Things I've learned

I’ve had my Snapmaker 2 for about 2 months now, and I think I’ve probably made most all of the easy-to-do newbie mistakes. I thought I’d share some of the lessons I’ve learned with regard to working with the laser and CNC heads.

  1. Measure twice, cut/engrave once (actually I learned this from my father 50+ years ago).
    (a) Actually measure a bunch and from different sides, unless you have a lot of spare material to work with.
  2. Never do your first run with your final product material, always do at least one test run on scrap material before committing to the good stuff.
  3. Know where the origin of your gcode is because that’s the point that corresponds to the work origin in Snapmaker. That’s part of what you’re measuring to in step (1).
  4. Once you set the work origin for a piece of material. Write down the machine coordinates, that way if you have to start over you know where to go.
  5. Never assume the work origin has stayed the same between runs
    (a) it can drift, so double-check before pressing “Go To Work Origin”.
    (i) don’t ever use “Go To Work Origin”.
    (ii) it’s a great way to break bits and/or damage your material.
    (b) if you’re doing multiple passes, always re-home between passes and then manually go to the origin.
    (i) there’s a second page of options from the jog screen that will allow you to go to the x/y origin without lowering the head.
    (ii) always lower the head manually.
    (iii) be careful with multiple presses on the 10mm step, it’s frighteningly easy to jam the head full speed into the material.
  6. After setting work origin, raise the z-axis at least 20-30mm, preferably above the level of the clamps. ALWAYS
    (a) The work origin isn’t usually where the work starts and if your bit or laser head is just touching or barely hovering over the material when the Snapmaker moves to the starting point it will drag that bit/head over the material. If your lucky you’ll just scratch the material, if you’re not you’ll break the bit or scratch the laser lens
    (b) Related, don’t assume that because your head is nominally above the material at the origin that it will be above the material all the way to the start point. My experience is that material thickness variation/warping is more common than you’d like and those variations can cause damage to the bit or the material.
  7. When you run the the boundary test have your hand on the power switch and be prepared to power off if it looks like you’re going to run into a clamp.
    (a) when you’re running the boundary test don’t just consider what the tool head is likely to hit, look at the whole tooling module. If your clamp screws are too high you can run the body of the module into the clamps which is not good (for the material, the job, the print module).
  8. Print some alternate clamps(there are some good ones on Thingiverse)
    (a) if you do any kind of deep routing with the CNC, the torque on the material can overwhelm the supplied clamps unless you’ve tightened them so hard they leave marks
    (b) if your clamps are leaving marks in the material that’s a sign you’re using the wrong clamps for the material.
  9. Commercially purchased material is never as square or as flat as you expect/want it to be. Rip cut material even less so.
    (a) if you’re trimming/beveling a piece, square to the side that your cutting along.
  10. Cutting wood with the CNC will produce way more dust than you would believe.
  11. Keep good notes, write stuff down and keep track of where you put it.
  12. Double-sided tape vs the Blue Tape trick. Mostly it’s a wash. Double-sided tape is tricky to peel off the second side and it’s a bit difficult to move if you don’t set the piece correctly right off. The Blue Tape trick if you use the super-glue accelerant you better set your piece right the first time because it’s going to lock in place, if you don’t use the accelerant you can adjust the piece to get it placed properly if you don’t get right at first, but you have to wait 5-10 minutes for the glue to cure. So a bit of a wash.
    But either tape solution beats the Snapmaker clamps hands down.
  13. If you’re cutting all the way through material, then put some sort of scrap material between what you’re cutting and the tool bed. Messing up the Snapmaker scrapboard is going to be expensive in the long run.
  14. Put your tools away when you’re done using them. Especially the ones you use frequently (and the screws and nuts)
  15. Run your CNC g-code through a simulator like ncviewer.com because what you see as output in Fusion 360 or Cardide Create isn’t necessarily what the output code is going to do and it’s cheaper to catch the mistake that way than by ruining some material.
  16. If only one file appears on the Snapmaker Touchscreen files screen, your tool head is probably unplugged.

(I’ll keep adding to this as I make more idiotic mistakes)

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Thanks! really usefull information for a newbie like me!

Can you please suggest me a good alternate clamps for my “little” A150?
Hope I receive it soon… :slight_smile:

The clamps I printed were these.


I thought they could work to hold things down and also because of the open strip they could be used to hold material square on the scrap board if I set them with a couple screws (unfortunately that didn’t quite work as the open is just tad shorter than the distance between the screw holes on the A350 board)
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Had good success with this: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2127535
Great thing is that if the tool runs into it it doesn’t matter.
Work both to clamp down on top as well as just surround the item.
The original was a little big sometimes so I made some smaller versions,
I’m trying to post a remix on Thingiverse but getting a 404 error when I do.
So I’ll post them here (these are in addition to ones on thingiverse). I mix and match all 3 depending on how far item is from any of the screw holes. I’ve built them out of both PLA & PETG.

Clamp_3:4.stl (47.2 KB) Clamp_wedge_half.stl (33.9 KB) Clamp_runt_half.stl (43.5 KB) Clamp_half.stl (63.8 KB)

-S.

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Is the slot in that clamp long enough to span two holes on the snapmaker scrapboard?

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You mean to have two screws in the clamp at the same time?
-S

Yes, helps to ensure that the material remains square to the board. I’ve had issues where when I’m clearing a lot of material that the torque applied to the board caused it to rotate quite a bit.
Also, I’ve done a couple of pieces where the wood I’m working on is longer than the bed and I needed to shift the wood to finish the piece and a clamp that’s squared to the material makes it easier to move the wood forward/back and not shift it left/right.

I’ve never had a problem with these using one screw and that’s even when I tried going cross grain on oak with a 1/4" bit and 2mm step-down. (Didn’t really go well-just a bit of deflection. :roll_eyes:)
I do sometimes use a couple on the sides at the bottom along with on top edges to make sure the workpiece doesn’t move.
The original one’s slot is 75mm can use two screws diagonally (just barely).
-S

You guys are using clamps? I just use a strip of flex tape!

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Here’s a picture from my cribbage board project. I’m testing routing out a section of the base to stick a deck of cards in.
It’s 18mm deep, I used a 3/8" flat mill bit with whatever step-down Fusion 360 deemed appropriate.
In the picture below (ignore all the criss-cross scratchy lines from a different failed test) the top cut was my first test using the clamps that came with the Snapmaker and it spun out of place pretty badly and I stopped it before it finished.
The middle one, I used the clamps I mentioned above and it came out pretty good except that it was too small (because I missed the setting in Fusion 360 where you tell it not leave any stock).
The third try was the right size but I think because it was closer to the end of board and edge of the cutting platform there was more of moment arm and the upper clamp shifted slightly and you can see a small curve in the lower left corner of the pocket.

Tape ain’t gonna cut it for some of the pieces I’ve been doing.

I actually had to mill a cradle and use earthquake straps to hold it down to engrave the logo.
The nice thing about the clamps I posted is that they have a lip that clamps the edge both vertically and horizontally.

-S

-S

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Thanks for taking the time to share this. All of these tips are Gold.

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Holding the stock during milling was one big issue I had.
I eventually devised the following solution:

  1. Using a table saw, I cut my stock to 32 x 32 cm.
  2. Using a press drill, I drill 4 x 5mm holes that align exactly with those of the waste board.
  3. I clamp the stock using 4 short M4 screws.


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Trying to contribute but being a newby myself please don’t trust me at face value (yet…).
It seems the tape and super glue method could be a better solution for holding the material all around. See these videos from people who actually did it to get you started on the idea.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uTsQ3dYRrk (Blue tape…)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cauttL6eZss (Double sided tape)
It seems simple enough to me. Will try eventually.

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I really like the idea of screwing the material down to the bed, I may use that in a future project. Unfortunately for the project I’m currently working on the final material is exactly the size it needs to be so I couldn’t trim off any screw holes. Also, without a table saw, I’d probably mess up the cuts to clear the holes anyway :smiley:

Those are interesting, wouldn’t have thought that tape would work that well. Have to watch them again when I’m someplace where I can turn up the volume :slight_smile:
Definitely going to give that a try at some point.

Finally got around to listening to the blue tape vs double-sided tape videos and while the double-sided guy makes some compelling arguments, the blue tape guy has more credibility in my book because he showed the tape holding well through the whole routing process. Still gonna need to give it a try the next time I route out a deck holder for my cribbage board

More items for my things I’ve learned list:

  1. Write stuff down and keep track of where you put it. I’ve been meaning to update this list for a week, but I keep mislaying my notes… getting old isn’t for the faint of heart, kids.
  2. Double-sided tape vs the Blue Tape trick. Mostly it’s a wash. Double-sided tape is tricky to peel off the second side and it’s a bit difficult to move if you don’t set the piece correctly right off. The Blue Tape trick, if you use the super-glue accelerant, you better set your piece right the first time because it’s going to lock in place right away; if you don’t use the accelerant you can adjust the piece to get it placed properly if you don’t get right at first, but you have to wait 5-10 minutes for the glue to cure. So a bit of a wash.
    But either tape solution beats the Snapmaker clamps hands down.
  3. If you’re cutting all the way through material, then put some sort of scrap material between what you’re cutting and the tool bed. Messing up the Snapmaker scrapboard is going to be expensive in the long run.
  4. Put your tools away when you’re done using them. Especially the ones you use frequently (and the screws and nuts)
  5. Run your CNC g-code through a simulator like ncviewer.com because what you see as output in Fusion 360 or Cardide Create isn’t necessarily what the output code is going to do and it’s cheaper to catch the mistake that way than by ruining some material.
  6. If only one file appears on the Snapmaker Touchscreen files screen, your tool head is probably unplugged.
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  1. Don’t over-torque the clamp screws, it’s not terribly hard to pull the bolts out of the Snapmaker scrapboard.
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12a. More on the double-sided tape vs blue tape trick. My experience after working with both for the last month is that double-side tape (at least the two brands I’ve used) tends to leave sticky residue more often than the blue tape, especially after long jobs.