What is V-Carving?

V-carving is the action of carving with a v-shaped bit to generate designs with a varied width. The unique shape of v-bits create carves that are narrow at the deepest part of the carve (created by the tip of the bit) and wider at the top of the material.

This photo illustrates some of the differences between using a straight-cut bit and a v-bit. The images on the left were carved in Easel using a 1/16" flat bit. The images on the right were carved in Easel Pro using a 90-degree v-bit. Notice the varying depths and intricate details carved by the v-bit that the 1/16" bit cannot achieve due to the width of the bit. 

How does it work?

It’s important to note that true v-carving requires more than just putting a v-bit into a 3D carving machine and carving a 2D design. V-carving requires toolpaths that move all three axes (X, Y, and Z) at the same time. Standard 2D carving only moves the X and Y axes at the same time, with the Z-axis raising and lowering at the start or finish of a tool path.

In order to achieve a true v-carving effect, the bit must gradually rise up as it exits a toolpath, meaning that the Z-axis is moving in sync with the X and Y axis. This movement creates a tapered look entirely unique to v-carving.

Why would I want to use v-carving?

For many, v-carving is something that may not be appealing until you try it. The benefits of v-carving far exceed making things that “look cool.” These benefits are easy to quantify for makers of all skill sets, ranging from hobbyists to small business owners.

Every. Single. Detail. There’s nothing worse than designing a project, carving it, and then noticing that the entire design didn’t carve correctly. Regular 3D carving bits have flat bottoms that they can only carve areas as wide as the bit’s diameter. For instance, if you’re using a 1/16” bit, you’ll only be able to carve areas that are greater than or equal to 1/16” wide. The tip of a v-bit has a cutting diameter of .001” so you can carve every element in your design, no matter how small.

Save time. As noted above, you can carve designs ranging from .001” to ½” wide with a single v-bit. Rather than use two-stage carving, you can carve designs using only one v-bit. By not changing bits halfway through a job, you’ll drastically reduce carving time.

No More Broken Bits. V-bits are more robust than fragile engraving bits, but still capture every detail. The durability of v-bits allow you to carve complex, intricate projects without the risk of breaking a lot of 1/16” or 1/32” bits on longer jobs.

3D output from 2D designs. Complex toolpaths move your machine along all three axes—X, Y, and Z—at the same time. These dynamic machine movements give more depth and dimension to projects that you can’t get from standard 2D toolpaths.

Make More Money. If you use your machine to run a small business, v-carving practically pays for itself. You can save time carving intricate, detailed projects because using a v-bit often takes less time than carving entire projects with a 1/16" or 1/32" engraving bit.

Additionally, you can elevate the quality of your projects simply by using a v-bit on your existing products. In many cases, you can charge more for v-carved items without any additional design work.

The easiest v-carving software. Period. Easel Pro removes the barriers to designing your file by automatically generating v-carve toolpaths. Select your v-bit, design your project, choose your material, and carve. There are no complicated feeds and speeds algorithms or steep learning curves. If you can use Easel, you’ll build incredible projects in Easel Pro.

Can I use v-bits on a standard Easel project?

You can still use v-bits with Easel projects, but you will not get the same output as using Easel Pro. True v-carve effects require toolpaths that move in all three directions at the same time. Easel cannot render toolpaths that move the bit along the X, Y, and Z axes simultaneously; only Easel Pro projects generate these complex machine movements.

If you design a 3D project in another CAD/CAM program (Fusion 360, V-Carve, Aspire, etc.) and import the gcode file to Easel, X-Carve and Carvey are capable of making the necessary movements. The difference is that Easel does not have the ability to create the toolpaths for Easel-designed projects, even though you can import gcode into Easel and the machine will carve it. Easel Pro is capable of generating the necessary v-carve toolpaths, so you can design projects directly in Easel Pro without using outside software.

Can I carve a project with a v-bit for free without an Easel Pro membership?

Anyone can design, preview, and simulate projects in Easel Pro for free. X-Carve and Carvey owners can carve Easel Pro projects for four (4) days every month without a membership. So, even if you do not have an active membership, you can still design with Easel Pro specialty fonts and v-bits at any time. You can carve out Easel Pro projects using one of your four carve days each month. 

Learn more about activating your four carve days or paid membership in this FAQ article.

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