download Files
You must verify all tool path settings, especially the bit settings, to ensure they are compatible with your CNC machine. Every CNC machine operates differently!