Hey Guys! Got invited to this group and enjoying the discussions so far

Like others here, I’m new to this game. I’ve been practicing Optometry for 45 years and am slowing down my practice and going back to the wood shop. I came across one of those deals of a guy who had a cabinet shop who got sick ad had to shut down, he and his family decided to sell all his equipment, (quite reasonable priced) and I bought several new pieces, some I needed, some I just wanted, so I’m stocked up on table saws, jointers, planers, etc.; but I was missing something so I decided to go crazy and get me one of these new fangled CNC machines and try and have some fun with that.
I decided on Avid’s 4848 pro, 34 nema motors, 4HP spindle AND a rotator/indexer system (in case my son convinces me to start making gun stocks, forearms, etc.). I decided to use Fusion 360 as my CAD/CAM software based on advice from the family, and that has been my biggest challenge so far. Building the machine was fun and I thought easy, 5 or 6 evenings and a couple days work and there it was! Software, not so much! I feel like I’m slowly getting there, but… Biggest issue I’ve got is getting the machine to do what I thought I drew up in Fusion, but the toolpaths seem to be incomplete and it only cuts part of the “simple” project. Just trying to cut four slotted pockets and slotted grooves in the bottom of the pocket for screws to fasten 2x4’s to my aluminum crossmembers on my Avid to screw the spoil board down to. Cuts the pockets just fine, but no slots

Hey Eyedoc! Welcome to the forum!

Let me cut to the chase: Fusion is meant for metal machining and is NOT straightforward for routers.

Can you use it on routers? Absolutely. There is some powerful toolpathing in there. The trick I’ve found with it is learning that you need to ignore about 90% of the options you have in making toolpaths.

I think you can learn to do what you want to do in Fusion, however if you have access to VCarve/Aspire you’ll have a much easier time getting what you want.

Hey Eric,
I’d agree 100% with your statements. Fusion has waaaaay more than I need, I’m a believer; my son convinced me it’d be a piece of cake! Yea right! I tried the VCarve trial and it seemed pretty straight forward and intuitive to use. I’m considering the purchase, but, I’m also stubborn and plan on whipping Fusion 360. If I can outsmart it, I’m sure it will do everything I want it to do and more. We’ll see what comes, I actually have plans for some aluminum milling too, so…

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I second Eric’s assessment of Fusion. It is a great CAD but the CAM side has a very steep learning curve and forces you to learn things you will never use. I really tried hard to use it but had to give up. In my opinion life is too short to put up with anything except VCarve/Aspire. They have a very straightforward approach to CAM and if you need a more extensive 3d CAD program a very good interface is provided for Sketchup 2017 SKP files. I use Aspire and Sketchup but everything you will need is in VCarvePro which much more affordable. When you are ready to step up to Aspire you can easily upgrade. Sketchup 2017 is free, provides most of the CAD functionality of Fusion, is easier to use and interfaces well with VCarve so that is a no brainer. You can download a copy of VCarvePro from the Vectric website for free to see if you like it. They have plenty of videos showing how to use it and there are a number of good sources are on YouTube.

Welcome,i use vectric aspire software ,the computer stuff takes a little time im on my second year and still learning everyday
good luckj

Welcome Eyedoc! I would give Vcarve serious consideration. I think you’ll find it much easier to use and super powerful at the same time! There are so many good tutorials out there on the software as well.

I can’t deny that you guys are correct in recommending VCarve. Everything from Avid to YouTube and now to this forum highly recommend VCarve! Fusion was my Son’s idea as we already had it and I’m sure it can work, but it is more than I need right now, and 3D isn’t on the top of the list at the moment.
Perhaps that’s what I should do, get started now and grow later. I tried the trial version and it did seem quite intuitive and fairly easy to use. Decisions, decisions…


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I use both vectric and fusion. Vectric is terrible for 3D toolpathing in my opinion. The modeling side of vectric is a real step backwards for user-friendly programs. Using drive rails and all that to make something round is a pain. I avoid vectric when I need to make anything other then straight cuts. But that’s just me.

Fusion is amazing for 3D work because you can view your design in real time. Where it gets tricky is getting the tool paths.

Where fusion shines is their toolpathing algorithm has far more development then vectrics does. I can run the same file in both vectric and fusion and will always be done faster using fusions export. Feeds and speeds are very important .
I also really disagree with vectrics cost. They keep coming up with improvements , which is great, but you pay a huge premium to keep your software loaded with all the “new” features to them but you get for free in fusion.

It’s a tough choice for sure. At this point both have their pros and cons.

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How long did it take you to master the CAM side of Fusion? Are there any You Tube videos that help the typical woodworking hobbyist to quickly get up to speed?

Hey sehast.

I’m not sure I nor anyone will ever master the program. But you can get very good with practice.

I started small. When I first got fusion I had no intentions of exporting gcode on the first day or even by day 10. I started out by making simple files and understanding how to extrude, push/pull and all those other features. I then slowly started getting more complex. Today I have full designs of remodels in my house using fusion. As of late I did a glass staircase using fusion and used that to get the measurements for the glass panels with perfect fitment. So with time and patience you will naturally get better.

YouTube is a great source but there are a ton of people who have videos labeled as “master fusion in x amount of time” I feel these are more of a click bait title as it’s never that simple but if you watch multiple videos from different people you can start to pick out key points that speak to you. Some people learn by really technical explanations. Other just want a click here do that approach.

As for a quick getting up to speed approach I’m not sure if there is one. Speeds and feeds are your friends. At the very least use an online calculator to figure out those for your cutting material. This will save you alot of headache for broken endmills or smoke pouring into your workspace. These machines are very good. But I had a very weird issue with mine when I first got it and I spent almost a month with avid support finding the issue. But once again it was a learning moment. These are precision machines and need to be treated as such.

I started on a shapeoko3 and then moved up to an avid. There was a ton of forgiveness on the shapeoko3 for mistakes. I ran into clamps. I burried endmills right through my table. I broke things, belts, wheels. Computer crashes and the list goes on. But it was also a very good machine to learn the importance of traming ( making it square). Machine maintenance and how to develop and ear for issues. This has all been used on my avid and will always be useful in the future.

But back to talking about fusion and vectric. I do think you are on the correct forum for this stuff. I feel the avid community will help get you where you want to be. Just ask questions and reach out to guys when you are stuck and we will do our best.

The reason I ask is that I have become reasonably competent with the CAD side of Fusion but the CAM has just been too hard for me to spend the time to learn. There are lots of good tutorials on the CAD part but very little on the CAM applicable to woodworkers. I use Aspire for CAM, 2d and some 3d design, Sketchup for 3d and multiple component design, and GWizard for feeds and speeds in all my work. I recognize the advantage of an integrated application but have yet to see it in Fusion.

I made this a while ago when trying to figure out fusion for CAM. I’ll attach a picture but it’s multiple pages so this will be part 1. Let me know if these definitions help you. I’m not sure if this image will be visible. I may have to write it out in this forum. If that’s the case ill make a new post.

One thing that helped me with Fusion Cam is learning how to do it all in Aspire (VCarve) first. Once I understood toolpaths, speeds and feeds, etc. in VCarve it was easy to take all that knowledge and apply it to Fusion. Essentially I knew what to ignore and what was important. But having said all that, I still use Aspire for most of my CNC work in wood. It is just easier and faster as it is purpose build software for CNC’ing using a router and wood. Aspire does a very good job with rotary toolpaths as well.

try nyccnc on youtube. Go to early on videos and try to understand the purpose of startegies. It may take some time but is worth it. I have created some complex things that would not be possible in aspire. Even if using aspire, fusion can export meshes to import to aspire pretty much the way clipart would be used. Getting it to come out how you expect compared to the exact thing you would get with true CAM in fusion is much harder if trying for precise output in vectric.
If you were to design a workholding table setup in fusion, you can export that as a dxf into vectric and cut that way too. Then you would not fiddle with the slow design process I find with aspire. Seeing what you are doing in real time on fusion is much better than plodding through aspire and eventually undertanding what it will output.