MultiCAM Training/Authorization In the Times of COVID-19

Hey, Brian. Are there instructions somewhere on how to prep files for the Multicam? YouTube videos that would be helpful? I need to be able to do some cutouts on larger sheets of 3/4" plywood and the lasers just won’t work well for that without taking nine months and a million dollars.

Any help getting me on the right track is appreciated.

That’s covered in the class…

From the previous thread responses, there aren’t classes running now. So I’m trying to figure out the best way to get going on this without an official class.

The best way is to have someone help you. None of the good ways involve trying to use the machine without training.

Your toolchain will be:

[Something] --> DXF File --> VCarve --> Toolpaths

In my case [Something] is nearly always Solidworks.

There are lots of online tutorials and videos for VCarve.

I’m not trying to use it without training. I’m trying to find alternative training methods that doesn’t involve a class that isn’t being given right now.

You would need to find someone who is signed off on it to actually run the MultiCam for you. Without being signed off through the official class, you can’t access the pendant required to run the machine. If you ask, there is usually someone willing to help you cut something.

The best approach would be to get your design into VCarve and learn enough about it to define your toolpaths. Then someone who has been cleared to use it can double-check your work and cut it for you / with you at the machine.

@kaylanbetten @cduckle @dsartain18 @woodlab @wizlog Here’s a link to the slides for the class. They’re a bit old and need to be updated, but it might help you get started:

Before the pandemic, you could get Multicam certification by:

  1. Attend one or two lectures and demos
  2. Design a test file in Fusion 360 and/or Inkscape + VCarve (The test file needed to contained a profile, pocket, and text cut with a V-bit, and have a cut time under 5 minutes.)
  3. Send your CAD and CAM files to a group of CNC instructors to be reviewed
  4. Once your test file has been approved, register for a checkout session where an instructor will watch as you prepare the machine and cut your test design (bring your own stock that matches that in your CAM program).

A few important things have changed on the machine, so we’re working on updating the training materials and getting a plan in place to safely and sustainably offer the machine-side portion. Expect to see some more updates soon.


Not that I’m aware of. I suspect somewhere on the vast internet such things exist.

Like @mdredmond I typically use DXF as the intermediate format. That works reasonably well. Some caveats…

  • DXF is unitless. Pay close attention that the imported file is in the units you expect (nearly always inches or millimeters).
  • DXF typically ends up as simple line segments and arcs. Those are somewhere between annoying and useless in VCarve. But, there is good news. VCarve has a tool that joins segments into polylines. That is always the first thing I do after importing.

Some general advice…

  • 3D tabs are the correct choice. The “normal” tabs are, in every possible way, inferiour.
  • Don’t leave small islands. Those will bind the end-mill possibly breaking it or possibly knocking the stock loose from the hold-down. Machine a pocket to eliminate them.
  • A final pass around the entire part will leave it extremely close to the precision of the machine (~0.001 in). Without that the part will be a few thousandths larger than expected.
  • Remember the pause. At any point the machine can be paused to stretch, get some water, or take a toilet break. Place a sign, with contact information, on the machine if you leave it paused.
  • End-mills are not drill bits. Do not use end-mills to drill holes. You will start a fire if you do.
  • I wrote a gadget that prepares the G-code files. It’s available in VCarve from the menu Gadgets / RnD / Generate MultiCam Files. It does a handful of very useful things like limiting the directory name to valid uppercase characters trimming to the maximum length if necessary and outputting individual files based on the tool and numbering the files so they can be fed to the machine in the correct order.

To be able to offer more advice I’d have to know what you’re trying to make.


OK, I went through some VCarve Pro tutorials and looked at the CNC Class instructions. I have a demo .crv file ready. Is there someone who can meet me at the space to 1) Confirm the file looks good before exporting as GCode, and 2) to show me the machine setup and how to run the file against the machine?

Would completing those steps certify me to use the machine by myself after this?

Check the website for videos on using the software. The file for the class is simple so if you use the vids you should have no problem.

Thanks, Nick. I was able to sort out the file last night. Now I just need someone to verify it and show me the machine setup.

You won’t be able to be signed off right now because the instructor is not able to teach classes because of the pandemic. It’s a 2 part process to be signed off. Your best bet is to ask if someone who is signed off can be there to help you cut your project.

Until the pandemic is over and the instructor can start teaching again, there is no way to be signed off. If you have something specific you want cut, just ask on here for someone to meet you to use the Multicam. I’ve seen multiple people be generous with their time during the pandemic to help out someone in a similar situation as you.

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I’ve gone through laser and workshop basics training during the pandemic. How come this is the one thing that’s on hold? Who’s the instructor? I’ll reach out to him/her directly and try to set something up. I’m going to be using this often enough that I can’t work around someone else’s schedule and work around my full time job and responsibilities at home as well. I need to be signed off to do this myself.

The only instructor we have/had, from what I understand, is completely unavailable due to covid concerns. We love having them around and wouldn’t possibly ask them to jeopardize their health or those around them.

I would think the best path at this time is find someone that can help with the cuts.

On another note, I think it would be extremely helpful if we forced new users of the multicam to have a coach for their first few projects, but that’s not the topic for this discussion.

We should assume classes aren’t going to be held in their previous capacity for the foreseeable future. Other arrangements will need to be made.


Then we need to come up with an alternative to get people certified to use this by themselves. Sometimes I can’t even get down to the space until 11pm and sometimes there until 1am using the lasers, and the CNC would be on top of that. I can’t ask people to be there that late to help me out. A lot has changed since March when all this madness started. We should be able to either get classes going again or find a way to do it 1-on-1 and minimize whatever health concerns there are.

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This is unfortunate, and understandable. Nobody should be asked to jeopardize their health for DMS.

However, the lack of ability to get trained on the Multicam should be made clear to people joining the space. “Just get trained and you can use all these cool tools” doesn’t really ring true if you can’t actually get trained.


I went ahead and moved all this to a new topic so as to quit spamming the OP on the parent topic.
Has anyone offered to sit down with the chair of Woodshop and go over their plan to help Chris stay safe, and get folks authorized?
@IanLee is a reasonable person, and probably willing to listen to someone over a beer…at a local tavern.


Long story short-our old trainer is out of the picture. We are working on a new training solution that will involve moodle and an in person coaching / check-out session. This requires having new teachers trained and willing to coach 1-2x a month.

We are currently working on the train the teachers info but holidays will undoubtedly push this into not this month territory.

I have given one off permission to Multicam power users to checkout other members who have gone through the previous class. If someone can find a power user who is willing to meet and coach them, they can both DM me and I will generally allow it.

I’ll also note that if the SIG is looking to make changes to the machine that will probably delay the release of a class as educating members/ trainers and then changing the standard a month later is not really fair.


Just so there’s no misunderstanding. Have you taken the two hour class?