Are you new to the CNC world? Or maybe you’re an expert in CNC. Understanding CNC router depth of cut is a vital key in your CNC success.

There are many different factors that play a role in determining your CNC router depth of cut. 

Throughout this article, we will give you the key indicators you need to take into account when setting your depth of cut inside your CNC programming software. 

Are you ready to start learning this great information? If so keep scrolling down into the meat of this article.

Factors Of Depth Cut

As we mentioned above in the article there is a handful of items to take into account when determining your CNC router depth of cut. Some of the items we are not always prevalent to what you’re doing with your CNC router. 


What do we mean by that? For example, the material you happen to be cutting plays a big factor in your depth of cut.

When cutting foam then going to aluminum your depth of cut will obviously be worlds apart. 

So in saying that there’s not just one go-to setting in choosing a depth of cut.

A few different items to need to taken into consideration before hitting that big green cycle start button on your machine.  


As our example in the paragraph above materials can play a major role in our depth of cut when utilizing our CNC. So how can you determine the depth cut using the material type as a factor? One thing we can do is the Rockwell scale as a starting point. 


The Rockwell scale is a measurement of the hardness of the given material. Machines have been created to measure the Rockwell hardness of machines. These pieces of equipment can be rather expensive for a home hobbyist. So we can use charts as a general reference chart to get us going in the right direction.


Take into consideration any type of heat treatment that could have taken place on your material changes the molecule structure and could make the material harder or softer than what the chart happens to show. 


Cut Diameter/Type

Depending on what type of cutter you happen to utilize for the particular operation depth of cuts will vary on your CNC router. 

 A face mill compared to roughing end mill is going to have a different material removal rate per the given operation. A face mill obviously will have much less depth of cut compared to a smaller diameter endmill cutter. 


WOC (Width Of Cut)

In determining how deep we can actually cut with your CNC router machine we need to determine what WOC or width of cut we will be using. 


Setting up your width of cut is going to be determined more by the geometry you happen to be cutting. If happens to be a simple flat pocketing operation width of cut-rate can be set to a much higher standard.


Unlike if you happen to be doing some 3D surfacing with complex angles your width of cut will much smaller than the first example we laid out. 


As you can see WOC or sometimes refer to as the step over can play a factor in how much we can set our CNC router depth of cut. WOC is equally important to setting our CNC router depth of cut or DOC.


Seeking Manufacturer Advice

For years I’ve always struggled to ask for help and would spend hours working on solutions to solve a problem I could be having. 


Until current years I have gotten over that fear or phobia in my life so I say this is me making a point for you to seek out advice from others in any of your CNC adventures. 


About 90% percent of the time they get satisfaction out of helping solve your issues. People in the CNC realm are very helpful and want to see you succeed too. 

Tooling Manufacture Advice

Seeking advice from your tooling supplier nowadays is mostly just a google search. Tooling companies like Harvey Tool and Helical Tooling have created great resources for us to be able to get the information we need on setting up our cutting parameters. 


Here is a link to Harveys Machining Advisory Pro which can be great guidelines to getting your CNC router setup for making chips.

Machine Builder Advice

In a crazy digital world, we have surrounding us now getting help from an owner’s forum is a great place to get the information you need in getting things like the width of cuts and depths of cut as well as speeds and feeds.


Even if your CNC router happens to be a homemade DIY edition there are resources where you can get the proper information. One happens to be one I’m apart of on a Facebook group and highly suggest you check it out. 


Its where I got all the information I needed when I was building my DIY CNC machine that you check out the video here.

Making Tool Libraries

Most hobbyists right now seem to be utilizing Fusion 360 for their CAM package. If this happens to be the case I highly suggest making custom tool libraries that can hold your speeds and feeds and depth of cut information.

If your using something like aspire or vcarve pro setting up a simple google sheets doc to track your tooling parameters seems like a great idea to me. 

Especially when you get things dialed in you don’t want to be forgetting this information when a similar job or project comes back in a few months.

So Final Conclusion

As you can probably see from this brief overview of the CNC router depth guide there a multitude of different factors that go into making a choice in the depth of cut. 

However, the biggest thing that will help you is making chips on your machine. Start light with your initial cuts and slowly push your machine until you feel comfortable with it. 

You will start to hear certain noises that you will pick up on when you’re running your machine too hard or when you know it can handle more. 

So start light and get out in the shop and start making some chips and learn your machine’s capabilities!

Thank you for reading.

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