Skip to Main Content

CNC Guide

A guide to using the Shopbot CNC machine in MAKE ll at Library 21c

Node Editing

You can edit the individual nodes of any vector by clicking on the second icon in of the top row under "Edit Objects" . This switches to Example vector will various node anchorsNode Editing Mode, where instead of transforming objects as a whole, you can move individual vertices (nodes) around, allowing you to distort objects. You can also simply press 'N' on the keyboard to switch back and forth from Node Edit Mode and normal. Clicking on an object will show both the nodes and various points on the lines that can be used for manipulation.

  • Black nodes: Normal nodes that can be dragged around. The node will remain connected to the same nodes regardless of where it is moved.
  • Red nodes/squares: The actively selected node and squares - multiple nodes can be selected, which will result in the nodes being moved together.
  • Green nodes: The start point of the vector. This can impact toolpaths created with the vector. Functions as a normal node in this mode.
  • Blue nodes: Smoothed points that form curves. Can be manipulated the same was as black nodes.
  • White squares: Manipulation points for smoothed points that can be used to twist and distort connected lines. The smoothed node will have two white squares and the next nodes on either side will have one.
  • Gray squares: The midpoint of the line segment. Can be dragged, at which point it becomes a black node.
  • Arrow: The direction of the vector, which determines what is considered the left and right sides for certain operations and toolpaths.

You can move nodes and line segments by clicking and dragging. Dragging a node will move it and the neighboring line segments; dragging a line segment will move the line segment, the neighboring nodes, and their neighboring line segments. You can select multiple nodes, which will manipulate or delete them together.

While VCarve does offer easy to use tools for editing vectors, for very complicated objects, it may be easier to make the design in a dedicated vector design program such as Inkscape.

Right-click menus

If you right click on a node or line segment you will get several other options. Which options are available depend on numerous factors, such as whether it's a node (and what kind of node), a midpoint, on a line segment, and if the vector is open or closed.

Right-click menus for both nodes and line segmentsPossible options include:

  • Delete Point/Span: Removes the node or line segment. Removing a line segment turns it into an open vector, and if sections become separated, they will become separate objects. Removing a node will alter the object so that the neighboring nodes become connected.
  • Smooth Point: Turns the node into a curved line than can be distorted.
  • Insert a Point: Creates a new node at the point where the cursor was when clicked.
  • Cut Vector: Breaks the object apart and turns it into an open vector. The start point will be moved.
  • Make Start Point: Turns the selected node into the start point.
  • Edit Polyline: Allows you to resume adding nodes and line segments to polylines that were started with the "Create Line / Polyline" tool. This option is only available from the start or end point of an open vector.
  • Mirror Horizontal & Vertical: Creates a temporary line of symmetry so that if nodes on opposite sides are selected together, it will move them towards or away from the line of symmetry at the same time. Movement on the other axis will be in the same direction. The vector object does not have to be symmetrical, nor to nodes select have to have a direct opposite.
  • Close & Join Vectors: Connects vectors or nodes with a straight line, a curve, or by moving the end points. Closing is for single open vectors and joining is for when multiple open vectors are selected.
  • Exit Node Edit Mode: Switches back to selection mode. This can also be done with the shortcut key or by selecting any other option in the drawing panel.
  • Properties: Allows you to move the node to a specific position, relative to either the workspace or it's current position.
  • To Line/Bezier/Arc: Switches the segment to either a straight line, a bezier curve, or an arc.
  • Insert Midpoint: Turns the current midpoint into a black node, segmenting the line. Unlike 'Insert a Point', this will always create a node at the midpoint.
  • Keep Bezier Tangency: Keeps the start and end directions of a bezier curve locked while the curve is being moved/manipulated.
  • Reverse Direction: Switches the direction of the vector, which can impact certain toolpaths.

Important note

Once you edit the node on any basic shape or text it loses any special properties and becomes a normal object.

Text can no longer easily be changed to a different font, circles can no longer simply have their radius adjusted, and so on. In many cases, it is advisable to make a backup of the original object or create a second copy of the VCarve file.