ShapeOko Mother’s Day Project

As a member of Mobile Makerspace I like to share personal projects with the group as way to teach and inspire. I recently made a couple of Mother’s Day gifts using the ShapeOko 2 CNC milling machine. This post will highlight wooden wall art relief carved using the ShapeOko 2 mill and open source software. The web application was used to generate the gcode necessary to program the ShapeOko. The piece is a nautilus image that has been converted in to a vector drawing and then carved in to stained Baltic birch plywood.


The material is 1/4″ Baltic birch project plywood purchased  at a local home improvement store. I prepped the plywood by first cutting it down to size for the work area 12″x12″. I then applied Rustoleum Ultimate Wood Stain kona using a hobby sponge and immediately wiped off the excess with a paper towel. I let it dry for a couple hours before doing any milling.

The relief image was created using Gimp and Inkscape. Both are open source packages replacing Photoshop and Illustrator.  The image processing reduced the nautilus photo to a black and white image in Gimp. I trimmed and reduced the image to just the nautilus. Loading the image in to Inkscape I used the Path Trace Bitmap tool to create the initial path drawing. This takes experimentation to find a good baseline set of paths. From this point until milling the final job I did several iterations of simplifying the paths in Inkscape, generating the CAM gcode in, and visualizing the gcode output in Universal GCode Sender. The output from Inkscape was a set of paths I used to create the gcode.

A key step to remember when working with Inkscape and is to set your SVG import preferences to 90 pixels per inch BEFORE you load the SVG file in

This project used a single CAM toolpath – follow path operation. My depth was 1/16″ using a ball endmill. This time-lapse video shows the milling process.

Our goal at Mobile Makerspace is to provide the tools, knowledge, and workspace so that anyone can learn and create. Please sign up for our email announcement list or check the Contact Us page to get involved.

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