Child Name or Letter Board

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Originally done based on a request on the Unofficial Shapeoko user group:

Begin by opening Carbide Create and setting the desired text and sizing it as desired:


Draw in a second object:


Select both the object and the text and do a Boolean union (this will convert the text into paths which can be offset):


Delete the extra object drawn in. If desired, you could now adjust the spacing of the text, by selecting and dragging the letters to where you want them positioned.

Save the file under a name you'll want to use for cutting out the letters, then re-save it under the name you'll want to use for cutting out the board.

Go into Job Setup (gear icon) and set the size of the stock and thickness as desired:


Also set the material type (assuming you are using auto-generated feeds and speeds). Maple or pine would be traditional choices --- poplar would be okay. Might work well to use red oak and poplar --- poplar for the main board, red oak for the letters for a contrasting colour (and the bitter taste should keep children from gnawing on them). Cut the pockets in the board to a suitable depth to match the proportions of the board / letter --- I'd suggest 1/8" as a reasonable depth so long as the board is greater than 1/4" thick, and the letters are 1/4" or thicker. All depths should be adjusted to match the proportions of the thickness of the stock used.

Draw in a rectangle the size you want the board to be and adjust its settings as desired --- rounding off the corners as shown for safety is suggested if a child will be playing with the board:


Select the text and choose the Offset command:


Apply a suitable offset (0.063 inches is shown and should work for letters a couple of inches tall --- see for a discussion of this feature) to the Outside and click "Apply":


(adjust that number as desired based on the size and scale of your project)

Switch to the Toolpath pane, select the text and choose a Contour | Pocket toolpath set and set the depth as desired and provide an appropriate name:


You may wish to select one letter at a time for a more efficient toolpath, and you may wish to omit the counters (interior parts of the selection) from the letters for simplicity.

Select the outer rectangle and apply a Contour | Outside / Right toolpath with depth set to Stock bottom and provide an appropriate name:


Note that for both you should have selected an appropriate endmill (see: ) and you should provide feeds and speeds appropriate to the material which you are using (see: for the Shapeoko) if not using a Nomad and the auto-generated feeds and speeds which are appropriate for it.

Click on "Show Simulation" to see:


(if need be, add tabs if not using a workholding technique which allows for the central piece to remain in place once it's cut free --- see: for information on doing so)

Click on Save GCode for a file which you can send to your machine by:

Save this file for later reference, then open the file which you wish to use for the letters.

Go into Job Setup and adjust the stock size and thickness as needed for the stock which you will be cutting the letters out of. Select each letter (including its counter if need be) and drag around to allow for the endmill to cut around them (you may wish to rotate or reorder or otherwise rearrange them for most efficient use of the stock material:


Select the part(s) of each letter in turn, for the counters (the inner portions of the letters use a Pocket or Inside / Left toolpath:


(repeat as needed for each counter --- doing this one piece of geometry at a time will create a more efficient G-Code file)

Select the outer profile of each letter in turn and apply a Contour | Outside / Right toolpath set to stock bottom as the depth:


Which should preview something like: